What Guests Want from Social Media for Hotels

May 18, 2012 by  
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Social Media for HotelsAn interesting article from travel reporter Barbara DeLollis at USA Today recently revealed the answers to a poll of hotel guests about what they did and did NOT want to hear from their hotel’s social media accounts. As a company who specializes in social media for hotels, we were intrigued! Some of it surprised us, while some did not.

The paper polled readers, giving them five responses to select, and received more than 200 answers. Here’s what they found:

1) People most want to get local information from their hotel’s social media account. We would agree with this, as we often strive to position our clients’ hotel social media accounts as THE expert about their location, be it Myrtle Beach, a cycling tour to Colorado or what to see in the Poconos. This technique has served us well, helping build friends and followers more quickly. Plus, it keeps you from selling yourself all the time; sell your destination instead.

2) People love to use social media to rant and rave about their hotel experience. We know this, too. Every now and then for our clients, we see a negative comment. But we’re glad it’s there; we see it within hours and can handle it promptly and in public view for all to see our hotel’s outstanding service. Most of the time, our pages and Twitter accounts are full of praise for the hotel properties’ accounts we manage! There’s no better sales tactic than that!

3) People said they DIDN’T want to hear about the weather. That DID surprise us. We do like to talk about the weather at our destinations. If it’s a ski resort, doesn’t hearing that there’s a fresh pack of snow get you pumped to come ski? Or during the end of winter in the north, doesn’t 75 and sunny in Hilton Head sound pretty nice? It helps us book rooms, golf rounds, ski passes and more for our clients. Plus, the Weather Channel does a great job curating weather tweets around a certain destination so when you tweet about the weather, you may also get picked up there and get more exposure.

What do you want to hear from a hotel on social media? We’d love to know!

 

May 15, 2012 by  
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Social Media for Hotels Infographic

Does having a social media presence make any significant difference in hotel bookings?  Check out this Infographic to find out.

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What Businesses Need to Know about Facebook Timeline

March 21, 2012 by  
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Facebook timeline for businessesBusiness owners, you may have noticed that your personal profile switched over to a new format called “Timeline” recently. It’s graphically a more attractive format with a large cover photo and a sequencing of posts and activity on Facebook by date. Facebook is now requiring that all business, or brand, pages switch to Timeline by the end of March.

Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know to get your page switched to timeline and begin to maximize the new format:

Photos

New Profile Picture – 851 by 315 pixels
This is a large wide photo that cannot include any calls to action. You can embed some badges or accolades atop the photo if you wish. We suggest something very eye catching for this photo that will set the tone for your page.

Inset photo - 180×180
There is an inset photo on the new profile picture; we generally recommend your logo for this.
Milestones
You can now “backdate” important dates in your business’ history on the Timeline. Include any milestones on the page, such as founding dates, opening new offices, new services, awards won, etc. Review what Facebook defaults for you in the Timeline and see if there’s anything you want to delete.

Messaging
Individuals can now send messages to a brand page and a brand page can respond. This feature can be disabled but we don’t recommend it. This now gives a more private venue for any negative issues that come up and gives people a chance to interact with brands in a more personal way. We like it! In fact, we already got a resume submitted that way :).

“Friend Page” Goes Away
The page that people land on when they are directed to your page will now be the main Timeline wall. However, you are still able to redirect people to specific friends-only tabs for contests and other promotions. Don’t let someone tell you this is a big deal; because it’s not. We’re already seeing scams where people are sounding the alarm saying, “Hurry, you won’t be able to get any more friends after this changes! Let us build your friends for you for INSERT RIDICULOUS COST.”

Tabs/Application Boxes
You are now limited to featuring four tabs, which you can order however you’d like. Be sure to review which tabs are most important to your business (look in Facebook Insights to see which get the most visits) and reorder to feature those.

Featured Posts by Fans/Friends
This will now be listed at the top right and will feature posts from your fans. This is optional but we recommend leaving it so long as you manage your page daily and have a good level of engagement (which we know all of our clients have :)).

Feature Page Posts at the Top
This will allow you to feature content that you want to have the maximum exposure. We can choose to “pin” a post at the top for up to 7 days. Posts that are good candidates would be those promoting a contest or a call to action.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about Timeline and we’ll be happy to address. Thanks and good luck!

Are Flash Mobs the Bad Guys on the Streets of Social Media?

March 20, 2012 by  
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Charleston social mediaFlash mobs first came onto the scene in the early 2000s as a means to draw attention to a certain brand or charitable organization. Using social media, large groups of people were able to connect, organize themselves, and choreograph these public performances that, for the most part, brought joy and inspiration to the unsuspecting crowds. However, flash mobs in the hands of unscrupulous people were eventually organized for destructive reasons, and it wasn’t long before the whole phenomenon got a bad rap.

