802Social on the Mic!

Last week I had the honor of speaking to a group of eager marketing students at the University of Vermont. We limited ourselves to social media in the hospitality industry for this discussion, but as you know, I’m a champion of social media marketing for industries and organizations across the board.

The group of about 25 students was tasked with either creating a new Facebook page or starting their own website for an imaginary business. Despite also having website guru Mike Lannen of Eternity in the house, most folks decided to go the Facebook route; an imaginary profile page seemed a little less daunting in the moment than devising a detailed website architecture, I guess…

As the group ventured down their social media rabbit hole, far beyond the bounds of Facebook or a simple website, suddenly everyone had questions and concerns. Not so easy after all, I guess…

Here’s a few questions that stood out among the many.

"How do you feel about a lot of hashtags being used in a post?"
I consider each platform a bit differently with regards to hashtags. Instagram allows as many as 30 hashtags on any single post. I generally don't recommend using all 30, but hashtags really unlock the secret of Instagram, so the more the merrier, really.

My go-to is usually about 12. Hashtags help people discover your content. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 hashtags on any given post connects you to a lot of different categories and people, without looking too spammy.

For Facebook, I prefer 1-3. Hashtags are a bit less effective on Facebook, though they still help communicate and connect. #802Social #socialmedia #networking #vtbiz

“What do you think about buying an Instagram Like?"
My simple answer... NO! Don’t do it!! Paying for “Likes” is just bad business. Concentrate on creating and sharing compelling content that will earn your posts real Likes from real people.

"What about Snapchat for businesses?"
Snapchat has muscled its way to the front of the line with anyone between the ages of 18 and 22. I use Snapchat in my personal life, but not for my business, nor have I recommended it for any of my clients. At this point, Snapchat isn't quite user-friendly or effective enough for businesses. With Facebook and Instagram still way too dominant in the field, Snapchat has some work yet to do to catch up.

As with everything in the social media world though, keep an eye one it. These spaces and services are constantly evolving. Social media professionals are out there keeping pace with all the trends and changes, so reach out and stay connected to know how the landscape looks from day to day.

“What about all the other questions we have?”
Questions continued, I could hear the hands wringing, but unfortunately our time was up for the day. It never ceases to amaze me the questions I'm asked when I speak with a group. The world of social media marketing can be truly unrelenting, and simply too much for a lot of people to keep up with.

That frustration a lot of people feel was one of the biggest reasons I got into the business; helping local business owners get a handle on their social media marketing can be instantly gratifying. I love seeing how relieved they can be to have someone else take the wheel for a while!

That’s why I’m here.

Questions answered at 802Social

Social Media for the Travel Industry: Please Secure Your Safety Belts…

When I sat down to write this blog, I did what every self-respecting blogger would do, I Googled the topic to see what others had shared already. Not surprisingly, what I found was an over saturation of the topic from virtually every angle, and realized I needed to do something different.

Step two: Go directly to the source. I reached out to Jessica Slater of Dream Vacations in Acworth, GA, to talk with her about social media and marketing, as a premier travel agent in an ever-shifting industry.

Jessica’s Top Three Social Media Concerns
1. Not reaching as many people as I have followers.
This is a very common concern. The numbers seem to say one thing, but for whatever reason, that doesn’t seem to translate into actionable leads and insights.

Ask yourself a few questions:
a. Are you showing up every day? If not every day, are you at least being consistent?. My personal goal, for both myself and my clients, is to post to social media at least 5 times per week. I get it, sometimes that can seem impossible, but I recommend spending at least some time each week planning out your content, to make consistent posting that much easier. I highly recommend using a content calendar to track what you’ve shared and mapping what you plan to share. Every business needs a well-defined social media strategy. Posting on the go can get sloppy, and usually just doesn’t work.

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b. Are you utilizing more than one platform? If not, you need to be. I would start with Facebook, then Instagram, followed by Pinterest, Twitter, and down the line. Find what platform really works for you, your industry, and reaches the eyeballs you’re looking to reach.

c. Are you creating valuable and interesting content? Vacations pics are serious eye candy, so have fun with them! Encourage your clients to send you photos of their vacation for you to share. Share tips and up to date information about hot vacation deals and destinations. Share hidden gems of places people may not think to even visit.

2. When paying to “boost” a post, the posts don’t seem to reach the people I set in my parameters with regards to demographics.

