Follow up to
I think (no I know) that much of the problem is time, as an innkeeper, even when it’s slow, you don’t have a lot of extra time, you have projects to catch up on, invoices to pay, things to prep for tomorrows breakfast, flowerbeds to weed, reservations to take, it goes on and on. You need a clone (like me) or maybe 5. Where do we get the time to do it all? All these new things with new information to learn and huge learning curves, the response, “I can’t deal with it right now, maybe later.” Um, attention, can we say troubled economy, don’t say later, say now.
Step back for a second. How much is your time worth to you?
- This is free, you have the potential to meet new businesses that may have an impact on helping you make or save money.
- You have the potential to bring in more revenue through connecting with potential guests, customers, reunions, wedding parties, etc. etc. without having to pay someone else to market your inn for you.
How much is your time worth?
- You can pay someone to market for you, at maybe bare minimum of $60.00 an hour (base, very base) or you can set aside a couple of hours a week to write your blog, update your Facebook page and plan twitter posts. Don’t try to do them all at once or learn them all at once, do one until you are comfortable with it and then tackle the next thing. No one can make hospital corners on a bed on the first try, with repetition it becomes easier and consumes less time.
- You set aside time each week to update your online directories, talk to salespeople, make an appointment with your accountant, research some new recipes, I would be hard pressed to find innkeeper that does not have some sort of online or print schedule book.
Why should addressing social media be any different?
- Schedule it. Ask yourself, what is my time worth? And what is the potential ROI of your time. These things don’t have to consume you. Don’t be afraid of them and treat them just like any other task, but keep in mind, this can be fun also, so it can be one of those guilty pleasures that I know most innkeepers have that while they work, they actually enjoy it.
I hope this helps a little:
These are the steps I would take if I was going to make a go on twitter if I was an inn: (sorry about mixing in person and yous in here but hopefully you will get my drift) also for using inn as a generic for inn and b&b, I know they are not the same thing, but inn is easier to type when your on a roll.
- Download tweetdeck (or a comparable service) see more info below
- Set up a tweetlater account (or a comparable service) also see more info below
- Set up a feed from your blog into twitter, http://twitterfeed.com/ or keep this in mind for when you start a blog, this is not say you should not tweet about or reference your blog (with a link) but you can forget to do it and sometimes redundancy is a good thing. You can also do twitter feeds to your blog (info is in your twitter setting tab, right underneath where it says add your url) and you can do twitter feeds right into facebook.
- Personalize your twitter page,
- Add a picture of you or your inn. Personal images seem to be preferable.
- Make sure you add a link to your website or blog or some I have been seeing are doing custom twitter landing pages (also a good idea) Please double check the link, I have seen more bad/disconnected/incomplete links out there then is even funny.
- Make sure you add a good description, be careful of those &’s, they don’t translate well on the descriptions, you end up with some thing like “B&B”. Go see what your own profile looks like on twitter. Keep in mind if you change the text colors especially links, people may not be able to see them against the back ground easily (or in several cases can’t see the text at all, yellow on yellow, black on black) So go look at your twitter profile from the perspective of someone else looking at it. Change the description occasionally. Google searches twitter profiles.
- Add an interesting background, also keep in mind you can change that as often as you want, think food, think seasons, think something fun or something romantic or something reflecting your inn (but please for the love of mike, no more twitter porn!)
- It’s a proven fact that people (real ones that are interested in life in general) will not follow people with no descriptions. Who are you? Where are you? Why should I follow you if I know nothing about you?
- Sit down for 1/2 an hour a week and write up a list of things to advertise, remember this is free (how much time have you spent planning out what you do for PAID advertising)
- Take half of those things or more if you feel you really don’t have the time and enter them into tweetlater to autotweet several times a day.
- Take the remainder of your tweets and personalize them a little bit and keep them handy for reference.
- Devote at least 10 minutes a day, not necessarily every day, (but it would help) to watch twitter, interact with others, ask questions, be irrelevant, mix your actual in-person tweets up so that people know there is someone on the other end of the line.
- Ask questions! Twitter is a great way to find answers to things. Of the vast majority of questions I have posted most have gotten answered many times from people that don’t follow me or I don’t follow. It might take a few days but you would be surprised how many people respond, yes it’s lazy, I could go look it up, but on the other hand, hmm, lets go check out who replied to me? Maybe they are “useful” “knowledgeable” “potential customer?” Might be worth a follow.
- Linking to things not necessarily related to your industry but you find funny and amusing or relevant to your personally gives readers a bit more insight to you as a person, not just as a business. Not everyone is going to appreciate links to toilet humor but there is a boatload of things on line that are for the most part universally amusing or some just trending or really interesting, when Susan Boyle was on American Idol I must have watched the Youtube version of it at least 7 times, from links off of peoples twitter streams. I don’t watch TV (gasp the horror right?) so this was a treat and I still think it was bloody amazing!
People seem to be shy about expressing their opinions because they are afraid they might turn people off. But on the flip side, if you are gay (as an general example) or maybe a Democrat like me and you have some personal opinions about how discrimination or politics is affecting business or just life in general and someone un-follows you or sees that in your tweet and decides not to follow you because of that; think about it, is that REALLY someone you want staying at your inn?
I tweeted this past week about Sarah Palin, and yes I do NOT like that chick. I had a died in the wool Republican DM and tell me he was un-following me because he disagreed with my political views. Aw shucks Mable im terrbly upset, laws yes.
