HD Talks

10 Ways to Engage on Social Media

Posted by on May 25, 2016 in social media, Trends

During HD Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month, Andrew Alford, chief creative officer at Chicago-based AJ Capital Partners (and the designer behind its Graduate Hotels), and Bashar Wali, principal and president of Provenance Hotels in Portland, Oregon discussed the importance of social media in the hospitality world.

Of course, we all can’t be DJ Khaled when it comes to the ubiquitous medium, but owners and designers can find common ground to create social media feeds that are coveted and constantly scanned by their followers. Here are 10 takeaways for taking your social media to the next level.


Bashar Wali and Andrew Alford discuss social media best practices at the Graduate Hotels-inspired Social Hub during HD Expo in May.

1. Traditional advertising has gone the way of the dinosaur. “We’ve become obsessive about designing to social media,” Alford says. “That’s where the real advantage is.”

2. Recognize the people who are posting about your property by retweeting or regramming their feeds. “It gives them credibility that the establishment” is paying attention, adds Wali.

3. Use social media to “to see what trends to avoid,” explains Alford. It’s a great way to stay ahead of the curve, and see what design elements are becoming oversaturated and overused.

4. Instagrammable moments should be organic. In the Graduate Madison, for example, Alford was certain the painting of Rodney Dangerfield doing the Triple Lindy dive (Back to School was filmed at University of Wisonsin-Madison) would be the photo all over social media. Instead, it was the pink flamingos painted into a duck hunting scene that is pervasive on social media feeds.  “We actually got something from Instagram that we didn’t expect,” he says.


The painting is in reference to a university prank where thousands of plastic flamingos were placed on University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Bascom Hill. As a result, the official bird of Madison is now the pink-feathered creature.

5. Social media shouldn’t direct design. Says Wali: “You should never design for [your social media outlets]. Our concern is that you lose the integrity and it becomes more about the photo than the cohesiveness of the design.”

6. Social media can build a strong community.  “There’s a connection that’s available and a dialogue between creative people that I think is very important,” Alford says. “A lot of times the world isn’t built for creative people but things like [following your favorite designers] are the best parts of social media; it allows a community of people to get to know each other.”

7. Wali, a technology early adopter, says his 14-year-old son put social media into perspective for him. “Facebook is for grandpa; Instagram is for mom and dad; and Snapchat is for [the younger generation].” A good business plan is to focus on the medium these younger generations are using the most.

8. Find a brand ambassador to help deliver your content to a new audience. “If they latch onto you, it will increase the number of followers,” says Wali, who finds well-known locals to do Instagram takeovers of Provenance properties.

9. Hashtags are also important. Wali says the #SeattleDoesntSettle (a slogan that is painted on an exterior wall at Seattle’s Hotel Max) and #OwnEveryMoment hashtags have helped draw new fans to his hotels.


The saying “Seattle Doesn’t Settle,” painted on the exterior of Provenance’s Hotel Max, has become a mantra and a popular social media hashtag.

10. No matter what, there’s no reason to avoid social media. “Ultimately, you know where the world is headed and if you don’t invest in [social media] today, you’ll get left behind,” Wali adds.

Comments are closed.