Hawaii Social

Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort
Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort (Photo credit: Dave Dugdale)

I was sitting on a beautiful lanai in the breeze of the cooling afternoon trade wind, at the Honua Kai resort just two weeks ago, jotting down notes for this long overdue post. I was thinking about how well the businesses and people in Hawaii have tuned in to social media. This should not surprise me, especially knowing how Hawaii quickly took to SMS and had one of the highest engagement levels with text-based programs like American Idol when I worked in the mobile industry.

Over the last three years, in our trips to Hawaii, I’ve seen the digital footprints of resorts, small local brands, and local shops grow. They are not just using Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook to broadcast out, but are also using the social web to make a connection with the customer on a personal level.  While on our family vacation, I had the opportunity to have a “talk story” session with Jill Mayo (@JillzBeanz)  who not only drives Social Marketing for several local brands and resort, but is also a hub of IRL—in real life—connections.

Although to Jill the adoption seems slow, to me it seems faster than the mainland. Small businesses are making effective use of Foursquare to drive offers and highlight events. Twitter is used to connect with customer on a hyper-local level to raise awareness around services and goings-on with the brand or resort property. The Honua Kai, for example, leverages their @HonuaKai handle to broadly converse about the resort and share information, and they manage a concierge only handle (@HKConcierge) to raise awareness around concierge services, share local events, and connect with guests one-on-one. This is quite a nifty idea and I wish others would adopt this hyper-local approach. Honua Kai’s marketing manager, Darren McDaniel, is doing a great job curating not only “traditional” kinds of hotel-related content but is also curating the stories of guests, and connecting the online experience with real life.

Jill believes that local brands in Hawaii are still experimenting and there is room for greater engagement. I fully agree. But I am also excited by the spirit of experimentation and not having pre-set ideas about how Social Marketing can drive loyalty. After all, the best sales person is the one that is not working for you; she is the advocate—the one whom others trust to give them the unadulterated skinny.

I like what Jill had to say about taking the brand breaking the fourth wall to connect in the real world and drive unique experiences that foster loyalty and advocacy. Perhaps it’s the fact that in Hawaii the spirit of ohana (family, in an extended sense of the term) allows the opportunity to take a simple 140 character message and make a connection on a human level.

Wouldn’t be cool if we could all get together next year for a Social Marketing conference on Maui? Let me or @JillzBeanz know.

Full disclosure: my wife and I stay at the Honua Kai and actively compete on becoming the mayor on Foursquare the moment we land.

Some interesting handles to follow in no particular order:

Aloha and Maui No Ka Oi

6 thoughts on “Hawaii Social”

  1. Great post Khody… thanks for sharing. Relationships focus on getting to know your consumer and giving them reasons to stay engaged… not just getting them to react.

  2. Aloha Khody, great post! I follow all the Maui Twitter folks you mention in the article and I noted that the link to my Twitter profile is correct, but it reads @EricBlair (with a “C”) and it should actually be a “K”, like this: @ErikBlair.No big deal, but I’m a geek 🙂

    I agree that our Hawaii Social Media Ohana has the advantage because we eagerly support each other and do so with the spirit of Aloha. We follow the ethic that by promoting each other, we all benefit; instead of chasing profits, we let the economics try to catch us.

    Next time you’re hear, let’s have breakfast or lunch! Aloha and Mahalo for the great article.

  3. Hawaii is a very different world for social media and marketing. We depend heavily on reaching customers/guests long before they arrive, yet we’re a tight knit crew that believe IRL is an essential component to social marketing. It’s an exciting time to see all these local businesses wake up to the potential of the ever-changing web.

    Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow!

  4. One thing about the energy you picked up on Khody is that the “coconut wireless” preceded social media. So when the tools became available, it was a natural extension of the strong communities and desire to know what your neighbors are doing that has thrived here for a long time. And yes, the potential and necessity for using socmed for T&T are huge opportunities for Hawaii businesses.

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