Digital Persuasion in Action Rule 2: How Ritz-Carlton Uses Social Media as the Fuel to Build Relationships Online and Offline

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Digital Persuasion in Action Rule 2: How Ritz-Carlton Uses Social Media as the Fuel to Build Relationships Online and Offline

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Sue Stephenson, Vice President of Community Footprints, Ritz-Carlton

Quick Facts from Sue Stephenson, Ritz-Carlton

Monday, November 11, 2013 - 11:30am

CAMPAIGN: Report: Digital Persuasion

CONTENT: Blog

Digital Persuasion in Action Rule 2: How Ritz-Carlton Uses Social Media as the Fuel to Build Relationships Online and Offline

By John Trybus

“Luxury” and “responsibility” are not always words that are used together, but that doesn’t have to be the case. For The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, social media is a crucial strategy to build relationships with key stakeholders around its social commitments that then lead to offline engagement, according to digital persuader Sue Stephenson, the company’s vice president of Community Footprints.

Waggener Edstrom recently sat down with Sue to discuss how Ritz-Carlton communicates its deep commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) to a wide-range of audiences, including: current and prospective guests (who they refer to as “Ladies and Gentlemen”), investors, nonprofit partners and CSR influencers, among others.

Sue explained that the company takes a two-pronged strategy to build relationships via social media: the brand’s digital platforms integrate messages about the company’s social values directly to consumers while a dedicated CSR Twitter handle, which Sue and her team operate, allows Ritz-Carlton to have a deeper conversation about more in-depth CSR topics among those interested in that information. The result is that the famous luxury hotel company is able to take online relationships offline and make them broader and richer through focused conversations.

“The power, and the thing that we enjoy most about social media—in my case, particularly @RitzCarltonCSR—is that it enables you to engage. It enables you to get feedback, and it enables you to develop further relationships,” Sue explains.

How does The Ritz-Carlton Company use social media platforms to develop relationships and engage with current and new audiences?

  • By putting a human face on a human company. If you check out @RitzCarltonCSR you will notice that Sue’s cheerful photo greets you, instead of a boring corporate logo. If a guest, reporter, influencer, or employee has a question or comment about the company’s CSR work, they are reminded that they are interacting with a human being. Time and again, this human focus has helped Sue to engage and begin relationships online that often evolve to offline relationships as well.
  • By using different channels to fuel different types of relationships. Ritz-Carlton knows that it reaches different audiences on different social media platforms. Ritz-Carlton uses its dedicated CSR Twitter handle to engage audiences who are already aware of and deeply interested in the company’s social responsibility commitments, but as a company with social responsibility at its core, it is important for Ritz-Carlton to engage its broader brand audience around its social commitment. In WE’s Digital Persuasion study, 78 percent of respondents identified Facebook as being the most effective platform an organization can use to spread the word about a cause. In alignment with this finding, Ritz-Carlton uses its brand Facebook page to educate its nearly 500,000 followers about how they can get involved in signature  company programs such as Give Back Getaways®, which invites guests to join Ritz-Carlton employees in half-day voluntourism experiences in local communities.
  • By engaging employees. For Sue, who travels extensively in her position, it’s key to be accessible to the company’s greatest ambassadors – its many employees. Ritz-Carlton employees are so passionate and excited about the social impact they’ve made in their local communities through programs such as Succeed Through Service®, a partnership with America’s Promise Alliance that focuses on helping at-risk students reach their full potential, that they eagerly share stories with Sue via social media. Sue can then promote these stories to a larger audience and remember to reference the examples during hotel visits to strengthen employee relationships and pride.

Contact

John Trybus
+1 (202) 261-7800
Waggener Edstrom
Keywords: #DigitalPersuasion | Social Impact & Volunteering | Cause Marketing | Corporate Social Responsibility | Ecotravel & Tourism | Green Marketing | Interactive Marketing | Positive Change | Social Media | The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company | Twitter

CAMPAIGN: Report: Digital Persuasion

CONTENT: Blog

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