One of the most frequent questions I get from Innkeepers, and from all types of businesses including insurance agents, photographers and real estate agents to name a few, is: “How do I come up with consistent content and stay on top of consistent posting.”
Staying on top of posting, means putting down time on your calendar and then religiously posting it online.
Whether it be an online or desktop based spreadsheet, a print day runner/daytime with a calendar or post it notes stuck to your computer,
If you get into a regular habit of sticking with a posting schedule, then it becomes much easier.
Do it for 5 minutes every morning, or every other morning while you are drinking your morning coffee. Take 2 minutes to do it while grabbing a quick lunch. Schedule some posts to auto-post, while your checking your email before bed at 10:00.
Social media does not have to be time consuming, but it does require a little time and a commitment. There is a dearth of free tools out there to help you automate information and if you intersperse it with “live” communication, it can pay off in terms of ROTI (return on time investment) and not be overwhelming.
A few of the ones I use for both myself and for clients on a daily and weekly basis (all free)
Once you set these systems up (once) they help enormously!
- Tweetdeck: http://www.tweetdeck.com/ (lets you easily manage tweets and twitter lists) desktop and web based versions.
- Buffer: http://bufferapp.com/ (just the free version) to auto schedule tweets
- Networked Blogs: (feed from blog to Facebook)
- Twitterfeed: (feed your blog into twitter) http://twitterfeed.com/
- Workflowy: (to organize content and online links) http://workflowy.com/
- Nutshell Mail: (sends you activity from online social networks to your email box) http://nutshellmail.com/
- Friend or Follow: (An easy way of finding out who is following you, and who you are following who is not following you back) http://friendorfollow.com (also useful for weeding out inactive tweeters, as well as checking out who is following your competition)
There are more here that may help (I keep trying to add to the list as I come across new ones) the ones above are my favorites and used the most often. http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/useful-websites-information-and-applications-for-social-media-business/
Coming up with consistent content, can be a challenge only if you think that everything you need to come up with needs to be your own stuff.
Anyone would run out of things to say pretty shortly, if it was just about your business, and from a social media standpoint you don’t want it be all about you anyway!
I see social media as being about 10% original content and 90% passed on or repurposed content. When I mean repurposed I don’t mean rewritten, I mean used as a source or an idea of more marketing content with credit to the original person.
An example would be an innkeeper comes across this article about gardening or a new way to make gluten free pancakes and make them taste good. The innkeeper can then write about the fact she or he had tried the recipe (with a credit and a link) and this is how they turned out (with a photo hopefully), or the gardening article that perhaps he or she doesn’t agree with, or has an alternative way to do the same thing, can use that as a jumping point sparked by that article about gardening.
Other content (especially for Facebook and twitter) can be links and articles posted by local and national newspapers, magazines, chambers of commerce and bloggers talking about the area the inn resides in.
If an inn is wedding friendly it can post wedding tips on Facebook and/or twitter passed on from The Knot. http://www.theknot.com/ for example, or pet friendly information from the amazing amount of pet information out there. Any niche out there has tons of information.
Always give credit, never republish, mention or snippet something and not give credit, not only is it copyright infringement, it’s just not polite.
Start accumulating content and put it into a word document or excel spreadsheet. I happen to like Google docs https://docs.google.com for this purpose, in conjunction with workflowy http://workflowy.com/, as I can then access information and content from everywhere.
Put together a list of local events, things to do and other interesting content, spread it out in a posting schedule, pre-write some blog posts. (remember a blog post doesn’t have to be a novel (unlike mine) it can be a paragraph or a photo and couple of sentences. Start getting your content together ahead of time and it becomes less time consuming to have to “find” content to post.
I have one innkeeper I work with that posts on their blog twice a week, just a paragraph, local events, things to do, etc. They have their blog posts pre-written for the next 6 months. Every month they set aside about 1/2 an hour and then ads additional content to the list. Cut, paste and publish.
The nice thing about information online, is there so much of it! And interesting things get posted every day! Use the tools to let information come to you, instead of having to seek it out.
I find good content on a score of subjects, innkeeping just being a small fraction daily on:
- Paper.li http://paper.li/
- Google Alerts http://www.google.com/alerts
- SocialOomph: (email digest of tweets I have keywords listed picked out) http://www.socialoomph.com/
I’m also signed up for several dozen newsletters that aggregate information. For any niche that an inn might have, somewhere out there are newsletters, blogs and online digest you can subscribe to for free. As an innkeeper find one or two good ones, it’s more then enough.
Take a few minutes when you can catch a breath and do a quick internet search, there is so much out there! Put the time to do it into your schedule. Just like doing your taxes and ironing sheets, social marketing has become a bit of a necessary evil.
I realize having the time to read them is always a challenge. I don’t know about you, but I can’t multitask (and type) when I have my two cups of coffee in the morning, but I CAN read newsletters and bookmark interesting information. 7.5 minutes on a daily basis during the week.
In terms of time, time is an illusion, for example, people ask me how can you be online (on twitter) all day long, your always posting something. I’m not, I use Buffer to space tweets out, and check back occasionally and monitor mentions and replies. So I am not glued to social media all day long and there is no reason you as innkeepers need to be either, you have important things to work on besides just marketing, like making guests happy.
If you start with 2 minutes a day for Facebook a few times a week to start and a couple of minutes for something else you want to concentrate on, it’s realistically not that much time. You can spend a 1/2 an hour to an hour a week and that’s plenty if its spaced out in chunks.
Look at it this way, if you place a print ad, one it’s money out of pocket, two you still have to spend time putting information putting it together, talking to the ad rep, etc. etc. What is your time worth? Think of it this way, using social media (and structuring it) to attract guests so you can spend the TIME to make them happy.