Bed and Breakfasts, Managing Your Social Media in Under an Hour a Week

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I wrote this last year for a B&B conference I spoke at and hadn’t realized I hadn’t posted it! tsk tsk on me!

It’s very important to create a marketing calendar and stick to it! Put the schedule in your desk calendar, whether it’s online or offline and treat it like every other todo item that you HAVE to do during the week. I know B&Bs don’t have a lot (or any) of extra time, but social media is a necessary evil, in this day and age of online marketing, you HAVE to do it, whether you want to or not.

While your realistically can’t do more then 2 social media channels (and do them well) you can have a presence on multiple channels if managed properly.

Suggested Weekly Marketing Schedule for a Bed and Breakfast

Once Daily either in the Morning and Afternoon (5-10 minutes) at least 5 days a week.

Check your business’s Facebook Page for questions and respond if necessary, a positive post by a guest or potential guest should always be “liked”, a comment is encouraged.

Check Twitter with a program like https://hootsuite.com/  or http://tweetdeck.com/ (or Login directly)

Respond when necessary. Follow the @ replies that make sense to reply to. Don’t rely on twitter to send you notifications that someone has followed or replied to you, notifications seem to work on about 50% of the time. Follow back anyone that seems to be a human being, remember you can always unfollow them if they try to sell you something.

Scan Twitter followers and feed for relevant or interesting conversations to join. Retweet something interesting, helpful or relevant.

Check LinkedIn. Reply to emails and comments if needed.

Check your Google+ page, post one thing (at least per week).

Set-up and Scan Google Alerts for brand and company mentions. http://www.google.com/alerts

If time (with-in that 10 minutes) Chat with people on Google+ or Twitter, Pin some inn images, or related images to Pinterest. Get a extra post done in Google+ and/or Facebook. Don’t forget you can pre-schedule posts in Facebook or use https://bufferapp.com or https://hootsuite.com/ to get a jump on other posts on most networks.

Weekly, set one day aside (5-10 minutes) to do just one thing.

Build Twitter Lists to better organize ongoing discussions and special interest groups. (say Monday)

Add new content to Facebook like videos or photos. Pre-schedule some posts for throughout the week (say Tuesday) Make sure you have at least one post scheduled for Saturday.

Schedule tweets through https://hootsuite.com/  , http://tweetdeck.com/  or https://bufferapp.com to go out at least once a day, or at least several times per week. Keep in mind if you connect your blog post and Facebook business page to twitter, it will also feed that content in. (say Wednesday)

Write at least one new blog post, Pin the image in the post to Pinterest. (say Thursday) Remember a blog post doesn’t have to be a novel. A photo or two and a short paragraph will do it.

Catch up on LinkedIn discussions and add some new connections. (say Friday)

Aggregation tools:

Content Sources:

Twitter lists: Even if you don’t “use” twitter, you can set up lists for business information sourcing. https://support.twitter.com/articles/76460-how-to-use-twitter-lists

Example: https://twitter.com/#!/forfeng/business/members

Sign up for newsletters or blogs relevant or interesting to your target clientele.

Aggregating stories:

And please see:  Innkeepers, How to get ahead in Social Media

Posted in B&B, How tos, Lodging, marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two quick twitter tips for Bed and Breakfasts

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Both of these have to do with lists and if your a B&B and not using lists, your making life for yourself a lot more difficult then it needs to be. Lists are by far the easiest way to organize and stay on top of what is happening on twitter.

If you are not familiar with lists, https://support.twitter.com/articles/76460-using-twitter-lists and http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/?s=twitter+lists (all the posts reference lists) here is a little heavy reading for you.

One: If you are already using lists, especially ones to help market and advertise your area, or for those innkeepers that make custom lists so they can send them to guests inquiring about the area, make sure you add yourself to your area things to do, places to see, local areas, etc. lists. If you are making lists of other B&Bs and lodging, make sure you add yourself to those lists as well.

There are two reasons for this, one is if you send the list(s) to a potential guest, you want to make sure they see your tweets as well as the others in that category. Two and more importantly, other people can and do follow your lists, you have more potential and greater exposure to your tweets this way.

If you look at my list https://twitter.com/forfeng/lists/lodging4 you can see I have listed 496 lodging facilities in that particular list and I have 78 people subscribing to that list. Those 78 people are not necessarily following those lodging people but they ARE following their tweets.

Two: use private lists. First and most importantly to stalk your competition, possible future guests and also vendors.  But also to be more private about your personal interests if you are using your inn twitter account semi-personally. I was followed by an innkeeper a few days ago (new to twitter apparently) and I checked out who he was following and who was following him, as many experienced twitter users are wont to do. Mixed in amongst his hospitality people he was following was many many women with big bozongas and picture of said big bazongas.

