Heck, Don’t buy my stuff, BUY MY STUFF!

Yesterday I was at my monthly Chamber of Commerce Ambassador’s meeting and a brief discussion sprang up about the personal side of Facebook. In a nutshell people don’t want to see game posts and sales pitches.

Several hours later I was in a business focus group with about 45 other business owners, again the discussion turned to Facebook on the personal side. The discussion went on for a good 20 minutes and the gist of it was, WE DON”T WANT TO BE SOLD TO.

On a personal level, I like 1600+ businesses, they are primarily lodging and restaurants, call it market research,.  I found my feelings to be the same as everyone in the business group in that if we get deluged by marketing messages we unlike or hide the posts from page.

Think of this from a business perspective, if you have 400 fans and everything you post is a marketing post, MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME, BUYMYSTUFFBUYMYSTUFFBUYMYSTUFFBUYMYSTUFFBUYMYSTUFF?

How many of your fans have “hid” your messages?  

Facebook insights can give you some valuable feedback about this. 400 Fans, more then half of which have hid your posts on their internal Facebook stream as a general estimate. So much for your marketing reach. If you go by the roundtable discussion we had, it might be quite a bit more then that.

This brings me to the question of outsourcing your social media for business. A foodservice community I belong to, recently had a post by a marketer who thinks restaurants can outsource ALL their social media.

Needless to say, that got me going. (Surprise, Surprise) I posted some comment feedback and then had to quit, because they say if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But I do have to comment on it in my own space and give some insight takeaways from it.

I am a firm believer that any business; restaurant, lodging, dry cleaners, insurance agents and performers can do their own social media. If you need help, great, seek help, seek the advice of marketers with proven track records that can give you examples of their marketing, without having to sit through a half hour sales pitch.

I don’t agree that you can outsource ALL your social media. The moment you lose control of your marketing, you lose control of your voice and your brand.

A recent comment brought up by a marketing lawyer (on the same foodservice forum), you also can lose control of legal issues if you don’t have a signed contract with the marketer and they screw up and they refuse to take responsibility for it.

It’s a VERY good point!

I wrote a post about this a couple of years back (although it seems like yesterday) When To, and the Pros and Cons of, Out-Sourcing Your Social Media for restaurants and lodging http://www.foodservice.com/blogs/show.cfm?contentid=15580&title=When%20To,%20and%20the%20Pros%20and%20Cons%20of,%20Out-Sourcing%20Your%20Social%20Media%20for%20restaurants%20and%20lodging

The same day the article by the outsourcing marketer came out, this article came out, a great read by the way: WHAT DO CHEFS NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA AND HOW TO MANAGE IT? http://www.premierproduce.net/user/files/Chefs_and_Social_Media_Taxel.pdf

To expand a bit on evaluating companies to outsource part of your social media too, if you honestly feel you can’t do it yourself, here are some tips.

Give a hard look at the samples they provide,

If it’s a blog, do they post regularly? Do they have some statistics of traffic to blogs they have done. Can they provide writing samples based on some information you give them from your restaurant and lodging facility?

When evaluating a twitter account that someone provides as a sample. Are they engaging with people? Are they posting anything of interest? With a personality? What’s the regularity?

As an example, if we take the one account that this outsourcing company provided and analyze it, we find some interesting statistics.

Following almost 2000 people, has almost 1200 people following them. In this case the ratios are off balance.

Both the follower and followee list are filled with people who don’t have bios, locations or any real content in their streams. This is a good indication of an account that is using autofollow software, and that many of those follower and followees are not real people, they are bots or people just posting things like, “I had coffee this morning”, i.e. not potential customers.

868 of the people this account follows, don’t follow them back. You can check ratios of twitter accounts by going to http://www.friendorfollow.com/. (this is free by the way and a very useful tool)

All tweets are sales related, and with the exception of one single post thanking someone for following them, there is not another instance of engagement.  80% of the posts are from a Facebook feed from their fan page.  If you follow them you get an auto DM asking you to find them on Facebook.

