The New Pinterest Maps and what it means to Bed and Breakfasts

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Pinterest has rolled out a new mapping feature. Glutton for punishment that I am had to go play with it this morning.

My initial thoughts are it has potential, it is a far cry from a custom Google Map but if they continue to add more capability to it, it has the potential to be a very useful tool for both sending a custom board to visitors to plan stays, as well as potential marketing and search engine optimization capabilities.

Cons (so far and hopefully these will change.)

  • If it’s not on Foursquare, you can’t pin it to the map. This article http://www.pcworld.com/article/2065800/pinterest-tackles-mapping-with-new-place-pins-product.html says “With the new Place Pins, users can manually add location information to their existing pins through an integration with Foursquare, or add new pins with location information, as long as they come from partner sites like TripAdvisor, Trulia, Atlas Obscura and Jetsetter. So someone could look up a business on the new version of Pinterest’s mobile app, and if the business is indexed by Foursquare, the person can pin it to his map, and get directions from his current location.” But to make that clear, it is ONLY (at this time) pulling information from Foursquare
  • It does say it pulls information from http://www.openstreetmap.org but at this point, mapping a spot in there does not create a new map option.
  • If a pin is in the wrong place you can’t move it.

Pros (and observations):

  • You can select from photos of the place that have already been taken or have the option of uploading your own.
  • You can send a board to someone’s email address
  • Urls if included in the description are clickable
  • There is a 500 character limit to the description
  • The pin itself includes a mini map under the image

More information about the new maps option from Pinterest:

https://en.help.pinterest.com/entries/28558547#editing_location_on_place_pins

This is of interest as well for those listed on any of these below sites and directories.

From Pinterest: Note: we’ve partnered with some businesses to automatically include location info on their Pins.  For example, Pins from Airbnb, Atlas Obscura, Booking.com, Citysearch, Foursquare, Hotels.com, Jetsetter, OpenTable, Roadtrippers, StreetEasy, Trulia, UrbanSpoon, and VirtualTourist will have locations attached to their Pinterest content.

Even if a bed and breakfast is not interested in using the mapping option, I think it will be a priority for them to get a listing on Foursquare, so that if someone (a guest or potential guest) wants to include the B&B on THEIR custom map as a favorite place, at least they have the option of doing so.

Update on adding locations to Pinterest at http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/pinterest-maps-foursquare-integration-and-bed-and-breakfasts-take-two/

Posted in B&B, Lodging, Observations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Setting Some Social Media Project Goals for Bed and Breakfasts

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While I strongly believe that a small business can not do all of the social media channels and do all of them well without either help, a clone or being hit by a chunk of superpower inducing meteorite, bed and breakfasts won’t know which channels work the best for them and which ones they will feel comfortable using long-term unless they try them all.

And one size (or channel) doesn’t fit all when it comes to lodging. What works well for one inn may not work well for another, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not being done correctly, it may mean that the lodging’s target demographic is not using it. An inn in northern California may find high engagement using Facebook while a similar inn in South Carolina may not.

But an inn isn’t going to know which channels to use without first giving them a test run. And a test run is not one month with a dozen tweets or a Facebook page with 2 posts. You have to actually use them to test whether they work or not.

The top four things to remember when using social media.

1. Just because it’s not working, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, it may mean it’s not the right time, the right place or the right market.

2. Stalk your competition and find what’s working for them. Copy it, learn from it and expand upon it.

3. If after 6 months of using (and I mean USING) a social media channel and it’s not working for you, then drop it. With Facebook it’s better to unpublish the page (not delete because you may want to revisit it) then continue to advertise it on your website and your last post visible to anyone coming to visit it was last year. If you discontinue using a social media channel and decide to leave it up but go to concentrate on another channel, make your last post or posts telling people you are moving to another channel and give the links to where they can find you. Don’t just abandon it with no further information.

4. Rome wasn’t built in a day. In order to truly explore what works and what doesn’t work, don’t tackle everything at once, set some project goals and stick to them. Be realistic about what you can and can not achieve.

Examples of setting some goals:

January 7th – Join Facebook and create a business page and make sure the Facebook page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Facebook business page and make sure it’s optimized. Worksheet @ http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/facebook-business-page-checklist-worksheet/

February 7th – Create a blog and make sure the blog has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your blog and make sure it’s optimized. Worksheet @ http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/blog-checklist-worksheet/

March 7th  – Join Google+ (and/or claim your business page) and make sure the Google+ page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Google profile and make sure it’s optimized.

April 7th  – Join Pinterest and make sure the Pinterest page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Pinterest profile and make sure it’s optimized.

May 7th  – Join Twitter and make sure the Twitter page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Twitter profile and make sure it’s optimized. Worksheet @ http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/twitter-for-business-checklist-worksheet/

June 7th  – Join Linkedin and make sure your personal profile has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Linkedin profile and make sure it’s optimized. Email me at heather@forfengdesigns.com, I can email you the worksheet

July 7th  – Create a Linkedin Business Page and make sure the page has all the applicable information filled out. Or evaluate your Linkedin Business profile and make sure it’s optimized. Worksheet @ http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/linkedin-business-pages-and-bed-and-breakfasts/ (scroll down for it to start)

Or set numerical goals.

  • Mid March – Get 10 people to circle you on Google+
  • Mid April– Get 50 new pins and/or repins on Pinterest
  • Mid May – Get 100 new followers on twitter
  • Mid June  – Get 50 new fans/likes on Facebook
  • Mid July – Make 10 new connections on Linkedin

I would suggest a combination of both actual and numerical goals and keep track of them. You started a Facebook business page, in January you got 5 fans/likes, in February you got 15 etc. If you can benchmark your goals it will give you a better estimation of whether you should and want to keep using them.

Because social media is ROTI (return on time investment) as opposed to ROI (return on investment) it’s better to benchmark actual numbers then try to benchmark what monetarily you get in return, because that is extremely hard to track. Your blog post in February may result in wedding booking in June for the following year. There is no immediate return on most social media use. But on the flip side, most of it helps with search engine optimization and it’s free, you can’t beat free and its terrific for branding.

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

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. :)

Posted in Facebook, How tos, Observations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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