Goals should not only be met, stresses Drew Mailloux, but be surpassed. As the marketing manager of the 414-room Loews Atlanta Hotel, he saw the property hit the 2,500 “like” mark on Facebook in January 2013 and made plans to double this number by the end of the year. With some creative campaigns and authentic messaging, they realized they could expand their social media reach even further.
“It all comes back to the emotional connection that you make with the person,” says Jessica Baran, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “We didn’t get to 10,000 likes because we weren’t genuine.”
Running point on Loews Atlanta’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LoewsAtlanta), Mailloux shies away from internal jargon. “You want to reach the average consumer on social media,” he says. “It’s not a highfalutin marketing tool that goes over everyone’s head. You have to be down to earth.”
Mailloux also doesn’t see Facebook as a place to exclusively “push out information.” He says many of their competitors often just post hotel specials and promotions, which he compares to the Facebook friends who only use social media as a virtual scrapbook for their children’s quotes and photos.
“You want to have conversations about lots of different things in different areas,” he explains.
As a virtual concierge, Loews Atlanta’s Facebook page gives guests and locals a place to obtain details about all the happenings in Midtown Atlanta, Baran says. She hopes the hotel, thanks to Facebook, can become a fixture in people’s lives—a one-stop shop that combines a cultural repository with an entertainment destination. “If you want to see what’s going on at Piedmont Park, we’re going to know about it,” she says. “And then you can grab a drink at Loews beforehand because we’re the mecca of what’s going on.”
As part of their Facebook game plan, Baran and Mailloux host quarterly social media campaigns that spring into real life. For example, with their inaugural Golden Easter Egg Hunt held last year, the goal was to highlight the excitement and walkability of Midtown Atlanta and bring people into the area mom-and-pop stores that wouldn’t normally make the tourist guides.
Each shop received a glittery 3-foot-tall egg filled with prizes, such as a weekend stay in one of the suites or tickets to an art exhibit. The hotel provided in-room collateral of a treasure map, and it did a big social media push, posting photo clues online. Both guests and residents joined in the hunt, and as a result, the property’s Facebook likes more than doubled in a month, Mailloux says.
The hotel saw a monetary return on investment as well. When people claimed their prizes in the hotel, he asked them to stay for Easter brunch.
They only needed a $200 budget for decorations and printed materials to pull off the event, which they will repeat this year, Baran says. “You don’t have to do anything extravagant to make an impact.” Other social-media-driven events include Photo Finish Race (à la The Amazing Race), where teams go on a citywide scavenger hunt, and Costumes on the Woof, with owners and their pets participating in a dog costume contest on the hotel’s terrace. One perpetual promotion beyond Facebook, dubbed “Sweet Treats for Sweet Tweets,” rewards guests who check in at the hotel on Twitter by sending a few pastries up to their room. “We are in the moment, for the moment, for you,” Baran says. “Connecting with you on your level—that’s what Loews Atlanta is all about.”