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QR Codes: How to Get Started

The basics of creating and using QR codes [caption id="attachment_316" align="alignright" width="194" caption="Sample QR code linking to our Freeport Maine Bed & Breakfast"][/caption]There has been a lot of buzz recently about QR codes. Most articles tell you what they are (think of a bar code, that smartphones or other mobile devices can read, and usually link to a URL, an image, or some useful information), and give some ideas of what QR codes can be used for, or even how to make QR codes more attractive. But where does the non-technical person begin? One reason most articles don't really explain how to make your own QR codes, and how to use them, is that it is a very easy process. There, no need to feel intimidated! Try it yourself if you have a smartphone or other mobile device with a camera. Just activate your Bar Code Reader app, and point your device at the QR code in this article, and see what happens (you may have to download a Barcode Reader app, if you don't already have one). OK, What are QR Codes, Again? Others have described them in detail (see the two articles in the first paragraph, above), so we'll simply say that QR codes are like a bar code. You can scan or read them with a mobile device's camera, and they provide a link to something. You decide what the something is - that's why most of the articles are called "15 way to use QR codes" or similar titles - the possibilities are nearly endless. So, the way this works is that you put a QR code somewhere (on your business card, in a magazine ad, on a web site, T-shirt, billboard, anywhere in the physical world). The prospective user sees it, reads it via their…

Facebook: Beyond the Basics (Presentation)

The Maine Innkeepers Association Educational Seminar for April, 2011, was held on April, 28, 2011, and the subject was Social Media - Beyond the Basics. We gave a brief presentation on Facebook: Beyond the Basics, emphasizing engagement and mentioning, to a lesser extent, optimization and measurement. Here is the video (transcript below): Transcript: Hello, this is Scott from AboutTheInn.com. This is a short presentation from on using Facebook, that's beyond the basics from an event on Social Media put on by the Maine Innkeepers Association that was held on April 27, 2011. So as we move beyond the basics of Facebook, we'll be focusing on three areas. The areas will be engagement, to some extent optimization and measurement of the progress, but primarily we'll be focusing on engagement. We'll do mostly Facebook, a little bit on Twitter, and to some extent these things all apply to LinkedIn. They also apply to other things where you may find your customers, but most of the principles are uniform - there are some differences and we'll talk about those as we go along. So first of all we need to consider just what the goal is. Often times we get absorbed in Facebook or Twitter, or whatever your platform of choice may be, and we think about how we're going to do it, and how we're going to find time to do it all, and we really don't think about what we're really trying to accomplish. So much as I hate the terminology 'heads in beds', that is the bottom line, because when we sell rooms, for lodging properties, that's how we pay the bills, no matter how we want to characterize it. So we need to consider whether or not we have a plan, and the plan should include engaging guests and…

How to add a custom IFrame App to Your Facebook Page

Many B&B's, small lodging properties, and other small businesses have taken advantage of Facebook to reach their clientele, and have made themselves look very professional doing so, with custom pages on their Facebook page. Most of these custom pages were built using Facebook's FBML app, which was quite feasible for developers, but somewhat intimidating for the non-technical person. In early February Facebook announced that they would be eliminating the FBML apps on March 11, 2011 (though existing apps will not be removed, thank goodness!), and future apps would have to be IFrame apps (which Facebook had previously not permitted -- the more things change...). While creating an IFrame app sounds very technical, and could easily intimidate, if you can build a simple web page, you can build a Facebook IFrame app. An IFrame is simply a window inside a web page, and another web page is displayed in that window. In the case of a Facebook IFrame, your web page, on the same server as your website, is displayed inside the window on your Facebook page. One thing to remember, however, is that Facebook will limit the width of your IFrame, so keep it to 520 pixels in width (and keep an eye on things, as you may need to make it a little smaller to avoid the right edge being clipped off).     If you prefer a step-by-step written tutorial, there is an excellent one from HyperArts. They also provide a skeleton web page you can cut-and-paste to begin creating the page you will use for your IFrame app on your Facebook page.

New Facebook Pages – What to Expect

Yet another Facebook change! After the "accidental" slip of Facebook pages a few weeks ago cause so much uproar (navigation moved to small text on the left side of pages, no more ability to designate the landing tab, etc.), we suspected that a major change to the appearance of pages was about to appear. Last night it did. Page admins will have received an email telling them about the wonderful new "features" and encouraging the admin to switch to the new layout now. The email also says that (like it or not) all pages will be forcibly switched on March 10. If you want to see your page - you may find something else has changed - if you were accustomed to navigating from your personal page to the business page by clicking the Account dropdown, then Manage Pages - that's gone. Search around your profile to find the links to your pages - they're gone, too. Hope you remember the URL for your page. Looking at the page, there is a banner at the top offering you a Preview of the new page, an "Upgrade" to the new layout, and an Upgrade to Multiple Pages. If you select Preview, you get a walk-through of the five changes Facebook lets you know about. We found another important thing that doesn't change, as well. Here they are: Custom landing tabs Perhaps most important for businesses, is the one thing that doesn't change - if you click Edit Page, then go to Manage Permissions, you'll find that you can still specify the default landing tab. That was the issue that caused the greatest outcry when the change temporarily appeared early. This is good news! Featured Photos Your latest photos are automatically placed at the top of the page (you can hide some…

A Simple Dashboard to Monitor Your Online Reputation

Recently the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) asked me to do a webinar on building a dashboard to aid in online reputation monitoring. I had read a really good article on the topic a year or so ago, so put some of that information to good use, added a bit of my own, and created the presentation. The presentation (slightly adapted) is below. One note from the audio (which isn't included) is that at the time of the presentation the TweetBeep.com site was not responding. Since I haven't actively used it in a while, I don't know if it is still in operation. Building a reputation management dashboard View more presentations from Scott Thomas.