And is someone like this going to mesh with you as an innkeeper? Will they have a good time and talk about their stay positively to others if they overhear a discussion at breakfast about something meaningful to you that they don’t agree with it or will you have to tiptoe around them and watch yourself? I stay at B&B’s, I hang out at friend’s B&Bs and have spent a lot of time observing, people that have a good time, click with their innkeepers because they usually have things in common. I think as a innkeeper I would want someone I clicked with to be a guest who I also enjoy as a person, rather then someone that might have some issues with the fact that we are a gay couple running the inn for instance. Guess who some of those people are that post nasty reviews on Tripadvisor are……………….
I have stuck my foot in my mouth several times on twitter and you know what? If someone has an issue with it, it’s quite frankly someone I would not want to deal with, either in business or on a personal level. I have an opinion and if someone doesn’t like it, they can feel free to go somewhere else and more power to them.
You do want to be careful and not post things that will come back and bite you on the ass later though, like “just had the guests from hell here, they were from ……….. and boy do they…………”, Granted that is totally funny but so far search is forever so just a general thing to keep in mind. If you never want those particular guests back though, well use your own judgement, but I probably wouldn’t, a potential guest seeing that might wonder if you would say something about them online.
Although I have stuck my foot in my mouth it’s not something I would have an issue being confronted with years from now on, so just think about where your priorities lie and don’t be afraid to express how you feel or things that you believe in.
Now that I have gotten off topic somewhat yet again:
A bit on Tweetdeck http://tweetdeck.com/beta/ which I love, it lets you put people you follow into groups, also you can make lists of individual keywords to track conversations or keywords, twitter search is much better for this directly as it gives you more options. I tried out Seesmic and it had glitches but I understand they have fixed many, but it also does similar things.
I would recommend reviewing the features http://tweetdeck.com/beta/features/ and also the beginners guide http://tweetdeck.com/beta/help/beginners-guide-to-tweetdeck/
I really like the groups function, because you can have a category which tracks everyone’s tweets you follow, you can do categories (that you put them into) of things/people you have common interests in/with. This makes it much easier to pay attention to who your personally want to pay attention to.
I think I have about half the people I follow categorized, the ones who I don’t I am slowly going through and deciding if I want to keep following them or not. Yes I too in the beginning followed everyone who followed me back, I am still weeding a bit.
My categories for example are:
- “food” (restaurants, chefs, food research, food news, food alerts like FDA recalls)
- “lodging” (inns, B&Bs, inn marketing people, tourism and travel related people)
- “marketing” (marketing mainly general, print and technology, not applicable to any one industry but all)
- “clients” (self explanatory)
- “news” (BNO, CNN etc)
- “All” (which is everyone that I follow)
- “Friends”, this was actually the default name for “All” but I changed it (these are people I either know personally or just enjoy talking with online)
- “PA”, which I don’t remember why I named it this, but here I have earmarked certain people whose tweets are at least 50% or more of the time, usually something I should read and/or pay attention to! (ie, @unmarketing @mashable @GuyKawasaki @scobleizer @murnahan etc.)
I like tweetdeck because it has notifiers that pop up on my desktop when people I have categorized make tweets. You can disable this if you find it distracting, I find it useful so if someone replys to me, it flags me right away. Also the fact that you don’t have to have your browser open all the time. When you post a link and click on the link later on it will give you the statistics for how many click throughs you’ve gotten to a link.
Even if you are not at your computer all the time it makes it easier to track people and conversations and find out if someone has replied to you without having to login online. The only downside I have found so far to tweetdeck is when someone follows you, you do still have to go online to check out who they are and follow them back if you desire.
Tweetlater http://www.tweetlater.com/(I use the free version only, it does more then enough for what I use it for.) and Hootsuite http://hootsuite.com/(and others), lets you enter in timed tweets to autotweet, I don’t use the timed tweets but it a great option for you if you have a business that’s wants to broadcast information about it. I like tweetlater because you can also program a keyword tracker and it will email you at timed periods. I have found some great people to follow in various industries from keyword searches.
If you track “Honeybees” for example, anytime anyone mentions honeybees, it will include all the people that have mentioned it in a email digest to you. This is useful for trend tracking and keyword search. Please keep in mind that not every return is going to be relevant. Searches for “Bed and Breakfast” may return information about people talking about The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror (don’t ask, you don’t want to know, trust me) This is also useful because you can track if someone’s talking about you ” I stayed at Forfengs Bed & Breakfast this weekend, breakfast was fab!”
Originally when I started writing the original post, it was going to be a one shot deal, but since I seem to have developed a case of blogging verbal vomititus, tune in soon if you find any of this helpful/useful and as always feedback is always appreciated.
future topics are
- suggested posts and ways to post
- some great catchy posts I have seen
- Inn doing it well (at least to me)
other suggestions are great to, may not know the answer but may know where to find it.
- Think about what your time is worth, what is your potential ROI in exchange for a small amount of your time.
- Twitter is free, free marketing = potential Cha Ching!
- Personalize your twitter page
- Ask Questions
- Don’t be afraid to express yourself (with some limits of course)
- Check your twitter profile appearance with a fine tooth comb
- Allot time for your social marketing, put it into your schedule
- Tweetdeck http://tweetdeck.com/beta/
- Twitterfeed http://twitterfeed.com/
- Tweetlater http://www.tweetlater.com/
- Hootsuite http://hootsuite.com/
- Seesmic http://desktop.seesmic.com/