Tag Archives: Facebook

Takeaways from the Oklahoma Conference on Tourism

Another VERY informative Conference on Tourism put on by the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association. I heard many co-conference attendees exclaim, “Information Overload!” Great appreciation to Debra Bailey and the Board for putting together such a great day of education.

OTIA Conference

So what were the key takeaways? Mobile, Content and Customer Service. Let’s break them down…

Mobile – The data shared by Santiago Jaramillo should not be surprising:

  • There are more smart phones purchased each year than babies born.
  • 60% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices.
  • 2 of 3 consumers are less likely to engage further with a brand if they have a poor experience with that brand on a mobile device.

So the key question to ask is ‘what kind of experience are potential visitors having through your website?’ We’ve shared Google search is rewarding mobile-friendly websites on search. Now is the time to build a responsive design website so your potential visitors have a positive experience with your brand on their mobile device.

Content – Daniel Levine encouraged attendees to ‘put online as much information as you can about your destination, hotel or attraction.’ Jennifer Kaulkman shared potential visitors want info so give it to them. ‘Draw them in with great content.’ What is great content? Howard Tietjen said it’s storytelling. Don’t just list the facts about your attraction. Tell the story behind the exhibits. Don’t just list the menu items. Tell the story behind your Oklahoma famous chicken fried steak. The story should also connect with the reader. Answer the question ‘why do they care?’

Content includes visuals. Kauklman encouraged “killer photography” on the website. How many pics? “As many as you can!” Budget to pay for a photographer to take quality photography. Video is probably more important than pictures. Shaun Auckland shared more than 50% of travelers search YouTube in 5 of 6 steps of the travel planning process. Put your story to video!

Customer Service – It’s not sexy. It’s not a cool, hip trend. But it’s what travelers want. Actually Levine clarified that – travelers want OUTSTANDING service! “Forget the sales. Focus on guest happiness.” Jaramillo put it this way: “If we sell a visitor, we get them for a weekend. If we help a visitor, we get them for a lifetime.” If through the website and social media and apps and videos and SEO we forget customer service, we’re forgetting that we are the destination’s brand and the service beyond expectations is what visitors will remember, tweet, post, and share with their friends! It will also be why they return!

Trending Now… Trends

It’s the most wonderful time of year… for #trends. You know, the speculations and forecasts of initiatives one must undertake next year to keep up with the Joneses. There are marketing trends and social media trends; e-mail marketing trends, content marketing trends, website trends and even customer service trends.

We were recently reminded that perhaps we need to not worry about the “next big thing” and get back to the basics. These 32 Marketing Tips are great, but what if we got back to the very basics of business, people relations, and simple kindness? Customers might find us and our businesses more pleasing. We might have lower stress, and 2015 might be the best year ever.

New Year 2015 Loading Background,happy New Year Template

Smile. We’re stressed. We’re busy. We have a dozen things on our mind when we greet that customer. They don’t care. They want to be treated like they are the only agenda item that day; the only thing on your mind. Heck, maybe they’ll smile back and make your smile genuine!

Be Positive. Whether you are positive or negative, the situation doesn’t change. So we might as well be positive. Our cultural conditioning teaches us to find flaws and problems at all times. Shift from fault-finding to appreciation-finding.

Compliment Someone. Give genuine, personal compliments. You are so kind with co-workers. You listen so well before assisting the visitor. “I like how you remember everyone’s birthday.” You compliment every co-worker each week, it’s gonna be a very positive work environment!

Write A Note. Don’t type it. Write it. Do you remember pens, paper, envelopes, stamps…? Hand write a thank you note, or a compliment. It’s far more personal than an email or text. And the positive impression is far greater!

Let Someone Merge. Hold a Door Open. You remember common acts of chivalry for us guys, kindness for the ladies. Be a Scout and “Do A Good Turn Daily”!