I’ll give the guy a break, I know he’s single, in fact I had a nice email conversation with him and he has since cleaned up who he was following (publically). I point this out because an innkeeper may have personal interests that they may not want to “show” to the public, i.e. future and returning guests.

I don’t just mean sex related, they could be religious or political as well. Even as a B&B lover I will not return the follow of several innkeepers that are following the Westboro Baptist Church on twitter, because WBC offends my personal beliefs. While this is an extreme example, I know potential guests that are die hard Republicans that will not stay at an inn publically supporting the Dems.  Who you follow is a personal reflection of who you are as an innkeeper, if it’s not something you feel comfortable “advertising” or if it’s not a target demographic you are marketing specifically to, I would suggest putting it on a private list.

** Of interest to list users, twitter has apparently lifted the cap on how many lists you can create (it used to be 25)  and how many people you can put on a list (it used to be 500 per list) as I just came across a user with 4986 people on one list. I don’t know if there is a cap on either anymore.

Posted in B&B, How tos, Inns, Lodging, marketing, Observations | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Working on The Men of Glastonbury Calendar

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For those who may not know, I kind of fell into a full time job this past June at the local Chamber of Commerce that I have been a member and ambassador at for the last few years. It wasn’t something I was looking for, and it’s certainly been a bit of a challenge running my own full time business alongside it, but it certainly has been fun and oftentimes quite interesting.

One of the more interesting (and I admit quite fun) things I’ve gotten to work on this past month has been the Men of Glastonbury calendar. A fundraising piece for the Chamber modeled on the successful Men of Westerly calendar that the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce has done for several years now.

Apparently Glastonbury was not quite prepared for something like this and it’s under a lot of misconceptions. Which I find totally hilarious. Being a chamber employee now, as well as a business owner (and still a chamber member) it’s interesting seeing the internal and external workings and the sides of people that come out under unique circumstances. This is certainly one of those circumstances where you get to see inside the deepest recesses of people’s character and to see if they actually have a sense of humor or not.

Because that’s what this calendar is, it’s funny as hell. It’s not Playgirl, it’s not something you have to hide, it reminds me a tad of the Garden Club ladies movie in the UK who “took it off for charity” The movie is called Calendar Girls and for those out for a good laugh and a great heartwarming movie, highly recommended!

The local paper seems to have it’s knickers in a twist about the whole thing, and I’m still not sure whether the editor finds the whole idea offensive or is just insulted he wasn’t asked to participate in it. Towns people and business people alike have raised eyebrows and been a tad leery of the whole thing it seems.

I think part of the issue comes from seeing some photos from the Westerly calendar, which is a tad risqué in that some of the photos taken were of the men totally lacking their skivvies, with objects strategically placed to hide their tootsies. Cute but a bit much for Glastonbury, which I would agree with!

The calendar I got to work on was in a totally different vein. Men HAD to wear their tighty whities (in one case red LOL), shorts or jeans, they were just for the most part shirtless. While some pictures “look” like the guys were naked as Jaybirds, thankfully for my part in having to put together and edit the calendar, they were not.

While just like any other gal I appreciate a nice 6 pack, quite a few of our photos had 10 packs, 12 packs and a couple of kegs.

I think what hasn’t helped the misconception was the logo I designed:
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One of our Calendar month’s sent this revised version to us that might be a bit truer to form in some cases:
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It was interesting creating a calendar from scratch and seeing the results of 6 different professional photographers with their own takes on lighting etc. as well as seeing the really creative things that some of the business owners participating in the project came up with. I was myself a little leery of the project at first, I’ve never designed a full scale calendar before, plus in the beginning just like most area people out there I thought, Say What? Local dudes in the altogether advertising their businesses? Erm………

Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by the photos that came in that I had to place in the calendar. The photos were great, some were cute, some funny as all get out, one was downright adorable, a local business with three generations in it, including a little cute as a button baby.

I think people once they see the calendar will see what a gas it is, I know everyone we have showed it to so far has giggled, guffawed and said “Oh my God, that’s hilarious”. It’s meant in good fun and some of the proceeds are being donated to local charities. I know I’ll be buying some calendars for Christmas presents for relatives I know that will get a kick out of them.

All I can say is hats off to the photographers who did an absolutely awesome job with the photos, and I have to admire the balls (metaphorically) of the guys who volunteered and paid money as well to be IN the calendar. While I may look at a few of them differently from now on, it won’t because I’ve seen their 6 pack (or 10 pack abs) it’s because I admire the gumption it took to do something like this in the name of business as well as admiring their sense of humor.

Posted in General Rants & Raves, Humor, Observations | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A quick tip for personal Facebook profiles that have business pages

While I am not a big fan of mixing personal profiles with business, many people leave part or all of their Facebook profiles, “public” meaning anyone logged in to Facebook can view information on their personal pages.

