‘Is it Instagram-friendly?’ Brand strategist Rica Facundo examines the four little words that are shaping hotel brands.
Much to the dismay of creatives all over the world, this latest in a long line of buzzwords has become the ubiquitous criterion for anyone in the business of building brands and crafting experiences for modern consumers.
As a social media addict, I admit that I buy into it. After all, I personally find joy in curating my feed and getting the associated dopamine rush from all the ‘Likes’. As a marketing geek, I find this phenomenon fascinating. It’s a prime example of why social media has become such a disruptive force. This virtual medium has evolved outside of its box on the Internet and invaded the physical realm, deeply influencing how we design experiences and products to become Instagram-friendly. Just look up Moxy Hotels (@moxyhotels), The Museum of Ice Cream (@museumoficecream) or Sonic Square Shakes (@sonicsquareshakes), who make square-shaped shakes especially for the platform. Check these out:
Looking back, social media has been invading spaces and reimagining industries since the early days of Friendster, MySpace and Facebook. These networks were originally designed to connect people online and in real time – effectively putting the Yellow Pages out of business. Today Facebook is not just a network, but a messaging platform (via Messenger and WhatsApp), a content discovery hub and a TV broadcaster too, thanks to the recent launch of IGTV. All these versions of social media have disrupted other industries – telecommunications, publishing and online broadcasting (watch out Netflix!).
One of the exciting things about social media is that the platform is always evolving. But while the medium has become highly sophisticated over the years, hoteliers’ approach to social media marketing hasn’t kept up.
With the exception of Airbnb and smaller independent brands, hotel chains don’t make it into a lot of top-10 lists of the best brands on social media, which is a shame, given the heavily lifestyle-driven nature of their feeds and user behaviours.
Similar to what QUO CEO David Keen once said about the need to “look far beyond the four walls of a hotel” to reinvent experiences, we need to view social media beyond the confines of a virtual post.
The next time you’re working on a social media strategy, ask yourself a series of ‘What ifs’, such as:
• What if social media were an experience in real life: how would I design my product so that customers would want to share it online?
• What if social media were a lifestyle: how would I design my feed to reflect the interests of my customers?
• What if social media were a messaging platform: how could I start conversations between my brand and customers?
• What if social media were Internet TV: what kind of episodes could my brand produce to sell my product while entertaining customers?
• What if social media were a movement: How would I build my brand from the ground up, making it more than just Instagram-friendly?