When Pinterest debuted “Place Pins” in late November to a select group of beta brands, luxury hotel company Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts was among the first businesses on board.
The program, which gives consumers a way to geo-pin their interests to make their pins “more actionable in real life,” is a feature Pinterest provides, in addition to its recently launched formal Promoted Pins API, to harvest consumer intent data.
Four Seasons’ understanding of consumers’ interests is paramount to its global marketing strategy. And a great part of that insight comes from user-generated content in social media as varied as Pinterest, Facebook and Chinese social network Sina Weibo.
The social media sites that relied heavily on visuals, naturally, were the most obvious places for Four Seasons to engage. “We saw early on that, especially for the luxury travel space, the power of visual social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram and the fact that we’re selling global experiences that lend themselves well to photography, that it would be a match made in heaven,” said Felicia Yukich, manager of social media marketing worldwide at Four Seasons.
While Four Seasons gets insight into consumer intent, Yukich pointed out that individuals “can tell us as much and as little as they want to and we use that information to enhance or customize their stay once they’re actually with us.” Four Seasons also uses its Pinterest interactions to recommend other properties or services.
With regard to paid media, although Yukich acknowledges that “we don’t have a huge investment, we definitely make it work to enhance the outcome of our earned media.” With a focus on what she described as dedicated spotlight initiatives throughout the year (instead of a steady, always-on paid budget allocation), one of the most significant areas of ROI has been the use of Facebook targeting tools like Custom Audiences.
Although Facebook has been the most concentrated area of consumer interest for Four Seasons, its social footprint varies across the globe, particularly in the Asia-Pacific luxury market. “Over the past couple of years, Facebook has really taken off in Japan, so we developed dedicated brand [and property] presences there,” Yukich said.
In China, Sina Weibo and WeChat draw local Four Seasons’ audiences, so the brand is establishing a presence on those localized networks as well as creating dedicated Facebook brand and property pages in Portuguese in Brazil, where there is “huge market opportunity for luxury brands.”
In addition to maintaining a brand and property presence on social platforms, Four Seasons is turning user-generated information into content-marketing fodder for its microsites, including Taste By Four Seasons, Four Seasons Weddings and Have Family Will Travel.
The company launched what it calls “Weekly Projects,” a call for user-generated content such as Instagram campaign “#FSphotogPool,” calling consumers to share summer pool photos from the Four Seasons property where they vacationed, some of which is turned over to Four Seasons media.
By crowdsourcing some of this property-specific content into print and online touch points, the hotel brand sees which properties are trending and “contextualizes that content into the ecommerce environment … an important driver for guests and consumers.”
“There are a lot of ways we can bring people in to the world of Four Seasons through these lifestyle touches, which is a huge part of our marketing strategy,” she added.