Taking a step back – what are you trying to accomplish?

Amid all the frenzy of keeping up with Twitter and Facebook and now Foursquare and YouTube and Blogging and sorting out which directories to list on, and responding to the never-ending flow of emails from directories telling you to hurry and post your latest specials for this month, your latest photos, your latest hot deals, your best recipes and oh, yes, did you remember that you actually have a business to run? sometimes it is nice to ... just ... take ... a ... step ... back, take a deep breath, and remember what it is we're trying to do here. Now, that's better. What we try to do All the different things we're called upon to do, and sometimes we think we're required to keep up on, can get so fragmented, that they can pull us in too many directions and keep us from our real job. Recently there was a thread on a B&B forum (I've seen the same series of questions and comments on several different forums - the topic pops up every now and then) asking, quite appropriately, how to decide which (pay) directories to list on. The discussion evolved into a discussion of the value of directory links for search engine ranking. Innkeepers must be experts in search engine optimization (SEO) and in statistical analysis of directory listing results, you see. Meanwhile, every so often there is another blog post about measuring return on investment (ROI) from social media (meaning Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.). Some say it is worthless. Others find value in social media. Innkeepers must be experts in determining ROI in the newest, cutting edge media, too. And, of course, all innkeepers must be great copywriters so they can blog regularly, post to their Facebook page, and also keep the website up-to-date, post…

Privacy and Social Media – Strange Bedfellows?

When you think about it, attempting to provide security in a medium (social media) where the objective is to share (at least to some degree) personal aspects of your life, doesn't make much sense. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that Mark Zukerberg of Facebook famously declared that privacy is dead. But is it? Should it be that way? Even with Facebook moving the goal posts every few weeks, and changing the way you control access to your data, and sometimes defaulting to very poor choices, you still have some opportunities to control what you share outside your circle of friends (real friends, I mean, not just Facebook "friends"). What's the probem? We may all have different ideas of what we are willing to share with others - depending, at least partly, on how well we know them. That's the reason that "one size fits all" privacy doesn't work. Whether you believe in sharing everything, or sharing very little, chances are the next person has a different view about what information they want to share. Understandably, businesses want to share lots of information about the business, but individuals often want to restrict some of their more personal information. However, many individuals use personal accounts for business information, and the lines between business and personal get blurry. An eye-opening example Recently a reporter published an article called Confessions of an Online Stalker. He did it to research just how much personal information is available for free on the internet. He chose a person who is very "plugged in" - having several online businesses, lots of social media presence, etc. What he was able to learn about his "target" was surprising, even to the target (the reporter eventually met him and revealed the information to him). For example, he knew where…

Don’t Let Online Marketing Take Up All Your Time

What holds you back from using social media (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, or others) to market your property? We've address some of the barriers in earlier posts (see, for example, What Good is Social Media?, or click the Social Media link in the tag cloud below right), but another barrier is time. One of the commonly asked questions is, "How much time do you spend on social media?" The answer is (and should be) different for different people. Some people, who see social media as their primary marketing mechanism, will spend an enormous amount of time engaging with potential guests through their favorite social media. Others will shy away, saying it is too easy to waste time, and being afraid to get sucked into spending all day on it. Ultimately, it is up to you how much time to spend on social media marketing. We suggest that making it your primary source of marketing is not (currently, at least) a good use of your time. We do think that building the relationships that can come via social media is very effective, and should be considered an investment in the future. The presentation below illustrates some of the time problems of social media, and suggests some tools and strategies to streamline its use. Please feel free to comment on other avenues you have found helpful in dealing with the volume of information on the social web. Don't Let Social Media Take Up All Your Time View more presentations from Scott Thomas.

Put Your Facebook Page to Work

This post describes a Facebook app that uses FBML, which is no longer permitted for new apps on Facebook. The updated post, using static iframes, is located here (posting June 5, 2012). Some innkeepers frequently question the value of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, as being too time-consuming, all entertainment, annoying, or simply not producing any return on the time invested. We recently came across an idea from a large hotel chain that many bed and breakfasts can put to work immediately. A hotel marketing newsletter mentioned recently that a large chain had added booking capability to its Facebook fan page. That triggered a memory that we had seen articles on customizing your Facebook fan page, but had never really pursued it, as the changes we were thinking about would have taken more time than we were willing to devote to the effort. Digging up the article, we put together the idea, and with a bit of cut-and-paste, had a working booking and availability app on our Facebook fan page in under 30 minutes. If your online booking source allows you to integrate the availability form into web pages, you can have on on your Facebook fan page, too. We'll show you the step-by-step process, no programming needed! The 'How To' Section First of all, this will work with any online booking system that allows you to embed a form into a web page for checking availability and booking. Webervations is an example of one that does allow this, and we will use it as the example, since that's what we used to create ours. If you're not sure if you online booking service allows that, check their website (the internal site, where you go after logging in) or contact their support. In the case of Webervations (we're not…

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