Sometimes a little “flash” is a good thing

Many flash mobs have been organized in an effort to “do good,” like the ones orchestrated in response to the disasters in Haiti and Japan. These mobs were used to raise awareness as well as money. Other flash mobs have been able to draw attention to local charitable organizations. One such organization was started by 13-year-old Claire Wineland, who was born with cystic fibrosis. In May, her charity “Claire’s Place Foundation” organized a flash mob in Santa Monica, and they danced to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” The flash mob got the attention of major celebrities who joined the cause and pledged to help find a cure for this disease. All over the country other flash mobs have been able to draw attention to worthwhile charities and causes. Check out this full list of noteworthy organizations “doing good” via flash mob media.

Pay It Forward

It wasn’t long until marketers realized that flash mobs were an incredibly effective way to drive targeted engagement and encourage viral marketing. In traditional marketing campaigns, commercials and print ads didn’t allow for brand enthusiast participation. With flash mobs, a brand can invite an enthusiast in to be part of the interactive message. These brand events not only engage current enthusiasts, they also have the ability to reach fragmented audiences, cultivate peer endorsements and influence behavior change. Utilizing flash mobs to promote a positive message can actually make a difference and have a “pay it forward” effect. The students who combined their efforts to create this anti-bullying video may not have single-handedly ended bullying, but they certainly took a stand against violence as a group.

Beware the Dark Side

Social media can be a powerful tool for communication and positive change. Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen more frequent examples of mistreatment. In the case of flash mobs, there have been those whose purpose held a darker intent. These flash mobs are orchestrated to bring a massive group of people together for destructive reasons, such as looting and robbing. In an effort to­ protect its citizens from these nefarious mobs, some cities have instituted curfews, especially for teens that tend to be involved.

A little Game of Cops and Mobbers

There’s a new sheriff in town and this one’s beat is on the digital street.  Authorities have begun to monitor social media sites in an effort to snuff out bad flash mobs before they have a chance to form. The challenge for these law enforcement officers is being able to accurately weed out the “bad seeds” from the “good ones”. Additionally, the question of how much policing of the internet should really be allowed has made its way into the mainstream awareness, due to the recent debates over SOPA and PIPA. Authorities may find it exceedingly difficult to monitor social media in the future, and it is something that we will all be affected by in one way or another.

Don’t Bash the Flash

Whether used with positive or negative intentions, flash mobs truly emphasize the power of social media and the ability we now have to connect on a grand scale. It will be interesting to see how social media plays a part in our offline world in the future. It’s unfortunate that criminals and hooligans have ruined the image of flash mobs because it is amazing what an impact can be made with a group of people, a video camer and one unified vision, such is the example with this final touching video – biggest flash mob ever.

 

This article was submitted by Kaity Nakagoshi, on behalf of the University of Notre Dame’s online program.  They offer a variety of executive certificates and online business courses. Kaity also works with the University of San Francisco’s online program, which offers a master certificate in internet marketing and a specialized certificate in advanced social media. Twitter: @Kaity_FL

Pinterest for Business Presentation

March 7, 2012 by  
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pinterest for businessThis morning I presented to a group of merchants in Zionsville, IN on how they could use Pinterest as a tool to generate web traffic and sales. I wanted to share the presentation on our site to help you as you begin to navigate this fun — and immensely — popular tool. The best part about Pinterest for business: it works!

Pinterest for Business on SlideShare

View more presentations from lynmettler.

Pinterest for Business: 5 Helpful Articles to Get You Started

January 30, 2012 by  
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Pinterest for businessHeard all the buzz about Pinterest? Whether or not it’s just a fad, it seems to be a fact that Pinterest is good for business — at least for now. Mashable reports that web traffic from Pinterest at several top apparel retailers has cracked their top 5 traffic referrers and the amount of traffic referred has jumped 398% from July to December.

For the clients we’ve recently added to Pinterest, they too are seeing a traffic boost if the page is regularly maintained. Here’s more interesting reading on Pinterest for Business to get you started:

Need an invite to Pinterest? Email Lyn at lmettler@stepaheadinc.com and she’ll hook you up. And if you want to be sure to grab a piece of that traffic for yourself, contact us here at Step Ahead for help managing Pinterest for your business. Please comment with your Pinterest name so we can come follow you!

A PR Practitioner’s Guide to Pinterest for Business

January 25, 2012 by  
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By Lyn Mettler

pinterest for businessTired of hearing about Google Plus and how it’s the latest and greatest place to be on social media? Well, we’ve got a new one for ya: Pinterest. It’s a good bet that by now you’ve received an email inviting you to this popular new invitation-only social network, but if you’ve never heard of it, it’s time to sit up and take note.

Last month, Pinterest cracked the top 10 most visited social networks at No. 9, besting the latest social media darling Google Plus at No. 10. Time magazine also declared it one of the top five social networks for 2011.

So what is this Pinterest? At its most basic, Pinterest allows you to create virtual “pinboards” with images you come across on the web. Your “pinboards” center around a specific subject matter or topic, say Arts & Crafts homes you’ve come across, purses you love, places you’d like to visit, birthday party ideas, decor for your baby’s nursery, you get the idea…

But it’s a whole lot more than that and the real reason I’m telling you about it is because of its potential to generate results for your business. Pinterest is a social network, of course, so for starters, you can follow others and their boards and vice versa.

