Cut through the Noise of Social Media by Being Useful
Companies don’t compete for attention from other companies, they compete again EVERYTHING! Businesses are using the same real estate that we all use every day to communicate with our friends and family: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks. This makes it difficult for us as we get barraged with messages to like, +1 and friend companies all day long.
How does your company win?
Be amazing– be Zappos! Transcend marketing. This is really hard, and often, not particularly realistic.
Be truly, inherently useful.Your customers will keep you close by engaging with you on social media, watching your videos, subscribing to your newsletter, reading your blog, and more.
Your goal with Youtility is to create marketing that is so useful people would pay you for it. You, of course, won’t be charging them for your marketing but you want to provide so much value that they will want to buy your product or services.
How Hilton Suggests provides Youtility
Hilton Worldwide (the parent company of Hilton Hotels and their sister brands like Doubletree Hotels) has a program on Twitter called Hilton Suggests. In 2012, @LTHouston wrote on Twitter, “Good places to eat near the Magnolia Hotel in Downtown Dallas for Saturday?” @HiltonSuggests answered back, “@LTHouston, Wild Salsa on Main or Campisi’s on Elm are awesome, both within walking distance of your hotel in Dallas, enjoy. VAC.” (VAC are the initials of the @HiltonSuggests team member who sent the reply.)
Useful and kind, right? But here’s the difference-maker: The Magnolia Hotel in Dallas isn’t a Hilton property. Hilton Worldwide is going out of their way to provide real-time restaurant recommendations to a person who isn’t a current customer. But someday, @LTHouston is going to be in a different city, and she’s going to need a hotel, and she’s going to remember the help that @HiltonSuggests provided.
The @HiltonSuggests program is currently a pilot initiative in approximately twenty-five cities worldwide with high levels of leisure travel. In each, Vanessa Sain-Dieguez, the social media director for Hilton Worldwide, worked with local hotel managers to find employees who wanted to listen and help on Twitter. The tweeters aren’t all professional question answerers, either. In fact, few of the @HiltonSuggests team are from the concierge desks of the participating hotels. Perhaps even more unexpectedly, many of them had no prior experience on Twitter. They’re just hotel employees who love their city and want to help visitors better enjoy it.
And there’s no question Hilton understands and is thinking about the long-term benefits of Youtility, especially unexpectedly.
Social Listening, not Social Selling
One of the most critical elements of this program is the way it combines Youtility and a human touch. Twitter is a personal channel, and Hilton is essentially eavesdropping strategically. That could be misinterpreted if the payoff was more robotic and less deft. Most travel and hospitality organizations would think about a program like this and then try to jump into conversations on Twitter with an exhortation to download an official visitors’ guide or mobile application. To not do so was a very specific choice made by Hilton.
“The whole idea there is, you might say, ‘I’m looking for a restaurant,’ and I could give you twenty options. But they may not fit what you’re looking for, and you have to sort through those options,” Sain-Dieguez explains. “So we teach the team to ask questions about specifics like, ‘Are you with your spouse? Are you looking for kid friendly? Do you want to go somewhere inexpensive?’ Then, based on their feedback, we can make a real recommendation.”
This isn’t just a hospitality program, either. While of course the @HiltonSuggests team provides traveler recommendations most often, they are taught to help wherever they can.
“It’s funny,” says Sain-Dieguez. “When you help someone and they come back and say thank you, it kind of sets off endorphins or something. The team gets really energized by it, so I think it almost makes them even more eager to look a little more broadly beyond travel, and see where they can help. It’s really worked out very well.” She recognizes that the economic impact of @HiltonSuggests is small in comparison to the company’s overall marketing efforts. But she believes Youtility pays long-term dividends.
Be truly, inherently useful
“It’s a huge value to the consumer to know, ‘No matter where I am, no matter what brand I’m staying at, I can still ask @HiltonSuggests because they helped me in the last five cities I was in.’ That’s tremendous.” Tremendous, indeed.
Excerpted from the New York Times best selling business book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype by Jay Baer. See YoutilityBook.com for other resources.