A plea to social media trainers when dealing with innkeepers

Innkeepers are smart people

Innkeepers are practical people

Some are very comfortable with a computer, others semi-comfy and some not at all, they email, they browse the web, that’s it.

When I work with my clients I explain there are things you can do with social media and many are working on them but they are baby steps. I’m not going to force innkeepers to use it until they feel they are ready, they have time to talk about it and actually understand it. It’s not a wham bam thank you mam process.

It seems like everyone and their uncle is giving social media seminars now adays, I’ll add the amount of SM “experts” to the mix just for kicks and giggles. Yes I am giving a SM seminar myself soon, I am no expert but I am a good observer and I do see whats working and not working for businesses. But for me, it’s easier to get a bunch of my peeps together in one room instead of spending another 20 hours (like I just did this week) on the phone with them when they call me “not getting it” after the seminars they just went to.

The point of my plea is I am finding a serious disconnect between these classes/lectures/seminars and what innkeepers are actually taking away from attending them.

In the past three months I have had most of the innkeepers I work with (and also many of my other types of clients) attend SM classes/lectures/seminars (and webinars) and to date every single one of them has called me afterwards and said “I still don’t get it” and “still don’t know where to start”know what to do” and some of these people paid good money for the events they attended.

Um excuse me folks but am I missing something here?

  • Social media is not brain surgery
  • Social media should not be hard to explain
  • Teaching people how to use social media should not consist of telling them internet jargon and
  • a. expecting them to understand it and
  • b. retain it and
  • c. how to actually use it.
  • Most important in my book: Teaching people how to use social media should not be a sales pitch about why they should “have” to use a paid company to market themselves.

In the past week, I have walked through setting up on the phone, 6 facebook fan pages, 3 twitter registrations and 4 all the things you can do with blogs (any type of blog) not the “you have to use wordpress.org” so you can pay someone to implement it for you type.  These were people that had just attended social media seminars and apparently even though they are smart practical people they didn’t “get” it. Hmmmmmm

Ponder you this, if I can walk someone through how to set up a fan page in under 10 minutes on the phone, why does an hour plus seminar they just attended not get them to be able to do it?

This morning an innkeeper (not one of mine but a friend) called me, “How come my fan page isn’t showing up in Google search?

He had gone ahead and set up a facebook account after attending a social media seminar. Turns out he had spent considerable time setting up a personal page. I asked him “didn’t they explain the difference to you between personal pages and fan pages?” “No” “are you sure?” “Yes” “Is it in the handouts?” “No” This is a smart computer literate guy we are talking about here, methinks he was paying attention. ….Hello!!!!!

Please peeps teaching this stuff, take into consideration all the information that’s hitting people over the head right now. It’s mind blowing. I do part of this for a living and I now spend over an hour every morning just reading up on new stuff and I have trouble keeping up. Keep it simple, keep it understandable.

Please don’t speak in tech jargon to people. Many of them don’t know what BOOLEAN LOGIC or Paradigm Shifts in Marketing, are for instance and if you are going to bring it up, please for the love of mike, explain it and use plain speak. Or XML or even ROI. I’ve learned to stop using that in conversation for the most part myself because I have to explain what ROI means, I wish I was kidding.

Give them ideas and SHOW them how to implement them, don’t just say you need to blog because you SHOULD be doing it. You SHOULD have a facebook fan page, Great! How do you market it? How do you gain fans? What should you put on it?  Apparently none of this stuff is sinking in if it’s getting taught because apparently there’s a lot of people out there not “getting” it.

I get sent the literature that my peeps get from going to these things. Most of them are filled with graphs and numbers and jargon and “you should be doing this because yada yada yada yada”. Not here’s the beef, these are the veggies you should use in it, cook it like this, season it like this, make it taste like this and viola you have beef stew. And by the way here’s some things you can do to it to make it goulash or tandoori.

When I teach a cooking class or do a cooking demo to a group of professional people (who are not trained chefs/cooks but smart everyday peeps) I don’t use words like beurre blanc, I say butter sauce, I don’t talk in restaurant lingo and use restaurant terms. If I do, I explain them and explain the meanings behind them. I am not going to assume, even though I know they are smart bright professional people, that they are going to know what the heck I am talking about.

It’s the same with teaching SM. If you tell someone they should blog, give them some ideas to blog about, a system that they can use to implement so its not time consuming and if you bring up good blogs and bad blogs, give them some examples and EXPLAIN why they are good and bad, don’t just say you should be blogging. And don’t try to fill the speech with internet jargon, people don’t get it!

