I was having an interesting discussion with a friend yesterday (an Innkeeper in Virginia) about attending the PAII conference next week, and my friend asked, “So where are you staying?” and we got into a discussion about B&Bs in Austin and how she thought she had found one she was going to book at, and then changed her mind.
“How come?” “Well, I always check out their Facebook page because sometimes they have better pictures of the rooms and inn then the website itself does. (FYI, it appears that Facebook has re-enabled “Featured Page Owner” which means you can click-through to someone’s personal profile from the business page. Facebook took that away about a year plus ago, and has recently brought it back. You can disable this feature or enable if you choose). To continue. “The featured page owner icon said I had several friends in common so I clicked through to their personal profile. Big mistake. I don’t like their politics and I don’t like their views on the politicians leanings even more. I don’t want to stay there!” I.e. that inn just lost her business.
Which brings up a few things I’ve bookmarked and seen over the years (so I guess this post was brewing for a while) that innkeepers may want to take a wandering eye and look over their own social media posts and profiles in the new year. I encourage inns to be proactive about reputation management about their inns, but that should also apply to their personal profiles, and I think many may not be aware of how they “personally” may be appearing to guests and potential guests online. In this day and age, people click-through and explore, you may not be cognizant of how you appear.
I’ll give you some of the examples of innkeepers posting things over the years and some quite recently as well as profile issues.
I recently was attempted to be friended by a innkeeper that I chat with on Twitter, her profile was locked down but her likes, groups and favorites were still visible. I’ll leave it to say that what I saw on her profile in Likes and Groups was not my cuppa tea (similar but probably not nearly as bad as the inn my friend didn’t book at but still). Not friended. I still chat with them online but it’s not someone I think I want having access to my personal information. Nothing horrid but as I said, just not my cuppa.
The very professional innkeeper who has a well populated Youtube channel with some great videos, their Channels and Playlists though feature some really shall we say “interesting” videos as favorites. You do have the ability to make those private FYI.
Another inn’s Youtube account favoriting dating videos. hmmmmm…….
The local innkeeper that connected her personal Facebook profile to her inn’s Twitter page as a feed by accident (I hope). Apparently she has some mum issues and hates her parents. From a guest’s perspective, just a tad too much TMI.
Another innkeeper who has two Twitter accounts, one for the inn (very professional) one for personal. Sadly the person likes to swear, allot, which normally wouldn’t be much of an issue as people do, but their public bio on Twitter says innkeeper @ Jane Doe Inn with a link to the inn as well. Perhaps using a pseudonym would be in order here, or at least taking off that personal identifying information.
The pinner on Pinterest who has a “Hunky Man” board on their inn Pinterest page, mixing business with pleasure is always fun, and while I greatly enjoyed the lovely men with the muscles, perhaps that board should have gone on a personal profile instead of the inn’s Pinterest account.
I have many more examples but the main point being, innkeepers in the New Year should really take a gander (and look from a guests/potential guests) viewpoint of what their own personal social media profiles look like.
I’ll give one more and just because what a guest sees can very much influence their booking practices. An inn advertising they are LGBT friendly, and they personally comment on their own posts on their Facebook business page quite a bit with their personal account, (which has all posts set as public and the account very clearly tracks back to the page as the owner) which is fine. But it is not so fine from a guest/potential guests perspective if they are clearly NOT LGBT friendly on their personal profile. Kinds of defeats the marketing eh?
Posts: Make sure your posts are locked down to friends only, if you want to keep your posts public, fine, but be cognizant of, if you wouldn’t discuss it at a gathering, ie. religion and politics mainly, you may not want it posted publicly. If you are a Republican and you don’t want guests from other Parties staying with you, that’s one thing, and your prerogative, but be aware of what else is posted in conjunction with that, just as an example.
Likes and Groups: Be aware your likes of other pages may be visible (depending on your settings even if your posts are locked down) You may not think about this one, but think about it, you may have friends asking you to like their business pages as well as like pages they like. The first inclination by most people is to “like” the page just to get rid of the suggestion. Eyeball your likes, you don’t see them in your timeline so you may not remember you liked the “Going to McDonald’s for a Salad is Like Going to a Brothel for a Hug” page, or your friend added you to the group “My Friends Are Getting Married. I’m Just Getting Drunk” group 3 years ago and you totally forgot about it.
