Step 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.
Struggling to get a handle on all the changes Facebook recently made? Not sure how it impacts your company’s business page? We’ll walk you through the changes and answer any questions you have about the updates at an informal brown bag lunch at the Step Ahead office’s at the downtown Flagship. We’ll also share with you our thoughts on how the changes affect your Facebook strategy.
The nitty gritty details:
Get a Grasp on Facebook’s Changes Brown Bag
Oct. 12 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Flagship, 475 E. Bay Street (Corner of Calhoun & East Bay)
Parking: Gaillard Auditorium garage or Aquarium garage
$15/per person payable at the door, cash or check
RSVP to hold your spot by emailing email@example.com (limited to 25)
Bring your own lunch!
Lyn Mettler, from “Step Ahead Inc.”, an Indianapolis Company that manages social media for businesses, joined us on Daybreak Sunday to discuss the new Facebook changes.
I have read one too many articles lately that claim you just cannot measure success on social media, at least not yet, but rather it’s more about awareness, engaging loyal fans and customers, creating goodwill, etc.
While, yes, social media is about that, it’s also about RESULTS and yes you can measure that. I’ll tell you how in my weekly SocialMoms.com post. Read on!
Think back a decade ago, how did you find the right hotel for your vacation? Probably either using a travel agent, seeing an advertisement in a magazine or word of mouth. Well, flash forward to 2011 and that’s all been turned on its head.
Yes, those previous forms of communication still affect the hotel/resort industry, but word of mouth no longer means the same thing as it did 10 years ago. Now, people talk about the resorts they enjoy using social media, making word of mouth so much more powerful and effective, and one of the most powerful ways for guests to get their messages out is with Twitter.
Twitter lets users reach a very large audience very quickly! Not only can users reach their followers, but each tweet is searchable on search.twitter.com, indexed by Google (so anyone can come across it even if they are not on Twitter) and has the potential to be “retweeted” (shared with another Twitter user’s followers), which is how a single tweet can reach thousands of eyeballs in a flash.
So if you haven’t checked out what folks are saying about your hotel or resort on Twitter, make that a top priority TODAY and consider how you can use that tool to capture new guests, solve customer service issues and influence what people think about your property.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Follow Your Competitors:
In any sound marketing strategy, you always look to see what the competition is doing. Follow your main competitors on Twitter and monitor search terms for them as well. We find using a program like Tweetdeck makes monitoring accounts and search terms in real time much more efficient. Monitoring your competitors will allow you to see what they are doing on Twitter and let you tweak your social media strategy accordingly. By monitoring your competitors, you’ll also be able to find users who are unhappy with your competitors, and then you can reach out to those users with open arms!
Keywords are Key:
To get the maximum benefit from Twitter, set up keyword searches. These searches will allow you to monitor all that is said about a certain topic or phrase. One or your keywords should be the name of your property, as well as phrases that indicate a user may be interested in your service. Try terms that include the name of your area or city and then the phrase “stay,” “visit” and “hotel”.
Using these searches will allow you to reach out to users currently staying at your property, those who are reviewing your property and potential customers who are planning to come to your area. This one-on-one interaction can help sway a potential customer. Just make sure you’re timely in your response, as many on Twitter expect responses, especially to customer service issues, within six hours or less. That means you need to be on Twitter not just Mon-Fri 9-5 but nights, weekends and holidays, too. After all, those are the times when most people are planning their vacations.
Interact and Offer Strategic Content:
Another key component for running a successful Twitter account is what you tweet out into the world. You want to make your account the go-to account for whatever geographic area you’re servicing. Research local events, post photos, inform users about the weather and just be an overall fountain of information for your city and property.
Now you can’t just tweet out content and not interact, that will make your account look too “salesy” and one-sided. It demonstrates that you don’t care about your followers. Ideally, you should be sending out three to four “planned” tweets a day in addition to interacting many times a day with your followers and potential followers. This mix of tweets will make your account look more personal and allow the account to take on its own personality.
Another mistake we see often among hotels is setting up Twitter and not following anyone. We’ll see accounts with a thousand followers who are following 26 people. Again, this demonstrates you’re not interested in what your followers have to say and that’s not appreciated in the world of Twitter.
Don’t Forget to Link:
Another common mistake is pumping out a lot of content without ever linking back to your website. Give your followers the chance to go to your site for more information – and to book a room! They can’t do it if you don’t provide them with a way to do so.
Now, set up your Twitter account, follow us and keep us updated on how you’re filling your rooms on Twitter.
Our very own Lyn Mettler was quoted in MSN’s Business on Main, an online community for small businesses. In the article “Get a Handle on Guerrilla Marketing,” Lyn discussed how social media can be a great tool for guerrilla marketing. See what she had to say.
Convinced your business needs to be on Facebook but not sure HOW to accomplish that? Or, do you have a business Facebook page but you’ve been stuck with only 20 “likers” since you started the page a year ago? Let us walk you through the start up and management, step by step. No convincing you WHY you should use Facebook, we just want to focus on the HOW.