The majority of these seminars are given by people talking as if the people they are speaking too, will intuitively empathically telepathically understand this stuff. If you tell someone that doesn’t speak English how to cook an egg, is he or she going to understand? If you take the egg and show them how to do it, they will get it. I attend these things myself a couple of times a week online and if I didn’t have a basis in knowing what they were talking about it would be over my head too.

Please step back and make sure your classes/lectures/seminars are not geared towards people that already freely navigating in the ever changing world of SM. Most of the people that are attending these things are NOT at this point, think of the first week of first year French class, not advanced French regional dialects.

When you plan a social media class/lecture/seminar would you please, please, pretty please with lots of SEO on top, do me a huge favor and run it by a test group (who are basic computer literates but not internet free spirits) first and make sure they “get” it first. Your making additional work for me (that I don’t charge my peeps for) and giving me a major headache.

I have heard good things about lectures that Acorn Internet has done for example, so I not knocking the fact that there are good companies out there that do a good job, I just wish there were more of them so I don’t have to deal with the end results of the so so ones.

About Chef Forfeng

Innkeeping Tip and Tricks: Please check out some marketing ideas for Inns and B&Bs, Blogging ideas, Facebook Tips and Social Media Tutorials https://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/marketing-for-lodging-resources/
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7 Responses to A plea to social media trainers when dealing with innkeepers

  1. JBJones says:

    I’ll hum it, you play it (the Sting song). Unfortunately (for me) your argument is making some sense – you are so persuasive. I don’t ever want to create an SM page – but the blog thing makes sense – I can rant about the price of coffee beans then can’t I. The twitter thing though, that just seems inane. I don’t buy the hype. I found out today that the originator of twitter is the same person who originated blogging, his follow-up project if you like, perhaps the reason why it’s been given so much credence by mainstream media. Too many tweets make a ____. Answers on a postcard.
    Thank you Heather.
    Three Park Street Bed and Breakfast in Hereford,
    http://www.threeparkstreet.com/.

  2. JBJones says:

    Erm… so what is the difference between personal pages and fan pages? And really does it matter? Do we all really have time to twitter every bed we have made, every breakfast fried. The thought of every B&B’er churning out “SM” pages, all so spammy really. Spam for breakfast – now there’s are article I need to produce…
    Three Park Street Bed and Breakfast in Hereford,
    http://www.threeparkstreet.com/.

    • chefforfeng says:

      Hi JB, personal pages are private, fan pages are viewable to the public and to the search engines.

      Unfortunately it does seem to matter: For marketing, for customer service and guest retention and for the fact that because the search engines do pick it up, its free advertising. I am not a proponent of tweeting every bed you make, every cake you bake, every night you stay (hmm I feel a Sting song coming on) because I think its not terribly interesting unless it was a unique cake or the linens were hand woven by your grandmother or the local fairy clan.

      I agree that if all a facebook fan page and twitter account were to output how delicious the coffee was on a minute by minute basis, I don’t think I would label it spam, but I might fall asleep and would label it a big FAIL in the interesting marketing department. But having seen first hand and talked with and worked with many inns using social media, they are getting bookings out of it, rooms, functions, weddings etc and they are not putting in huge time commitments to it. You can’t argue with free, its certainly cheaper then paying $400 for a one shot magazine ad.

      It’s everyone’s choice to participate or not to participate in social media, no one is twisting anyone’s arm, but the way I see media and advertising going, people will have to jump on the bandwagon eventually, its not going to go away. It doesn’t have to be a big time waster and just like anything else you do get out of it what you put into it. I know there are a ton of B&B’s in the UK, both on twitter and FB, most of them seem to be having fun with it as well as it being useful. Cheers!

  3. Sharon - Innkeeper says:

    Thanks for the support. I’ve been working a little on facebook tonight and have begun to feel quite stupid, like I’m not getting it!

  4. Great post. I’m so glad to see that you are getting it. ‘It’ being social media. I have many people who understand a lot less about social media than I do but claim they are experts. Not to name drop but I’ve hung out with the CEO’s of facebook, twitter, digg, etc.. and they don’t call themselves experts. It’s actually a big joke in the community of people who understand SM.

    It’s nice to see that you are looking out for your friends and providing them with the power to engage with others on the web. That’s what we do with our company and it’s awesome.

    All the best to you,
    Sally Strebel

  5. Lynda says:

    As an trainer, I know what you mean. Sometimes I even got lost when some of those giving webinars go overboard with too much geek speak.

    However, I know there are some people out there that really are not computer literate at all. They want the bells and whistles and results, but can’t be bothered to really listen to what you are telling them to do even if you do give them examples and walk them through the process. (for example my sister in-law).

    I enjoy your blog.

    Lynda – Inn Caring

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