Pick Up A Piece of Trash. You’ll make your city look better. You’ll make the front of your business look more inviting. Disney managers carry trash tongs. They recognize it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep things tidy. You can’t rely on the ‘wind sweeping down the plains’ to sweep the sidewalk or parking lot.

Be On Time. It’s respectful and courteous to with whom you are meeting. It’s less stressful on you.

Pray For Your Customers and Business Partners. It’s said “As long as there are tests in the classroom, there will be prayer in school.” Well, as long as there is stress in operating a business, there will be prayer. We are instructed to pray – “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Of course we’re thankful for customers and business partners! Why would we not want to petition for blessings upon them?

They’re simple. They’re easily forgotten in today’s hustle and bustle. Put on that smile again. Be kind. Write a compliment. Keep things tidy. Staff morale will improve. Your business team will be strengthened. Customers will want to come back. And your business will stay healthy.

Something to add? Leave your comments below. Thanks for reading.

10 Step Promotional Plan to the Most Success Ever

You have a great promotion. Buy one, get one half off (or free.) 45% off in celebration of your 45th anniversary. Or certain percentage of purchases are returned to local schools. But what’s the promotional plan around it? A post on Facebook and a tweet but crickets. Try the newspaper again?

Let’s look at an easy, 10 step plan to help you execute the promotion and have the most success ever!

Step 1: Create signage. Something to put on the door(s) to your store, hotel or attraction. If you’re a restaurant, also include table tents. Have signage at the counter(s). Signage in hotel rooms or on the doors to the indoor pool. Put a sign next to the hand dryer in the restroom. Where ever your customers may be able to see a sign, hang, post, mount, place a sign.

Step 2: On Facebook, ask people to join your email list to get a special offer. Include a link to your sign-up form.

Step 3: Email your customers announcing your special offer. Let your customers know about your special offer and why they should act on it.

Step 4: On Facebook, remind people they still have time to get your special offer. Post a relevant image to your Facebook Page with the following status (be sure to include a link to your sign-up form): “There’s still time to get our special offer. Join our email list to get it sent to your inbox. ”

Step 5: Send an email reminder just before your offer expires. This is it. Your offer is almost up. Let your contacts know this is their last chance to take advantage of it.

Step 6: Be sure to ask new customers to join your email list while they’re in your store. This way you’ll be able to keep in touch with them!

Step 7: Send a “Thank You” email to your customers. It’s time to say “Thank you!” to everyone who took advantage of the special promotion. Expressing your gratitude goes a long way in creating long lasting
customer relationships. You can even send along another offer they can use later so you get people back to the store.

Step 8: Post on Facebook a “Thank you!” Post an image of you and your staff to your Facebook Page with the
following status: “Thank you for shopping with us.”

Step 9: Send a bonus coupon or reward to the customers who redeemed your offer that can be used at a later date. This could either be a part of the “Thank You” email (Step 7), handed out to them directly when they are in your store, or a fourth email after the “Thank You” email.

Step 10: Send a survey to your email contacts to find out what they’re interested in so you can keep them engaged all year long.

Okay, that last one may be more in preparation for the next promotion, but it’s also relevant information to let you know if your customers really appreciated the special promotion or not. Of course your cash register should indicate that as well!

Signage, three emails, three Facebook posts and a survey. You’re on your way to the most success ever!

‘sō shəl (verb) people engaging with each other – Pt. 2

“Social media” suggests that we are sociable with those that like us, follow us or connect with us. However, as we get busier and busier, we too often either use a social media management tool like Hootsuite, schedule our posts/tweets and never review them after they are posted. Or we quickly log on to Facebook, post and log off, never reviewing the interactions.

Last month I shared a few ways to engage more through Twitter. As Facebook changes their algorithms and our posts appear in less and less news feeds, we focus on Facebook and – as our new definition of social suggests – design activities in which people engage with each other for pleasure.

