Hard Rock Hotel

Social Media Rock Stars: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa Drops the Mic on all Bay Area HotelsSocial Media Rock Stars: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa Drops the Mic on all Bay Area Hotels

By John Kraps II

It’s officially winter, which means every family member up north comes down to visit me.   At first I put them up in my apartment, but not this year; I’m done with that nonsense.  The thing is, they all have different styles and tastes; and I want to find the perfect place for them. Hotel rating systems like Yelp are good and all for overall quality, but not about what makes a particular hotel unique.

Social media is a great avenue to share experiences, media and paint a picture of what it might be like to stay at a particular hotel.  However, when I ran a Scraawl social media report on the hotels in the area, only one hotel stood out from the crowd; Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

hr1The underlying problem is that every hotel has some social media presence, but most feel bland and give no real insight as to which of my family members would really enjoy staying there.  My report showed that the two top hotel accounts were the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa and Marriott Waterside.  However the gap between them in regards to social media effectiveness was staggering.  Marriott Waterside has 304 followers, 1,288 tweets, but only 568 likes.  Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa also known on Twitter as SHRT, has over 14,120 followers with over 19,000 tweets! What’s even more impressive is that they have received over 35,000 likes on its tweets.

So what is it about the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (SHRT) that makes it so successful at social media?



4 Reasons Why Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa “rocks” at social media.

  1. Employees are Encouraged to Post on Social Media Platforms.



Almost every SHRT employee their own Twitter account.  The hotel even has a Twitter account in place that’s specifically used to communicate with its staff. This social media policy is beautiful because it grants everyone in the general public a VIP look behind the scenes of every aspect of the hotel’s operations, allowing each department to tell its own unique story.  Of course there is increased risk of an employee going off the rails, and Ryan Holmes at Fast Company has some great tips if you are thinking about going this route.


While there is some risk involved in letting all of your employees to represent your brand on social media, as I just pointed out, I really like SHRT’s approach because it allows each employee to speak with their unique voice. So many other hotels in the area that I analyzed have a very “corporate feel.” Their employees don’t write or sound like real people to me. When employees of SHRT’s share, it comes across to me as real and personable.


  1. Established Ties With Local Sports Teams, Organizations; and Consistently Sponsor Local Events.

What’s really cool is that when there is a joint event both organization promote it increasing the scope of its audience.  Sponsoring local events like Gasparilla Pirate fest allows SHRT to showcase local events for those looking for something to do in the area, and establishes goodwill with the region.  Speaking of goodwill, another part of the unique voice that SHRT conveys online includes its philanthropic efforts through events supporting the Hard Rock Heals Foundation.  It also hosts special events like its Tampa Bay Buccaneers watch parties, cosponsored by Pewter Report.  Not to mention sponsoring local teams like the St. Petersburg Rowdies.



SHRT knows what it is doing, just look at the network it has built for itself.  This picture was created by using Scraawl’s social media graph, and only shows the direct connections between SHRT and others.  Each connection introduces SHRT to a larger network and gives its content a wider audience.  Companies need to find out which users and hashtags most effectively connect them to their target demographic.


  1. SHRT effectively uses popular hashtags to promote relevant content.


The “throw back Thursday (#tbt)” hashtag was one of SHRT’s most successful retweets thanks to Paula Abdul.  One great thing about #tbt is its ability to capitalize on nostalgia and reuse content in the future. Most Hotels have an interesting history, along with interesting patrons.  Utilizing relevant hashtags are vital for targeting specific demographics as well.



Another great use of hashtags occurred when the Hard Rock brand created the #hardrockheals for its philanthropic foundation.  Whenever there is a charity event, local franchises publicize it through social media; giving us a unique glimpse into another side of the brand.  For some customers, it is so important to see a company giving back that it could be what sways them in deciding where to stay.


  1. The hotel successfully maintains its national brand image while constructing its own unique local identity.



Say what you will about Dennis Rodman, but there is one thing he is not– boring.  When I was growing up, we never knew what he would do next.  He wasn’t the best player, but he was one of the most captivating off the court.  Likewise, SHRT might not be the “best” hotel in the area, but they are the most captivating online.

Social media, like the hospitality industry, is highly competitive.  There is a missed opportunity for hotel brands to distinguish themselves from the others;  to create an identity that reflects the corporate brand while adding a distinct local flavor. Sadly the content shared by Tampa Bay hotels, in general, is as exciting as watching paint dry.

The main problem with the other hotels in Tampa is…

Their content is boring!


By now most companies should know that social media is more than just a billboard for advertisements.  Whether you like it or not, if you have a social media account, you are now in the business of producing content.  There needs to be some incentive for people to read posted content.

Just look at this picture Marriott Waterside shared.  Don’t get me wrong it’s a solid photo for a company website, but it elicits no response by the user, like what do you say?  Nice gym?  Furthermore, the content isn’t really share-worthy.  It looks pretty much like every gym out there.  What really made the picture of Dennis Rodman was that there is only one Rodman, and he was in our neck of the woods.  Those types of moments and events are things people want to share with others, and elicit a response.  Even if you don’t like Rodman it demands some form of reaction by the user.  To be effective on social media, there is a need to create content that provides more than “white noise.”



USA Today listed Tampa Bay as one of the top cities for tourism in Florida, and it’s no surprise.  From Ybor City, to the top rated beaches, our region has some awesome places to check out.  Area hotels need to personalize their social media accounts and reflect our area’s uniqueness.  Social media is about engagement and quality content; give us something to talk about!  There might be some risk at loosening the reigns a little bit, but so far it has paid off for the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.  It will be interesting to see if more hotels adopt a similar model in the future.

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