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Become Social-First or Disappear

Santiago Garcia Solimei

The impact of social media on tourism cannot be underestimated — a 2018 PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey presents evidence that social networks are now the most influential method for inspiring purchases.

I am constantly surprised at how many travel-related businesses have not fully deployed a comprehensive social program as a key part of their marketing strategy.

Meliá Hotels International revamped its social strategy, setting out to achieve several goals: improve customer relationships with a personalized experience; increase brand recognition and traffic to; empower employees through a social culture and attract new talent.

Utilizing Hootsuite’s Enterprise platform and Amplify application, Meliá’s social media following increased 15% in just six months, resulting in a website traffic increase of 12% directly from social, globally. The platform’s combination of strategy, tools, and training led the brand to achieve world-class leadership in the leisure sector; becoming recognized as a global benchmark for excellence, responsibility and sustainability.

Listening Leads to Learning

Every company has a visible footprint across the digital and social landscape. Simply put, people are talking about you. You are responsible for understanding your digital footprint even before setting up social channels. According to a study by Nielsen, word-of-mouth, a form of “earned media,” continues to be a highly trusted ad format. That makes it imperative that your company amplifies travel content via user generated content and influencer tactics. 

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About Me

What was your first job? 
Public relations at a teenage afternoon disco.

Who inspires you? 
I am normally inspired by everyday people who do extraordinary things like Alex Roca who completed the Sahara Titan Race having 76% of physical disability.

What are your hobbies? 
Football, Football, Football and running — I am currently training for a marathon.

What technologies excite you? 
Innovation in general that makes our lives easier and our work more productive.

Sage Advice: Always ask why and be ready to change your plan very quickly. Adaptability is key for survival.

What is one other job that you would like to try? Lead singer in a rock band.

What is one goal that you would like to achieve in your life?
To see my son grow up healthy and happy doing what he loves.

What three people would you invite to lunch?

Janice Joplin, Mick Jagger and Robert De Niro.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
Mallorca, Spain, where I also live. 

What is your favorite movie?
Field of Dreams. 

What is your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere with a beach!  

Identify Internal Ambassadors

Involve CEOs and other executives in your social media efforts. They are the company’s most important representative. Sharing their advice, guidance, expertise, and values on social will undeniably benefit the organization. 

Utilize the workforce as an extension of the company’s voice, values and storytelling. Meliá Hotels International implemented a digital ambassador program to encourage staff to amplify social media content and it reached over 150M impressions in
a year. 


Advancing Beyond the Basics

For organizations that have covered the basic requirements, the next step is to fully deploy social across all business functions. In the not too distant future, each of a company’s departments will benefit by having an integrated social media expert with the objective of generating trustworthy and relevant content, engaging with internal and external stakeholders, and amplifying the department’s message in an interactive and engaging manner.

Social-First for Social Natives

From 2026 on, all new hires will be social natives. Thus, it will be imperative to evolve into new social media first models: creating opportunities for co-participation, cross-team collaboration and social ecosystems with common goals to both the company, its associates, and social media fans.

A social-first approach is an important way for organizations to remain relevant, helping to solidify influence through customer relationships and increased brand recognition. 

About the Author:
Santiago Garcia Solimei is Global Director of Social Media of Meliá Hotels International.

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