1. Like every comment. Simple enough. Outside of the absolutely bashing comment – “The Anywheresville Zoo is the worst ever…” – like every comment! They took the time to comment on your post so like it. Is it the most eloquent endorsement? Can you use it in your marketing materials? Maybe not. But like it! It encourages more comments. And you want “Joe commented on Anywhereville’s post” to appear in his friends’ news feeds. Gold!

Fort Worth FB

Even more so, comment yourself – “Thanks for sharing Julie!” If it’s negative – “We didn’t particularly like the zoo. A lot of walking!” Comment with “Thanks for sharing. Did you know about the tram back to the elephants?” You acknowledged their comment and provided assistance. How can you go wrong with that? Plus you showed your DMO is knowledgeable about services at attractions. (It’s that whole relevancy thing…)

2. If someone asks a question, for crying out loud, respond! Again, they took the time to ask a question. I totally understand – no one can watch the page 24/7. Glance at it every now and then – first thing in the morning, before or after lunch and right before you leave for the day.

3. Do you have a friends page? Your Facebook page isn’t really a business page. “Anywheresville” is the first name and “State” is the last name? It’s common. And really it’s to your advantage! Birthdays! A client of mine had both a friends page and a business page. I kept them both and wished all of their friends ‘happy birthday’. Numerous times I’d get replies surprised they’d get a greeting from an attraction. It’s as personal as you can get with your customers!

facebook birthday

4. Pictures! When you scroll through your news feed, what grabs your eye? A text only post or a picture? So then why don’t you use pictures for your DMO or business’ posts? “A picture is worth a thousand words.” A picture might be worth a thousand likes.

Charlottesville Picture Post

5. Start conversations. Go ahead and prime the pump. Encourage dialogue. About once a week, a local Mexican restaurant posts a conversation starter. A recent one: Imagine you can only order one thing off our menu for the rest of your life: What is it? 28 comments. Try fill in the blanks. “In one word, our quacamole goes best with _____________” Combine this with pictures and have then provide the caption. (Possibly less successful as it really requires creativity more so than one adjective or commenting with your favorite burrito but worth a try.)

6. Feature customers. Get comment cards? Post the comments. “Thanks for the kind words Julie (followed by her quote)” or just a waitress in your restaurant was just asked to take a picture of guests at a table. Take a picture yourself and post it. Get their name and say “Peter and his friends celebrating his landing a big account.”

7. Ask for a like, a comment or a share. Word is Facebook is tweaking their algorithm to combat ‘spammy’ posts: How many likes can we get for the new dinosaur at the museum? Or What’s your favorite ride a the waterpark? Like for lazy river, comment for raft ride, share for death drop. I believe it you ask in a subtle tone, it’s still okay. “Let’s hear what you have to say” or “you gotta like this”.

Facebook-Like-Baiting

There’s other ways to engage – contests, exclusive promotions, apps – but let’s keep it with these seven tips this month. Social media isn’t easy! It’s not just posting, checking it off your to-do list and moving to the next task. Yes, it takes time and we’re all super busy – especially in the one man/woman offices. Perhaps it’s time to consider getting some help. Please let me know if we can help in any way. At the very least, the above can help you engage with visitors and potential visitors.

‘sō shəl (verb) people engaging with each other

We all know the social media statistics: 198 google billion posts on Facebook, 55 quaple million tweets, 127.4 hoople billion pics on Instagram, and more pins than all of Oklahoma and Iowa’s wrestling programs combined. Social media is today what websites were in the 90s meaning if you’re not on social media, well, you’re not in business. But social media is, well, social.

Social Media

Try this: ‘sō shəl (verb) to design activities in which people engage with each other for pleasure – or in your situation – commerce! You won’t find that in Websters but we should. I have noticed a few practices or in some cases, lack of practices, that really doesn’t help social media be social. Bottom line – we’re not engaging! Here’s some thoughts on engaging through Twitter. (Next month, Facebook.)

– If someone comes into your welcome center or business, you greet them right? You thank them for visiting and/or becoming a new customer, yes? When someone follows you on Twitter, thank them!

“@traveler123 – Thanks for following us @VisitAnywheresville.” Keep it simple!

