April 17th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

Social media management platform provider Hootsuite has been on something of a shopping spree in recent months. In February, the vendor acquired AdEspresso, a startup that aims to help companies better advertise on Facebook and Instagram; later that same month, it bought LiftMetrix, whose solution is designed to give users insights into ROI from their social media marketing campaigns. Then, in March, it picked up Naritiv, for its expertise in Snapchat analytics.

Earlier this month, Hootsuite’s CMO Penny Wilson stopped by CRM magazine’s New York office to elaborate on the changing nature of the social media landscape. Wilson explains that the acquisitions come at a time vendor has been expanding its focus beyond marketing, into social selling, social customer support, and employee advocacy. While Hootsuite has built out a partner ecosystem ,consisting of more than 250 offerings (including from CRM notables Salesforce.com and Marketo), acquisitions allow for tighter integrations. And “more and more organizations [are] seeing the value of social across their entire customer journey,” she says. 

Social media has given the customer more control, so companies have to be in “receive and respond” mode, Wilson says. Now, “it’s not just relegated to a marketing team; it becomes the domain of everyone who’s customer-facing in the organization, whether it’s your sales organization, your customer service organization, or if you so choose, all of your employees.”

“I think [this transformation is] something we’ve been seeing for a couple of years,” Wilson adds. “That was sort of the dawn of the chief digital officer, the chief experience office, the chief customer officer–people who are really analyzing ways to listen and communicate and build relationships with customers on a more consistent basis.”

And, naturally, some companies are farther ahead with their efforts than others.

One example is AccorHotels, a French chain responsible for overseeing more than 4,000 properties in 92 countries. The outfit had a central social media group, but realized that it needed to cultivate relationships that started before their guests stay in one of their hotels, and extended beyond the check-out date. AccorHotels estimated that 50% of Facebook traffic is driven by people “talking about where they’re traveling to, where they want to travel to, or where they’ve just been and what they thought about it,” Wilson says. “So they realized that social was an enormous opportunity for them.”

The company created what it calls the “Accor Social Desk,” which allowed managers, and other employees in local hotels, to maintain authentic lines of communication with their guests, while working with one tool. The result is that these professionals can assist clients when they are looking for specific help regarding activities or needs in a particular area; they could also directly address their complaints. Wilson says this not only improved customer relationships, but increased the company’s access to guests by 600%.

“One of our big aims over the next 12 months is to increase social media maturity across all departments,” Arnaud de Broves, digital marketing manager at AccorHotels, said in a February interview with Hootsuite. “By bringing everyone to a similar level with training, consistent content, and social management, we can offer a consistent experience across 4,000 hotels globally.”

The hospitality industry has obvious opportunities, but Wilson states that other industries such as financial services and government also stand to benefit from involving more departments on social. Financial service organizations, for instance, can empower their reps to share vetted content with customers at crucial moments. “They can listen to their customers and see–maybe their customer bought a new home, or is looking for refinancing on their mortgage,” or something similar, Wilson says. “It gives them that one-to-one relationship they couldn’t really have otherwise.”

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