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

What does all this have to do with Surfing?

Teahupoo, Papeete, Tahiti
Teahupoo, Papeete, Tahiti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Looking back on 2012, I was remembering what excited me about it and realized that I kept getting stuck on being stoked. To those that don’t know the meaning of the word “stoked”, it is simply to be intensely enthusiastic, engaged, and exhilarated about something. In my small circle of Northwest surfer friends, this feeling is the essence of being alive.

What does all this have to do with marketing, technology, or business? If you are not stoked about what you are doing then you need to make a change. Plus, it gives me the opportunity test out some surfing lingo:

Here’s what I was stoked about in 2012, and will be glad to do in 2013:

  • Catch every wave:  You can just paddle out there and wait for the perfect wave. But my recommendation is that you paddle hard and ride as many as you can. I did that in 2012 and will continue to do it in 2013. From a business perspective this means looking at every opportunity not for what they are at that moment, but for the promise of them evolving into something amazing.
  • Ride to shore: You can always kick over, but I like riding to shore, seeing my family, and paddling back with the full panorama of the ocean in front of me.  In other words, keep sight of what is most important to you and see the big picture.
  • Duck dive: Sometimes you need to go through waves rather than paddling over them. Duck diving is the way that surfers dive under an oncoming wave as they paddle out. This tactic allows you to maintain the progress made by paddling out by not being washed backwards by the wave. Same thing applies to business. Sometimes you have to go through obstacles rather than going around them in order to maintain your trajectory.
  • Paddle out: This is just something you have to do not just in surfing, but in life as well. Don’t stay on the sideline, jump in, take a risk, and enjoy the ride.

Yes, I know it is late January, but I genuinely thought about what I need to do. What are you going to do? Surf, or stay on the beach?