An increasing number of companies are tracking customers’ social media posts as a better method for engaging with them while increasing brand awareness.
CNBC visited Marriott’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland where employees gather in what they call “M Live,” a control room in which they scan Twitter feeds, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts from customers all over the globe.
Marriott is one of several companies using a special technology called geo-fencing, which allows them to see every social media post uploaded from within their properties. If a wedding engagement photo, for instance, is captured on the grounds of a Marriott hotel and posted online, the M Live team will contact the front desk. The hotel will then reach out to those customers to offer them complimentary champagne or a room upgrade in order to demonstrate that Marriott values their patronage.
“It’s really about creating a personal relationship with our customers,” said Karin Timpone, Marriott’s chief global marketing officer.
Marriott also uses social media to provide superior customer service. If a guest writes a status on Facebook or Twitter about an issue during their stay, the hotel will reach out to the customer directly. That’s a pretty smart move, considering 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand if their Tweet is replied to or acknowledged directly.
The company is also taking full advantage of social media in order to watch out for trends and join the conversation while a topic is hot. Recently, a man announced on Twitter that he was the first Pokemon Go player to catch all of the Pokemon. Marriot quickly contacted him, offering him free lodging around the world.
“We’re putting our brands in real conversation,” said Timpone. “It’s not to say other forms of advertising don’t work. This is that very intimate conversation that our brand is having with an individual poster.”
By having that conversation, Marriott is getting their name out there and showing the world how much its values its customers.
While many Internet users may feel uncomfortable with the idea that big corporations are monitoring their conversations, geo-fence technology creators assure the public that the program is only being used for their own benefit.
CEO of the geo-fence platform HYP3R, Carlos Garcia, said, “We are only engaging and interacting with people who are publicly sharing. We are only using delightful engagement. We’re not trying to sell them something, but we’re trying to enhance their experience.”