Archive | April, 2011

Some quick observations when starting out in social media

25 Apr

First: Have  a strategy and plan in place. Don’t just start posting without having a clear goal in sight. If your goal is to have people volunteer at your organization make sure that your posts are about that, the value of volunteering. Post stories, pictures or interviews to get people to volunteer.

Second: Know your market. If you’re launching a product for the first time in the U.S. market do an audience profile and competitor analysis, know what the environment is like. Hire someone from the U.S. who could help with all the market research as well as provide you with their personal insights.

Third: Make sure all key players are involved in creating the social media plan. When managing social media you need to make sure that your fellow colleagues will  assist when needed.

Fourth: Before writing that first post on Facebook and Twitter make sure you know how you want to come off to the rest of the world, remember  first impressions make a difference.

Fifth: Create your company’s online personality-tone and style.

Sixth: Create FAQs and a procedural handbook on how to respond to certain questions or incidents.

Seventh: Have weekly meetings to keep all staff informed on the social media activity and to come up with the monthly calendar. At the first of the month a monthly calendar should be sent to the social media team so that everyone is on the same page.

I know these tips are pretty much common sense, but you would be surprised to learn how many people don’t follow them.

Each week I’ll provide you with some of my quick observations on social media.

Creating a Blog for a Hotel

17 Apr

So the hotel you work for has asked you to start a blog, so how do you start? Well that’s easy go to either wordpress, blogger, tumbler, etc and open up an account and blog away.

Well it’s a little bit more complicated than that as Social Media Guru Brian Solis explains in one of his blog posts,”Think about a blogging strategy. Sit down with the executive and marketing team, including PR and Web. Chart-out an official plan, identify prospective participants and writers, and dedicate time to making it happen! Work with sales and customer service to learn the real pain-points and needs of the market. Capture it, distill it, and publish often. Most importantly, read the comments and interact. It can only help.

At the end of the day, any company reaching business customers should take the time to understand how their products and services can help them succeed. Blogging is about embracing this unique technology and strategically and carefully opening up windows to expose the corporate culture. Acquiesce the successes and failures of your corporate evolution, in order to prove that your experience and leadership skills are legitimate, respectable, and most importantly, in line with your customer’s objectives.

A hotel needs to always keep 3 things in mind when blogging brand-building, keyword-rich and social media-integrated..

For example if the hotel you work for is a 5 star luxurious hotel then make sure all the blogs posts have that air of royalty meaning that the tone must be more formal or sophisticated. Your brand has a lot to do with the type of guest you tend to attract or would like to attract so keep the target audience in mind when blogging.

Once all the blog contributors understand the hotel’s brand and who it’s target audience it’s then time to get creative. Running a hotel requires many employees all working together to make sure each guest in the end is satisfied. I’m sure employees have many stories about their interactions with guests so why not blog about those encounters.

Also in a new Survey from Travelzoo found that 64% of people say hotel prices are more important than the destination when choosing holidays. The survey, which examined consumer behaviour, found that most holiday planning was based on price and user reviews.Of those surveyed, 93% compared prices before booking and 81% used hotel review sites.

Since people are interested in prices include words like, “deals, discounts, half-price, and contests”.  Also link those key words to the type of product, event or food they can get for the money they’re spending on the hotel.  Not all blogs should be about deals but at least make sure a few posts are about them.

Before starting the blog take a month to train all the blog contributors about the hotel, SEO (key words), and the frequency of posting. During that month invite the bloggers to meet some of  the hotel staff so they’ll know who to ask about certain issues.

After the training sessions the blogger should have a better idea of what he or she will blog about for the first month. Monthly meetings with the bloggers and the hotel staff should be built into the “blog  plan”, a good way to keep the blogger in the loop.

Remember there are millions of blogs out there so make sure your blog is one of those that  stands out by clearly stating the hotel’s brand!!!

A new tool for those in the hospitality industry

11 Apr

Lately, I’ve been traveling a lot so I’ve had time to read those in flight magazines. The other day I was on an American Airlines flight and was able to read the American Way magazine. To my surprise I found an article about the hospitality industry using social media, which obviously caught my attention.

I know there are many tools out there that focus on research and analytics but there is one research/analytic tool that focuses on the hospitality industry Revinate. When searching for an analytic tool you want to find one that truly understands your industry.

Revinate listens, learns, and acts. It starts by monitoring all travel, social, and industry media like Expedia, Trip Advisor, hotels.com, Yahoo travel, etc to give you a better understanding on how your hotel stands among its competitors and others. After monitoring/listening it compiles all the data into monthly and weekly reports. Those reports are intended to provide you with an in-depth analysis of key words, trends, and competition.

Most studies say that when someone books a hotel he or she tends to read the reviews, I know I do. Reading your own hotel reviews will help in addressing important issues. But instead of spending hours reading thousands of reviews, forums, blogs, and tweets Revinate will do all that for you while you engage with your customers. Revinate will also give you the opportunity to reply directly to the reviews that it classifies as “urgent”. It’s better to put out the fire right away than have it spread any further.

It’s important to know what’s out there before creating a social media plan. Once you know what the environment is like for your hotel you’re able to better come up with a winning strategy.

My first lecture on Social Media to Freshman in College

3 Apr

The other day I was asked by my friend who is a professor at Howard University to give a lecture on social media, and I thought to myself those students are going to know so much more than me because it seems like most young people 18-25 spend their lives online.

The first thing I asked the class was what kind of social media tools they were using, and to my surprise most just had Facebook and a blog. I guess I’m so caught up in my own little social media bubble always reading Facebook Guru Mari Smith’s blog, the Social Media Examiner , the Smartblog on Social Media, and managing my client’s social media sites that I just assumed everyone else was also hooked on social media. Although I might know a little bit more about social media than some that doesn’t make me special especially in this day and age, but what does make me special is that I have a strategy on how to effectively use social media, and that’s what I taught the students.

I told the students that before starting out in social media they first need to do the following: research why they want to be on social media, find out if their target audience/stakeholders are on social media, and finally find out how their target audience is using the different social media tools. Below are some sites that I provided the students with on how to better communicate their message to their audience:

http://www.google.com/insights/search/#- Competitive analysis, compare oneself to the competition.

http://www.google.com/trends-What are people searching for most on Google.

http://trendsmap.com/-What is the buzz on Twitter in different regions of the world.

http:// www.technorati.com- Find the top bloggers writing about your issue.

http://www.blogcatalog.com/directory-Find the top bloggers.

https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer?__u=9579125410&__c=8548638130&ideaRequestType=KEYWORD_IDEAS#search.none–SEO ranking, finding key words.

http://blogsearch.google.com/-Find out what bloggers are saying about your issue or topic.

Once the research is completed it’s then safe to use social media.

And the last thing I told the students is that when they write on social media networking sites they should end with a “Call for action” statement. Anytime one writes a blog entry or posts something on Facebook, what does that person want to accomplish have people just like their statement on Facebook, get people to help promote an issue or have them attend an event; there needs to be purpose on why one is writing something. Nobody writes just write with no real purpose unless you have a lot of free time on your hands.

My “Call for action” statement for all my blog entries is for people to get to know that I’m an experienced PR/marketing professional looking for interesting freelance projects. So what I want others to do when reading all my blog entries is to let me know about any good PR/marketing freelance projects!!