This is the thirteenth in an ongoing series of Inns and Lodging using social media to help their businesses. If you missed the last interview, please visit Q and A with Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast on using Social Media or for more interviews visit Marketing For Lodging (towards the bottom)
Address or Location: 699 West Rosedale Avenue, West Chester, PA 19382
Website Address: http://www.faunbrook.com
Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/faunbrook
Facebook Fan Page Address: http://www.facebook.com/pages/West-Chester-PA/Faunbrook-Bed-Breakfast/293231154883
How long have you been using social media?
We started with Facebook about a year ago. I found it a bit overwhelming at first and it took some time to start integrating it into our marketing. For instance, we host a number of events for the Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware community and just recently started announcing them through the Events application on Facebook. I also found it challenging to keep my professional and personal Facebook profiles separate, but I’m starting to find that the two are merged in the eyes of our bed and breakfast customers, so it’s actually been a positive for our business. Steve and I are always so interested in learning what brings our guests to Faunbrook. In the short time they are with us, we tend to get to know them fairly well, and when they see my personal profile on Facebook, many times they friend me as well as Faunbrook’s page.
Faunbrook started using Twitter about four months ago and I’ve found that to be a bit more challenging. While we’ve definitely benefited from Twitter in regards to the special events we hold, I’ve been unable to track much overnight guest traffic from our Twitter feed. I do appreciate the opportunity to share ideas and best practices with other bed and breakfast owners on Twitter and expect that we’ll continue to use it.
We use Constant Contact as our email tool and have very recently begun to use the social media tools to push event information out to our Twitter followers. I’ll look to measure our return on those as we become more consistent in using it.
Of the social media venues out there, which do you like the most?
I prefer Facebook, it gives us an opportunity to expand on our announcements (since there’s not a character limit), to create quick custom events and to interact with our guests in much more personal way. Our guests use Facebook more often than Twitter and my goal is to establish consistent repeat business. For Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast Inn, that means building relationships on Facebook.
Of the social media venues out there, which do you use the most?
Interesting question, I’d have to say that Twitter is more time consuming. I use Hootsuite to manage searches and to listen to our audience. I feel like that takes more monitoring throughout the day, checking in to see who’s coming to the Chester County or Delaware county regions and is looking for bed and breakfast inn recommendations, ensuring that anyone that has reached out to us directly gets a response. Engaging with the audience on Twitter requires real time marketing responses, if I can’t respond on Twitter four hours after someone posts a question to us, that could become a missed opportunity.
Of the social media venues out there, which do you feel you get the most from in terms in terms of SEO (search engine optimization)?
We would be getting it from a blog, if we had one- that’s on my 2011 plan as well. I understand the value in blogging, providing readers with consistent, relevant content and I’ll be making every effort to start blogging next year. I’d like to see readers look to Faunbrook’s blog as a central information repository for the West Chester region. I’ve lived here all my life, this area is so rich in history and culture. As a matter of fact, Faunbrook itself is a historic mansion, circa 1860, once owned by a Civil War-era congressman and visitors appreciate our proximity to Philadelphia; this is truly an incredible region to visit. Our blog will provide visitors to the region with a wealth of information in advance of their bed and breakfast stay.
In addition, we’re in the middle of a website rebuild and while our original site was built with keyword strategy in mind, It’s something that could be improved dramatically.
Of the social media venues out there, which do you feel you get the most from in terms of business and personal branding?
Most definitely Facebook. We are able to see our guests on Facebook, as I said earlier, I see a lot of overlap between our business brand and my personal brand, I think that’s common in the bed and breakfast inn business. While Faunbrook’s property is beautiful and historic, our return guests say they come to see Steve and I, there’s a tremendous overlap there.
Of the social media venues out there, which do you feel you get the most from in terms of actual ROTI (return on time investment) business?
I never have enough time for social media…as your readers know, running an inn can be tremendously time consuming. Until I’m able to truly track the revenue that comes in from Twitter, I can’t judge where the return on time investment will net out. For now, we’re using a number of channels to determine the best for us and our bed and breakfast guests, we’ll make changes to our marketing plan accordingly as that data becomes available.
How long did it take you to feel comfortable using social media?
Ha, I’m still not comfortable using it. Some days I’m in such a hurry that I post a Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast post on my personal page. It seems that social media is moving so quickly I can’t keep up with it. Facebook and Twitter are both rolling out new functionality so quickly; I struggle to stay on top of it all. But, our location is steps from West Chester University, so luckily I usually have an intern from the school that helps guide me and it’s been a tremendous help.
Do you market your property on social media channels? and if so which ones? if not, why not?
I’ve yet to experiment with the advertising that Facebook offers, but plan to incorporate testing a few Facebook ads in our 2011-marketing plan. From what I’ve seen, we can target a very specific Facebook profile for our ads and I look forward to seeing results from the channel.
I haven’t used and don’t have immediate plans to use promoted Tweets. I’ve seen a number of complaints from Twitter followers that think the promoted Tweets are intrusive. I’ve also seen a number of the advertisers responding to complaints about it. I’ll wait until Twitter determines the proper frequency for the ads before I jeopardize the Faunbrook Bed & Breakfast Inn brand with intrusive promotions.
We do advertise on a number of Brandywine Valley regional tourism sites and I’m excited to see them grow and begin utilizing social media. I suspect their social media use will in turn boost Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast’s Inn business.
If you use social media for things besides advertising, which ones do you use for other aims, i.e. twitter for making connections rather then advertising or a blog to be informative to guests and future guests.
I use Twitter mostly to bounce ideas off of other owners, to find opportunities to work with other vendors in Chester County and to promote Faunbrook’s Bed and Breakfast business partners. For instance, I came across the opportunity for this blog interview via Twitter. I also follow our vendors and cross-promote local and regional events when it’s appropriate. West Chester has so much to see and do; I share as much as possible about upcoming events on Twitter and find some new ones every day as well.
In addition, I love to read other bed and breakfast inn blog posts- to see what others are doing that’s been successful and learn from each other.
How many hours on average a day do you spend using social media (or per week or per month)?
I personally probably spend a 3-5 hours per week on social media, which is not enough. Our intern probably spends another hour per day on social media, monitoring our feeds and ensuring our bed and breakfast travel reviews are positive and our guests had a great stay.
Do you feel the time you have spent using social media has been worth it? And why?
I can’t answer that just yet, I haven’t leveraged all aspects of any social media tool and until I test a number of tactics- Facebook advertising, blog writing, optimizing our website for search, I won’t be able to answer that question. I am making a huge effort to track our results and specifically find and market to Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast’s target audience. I’ll have answers in the coming months and then begin to focus our time and resources on those channels with the highest rate of success for us.
Please add any other comments you think are relevant.
I’m excited about the opportunities that social media brings and I see it quickly evolving. In the coming months, I think we’ll be seeing even more providers in the space and can’t wait to start implementing location-based marketing for Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast. Imagine the possibilities of directly marketing to prospective guests via their smart phones. I also think it’s important to note that social media is just one aspect of our marketing plan and I continually strive to ensure a balance to our plan. For instance, we plan to continue to co-market events with our partners and cross-promote them. We advertise on a number of wedding websites and will continue to do so. We’re members of a number of West Chester, PA based groups and will continue to participate and contribute to the community. All of these tactics together lead to referral business and happy guests at Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast.
If you’re an inn using social media and you have felt that social media has helped your business positively, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll pop you over the questions. I’ll be doing at least one feature a week for the I can forsee ongoing future. Cheers!