ARDA Northeast Brass Tactics Social Media Session: All About Collaboration

Guest post by Brooke Doucha, who manages corporate communications and media relations for Orange Lake Resorts, home to Holiday Inn Club Vacations.

The “Social Media Brass Tactics” session at ARDA’s Northeast Conference in Providence, RI last week was fun, energetic and full of ideas. Though I’d planned to share our Q&A in this post, instead I’m going to share an important concept that came out of that session. In one word, collaboration.

As I mentioned in my previous post here on The Timeshare Authority, our social media session on June 7 offered three breakout workshop from which participants could choose. One focused on customer service and listening / reaching out to owners through social media channels. Another was about using monitoring tools to manage social media monitoring and report back with metrics. Last, my session focused on how to use social media as a PR pitching tool and the idea of creating a “Guest Blogger” program.

As panel presenters, we utilized the space of the room to do something different: converse openly with groups about tactics that have worked for us, and may also work for others in the industry. Each session, whether focused on customer service or marketing and communications, emphasized the importance of the central concept of collaboration when it comes to social media.

When adopting a social media program for your company, it’s important to remember that it’s not just one person’s responsibility, but rather a company-wide decision to welcome communication through new channels and to treat it with just as much respect and dedication as all other channels (phone, e-mail, print and electronic communications).

Here’s how collaboration works, as it applies to the three topics we discussed:

When it comes to customer service, social media can provide opportunities for real-time resolution. Follow me here: Your brand has a Twitter or Facebook account. You receive an inquiry about points usage via tweet or post. Luckily, the “collaborative model” you’ve adopted as an organization has one person in customer service or communications monitoring the mentions of your handle(s) on these two social channels. That person decides to either directly respond to the inquiry, or, because it’s more involved, the workflow dictates they assign the response to the club communications team member who will follow-up with more detail. Voila! Real-time customer service.

Social media “brass tactics” panelist Sara Bader Little, Director of Corporate Communications for Festiva Hospitality Group, advises: “Spend time on social media, but don’t let it overtake any one person’s time. Be sure it can be closely and constantly monitored for immediately responding to customers. It should enhance your existing customer service, not replace it.”

The monitoring of your social mentions may be a task that one person initially handles, but as you grow to expand your brand’s presence to more social media channels, let that number of “official monitors” grow, too. There are great social media monitoring dashboards out there, like Radian6 and Hootsuite that make it easy to assign specific mentions and inquiries to other team members. As panelist Philip Brojan of RCI discussed, it’s important to monitor your mentions daily so that you can be responsive—and it’s equally important to establish workflows that spread that responsibility among team members who can be various subject matter experts on behalf of the organization.

When it comes to public relations outreach via social media channels, it’s about getting teams involved in the execution of special moments and events that create great stories. For a Guest Blogger program, for example, you may want to establish a lead who will create new connections with bloggers, work with the operations to set them up with special activities or experiences available on-site, then have your social media champions create excitement around the blogger’s visit to the property, pre-, during- and post-stay. You can always get more traction when you have more hands on deck.

Say it with me: collaboration. If you find yourself having to do more with less and the idea of adding a social media program is overwhelming, look around you. You have talented experts that can contribute great content and ideas, and social media is the perfect place for that.

If you couldn’t make the ARDA Northeast Conference but want to participate in the post-event discussion in 140 characters or less, tweet your questions to @ARDAOrg and use the hashtag #SMbrasstactics.