Three steps forward, one step back, Inns do the Social Media Foxtrot

Scott from Brewster Inn @BrewsterHouseBB and @AboutTheInn wrote a wonderful blog post yesterday: Taking a step back – what are you trying to accomplish?

One of my favorite’s “We tend to think that everyone else is doing all of these things successfully, so we must do them, too. The secret is, they’re not. Most are only doing a few of these things, if any. Most are not doing them all that well. A few are doing several of them. Even fewer do them really well.Is a very legitimate comment and the few that do them really well, don’t participate in ALL of them or do ALL of them well.

An inn isn’t going to start blogging, tweeting and facebooking, keep up on all of it and expect to get anything else done at all at once. And it does take time to get to know how to do it, how use it properly and how to really use it to promote themselves. No body creates a blog and all the sudden has gazillions of people reading them, unless they are Oprah.

What I see on an almost daily basis, twitter accounts, fan pages and blogs that have been abandoned.

…………….And abandoned after only a dozen tweets or 3 blog posts or they get 10 fans and then quit the fan page. It’s not just lodging that’s guilty of this, I see all types of businesses doing it.

Rationalization, I tried it, it didn’t work.

Well if I can be blunt. Oy vay times two hundred!

If chucking out a few half baked tweets promoting your inn or posting a couple of things on your blog or fan page counts as trying, and then you give up, then please trade me in for someone that thinks that’s a good excuse.

Just like in regular life, social media life doesn’t just “happen” When you first moved to a new area or bought your inns, you didn’t just “suddenly” have friends or “poof” guests magically appeared when you opened your doors for the very first time.

If you’ve honestly given it more then a half hearted try and it hasn’t worked, it’s a high probability that you just need to rethink how you do it, they are thousands of resources, training and tutorials out there (free resources) that you can take advantage of. Do it, but don’t do it all at once, baby steps.

Just because something doesn’t work the first time doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, it may not be the right way or the right time or the right market to target.

I had a discussion with an inn about 2 weeks ago about twitter. This woman said she had gone to several seminars and thought she really “got” twitter. “I posted to twitter just about every hour for weeks and weeks and it was sooooo worthless, I didn’t get any followers, no body talked to me and I think it was a total waste of time.”

In taking a look at her twitter account, she did have a couple of people that replied to her and asked her some questions and she never replied back (I don’t think she knew how) and her whole entire tweet stream consisted of marketing tweets. Come stay @ blah blah blah inn.

Heaven knows what these seminars actually went over, because none of it apparently sank in. When I pointed out as politely as I could that there are other ways to promote your inn on twitter, she said “well that’s what they told me to do.” As I’m fond of putting lately, words failed me. Yes it did help her SEO for a brief period when she was doing it, but she kind of missed the point of it.

To return to the original point of this, no one can do everything and be an expert or great at everything, that’s an unrealistic expectation. If you want to jump in, Great! But choose the avenues slowly, get comfortable doing one thing at time and build it up to a comfortable level and then add something else. It’s not going away. Take 5 minutes a day and learn something new.

There are no rules to this, but you can’t make your own rules unless you try it first.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. A Fan Page filled with fans, a twitter account filled with followers, a blog with a good readership doesn’t happen overnight. I still stand by the fact that I see and know it is working for inns using it (yes and most don’t use everything) and I echo Scott in saying it can be very hard to track hard and fast ROI using Social Media, because you don’t know for sure where the information goes long term.

You don’t have to use the “big three” or even more then that, just use the ones you like and feel you can get something out of. You can if you want, but no one says “you have to”.  But please don’t say I tried and you didn’t really. Follow Scott’s advice, define your objectives first.

Online social media is the addition to the traditional word of mouth. Old style, someone likes what you do, they tell 7 people, now they tell 70 or 700.

My suggestion, start with a blog, its easy, its free, spend 5 minutes a week and post an update, an event, a recipe, (25 Blogging ideas for Inns and B&B’s also useful for things to tweet and FB about and 20 Best Blog Post Ideas for Small Business Blogging) then go from there. Get comfy, wallow around in it a bit, post a little more, drink a glass of wine (or two) and then learn something else (it’s not going away, hint hint).

Baby steps. Baby steps are the ones that lead to bigger things, like break dancing on Top Chef. (or the New York Times finding you on Twitter and doing a full page article on your inn.)


Marketing for Lodging:


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
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2 Responses to Three steps forward, one step back, Inns do the Social Media Foxtrot

  1. Sarah says:

    Great post, Heather! So many innkeeps are so overwhelmed with social media, and baby steps is a much better way than jumping into it all at once and getting burnt out and/or uninspired and apathetic. I’ve got to go read Scott’s post. I’m a fan of him too! Such a common sense guy.

    BTW – I did a webinar for PAII on what to blog about. I think it went well. I had some positive feedback that it helped some of them to feel they COULD do it!

  2. Paul White says:

    Here here Chef Forfeng!

    Here’s a few tips for making social media worthwhile.

    1. Get a media student to work on your blog as work experience. Keep an eye on the content while they do all the techy stuff and link it to Twitter and Facebook for you.

    2. Ensure every guest from now on gives you there Facebook or Twitter details. Follow them and they’ll follow you back. Over time this will become fruitful when you have rooms to sell.

    3. Go photo crazy. Fill Facebook with photos of every nook and cranny of your B&B and you. What’s the point in having a Facebook site and not showing your establishment off with pics.

    4. Blog about your area – become the authoritative voice in your area and people will stay with you, as they will trust your knowledge and find you (it will improve SEO). Promote other businesses through your blog.

    5. Listen to me and Chef Forfeng on a daily basis. We never shut up about this stuff…


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