Interview with the concierge team at The Swanson Hotel @WeknowMelbourne
I have long been an admirer of ‘We Know Melbourne’ and their brave bold social media strategy. Playing to their strengths, they’ve established themselves as a leading voice on what to do in Melbourne. I interrupted David Johnston’s day to ask him the tricks of his trade:
Q: How long have you been using social media at The Swanson Hotel?
Approximately 18 months now.
Q: What made you take the plunge?
The We Know Melbourne idea actually came about from a trip that our General Manager took to America – while at a particular hotel he visited their concierge service for a recommendation on where to get good coffee. The response he received was a nearby Starbucks. He then asked for somewhere a little different, where ‘locals’ would good, somewhere more independent (like all the amazing places we have in Melbourne) and the response he got this time was Dunkin’ Donuts. This made our General Manager realise how unique our city and concierge desk was, and that we offered a fantastic service to our guests. He thought about this even more and realised that we could base our social media strategy around the concierge desk offering recommendations before, during and after a guests stay – essentially trying to be a useful source of information about Melbourne – at that time there was no other hotel in Melbourne taking this approach either.
The We Know Melbourne brand is actually being rolled out to encompass 4 of our Melbourne hotels – The Swanston Hotel, Mercure Welcome Melbourne, Grand Hotel Melbourne – MGallery Collection and the ibis Melbourne Little Bourke Street. Our blog www.weknowmelbourne.com.au has recently been launched as well and reflects this change. We have also just finished refreshing the WKM look and creating brand guidelines. Each property has its own Facebook page and in the guidelines each property has its own set of language do’s and don’ts.
Q: How do you recruit your followers?
On Twitter a lot of it is really organic. We try to Tweet as much useful and rich content as possible to get a conversation started, or to get re-tweets/favourites so that more and more users see our brand. We also use search terms such as “Melbourne recommendations” or “Melbourne things to do” to answer people’s questions about Melbourne within the Twittersphere.
On Facebook, in the past when We Know Melbourne was just for The Swanston Hotel, we used a combination of a competition app and Facebook ads to increase our following. So over the course of about 12 months using 2 competitions with Facebook supported ads and an email blast to our database – we increased the following to about 2000. This is an effective way to quickly increase your number of ‘likes’ but it may not get the right ‘likes’ to your page.
With the current way Facebook is working it is hard to get through to your followers so it is important to post effective, rich content on your page that people will engage with – this will be the best way to organically grow your ‘likes’.
It is also a great idea to cross promote your social media, for example let your followers on Twitter know about your YouTube channel and ask them to subscribe.
Q: Who manages your social media? How much time is spent on this? What tools do you use?
Our Social Media Coordinator manages our social media. Approximately 20-25 hours would be spent on this a week. We use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and our blog. We also use HootSuite which is a great free tool to schedule our posts outside of business hours (which is extremely important), we also use Tweetdeck for our Twitter searches.
Q: Which is your favourite channel and why?
Probably Twitter, it is a great channel to create and join conversations and share our content – and for our brand we have found that this gives us the most engagement and is integral in promoting our other social media channels.
Q: What does success on social media look like to you?
Not necessarily a large social media following, but one that is engaged and that looks forward to seeing and sharing your content; and therefore promoting your brand.
Q: What advice would you give other companies given your experience?
Find the content that works best for you and be consistent with it, and certainly don’t try to sell directly to people via social media. You won’t see a direct return on investment from social media but it is important for your brand to have a ‘face’ on social media for your brand awareness, and your content doesn’t necessarily have to directly be about your brand all the time. We are a hotel company that posts about Melbourne, and infrequently posts about our hotels.