|By Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel, Fort
Lauderdale, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 01, 2012--When you're traveling and post photos online, your friends may not be the only ones interested.
Many South Florida hotels are hiring social media managers to engage with guests and others.
The managers handle Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other sites, seeking to boost their hotel's reputation and sales. The task had been part-time, but as social media explodes, it has gone full-time. Salaries run from the $30,000s to $60,000s a year, depending on experience.
Nicole Braverman started in December at the first social media manager for the 156-room Pelican Grand Beach Resort on Fort Lauderdale beach. With a degree in English, she had experience at a newspaper, public relations agency and magazine, handling Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
At Pelican Grand, she updates the hotel's Facebook page about five times per day on weekdays, often with photos she posts instantly. That's helped triple "likes" on the page to more than 3,000. Her Facebook style: 80 percent "fun stuff" and 20 percent marketing, aimed largely at guests.
"It's more about building a community, and sales will follow," said Braverman, 30.
On Twitter, she uses a more businesslike approach aimed at vendors, often posting links to articles. And on Pinterest, she targets women, especially brides -- tapping the weddings market.
Braverman's work doesn't stop at night or weekends. She sometimes visits the resort on holidays to take photos and post them. And she monitors sites regularly through her phone, trying to respond to guest comments -- "at least to press 'Like' to let them know we're listening," she said.
Alex Vidal, 27, began as social media manager in January at the 214-room Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. He'd been working as a social-media consultant, after mastering the craft mainly on his own. He started in online marketing as a teenager, posting fliers for his band's gigs on his MySpace page.
"I'm kind of a digital nerd," said Vidal. "Social media has to be a hobby before it's your job, if you want to stand out. It has to be a passion."
In four months, Vidal said he's added Facebook pages for the Riverside's restaurant, bars and marina; launched a Facebook contest for local businesses to share funny office photos for a chance to win a party; and adapted the hotel website for mobile phones, among other tasks.
Emily Taffel became social-media coordinator in December for LXR Resorts' marketing division, working with the 1,047-room Boca Raton Resort & Club and other LXR hotels. With a degree in international business and marketing, she had worked in public relations for more than a decade and pioneered the digital practice for her former employer. She now loves the direct connection with resort guests.
To become a social media manager for a hotel, the three suggest:
Passion for social-media and change. "If you get up in the morning and get a cup of coffee before checking your Facebook page, you may not want to be in social media," joked Taffel. "And you have to have a passion to keep learning, because it's always changing."
Familiarity with the hotel business. Hotels operate 24/7, and guests comment round-the-clock. Quick responses with compassion -- and offers of compensation -- can turn a negative experience to a positive one, since even the best resorts may have glitches.
(c)2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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