This can be tricky, but the beauty of Facebook boosted posts is that if you’re not seeing the results you want or expect, you can stop the post right away and edit it. Try posting with just one key demographic audience in mind for testing purposes, and see how that works out before broadening your reach.

Here's a helpful hint - Next time you see an ad in your news feed, click on the three little dots on the top right hand corner of the post. Select "Why am I seeing this??” This may help to trigger some keywords and ideas for you to use in your own ads going forward, thereby reaching the audiences you’re looking to reach.

3. Figuring out how to get more engagement.

Getting people to actually engage with your social media posts is the golden goose. Ask short and sweet, easy to answer questions and action statements.

* "What vacation destination is on your bucket list for 2019?"

* "Where do you absolutely have to get back to?"

* "How many times have you been to Disney World?"

* "Do you just have to escape to the city, or to the country?”

Are you using Instagram Stories!? This is a very popular feature that will easily increase your social media engagement. You can learn more about Instagram Stories, here. Working towards increased engagement ties right back into question #1.

1. Show up.

2. Provide valuable content.

3. Be part of the conversation.

All Aboard!
Every social media platform offers a wide variety of ways to create, share, and distribute content. Whether you’re posting to your Facebook timeline or IGTV on Instagram, there is a preferred place for everyone. Take the time to research where your ideal clients are congregating in the social media sphere and go there.

Ultimately the way to master your social media marketing is to start with a solid plan, show up consistently, and provide valuable, interesting content, or contact your local social media travel agent extraordinaire.

Travel Social with 802Social

Room Service Anyone? Social Media for Hospitality

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While you were going about your normal life, the internet popped up and became the world’s most prominent, committed, and qualified concierge. With just a few clicks, a veritable fount of options, opportunities, and experiences abound for the itinerant traveler, vacationing family, or curious tourist on the go.

Gone are the days of dusty travel posters on travel agency walls, and painful slogans like “When you need it bad, we’ve got it good, when you need it bad come to Florida!” Social media as a whole has become the travel agent, marketing professional, concierge, hotelier, and hospitality specialist all rolled into one.

With Airbnb, HomeAway, traditional hotels, rentals, and resorts all battling it out in the social media landscape jockeying for attention, what is it that separates the spectacular from the merely spectacle? Where would you book a room if you were looking to get away?

The Hostess with the Mostess…
Competition is fierce. You could say it always has been, but with the internet and social media literally at our fingertips 24/7, whether you’re running a restaurant, bar, hotel, or bed and breakfast, the hostess with the mostess is the one who’s going to see real results.

People are putting in hours and hours of time researching and reviewing where they want to spend their money and spend the night, so your business needs to be active and engaged to stay ahead of the curve and excite your audience.

What are they looking for?
No one ever felt connected to a travel poster or brochure, but with social media, you have a way to connect to your audience like you never had before.

1. Discovery – First they have to find you, then they have to be impressed. Go where the eyeballs are. Build a compelling and consistent social media presence and profile to increase your chances of new clientele discovering you. First impressions are critical, so keep your posts professional, interesting, and engaging.

2. Connections – Social media is a two-way street. Your hotel or Airbnb has to be committed to engaging with your audience through social media because that’s where they are. This is where conversations and connections really do matter.

Don’t ignore comments, good or bad. Respond to people honestly and graciously, participate in the conversation and start new ones. At 802Social we have seen a huge bump in folks reaching out by direct messaging us on Facebook or Instagram. Be sure to check your settings for those features so you aren't missing any important messages.

3. DEALS! – Reward your followers and visitors with great deals! If this is something you start to do on a regular basis, people will specifically search you out just to see if there is a last minute social media deal. Maybe it's not an actual lodging discount every time, but a giveaway for a logo'd item, or a pass to a local theater. Either way, your followers will love you for it and will likely spread the word. Who doesn't love a great deal!?