After hosting a broad Charleston Social Media Step by Step seminar this spring, we got lots of requests to spend more time on specific tools, so we’re starting with the king: Facebook!
In two half-day sessions this month, Aug. & Aug. 23, you’ll learn everything from the basics of page set-up and posting etiquette to more advanced information like page customization, Facebook analytics and all about apps. You can attend one or both sessions based on your comfort level in the social media platform! We’re also offering several 30-minute one-on-one sessions after the seminar for those who would like more personal attention.
We love talking about social media and these seminars give us a chance to share some of our Step Ahead secrets to success when it comes to social media management. Seats are limited so make sure to sign up soon! Both sessions will be hosted at the Charleston Digital Corridor Flagship downtown Charleston at East Bay and Calhoun.
Click here to sign up and for complete details. Hope to see you there!
The hotel industry has changed dramatically over the past decade, first with the introduction of online booking sites such as Expedia.com, then with the increased popularity of review sites such as TripAdvisor.com and now with social media.
Step Ahead Inc. demonstrated the power of social media for hotels with a group of Myrtle Beach area hotels, for whom we managed all Facebook pages and a single Twitter account for the group. The results we saw over time were astounding including dramatically increased web traffic, revenue in excess of $14K per month directly trackable to social media and an ability to handle some 15-20 major customer service issues per month.
We were able to increase Facebook friends from just a few hundred in 2009 to over 47,000 for all pages together by early 2011. We turned their pages into a source of helpful information about theMyrtle Beacharea, literally turning each Facebook page into a virtual “front desk” for the hotels. People loved it.
The Power of a Review
Facebook, it turns out, is a place where people feel very comfortable sharing positive and negative reviews. We saw lots of positive reviews on theMyrtle Beachpages and the occasional negative review, as well.
Some argue they don’t want a Facebook page, so as to avoid negative reviews, but people will share them whether you want them to or not. If they’re on your own page, at least you can monitor and respond to them. If they get posted somewhere else in Cyberspace, if you don’t have an active online monitoring service in place, you’re likely to miss it and it could easily spiral out of control.
Positive reviews, on the other hand, are a great selling point for your hotel, and can help sway potential customers. We found that often when someone said something negative about the hotel, other people would come to the defense without us even asking. What a powerful testimonial!
A big key to successfully managing social media for hotels is being present outside of office hours and that means more than scheduling posts outside those hours. You have to be on and engaging.
If someone posts a complaint or negative review, you need to respond within a couple of hours max. Twenty-four hours is a lifetime in the world that is social media.
Also, don’t forget that people are very active on Facebook over weekends and holidays, often more so than during the week. That’s the time when they tend to be planning trips, doing research and booking hotel rooms. If you’re not on, you’re missing a key chance to engage your prospects.
This constant monitoring may seem tedious, but when you make your Facebook friends feel special and important they become even more loyal brand ambassadors and return visitors.
Social Media as a Money Maker
Who says you can’t make money on social media? Hotels who offer online booking certainly can and we proved it!
In early 2011, Facebook was averaging $14,000 per month of bookings for this hotel group directly trackable to Facebook and Twitter. This more than covered their social media fees, making social media a very profitable endeavor for them indeed.
Keep in mind, this number only includes direct traffic to their website, not phone calls from Facebook or Twitter friends. They did not have a tracking system in place to track phone calls that may have been generated from a visit to their page and we can only imagine how many of those originated on Facebook.
Traffic, Traffic and More Traffic
On a monthly basis, the Myrtle Beach Facebook pages were sending more than 5,000 visits to the websites, making Facebook one of their top referring sites.
We also noticed that the quality of traffic sent to the sites was very high, with a lower than average bounce rate and people stayed on the sites longer than average.
An important thing to note here is that in order to get the traffic and get the booking, your Facebook page should be made up of friends who are the right target, not just anyone you can get to click “like”. We take a very targeted approach to building a friend base and we believe that’s critical to generating these dramatic, measurable results for our hotel clients.
Social media has become a must-do marketing strategy for hotels, enabling them to be more effective at customer service, generate more revenue by providing followers with information for booking online and a way to get more eyes on your hotels as people research where they want to stay. Take a dedicated, consistent, targeted approach to social media and see if you don’t see your results from social media take a sharp turn upward.
Google Plus is all the buzz in social media circles over the last week and a half and I got a chance to check it out recently.
After playing around in this latest social network, which is getting raves reviews from social media influencers, here’s my two cents on its potential uses for personal and business on my SocialMoms.com blog.
Yesterday was the 2nd annual Social Media Day, and for all of us in the social media marketing field it’s nice to have that recognition. I (personally) spend the majority of my life in Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and writing blogs so it was nice to actually get out from behind the computer and be social!
This year we held our get together at Uno Mas in Mount Pleasant, keeping to our Mexican food theme (last year was at Taco Boy)! We had a great turnout, great food and even better happyritas!
Thank you to all those who came and a big thanks to Dine with Sal and everyone at Uno Mas for hosting the party! Here at Step Ahead we’re already looking forward to next year.
*** For more pictures visit our Tumblr account!