Social media community manager’s are a rare breed of individual, fulfilling a role that simply didn’t exist until recently and, at many companies, may not have their roles and responsibilities firmly defined. This is the first in a series of interviews I plan to have with community managers who are responsible for the execution of social media within their company. What can other community managers, those who want to become community managers, as well as social media professionals learn from their experiences? If you are a social media community manager and would like to be interviewed for this blog, please contact Neal.
I had a chance to “hangout” with Angelique Toschi, Consumer Engagement Specialist from Shakey’s USA Inc., on Google Plus, where we engaged in a conversation on social media for the hospitality industry. Representing a major consumer brand, Angelique had a lot of insight on not only social media for restaurants, but how to engage with consumers in general using social media.
Please tell us about your background, what led to your current job, and what you currently do!
I have my BA in English Literature from UCLA and a Masters of Arts in Mass Communications Advertising from California State University, Fullerton. In between my two degrees and while I was getting my masters I worked for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in the theme parks. This has given me 10 years of strong guest service experience. I joined the Shakey’s USA, Inc. team in March of 2011 as the Consumer Engagement Specialist to manage the online social media presence of the company as well as internal corporate communications to the Franchisees via our Intranet system. Our social media footprint includes a corporate Facebook and Twitter account and individual Foursquare, Google+ Local, and Yelp pages for each restaurant. I also am active in the new media entertainment industry and hold social media roles for both Transmedia LA and the International Academy of Web Television.
There are many others that do a similar role to you – so can you describe what your average day looks like for others to compare?
First thing I do when I walk into the office in the morning is check my email and the corporate Social Media accounts. This includes updating Facebook and Twitter at the specified times each day. I then go through any reviews that I have been notified about (mainly Yelp and Google+ Local). After I read each review I forward the good ones to the Management team for the designated location. For negative reviews, I log each one, make an initial response for more information off the public page and forward to the relevant parties.
Throughout the day I handle incoming reviews as they happen, write the social media strategy and copy for the next week, manage any online promotion entries we may have, update social media review and promotions spreadsheets, contact Franchisees, and update our Intranet portal. Each day is slightly different and I must be flexible because you never know what could pop up.
Shakey’s is a well-known brand in the restaurant market … in terms of social media what has Shakey’s approach and objectives been?
We really want to use social media to connect with our current market, future market, and those that are nostalgic about our company and brand. That being said, we always want what we are doing on social media to somehow drive people into our restaurants. We want to show that we are still a family friendly pizza parlor. Our goal with our social media content is to tie into our ongoing campaigns as well as add additional content, news, and reminders to help remain top of mind to our customers.
You mentioned that you have applied to be part of a panel for SXSW on hospitality industry social media (please click here to vote for Angelique!). What particular challenges do hospitality industry brands face when dealing in social media?
The advent of the “local social” phenomenon has been a challenge for any business that is hospitality driven, be that a restaurant or hotel. So much today is based on personal referrals, whether this is through review sites or personal social media connections. Because of this it can at times be a bit overwhelming to keep up with your digital footprint, especial for a brand with multiple locations. Although this is a challenge because anyone can now be an expert and review a business, it can also be turned into an advantage because you now have the opportunity for a stronger insight into your customers. You also now have the ability to contact those customers directly, learn more about the experience and try to ensure similar events do not happen in the future. While transparency may be a challenge, it can also make a business stronger.
What are your favorite tools or platforms that you use most at work to help in managing and analyzing your social media?
1. Tweetdeck: I use Tweetdeck every day while at work to monitor what’s being said about the brand in real-time. I keep it running in the background and check it periodically throughout the day to see if there is anything that needs to be addressed.
2. Hootsuite: At first I was hesitant of HootSuite because I am cautious about scheduling posts because it can show a lack of interaction. However, it is great for the weekends because you can keep your social media going when other companies aren’t posting at all. In addition, some of the new add-ons, such as Instagram, are great ways to search for content about your businesses so you can then share that on various social media platforms.
3. Facebook Insights: I know this may sound cliché but Facebook Insights are great for helping you understand your Facebook audience. Once you understand who is actually viewing your messages you can craft better content that is targeted to the correct demographic.
4. Google Alerts: I always want to know what’s being said about our company on various websites. This keeps us up to date not only on what people are saying about us on news sites and blogs but also gives us content that we can then share with our fan base.
Do you have 5 tips that you can provide other hospitality social media managers – or social media managers in general – how they can better do their job?
1. Keep up to date with all the new and upcoming social media trends, as well as any changes to platforms and networks. The best way to do this is to sign up for emails from Mashable and AdAge. I go through each of these on a daily basis to make sure I have the most up to date information possible.
2. Document everything you can. For instance I enter all negative reviews into a spreadsheet and take screenshots of the reviews themselves. This documentation helps both for your records and in case something gets removed in the future.
3. Know your audience on social media. This may not be exactly the same audience that you cater to in traditional media. Know who they are and try different types of content to see what they best respond to.
4. Look at the social media for other businesses in your specific industry. I am constantly looking at what both our competitors and others in the food industry are doing to help prompt ideas.
5. Network with other social media people. You are not alone in your challenges and successes, and sometimes frustrations can be disbursed just by knowing that others are in the same boat. Also, don’t just limit your circle to social media people from your industry. You never know what great idea you can come up with from discussions with people from outside your particular industry.
What did you think of Angelique’s experience and advice? Do you handle social media for a restaurant? Please do share your opinions and ideas with the community!