Profile Pictures: Your profile pictures are public including likes and most especially comments from others. Be cognizant of profiles images but mostly the comments from others (delete comments if needed).
Even if you think your profile is totally locked down, go check it at least once a month, Facebook is constantly changing the settings and sometimes things can be viewed you may not know about. Get a friend on the phone, have them unfriend you, and then have them refresh your profile page and tell you what they see. The “View As” option in Facebook is NOT 100% accurate.
Having some personal hobbies or interests on your inn board is fine, food of course is always good. But eyeball your interests, knitting and home improvement are generally fine, but fashion, bad memes, people of Walmart photos, pictures of spider bites, inappropriate photos of men & women, weird toilet boards (yes these are all images and boards I’ve found on inn accounts) and I could go on……………….are probably not appropriate, and belong either on a personal account, or make the boards secret so only you can see them.
Who are you following and who is following you? Yes people do look. If you are following all the Kardashions for example, A. they will never follow you back (so why follow them) and B. if you want to follow their posts, put them on a private list (you are then not actually following them, your following their tweets, and only you can see that). Any celebrity including sports figures can actually influence a booker. Same goes for politics. I know a fellow who didn’t want to book at an inn because the innkeepers were apparently diehard Red Sox Fans (they were following all the players who had accounts) and their Facebook business page had set Red Socks Pages as featured liked pages, and he was a Yankees fan. You can’t sadly make this stuff up.
If you have spammers, scammers and “Get 10000s of Twitter followers Now!” accounts, while you can’t control who follows you initially, it looks bad to people who do look. You can get rid of these accounts by blocking the person/account following you.
Lists: If you use the lists feature or someone has added you to a public list that you don’t want people to see. Your own lists you can make private. If someone has added you to a list and you don’t want to be on it, you can block them, and it will remove you from any of the lists they have added you to. I had an inn call me in a panic last month because someone had apparently added her to a list labeled. “Grandma type doily B&B” which she is not, and it clearly hit a nerve.
Favorites (now call likes): Take a look at what you have liked/favorited. Anyone can see that list, a funny joke you liked 2 years ago shows up on that list in the number 5 spot, is it appropriate?
While many innkeepers I’ve talked to don’t see the value in Linkedin, and don’t actively use it, many have accounts. If you haven’t visited your Linkedin account in a while, it is worth a gander at. If nothing else you should have a professional Linkedin photo on the account.
Also look at who your connections are (if it’s set to public which most are) as well as what groups you belong to/have listed. To give you an example, I was on an innkeeper’s profile last week who asked me for some help, and I asked her why she belonged to all of these jobseeker groups/forums on Linkedin. She had apparently been looking for a job before she landed one at an inn about 5 years ago, but forgot to remove herself from the groups.
Think of it from the perspective of a guest/potential guest researching an inn. Linkedin profiles do come up in public search, and are very good for search engine optimization. In this case a search for the inn online also brought up the innkeeper’s Linkedin account, from an outsider’s perspective it appears she is job hunting and may negatively affect (primarily subconsciously but still affect) someone’s decision to book.
It’s worth Googling yourself as well periodically. Put your name in quotes “Jane Doe” Charleston, NC, “Jane B. Doe” Charleston, NC, and add yourself to any Google alerts you’ve set up. Hopefully you have done this for your inn already. The alerts don’t pick up 100% of new spidered items and news though so it’s worth looking manually.
Why do this? I have an innkeeper friend in the UK who had another innkeeper namesake in the UK, different town get arrested for fraud last year. If your name associated with an inn popped up negatively, I would think you would want to know about it (I know I would) and take steps to negate any online damage. In this case. They actually lost bookings about this, until they started being proactive and put out on their social media accounts that this was not them in question.
Eyeball your own online presence heavily and view from the aspect of someone who may book. Even better ask some friends to help you out and get some additional perspectives, what might not occur to you, they may see differently……………..