From the perspective of SEO (search engine optimization) at least with Bing, this is fine. From the perspective of getting any real value out of this account? I would rate it at a negative zero if such a thing was possible.

As a customer looking at this on twitter, why on earth would I want to follow this account? To be hit over the head with more marketing messages?

If it’s Facebook, look not just at the number of fans, but fan engagement, as well as checking out the profiles of some of the most recent comments and likes by fans. Many people don’t hide their profile information, photos and wall posts, once you are logged into Facebook. It’s amazing how much information you can garner about a fan base by who they are and what they post internally.

Look at the posts themselves. Are they regularly posted? Is there engagement? And I mean REAL engagement, comments, discussions, etc. Not just someone “liking” the fact that there are two for one appetizers on Friday nights or an inn has a stay two nights get the second night half price.

If I take the one Facebook example provided by the marketer who believes everything can be outsourced, we see that all the posts are marketing posts. Yes there is some fan activity (mostly likes and an occasional “that’s cool”), but from digging deeper into fan profiles they are people who like to party hearty.

That’s terrific if you’re a bar, but none of the comments/likes seem to originate from regular people who have nine to five jobs with families, who should be your bread and butter targets. And I don’t mean necessarily families with kids. I mean families with brothers, sisters, parents, assorted relatives and friends whose ages, income levels and demographics are in your target market.

Of the almost 600 people who have fanned the page, how many people have “blocked” the internal posts. One has to wonder.

I can also bring up the comment made by the marketer, that this restaurant always had a line out the door and implied it was because of their social media marketing efforts (outsourced).

Could the restaurant be getting fans perhaps because it has great food and great service? Perish the thought! If they are customers and like the food and service, yes they will probably fan the page, but they are getting there under their own power.

I would be willing to bet a large amount of money, that if they had the restaurant’s own “voice” even mixed in with the canned marketing, they would have more “real” engagement as well as more fans. (and probably more people that haven’t “blocked” the posts.) I have seen this proven on many many restaurant and lodging fan pages.

One of the other things you need to pay attention to, and a very important one it is: is the marketer up to speed on each social media platform’s TOS (terms of service)? In this case, apparently not, as the Facebook header displays pricing information.

Facebook is not shy about punishing people who abuse their terms of service. They have removed personal accounts who have used the accounts for advertising purposes, no warnings, just BAM, they are gone and not getting them back.

It’s too early to tell whether Facebook will penalize brands for putting information they shouldn’t have in their page headers. But from the perspective of a business, if you outsourced your social media to a marketer and then ooops your business page that you had paid them to work on was removed…………………

If you were a lodging company and the company who was helping you with your social media suggests selling room nights on Pinterest, things like this should raise some red flags.

Get familiar with social medias TOS, so you can protect your business.

My takeaways in a nutshell are, if you are going to outsource some of your social media, fine. But VET VET VET your marketers well. Look at their own social media accounts. If you don’t like what you see there, that should raise another red flag. Ask questions and don’t take snow job replies as answers. If they can’t explain it to you and prove it and show you in plain English with good justifiable examples, you need to move on and find someone who can.

Life is too short, revenue too dear, your business too precious to completely let go of your brand to another company who may not treat it well. It’s your business at stake, not theirs.

If you take the discussions amongst business people I was involved with yesterday to heart, people don’t want to be sold to 24/7, it’s ok if it’s the soft sell, but they can go watch TV, listen to the radio or read the Hartford Courant newspaper online if they wanted to get hit over the head with ads.  A marketing agency that all they are doing is pitching your stuff, is not doing your brand any favors.

Jay Baer (one of the few people I do think is an honest to goodness expert in the world of marketing) came out with this post a few days ago. New Research: Americans Hate Social Media Promotions http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research-2/new-research-americans-hate-social-media-promotions/. Take this to Heart!

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About Heather Turner

Innkeeping Tip and Tricks: Please check out some marketing ideas for Inns and B&Bs, Blogging ideas, Facebook Tips and Social Media Tutorials http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/marketing-for-lodging-resources/
This entry was posted in How tos, Lodging, marketing, Observations, Restauranting, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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