Can an established brand learn new tricks? That was the question we asked ourselves when we relaunched W Hotels' primary social media channel in 2022, throwing everything we had previously strategized about the brand Instagram out the window.
Starting from scratch on Instagram with a brand people across the globe know and love is no easy task. But with a new target audience that values authenticity, a new look and feel that speaks to a luxury consumer, new partners across the globe, and a social media platform that was changing its algorithm, we had to dig deep and get at the heart of why people love to travel and, more specifically, love to travel with W.
To do this, we focused on five key initiatives: creating a new content strategy rooted in aspirational storytelling, elevating our look and feel to reach a new luxury consumer, shooting new content around the globe, testing new content formats on a constantly changing Instagram algorithm, and working with diverse partners and tastemakers that speak directly to our target consumer.
Now, given the complexity of this project, what does success look like? Our answer: shifting perception of W Hotels by modernizing our channels, investing in video, promoting the uniqueness of our hotels, and targeting next-gen luxury travelers, measured through reach and engagements on Instagram, as well as a brand lift study with Meta to see the impact our new strategy had on awareness and consideration.
First, we crafted a new content strategy that editorializes our social media platforms and tells bold and engaging stories about travel and our passions: Scene, Stance, Sound, Taste, and Body. In total, we conceived 14 new content series that speak about the uniqueness of our hotels, destinations, and people, half of which feature interviews and conversations with tastemakers, influencers, and celebrities to amplify our brand.
Second, with Instagram shifting to a video-first channel, we partnered with creators across the globe to shoot a mix of hi-fi and lo-fi content. Hi-fi content helps pushes W Hotels more firmly into luxury, while lo-fi content helps adapt brand channels to shifting social media trends, reflecting the balance of playfulness and luxury our brand strikes. We produced 11 videos and photoshoots across four continents, capturing over 830 pieces of content that told holistic stories of our hotels, destinations, and guest experiences.
Third, we executed partnerships with tastemakers, influencers, and celebrities who personify our guest profile: charismatic, free-spirited, magnetic, the spark that makes it happen on and offline. Tastemakers are featured in video series like “Local Check-In,” where our local partners tell us the ins and outs of their cities, and “Sound Check,” where musicians answer rapid-fire questions while performing. Influencers participated in interview series like “Travel with Me,” a POV-style video shot on iPhone authentically displaying a travel experience, and “Pillow Talk,” conversations about travel and culture while in bed at a hotel. Celebrities were featured in “Suite Talk,” an interview series combining conversation and design as notable individuals stroll through our hotels.
Finally, we amplified our content through paid media to an audience of frequent luxury travelers that shared our passions for music, design, dining, fitness, and culture. This allowed us to optimize our new strategy and run a brand lift study to understand the impact our strategy had on awareness and consideration.
The results? A 30% increase in engagement and over 101M impressions on Instagram, our primary social channel. Through our brand lift study, we have seen a 1.9% increase in awareness and a 2.5% increase in consideration for W Hotels.
We married our owned content series with earned amplification, partnering with people like Noah Beck, Tefi Pessoa, Isaac Hindin-Miller, Kimberly Drew, and Amrit Sidhu and brands like Cercle, Architectural Digest, and Mambo Creatives on video series for our channels and promotion on theirs. We generated over 626 million OTS (potential reach) on Instagram, our primary social media channel, in 2022, with comments like “May I have your lifestyle” and “I want to be the plus one next time, thanks,” proving that a W travel experience is aspirational.
With this new strategy, we’ve reached our north star by shifting the perception of W Hotels and laying the groundwork for future innovation and leadership across social media. So, where to next? You’ll have to follow ur us to see.