Skift Take

Creating content is one of the biggest challenges brands face today. Marriott's strategy of looking inward for inspiration -- from employee stories to more graphic press releases -- is a strong starting point for any company looking to better engage and connect with customers online.

Marriott International has more than 333,000 employees at properties worldwide, and in the eyes of Jay Hamilton, Marriott’s head of digital corporate communications, that’s a whole lot of content creators.

Hamilton, who joined the organization six years ago from a journalism background, sees on-the-ground employees as the some of the most important contributors to the hotel group’s four-person digital corporate communications team.

“It’s very very important to not outsource your content. They don’t know our people, our culture. It’s not something you can do by having a PR firm to do it for you,” Hamilton told Skift earlier this week.

In addition to thought-leadership blogs penned by Bill Marriott and CEO Arne Sorenson and press releases dressed up with photos and videos, Hamilton encourages staff to take photos of what’s happening on the ground and send it to HQ for social media vetting.

Marriott International has the fourth highest score of all hotel brands and properties on Skift’s social competitive database SkiftIQ. The hotel’s corporate Facebook page is updated once or twice a day, half of which are status updates and half of which are photo updates.

Some of those photos come directly from staff, like this post of the lobby at the Riyadh Marriott Hotel.

In addition to hotel news and sponsorship plugs, social media is also a place where Hamilton wants to tell stories about real employees at the hotel. These are often the best received.

Personal photos like this one of Bill Marriott cutting a birthday cake receives more “Likes” and shares than traditional hotel-related updates.

Hamilton also looks for inspiration in what might seem like unexpected places.

For example, he cites the popular Facebook page, ‘Humans of New York,’ as inspiration for a series of Facebook updates featuring photos of real employees and quotes about their work and lives.

Finding inspiration anywhere, and everywhere, helps solve the problem that many brands face.
“Creating content is the biggest challenge that a corporation like Marriott faces,” Hamilton says as he explains how his team uses a network of bureaus to source and create content based on different regions.

“Everyone is a content provider. Everyone is doing it in their own lives. That same mindset and that same wanting to share needs to also be a part of employees’ Marriott life. That whole idea that you see things that are interesting and go ‘aha!'”

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Tags: Digital Marketing, marriott, social media

Photo credit: Two Marriott employees pose for a photo after the hotel group is named one of FORTUNE magazine’s "100 Best Companies to Work For." Marriott International

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