Typically, the way a person uses Pinterest is they log on view pins (images) from those they follow, check out Pinterest’s recommended pins and search within the site for images specific to what they’re looking for. There is also a “pin” for your browser’s toolbar that you can click when you come across something on the web you’d like to “pin” to one of your boards.

When you pin an image, you can attach a web address to it and even a price. So if you’re a retailer who sells shoes, you might want to load up boards of your different styles of shoes and maybe even outfits that would go great with your shoes. Attach prices and websites to your products, and when Pinterest users come across your images, they just might go to your website and even better, purchase the product. On top of that, they may “repin” your image to one of their boards, thus sharing it with all of their followers.

We had a retail-based client who recently set up a Pinterest profile, and within days they saw a big bump in traffic from the site and even a boost in sales, better than they see from either Facebook or Twitter. We had another client with a women’s product who saw nearly 100 hits on their site from one pin someone posted of their product.

To get properly introduced to Pinterest, get on the site and play around. If you need an invite, shout and I’ll invite you from my profile. Feel free to take a look at Step Ahead’s Pinterest page at Pinterest.com/StepAheadInc/ to get a feel for what a company can do. It’s not a great fit for every business, but certainly those who offer something visually appealing should definitely poke around Pinterest. Have fun!

Lyn Mettler is the owner of Step Ahead Inc, an Indianapolis and Charleston, SC-based company specializing in social media management for business. Email her atlmettler@stepaheadinc.com for your Pinterest invite!

Big News For LinkedIn Aficionados: Company Status Updates Are Here!

October 10, 2011 by  
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LinkedIn for businessWell, I’ve been saying for the last couple months, finally LinkedIn is worth coming back to for reasons besides job hunting, hiring or adding to your  network. The recent upgrades they’ve done to company pages are fantastic with the ability to add different services, associate company contacts with those services and even add videos about your company or products. But now, they’ve added the icing on the cake: LinkedIn Company Updates!

Just like you have a Facebook page for your business where you can post status updates, now you can post status updates to your LinkedIn company page. Here’s how it works:

  • Pages set to “designated admins only” for page management now allow page “admins” (just like on Facebook) to post status updates.
  • Go to your company’s overview tab and you’ll see a Share an Update field at the top.
  • LinkedIn company updates can be up to 500 words.
  • LinkedIn status updates can include multimedia, such as links to videos and photos.
  • The updates appear in the homepage newsfeeds of your company’s “followers” (better get some followers now!)
  • Followers can comment, “like” or share the post with their network.
  • Whenever someone takes action, such as a like or comment, their network also  has the potential to see your page (again, just like Facebook).
One caveat, while LinkedIn says you’re not limited in the number of updates you can post, companies that are posting very high volumes will be looked into and their pages could be deleted. So don’t abuse the privilege, but we recommend getting on there once a day and posting something of interest to your followers. A link back to your website is even better.
Need someone to help keep that page updated? Give us a shout. That’s what we do for our clients everyday! Oh, and go follow us on LinkedIn, of course! Got questions? Check out LinkedIn’s guide to Company Pages.
In Part 2 of this series on the LinkedIn changes, we’ll talk about why this simple little addition can add up to BIG benefits for business.

Social Media News of the Week: October 3, 2011

October 7, 2011 by  
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In honor of Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

Facebook started this week off with even more changes but ones that I find super exciting. They have added three new metrics to their Insights analytics tool that allow administrators to see their brand page reach more effectively. If you’re an admin of any company page, the new Insights are up today and you can see some of the numbers right below your total number of friends on the left hand side of the page.

Facebook will also be rolling out the new Timeline sometime next week and the ability to translate posts from all around the world. And that’s not all! Facebook will roll out a new expandable ad option at an advertising conference next week that would make the ads you’re see appear more like recommendations from your friends than an actual ad!

Wednesday brought sadness to the entire world when Apple founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, lost his battle with cancer. Social media sites went crazy with thoughts, prayers and memorials dedicated to a true visionary. Google, Facebook and Disney were just a few of the huge names that honored  Jobs Wednesday and Thursday. There are many ways for you to send your words of mourning and honor about Steve Jobs, but here are some great images courtesy of Mashable of notes in front of the Apple stores.

One final but very exciting social media update is that LinkedIn has finally made it possible for businesses to post updates in a similar format to Facebook. I’ve been waiting for this day to come for a while now and personally think this will do wonders for business pages on the social network. Thanks LinkedIn!

How Facebook’s Changes Affect Businesses

October 2, 2011 by  
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Facebook changes for businessStep Ahead’s Lyn Mettler recently talked with two different media outlets about how the new Facebook changes — from Timeline and the ticker to Smart Lists and the Newsfeed — affect businesses and their Facebook marketing strategy.

On the WISH TV interview, she quickly hit the highlights of the updates to educate the viewers about what to expect and how to make changes to the settings.

On INside Indiana Business, her article addresses specifically how each of the updates impact businesses and how they should alter their Facebook strategy.

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