Social media influencers a content play: Starwood marketing VP

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 31 March 2015
VP of marketing at Starwood Hotels, Daniel Kerzner

Tapping into social media influencers is important, but making sure they can generate content for you is vital.

That's the call from vice president of marketing at Starwood Hotels Daniel Kerzner, who told AdNews that its social media teams were always on the lookout for opportunities to “surprise and delight” its guests.

Kerzner said that the identification of people it could “surprise and delight” by leveraging social media data wasn't just an earned media play, but rather a content generation piece.

“It's not just about how many followers someone has, it's also about do they have stays [with rival hotel chains] they can generate towards Starwood, but the third component of that is can they actually generate content for us?,” Kerzner asked.

“Can they help tell the Starwood story?

“If you think about creating Instagram content, video, or whatever it may be, we like to identify guests that can help generate content.”

Starwood currently hosts Instagram pictures on its hotel websites captured by guests, who lean towards snapping pictures of a great view or a cracking piece of food rather than the features of a room.

“That's definitely helped us with our own marketing, as we knew what people were interested in seeing rather than just pictures of the rooms,” Kerzner said.

He said this helped with conversion of potential customers to bookings, rather than just using social media influencers for the sake of exposure.

Kerzner said Starwood's social media team was actively monitoring channels for potential leads, but said this wasn't creepy.

“When it might get a little bit weird is when that information isn't publicly available, or if someone was looking at my credit card spending habits or looked at actions I was taking, and summarised from that that I might like something,” Kerzner said.

“I think it's finding the line between what people curate and their habits. If you start getting data on habits without the person knowing about it, I think it can get a bit creepy.

“But if companies are looking at what's publicly available, I think there's an expectation that companies are listening to us.”

Kerzner previously told an audience at the recent ADMA Data Day in Sydney that it leveraged information it gleamed from social media channels to create opportunities to go above and beyond the call of duty.

For example, it knew the person behind well-known blog “Around the World in 80 Shoes” was staying in a Starwood for the first time, because she wrote about it on her blog. Within 24 hours, it had learned that the blogger loved flourless desserts.

It then had the chef at the hotel they were staying at bake a flourless cake with a shoe on top, with the phrase “If the shoe fits, eat it” on it.

Suffice to say the image was shared countless times, creating not only a loyal customer but great earned media exposure.

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