Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

Social Media Sushi

To experience a high-tech social media strategy that’s incredibly high-touch, book a weekend at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami and see how it’s done perfectly.

Some professionals are still struggling with the idea of social media as a tool. They complain that Twitter and Facebook are full of senseless noise. They cling to the belief that only a phone call or a personal appointment builds relationships necessary to create . The personal touch requires a person, they argue.

Yet success stories continue to pour in. Sales from friends we haven’t seen since high school. Referrals to their friends, and their children. Long distance connections to friends of friends of friends. None of which required a single ad, phone call or in-person meeting. Just people connecting to people by wall, tweet and text.

Can social media selling be high-tech and still high touch? Just ask the Mandarin Oriental in Miami.

The Mandarin does so many things perfectly. From the initial greeting to the charming room service, the high-touch personal experience is everywhere. So you can understand the challenge for a company whose strategy is service takes the leap into social media. It’s no small feat to translate perfect attention to people, by people, onto a Facebook fan page.

The Mandarin makes it look easy. It starts by doing what they’ve always done: Paying attention to people. Consider the beginning of my experience.

Mandarin Oriental Facebook Interaction

After making my reservation, I visited the Mandarin’s Facebook page. It’s what customers do with their trusted brands: join the brand experience online. I didn’t expect much to come from my innocuous posting. Yet the Mandarin’s response was far from simple. It was sales perfection. Surely, they could have just replied “We’re looking forward to your arrival!” But the Mandarin did more. They went beyond the auto-response into the relationship. They clicked on my name, viewed my profile, saw I lived in Boston where it’s freezing and buried in snow, and tailored a response that targeted my expectations for the weekend.

Simply perfect!

That’s what sales is all about. As Peter Drucker said, the purpose of sales is to know the customer so well that your product or service fits them and sells itself. It took mere seconds for the Mandarin to click and learn all about me, then talk to me about me. Not talk about themselves, their hotel. They immersed the customer in their value proposition: Attention to the customer.

And yet, there was more to come.

After arriving at the Mandarin Friday night, I ordered room service. Within five minutes, my doorbell rang. Thinking it was amazingly fast response time, for any kitchen, I opened the door utterly surprised. It wasn’t dinner. it was something better:

Chocolate sushi.

chocolate sushi

The man at the door explained it was a complimentary welcome gift from the manager. A nice gesture, but not necessarily one any hotel couldn’t duplicate. I seem to remember one chain offering warm cookies in the past.

Once again, the Mandarin proved it’s no ordinary brand. Accompanying the chocolate sushi was an envelope. I almost didn’t open it, thinking it to be a form-printed “thanks for spending the weekend at our hotel.” I’m glad I did, because here’s what I found:

mandarin thank you note

Talk about complementing the high-tech with high-touch!

The Mandarin did something very clever: It rewarded me for doing something I didn’t have to do: make a nice comment on their Facebook page. Rather than simply thank me at the front desk, they did something extra: They used a small gift – chocolate sushi – to complete the circle. They completely integrated the experience – from online to offline – and proved that social networking can be a powerful component to a delightful customer experience.

And, they benefitted tremendously. I’m writing this blog, spreading the positive experience to my sphere of influence. That’s the whole goal of social network selling. Getting people who trust your judgment to trust your favorite brands. The Mandarin’s sphere of influence is surely expanding. And they’ve created a “fan for life” who will surely tell this story, over and over.

That’s social influence.

Alas, the one thing the Mandarin could not control is the weather: It’s raining in Miami today. Yet I’m sitting here on the balcony, enjoying room service and smiling ear-to-ear about my experience with the Mandarin.

Makes you wish the Mandarin, who can deliver a delightful customer experience from online to offline, could control the weather too!

*** UPDATE:  The next morning, the Mandarin’s PR department called me! They noticed that I’d written the blog, and wanted to share it across their social media sites. Of course, I agreed. Then they asked me to make a tiny change to the “ending” of the blog. They informed me they could indeed control the weather: They invited me to spend the day in the spa! Nice!!


  • Good stuff, combining online and offline to give the customer a great feeling.

  • Steve

    Sensational post on a sensational use of social media. Made me think of how we could do better. As always, thanks for making us think!

  • Thanks! I think it helps to spread the success stories so everyone can see it in action!

  • Thank you to Steve Harney for pointing out this fantastic post by Matt Ferrara. Very insightful and beautifully written. I read it, then re-read it, thinking of all the ways I might incorporate the same personal touch in my business. As for the Mandarin Oriental , I can’t wait to visit!

  • Evelyn

    Wow – what a great learning experience – thanks for sharing with this article!

  • Kathleen Nagro

    I am always amazed at how clever you are while having a fantastic time! You are an inspiration….you are so tuned in….

  • Thanks for your very kind compliment! I’m glad to help with my little stories and ideas.

  • MO Miami obviously understands the “Bridge” between online & offline & how to work it using a little common sense and effort. Two valuable commodities! But, if you possess them, you’re right, so inexpensive & far-reaching…& ORGANIC!
    Enjoy your weekend!

  • What I really want to know is if you ate the chocolate sushi before your dinner came!

  • Of course! 🙂

  • Tgoddard

    Excellent, worth the read – and worth sharing.

  • Daniel Cho

    Thanks for speaking last night.  I would love to get a copy of the presentation file so I can show it to my broker and colleagues at the office.  It was a very impressive collection of stats and suggestions.  Let me know if you’d be okay with that!  Happy holidays.

  • I will be posting the files later and will share with you.

    – Matthew

    O. 978.291.1250
    C. 508.878.6223

    Mobile Transmission complete.

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