Cyber Monday, Social Media and Customers (?)

As we are now officially in holiday shopping season, it's always interesting to observe the good, the bad and the ugly of marketing.  This year is a bit different than last, as for one, we're in a better albeit not a great economy.  And let's not forget that we've moved on from the "year(s) of social media" to the "year of mobile".  (Of course for us, it's always the year of the customer.)

It was interesting, particularly as a Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum member, to read a press release ten days ago about their Cyber Monday Sale, which was going to be previewed to fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter the Sunday evening prior.  Nothing like old fashioned PR to promote social media to promote a sale, though this has boosted their Facebook followers from 

At the risk of exposing my immediate cynicism, it seemed prudent to wait until the momentous event, fully expecting that my email inbox might also provide an early peek at these Cyber Monday Sale rates.  After all, 29 stays this year and Platinum status in SPG -- arguably the best point-based frequent guest program among the big three (Starwood, Hilton and Marriott) -- should make me feel good about the Starwood brand, right?

Well guess what?  Once again we wake up and are reaffirmed at how low the bar is for customer and loyalty marketing.  For many if not most marketers these days, it is followers and fans first, and verifiable customers second (if at all).  

Honestly, cynicism aside, I fully expected an email from Starwood with a preview of the Cyber Monday deals, given that they went to the effort of a press release.  While there wasn't one, perhaps there was another objective other than selling rooms to customers?

One objective was likely to grow their following in social, but looking at the numbers today, there was only a small, single-digit percentage increase in both Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

Perhaps this was just a PR effort, as it isn't likely to sell a lot of rooms for them.