Toss in the hash tag #loveourcustomers for added appeal. If you’re a destination, perhaps use #loveourvisitors.

– Someone mention you on Twitter? Favorite the tweet! If someone took the time to search for @VisitAnywheresville and mention you in their tweet, you have to, HAVE TO, HAVE TO acknowledge them and engage!

I am shocked at how many times I mention someone, some place or some entity and don’t get a favorite. I went to the OKC Energy (semi-pro soccer) game a week ago. Took a picture and mentioned @OKCEnergy. Nothing. Crickets. You think I want to do that again? You think I believe they care that I attended and want me back? Not so much.

I’ll pick on my friends in Branson. We visited Branson over spring break. Seven tweets about our activities. Mentioned @ExploreBranson each time. Only one was favorited.

The mentions should be easy to know about. Log into Twitter and check your notifications. If you’re mentioned, it’s there. Hash tags require a little more searching but if you’re promoting a hashtag and someone uses it, a favorite is required. I only run in Saucony shoes. Every ad of theirs includes #findyourstrong. As I come back from a hamstring injury and begin running again, when I tweet about a run and include #findyourstrong, I’m surprised, nay, shocked Saucony doesn’t favorite the tweet to encourage me to keep using the hashtag and their shoes.

– Don’t just favorite a tweet, reply.

“Really enjoyed the @AnyZoo in @VisitAnywheresville! The monkeys were especially lively.”

Reply:

“@traveler123 Glad you enjoyed your visit to @AnyZoo and @VisitAnywheresville. See you again soon!”

Heck, suggest another attraction to them.

“@traveler123 Glad you enjoyed your visit to @AnyZoo. If you like animals, you may like the @AnyPettingZoo.”

Or (dare I say) send them to your website

“Find out information about @AnyPettingZoo at http://www.VisitAnywheresville.com/AnyPettingZoo”

If I ever get the chance to hike I do. I hiked my fourth location in the state. Tweeted “Hiked Roman Nose, Beaver’s Bend, Wichita, Quartz Mtns & T-bird. What’s next @TravelOK.” They responded with a link to their webpage describing five beginner, five intermediate and five expert hikes in Oklahoma. Just added 15 more destinations to my list!

Hey social media isn’t easy! It’s not just posting or tweeting something, checking it off your to-do list and moving to the next task. Yes, it takes time and we’re all super busy – especially in the one man/woman offices. Perhaps it’s time to consider getting some help. Please let me know if we can help in any way. At the very least, the above can help you engage with visitors and potential visitors!

What’s the Plus Side? Using Google+ for Business

I do nothing with and know nothing about Google+.  I don’t even believe I can remember how to login to my account.  Not knowing anything about this social network is what made a former colleague’s blog on Google+ appealing.

Amy Garton, is the Director of Interactive Solutions for the Overland Park (KS) Convention and Visitors Bureau.  I share her blog as a guest column this month…

What is Google+ and what do we know about it?

Google+ is a social network that was created by Google. It is the social element to all of Google’s other services (search, Gmail, YouTube, Blogger) – bringing the social elements people love from other social networks to the Google Family.

  • Launched in 2011. Google had previously launched five other social networks, of which only 1.5 exist today. (The .5 is a feature of G+.)
  • More than 540 million users and more than 300 million active users (versus Facebook at 1.19 billion active users.)
  • Average time spent on G+ per month is 6 minutes and 47 seconds (versus Facebook at 15 hours and 33 minutes.)
  • The +1 button is clicked more than 5 million times per day.

What’s the Plus Side?

1. It is Google. This is not meant to say Google does everything right, but rather we know that Google is the number 1 website in the world so it matters by virtue of size.

2. It is not just another social network. While people like to compare G+ to other networks, and it offers similar features to a variety of the networks, it is unique in both implementation and value.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search is now social and Google+ is Google’s answer to this.