If you do have your profile all or partially set to public, make sure in your about section (on your personal profile) you have it correctly set to your Business Facebook page (if you have one.)

More then 50% of the personal profiles I come across on an almost daily basis have business pages and have them linked to Facebook “places” pages, ones that Facebook has automatically created for a business when it imported information from another source, instead of having them linked to their actual official Facebook business page.

While it is possible to merge your places page with your actual business page (see https://www.facebook.com/help/168172433243582 on how to do this). This is about not having the link set correctly in the first place.

An example of a personal profile linked incorrectly, as you can see it it leads to a business places page which has no content or contract information.fb-1

links to this……fb page place

An example of a personal profile linked correctly, as you can see it it leads to a businesses actual Facebook business page. fb3

Links to this……fb4To check and see whether you have your page linked correctly, just click on your “about” section in your personal profile and then click on your “business name” in the Work and Education section. To edit, click edit.

While this is a extremely simple thing, many business owners don’t take advantage of this or they don’t know or haven’t checked that the link is not linked correctly to their page. As I mentioned earlier I see a lot of personal profiles with links set incorrectly, many of them lodging and restaurant owners.

If your business name is not appearing when you try to add or edit your information, make sure the correct title and format that your business page is named is being used. Jane Doe B&B would not come up in your about section as an autosuggestion if your page name is Jane Doe Bed and Breakfast.

If you are going to put in where you work or what business you own on Facebook, the least you can do is advertise it. :)

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When Your Website is Down, do You Have a Backup Plan?

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I talk to more people who groan, “I don’t want to be on social media for my business!’.

Fine then, don’t be for the following reasons: it’s free, it’s great branding for your business, it doesn’t have to be time consuming, it’s fabulous for SEO (search engine optimization) and it’s a great way to connect with customers and clients.

Put aside those reasons for a minute and think about what you would do if you depend on your website to bring you business. Whether you sell products on line, you’re a restaurant or lodging facility, or you just have it to be on online billboard for who you are, what you do and how to contact you.

Think, for just a minute. Really think, just ONE minute how important is your website to your business.

A few days ago BlueHost, HostGator, JustHost and HostMonster (all owned by Endurance International Group and on the same date center), were all knocked off line. Hosting was down for many thousands of businesses for more then 8 hours. People were (and still are) having major meltdowns about it. Fingers were pointed, hosting was switched to other companies and complaints are still abounding.

While people are understandably annoyed with the companies, I want to point out that you will NEVER have 100% uptime hosting on your website. Uptime basically meaning your site is online and visible to the public.

While an outage of that length is a huge issue, many of the big hosting companies have themselves had major outages within the last year. Godaddy one of the more recent ones which took offline thousand of domains.

And that brings us to reason #1 why you should at least have a presence on either Facebook or Google+.

So in your moment of thought about what would you do if your website is offline for extended periods of time, did you also consider that if you send and receive email through your domain (i.e. your website) (depending on how it’s set up) you may have no email?

Both Facebook business pages and Google+ business pages come up on page one of web search when people are looking for businesses, some times they come up listed before an actual business website does.

If a customer wants or needs to connect with you, give them an alternative way to contact and communicate with you.

Some ways Facebook and/or Google+ can assist your business if your site is offline.

  1. Listing phone number(s) where your customers can reach you. If your site is offline so is your contact information, unless they can find it elsewhere online (and it may not necessarily be correct elsewhere).
  2. If your regular email is knocked offline it takes only a minute to set up a Gmail (or other online account) and then put a post on your social media giving people an alternative way to connect with you if needed by email. If you only have one phone line it may be tied up at that point and the quickest way to annoy customers and potential customers is to not let them have a contact outlet.
  3. If you have products to sell or reservations to take, Both Facebook and Google+ lets you upload multiple photos and have multiple photo albums. Descriptions of the photos can also contain links to e-commerce storefronts and/or reservations systems.
  4. Having a presence online gives you the ability to update customers on the status of when your site will be back up.
  5. And this is probably the most important reason to be on social media, while a website being down may not effect a service business like a contractor or drycleaner as much as it may effect a retailer or a hotel, if a consumer/customer/client can not find you, they will go elsewhere for business.
Posted in Customer Service, How tos, marketing, Observations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pinterest and Copyright

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Good news for photographers and others who are concerned about copyright issues and having their images on Pinterest, it looks like Pinterest is finally taking copyright claims seriously and removing images.

I received this, this morning in my email.

“Hi Forfeng Designs, This is to let you know that we removed one (or more) of your Pins as a result of a copyright complaint. The complaint was not directed against you or your Pin. It was directed against another user who Pinned or re-Pinned the same content from the following address:  XXXXXX.blogspot.com.

