Emily Wilkinson is something of a social media enthusiast and has been talking to Hotel Insight about her passion in this area and who she see’s the future trends of social media effecting our industry. Emily does not work directly in hospitality, but her passion and knowledge on this area are clear to see. In Part 1 of this interview we talk about which tools Emily uses both at work and at home, her first experiences of social media, and about her own blog (which I recommend you check out!).
I’ve always been interested in the development of the internet and how people use their social personas online.I currently work for a digital agency in Bristol, developing their social media offering to a variety of travel, insurance and entertainment clients.
Q When did you personally get involved with social media for the first time, and in what form was it?
My first real involvement, although I wasn’t really aware of it being ‘social media’ at the time, was when I was at university and I signed up to a networking site called Faceparty in around 2001. At the time it was about meeting people in your area and chatting to friends – I think it’s reputation is far from what it was in 2001 and has now been preceded with sites such as Facebook.
Q Which tools do you currently use for both work and personally?
I have quite a few profiles set up – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and Foursquare both on a personal and work basis. Part of my role requires looking after clients accounts in the early stages of them setting up on the social web so I tend to spend a lot of time trying out the latest aggregators out there. My favourite tool at the moment is HootSuite, which is free for basic users but has just started charging for power users. I think this is a great application as it allows you to set up teams, making it more of a mini CRM system and it is also available to download as an app for certain smart phones. I always encourage my clients to get this app and have a go at using it.
For the listening side, I have used Radian6, which is a paid for tool but I also tend to use a variety of manual search sites such as Looxii, Searchtastic and Google Insight for Search. It’s great to have a tool that can automatically collate information on your clients keywords but I also think there is value in human searching – especially when it comes to attributing sentiment, it’s still hard for a computer to understand sarcasm!
Q I very much enjoy your reading your blog, http://ewilko.wordpress.com. What kind of things do you talk about here and how successfully do you think blogging is for companies to communicate with their customers?
Thank you, that’s great to hear! When I first started this blog I found it difficult to know what I should do and talk about but I’ve always felt it’s important to be involved with as many aspects of the social web as possible – otherwise how am I best placed to develop strategies and give advice to my clients? The blog originally started with my interests – Fitness and photography but soon became highly focussed on social media. One important aspect of social media for me is the sharing of information, communicating with others and developing networks and communities to ask questions, seek advice and pass on knowledge to others.
I think blogging can be a powerful tool for a company as it can offer a great balance between the personable and professional face of the brand. Done correctly and with involvement of the employees it can help create a community and it allows the consumers to put a ‘face to the name’. It’s important to remember that as soon as you expose your brand to the social web you need to be prepared to be honest, open and authentic with your audience.
How do you see social media evolving in marketing terms for companies in the future?
I think companies have started to take social media more seriously this year and are seeing real value in getting involved. I hope that in the future the term ‘social media’ will no longer exist and in its place will become an integrated online and offline experience. Users will be able to access their online profiles from any and all devices and we will not be limited by closed technologies.
Companies will be expected to be online, listening to consumers and thinking of new, exciting ways to engage with them. It will be used in all areas – job training, recruitment and education. There will be discussions on ownership and content, people will see social media elements becoming part of their job roles. Think about how much social media has changed over the last 6 months, we could see some great new ideas and developments this time next year.
Part 2 of this interview will be published soon, where we talk more specifically about the hotel industry, the use of multimedia, Twitter, Four Square and how hotels should start out using social media marketing.