Google+ versus Facebook

One of the biggest barriers to success is Google+ is the public’s opinion that G+ is Google’s answer to Facebook.  Some of the key factors to keep in mind include the following:

  • Facebook is designed to connect us to our existing friends. Your goal is to stay in touch. G+ is designed to connect us to new people via shared interests. Your goal is to connect your brand with Google’s platform to raise awareness for your message.
  • Facebook is designed to build relationships with customers and prospects. G+ is designed to build recognition with a niche.
  • For business, Facebook is designed to demonstrate accessibility to your customers, providing them with service and information they need where they are online. Google+ is designed to support search engine optimization, create brand identity and authority and share content including links.

You can think of Facebook as your short-game and Google+ as your long-game.

Facebook Fans already know and love your brand, but your message has a short shelf life. Google+ Circles are very niche, but your message is tied to search and actually gains momentum with longevity.

The Google+ Features

* Circles: While all networks allow some degree of targeting, especially with their ad platforms, Google really understands the importance of niche marketing and messaging. You might not want to share your child’s latest adventures with your business acquaintances, just like you might not want to share your every thought on the state of social media with your friends. For business, this is an extremely important tool and one of the most useful features of Google+.

* Communities: Google’s answer to groups. Give people a place to hangout around a specific topic

* Hangouts: This Skype like feature allows you to video chat with your connections – bringing once tedious conference calls into a new dimension. The plus side of this feature is you can invite people to Hangout or do an “On Air Hangout” which feeds live into YouTube.

* Events: Create events and invite attendees. Unique feature to this events option is that it will add the event to anyone that uses Gmail or Google Calendars if they are attending and automatically adds it to the calendars of those in your Circles.

* Local: A way for people to review your business and find places near them. These reviews will “help” Google determine what to recommend in the future.

* Hashtags: Google gets this right. They actually add tags to your post if you have not added tags that deem appropriate.

Search brings you information from across the web. Now, search recognizes those you think are important and brings you their information in a personalized results based on your connections, interests you’ve established, location, etc.

According to a study connected by MOZ, the number of G+’s a website has is the second most influential indicator for the Google Algorithm, only behind page authority.

You need to establish a personal and professional network on G+ to demonstrate authority in the industry. And then create a Business Page with a Network to establish authority directly connected to your company’s web presence.

To optimize your Google+ account for SEO, you should:

1. Give your Google+ Page a Name.

Visit Overland Park is the name we use because it is our social profile and our website address.

2. Customize your Google+ Page URL.

To set your custom Google+ page or profile URL:

  • Go to your page or profile and click About.
  • Scroll down to the Links box. You’ll see your existing Google+ page URL.
  • Click on the link and Google+ asks you if you want to convert to a new custom Google+ page URL.

3. Local Page

Merge your Local with Places for easier management. Here is an article on merging the two.

4. Establish Authorship.

Authorship is a form of HTML coding that tells Google that your Page is being managed by an authority related to your website. Your email address must include your website (example agarton@visitoverlandpark.com). You can go further and establish Publisher, which connects all your employees as authors, which is especially useful for blogging.

Seeing Success

* Posting

* Be sure that the information is keyword rich.

* Use links to your website and blogs.

* Use hashtags and review the hashtags Google creates for the post.

* Reshare your evergreen content to increase the number of +1s and increase your SEO.

* Ask for +1s and shares.

* Share your posts publically, unless best fit for a specific circle or needed on a targeted basis. This will reach those in your Circles, but will also go public so more people can find you.

Beyond the Post

* Grow your Circles to grow your Circles. You need to network here. This is one social network that does not punish you for following more people than follow you (and the best way to get new followers is to follow someone else). In fact, it rewards you for having a large network and degrees of connectivity (note that you can only circle 5000 people for your Page). This is a true content-contact marketing effort.

* Add Google +1 Button to website pages.

* Include +1 Button in emails.

* Measuring

* Review posts to see what is getting +1s, comments and shares to drive content curation.

* Establish unique URLS for links to follow in Google Analytics.