While many copyright owners are happy to have their content Pinned on Pinterest, we recognize that some do not want their content to appear on Pinterest. Where, as here, a copyright owner notifies us that they want their content removed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), it is our policy to remove the allegedly infringing Pin, as well as all other Pins that contain the same content if the copyright owners so choses.

Again, this complaint was not directed at you, or anything you did. We just thought you’d like to know why we removed your Pin.

Happy Pinning and thanks again for using Pinterest. The Pinterest Team”

The interesting thing is this copyright complaint hadn’t originated from Pinterest (ie someone pinning content on Pinterest itself) it originated from a blogger pinning content (a photo) that they had snitched from someone’s Etsy page and put on their own blog.

What I find interesting is that the photo’s owner has no problem with the photo itself being on Pinterest (it’s easy to find other copies online on Pinterest), she just wanted it pinned so it tracked back to her own content. Wise Lady!

I am going to interject this about copyright issues, photos being pinned if they originate from your website or blog are mostly certainly boosting your website/blog incoming traffic, as the Etsy lady was smart enough to key in on. That’s anything but a bad thing. If people are not giving attribution and it’s not linking to your content I agree it’s not good, but the question is how to track it down.

Second of all in this day and age, it’s extremely difficult to stop people from copying things, if people are worried about copyright and people using their images without attribution, they need to visibly watermark their images. Most visible watermarks can be edited out if someone has a couple of hours to spare and some skill with photoshop, but the odds of someone spending that much time and effort on it are slim.

A few sites that might help a tad with this.

Photo search copyright: http://www.tineye.com/  reverse image search

Google Image Search – http://images.google.com/

Protection for Photos online watermarking, If you don’t have Photoshop:

Pictureshark – http://www.picture-shark.com/watermark_freeware_image_protect_gallery_default.htm

FastStone Photo Resizer http://www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm

Batch watermark http://www.watermark.ws/

Photographers and others should not be loading print ready/high resolution images on line anyway, especially on their websites, aside from copyright worries, not everyone has high speed internet and a large rez photo slows down load time on their website immensely. A good way to check how this effects your website is to have Google Analytics installed on your site. A very high bounce rate and slow loading photos (because they are high rez) means people aren’t sticking around to see them, they are click click clicking away.

I would suggest if watermarking, don’t just watermark with your initials or name, put your actual website address, you can take out the http:// and www. if you are concerned with length, but you do want people to find you, so make it easy for them.

For those concerned about copyright, I would recommend reading on how to deal with it on Pinterest at http://about.pinterest.com/copyright/.

Pinterest also provides information on how to stop someone pinning from your site by using a code snippet https://en.help.pinterest.com/entries/21063792-Prevent-pinning-from-your-site, this does not stop people from actually copying the photo onto somewhere else and then pinning it or taking a screen or snippet snap shot of it.

If you are concerned your content has been pinned on Pinterest without attribution, do some searches for it, Pinterest does have a way of searching for pins pinned from your own content.  Search for pins originating at your website or blog http://pinterest.com/source/yourURLhere (without the http://www.) but remember that’s a good thing! If you find your content non attributed, do report it to Pinterest though!

 

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A Shameless Promotional Post for a Friend.

The folks over at Prima Supply are good folks and good friends. I don’t normally post promotion type posts but looking from the aspect of a former chef who had to buy equipment, I would have loved this idea if I was still cooking.

In addition they have been great at helping pass along my blog posts on twitter and other media for a long time, and its long overdue that I returned the favor.:)

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The Challenge: build customer trust in 90 seconds – Our Solution: Try Before You Buy

90 seconds…that is the average amount of time a new visitor spends on our site. For us, as an online supplier of restaurant and foodservice equipment, those 90 seconds of time spent on our website is all we have to engage a new visitor and give them a reason to come back.

Our solution, which we are excited to introduce, is our  Try Before You Buy program for the restaurant and foodservice industry.  The program, which is rolling out in beta on select items through the month of July, allows a customer to order a piece of equipment and try it for 14 days from the date of shipment before we charge their card. If they do not like it then we will ship it back free of charge.

We are doing this to address two problems. First, customer trust. In an internet age where online supply companies are a dime a dozen, we wanted to set ourselves apart as a company that is concerned with our customers’ success. Second and directly related to the first, we wanted to ease large purchase anxiety. One of the hard things about shopping online is the fact that you can’t physically see and touch the equipment you are purchasing. Even if you trust the manufacturer, you may feel uncertain whether a piece of equipment will work in your unique situation. Try Before You Buy alleviates those doubts by ensuring that what you purchase will work for you or we will ship it back.

http://primasupply.com/

https://twitter.com/primasupply

https://www.facebook.com/primasupply

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