Some great tools are available to measure success in a variety of areas. For more

on these tools, go here.

Other Tools that are Available:

* Friends + Me is a website application that allows you to set up an auto share from your google+ page to your other networks. This app allows you to customize what people see by network.

* Chrome Do Share allows you to schedule posts in Google+, but the Chrome browser must be open at the time you want a post to share.

* SteadyDemand.com will give you an analysis of your Google+ page and how it can be better utilized to gain the full SEO benefits of your G+ account.

Thanks for reading.

We work in the NOW world

I live in Norman, Oklahoma.  There’s a small university here and the University of Oklahoma is pretty good at football.  The Sooners played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two weeks ago.  (A Thursday evening.)  While friends were relishing the upset victory, a video starts popping up on social media.  An Alabama fan goes crazy on an OU student.  Friday afternoon a story is posted – Bama Sugar Bowl mom ‘sorry’ but would ‘do it again if I had to’.  Okay, sympathy for the mom?  Wait… have you seen this video – the Crazy Bama Mom BEFORE attacking OU student?  All of that played out through social media within 36 to 48 hours.  Anyone pay attention?  The first video has been viewed nearly 3 million times.  The Yellowhammer story has more than 2,000 comments.  Who knows how many views?  And the third video has been viewed 391,000 times.  (Warning: videos and comments contain offensive images and language.)

So what?  What if the headline is “attraction GM goes crazy on family” or “restaurant owner goes crazy on diners” or “salmonella outbreak after banquet at Yourville convention center”?  We never know what is going to set something off or when a mobile phone is recording.  What could it be that potentially embarrasses the destination?  Maybe it’s not even an embarrassing situation.  Perhaps it’s a hurricane that hits the Gulf or massive flooding in the east or ice storm just before the Super Bowl?  Welcome to your job in the NOW World!  What do you need to prepared to work in the NOW World?

Image

1. You need to be ready… ready now… ready now for anything!  You need to have an emergency public relations plan.  The next chance you get, lock yourself away with your staff and imagine the 20 worst scenarios.  Just scan the headlines: water poison, bed bugs, salmonella, tornado, hurricane, scandal… Then think of the 20 you’d never think of – Crazy Bama Mom.  Doubt the Alabama Alumni office wasn’t prepared for that one!  Talk through what your response should/would be for each situation.  Type them up and store them away.

2. You need to realize we’re not in an 8am to 5pm job any longer.  Tornadoes don’t strike during business hours.  Videos of drunk fans go viral at any time!  If you’re the PR / Communications person for your office, you need to understand that you may be called back in even though it’s after 5pm or it’s during the weekend.  And if it needs reminding, comments on Facebook don’t end at 5pm, people don’t clock out and quit posting and watching videos on YouTube, and tweets are tweeted 24/7.

3. You need to understand that you can’t be passive any longer.  We are not in control of the message any more!  They are and they can post, tweet, pin, comment anything they want – and they do.  It’s as Dan Patrick said numerous times on Sportscenter: You can’t stop him.  You can only hope to contain him.

4. For the messages you are trying to control, you need to understand social media is not posting something once a day and never going back to view the comments or looking at it the next day when you sign in to post another message.  Social media is not loading up Hootsuite on Monday and never participating in the conversation.  (And if Hootsuite is your only portal to social media, I’d suggest shutting it down now.)  Social media is monitoring 24/7 or if you’re a small office, 16 to 18/7.

5. You need to understand you don’t have a private life any longer.  Can you cringe with me just imagining if that Crazy Bama Fan was your employee?  No, this isn’t a case of bad press is good press!  The press would love to run “Executive Director of CVB is Crazy Bama Fan”.  And your personal social media accounts aren’t personal either.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Justine Sacco.  We have a cool job that allows us to experience a lot of cool things but the bad news is we don’t have a private life any longer.

Those are my initial thoughts of our working now in a NOW World.  Did I miss one or two?  Leave your comments below and thanks for reading!