Showcase Your Amenities
You know what you have to do, but the question for a lot of people is how do we do it!? First answer, contact 802Social, and let us lead the charge; but for the real entrepreneurial entrepreneurs out there, here’s a few tricks of the trade.

o Photos, Photos, PHOTOS! – A hotel/resort/rental is an endless source for content through pictures. Happy guests and their stories; the employees who help to make it all happen; behind the scenes antics; sunset views from the balcony, etc. Set yourself apart from the competition by showing off every day.

o Show Up – When you call the front desk, you want someone to answer. Stay consistent with your social media, but by showing up every day. People want to know you’re there. Think of it this way, if you’re "out of sight,” you’re “out of mind." Rally your audience’s attention to you by staying in the spotlight.

o Hashtags – I am pounding my fist on the desk as I say this: use hashtags in your Instagram posts! When researching a vacation/lodging destination, searching hashtags is like a secret passage to exactly what you’re clientele is looking for, so you want to be there at the end of the tunnel. Hashtags like #petfriendlytravel or #closetodowntown for example, put your place on the maps of people looking for exactly what you’re offering.

A Mint on the Pillow
It’s the little things that make all the difference. Set yourself and your business apart by showing up on social media, showcasing your services, highlighting deals, sharing and engaging with your audience, and staying ahead of the competition. Be creative, be consistent, or call us here at 802Social to hand over the reins to the professionals!

Book Now with 802Social

Why Your Business Should Use Social Media

Day in and day out I hear grumbling from business owners about their social media woes. Probably the most common questions, complaints, or concerns I hear aren’t even about the success of their social media efforts, but apprehensions about getting in the social media game in the first place.

We in the biz call these “pain points.” Generally, pain points refer to specific problems prospective customers of your business are experiencing, problems that you can then work to solve, thus creating value for your customers, and customers for your business. But pain points can also refer to problems you as a business owner are experiencing, like trying to wrap your head around social media. It would be my job then to create solutions to these problems.

The Top 3 Pain Points I Hear Most Often:

o   “I just don’t get it. Why do I need to use it?”

o   “I don’t have time.”

o   “What would I even post?”

 

I just don’t get it. How it will help my business?

So, you have a website, right? Most likely you do. At the time, you probably weren’t sure why you needed that either, besides the obvious fact that everyone else seemed to be doing it. I mean, what’s wrong with a simple ad in the phone book!

You knew to run a successful business you needed a place for people to learn more about you, contact you, shop your services or products, etc. But how are people discovering new businesses and seeking the products they need these days? How would they find you if you didn’t have a website, and once you did jump on the digital bandwagon, how would they know to look for your there?

Word of mouth has been the most fundamental and essential social media tool we’ve ever known, and that’s not changing any time soon. Your personal email signature, business cards, are radio/tv spots are a few of the other most common ways businesses have always spread the word.

And then there was social media… Imagine if you could use social media in all of its interconnected glory to connect with your community, engage them in your business, and drive people directly to your website where your community becomes your customers.

Easy peasy, right…? Actually, there’s a sophisticated methodology, in fact an entire industry behind that simple redirect. Social media is about connecting people & building relationships. When we build relationships, we build trust, and as we all know, trust is critical for successful businesses.

This is what we like to call the “know, like, trust” factor. When people get to know you, and they like you, they are more willing to do business and exchange money with you because they trust you.

See, it’s not like we’ve been telling you about social media for no reason, there is a method to the madness, I promise!

 

What in the world would I post about!?!

Your phone book ad, your business card, your billboard, they’re all static; they’re two-dimensional information only promotions. They’re basically just all business cards of different sizes. The only problem a business card ever solved was a wobbly table.

Your social media posts can deliver so much more! Depending on your audience and your industry, with social media, you can engage with and invite people to see inside and understand your business and the solutions you offer in ways a business card could never do.

  1. Behind the scenes. People love to get a sneak behind the curtains. You may think what’s going on back there is boring, but to the folks that aren’t toiling away there every day, it can be quite fascinating. Taking your customers behind the scenes is also a great way to build a tangible relationship between your business and your customers, it helps people connect, and connections are what people put their trust in and where they spend their money.  
  2. Entertain your audience with a fun fact about products, your services, and your industry. Be creative. Present your content in popular “hashtag days” like #motivationalmonday, #hottiptuesday, or #thirstythursday. (Speaking of hashtags...well, let’s save that for another blog!)
  3. Ask for feedback! Social media is all about engaging. Asking for feedback is a great way to get your community involved and have them feel invested in what you’re doing, and being a part of something. If you’re a blogger, ask for suggestions on what people would like to read about next. If you’re looking to make changes in the products you sell, ask your audience to weigh in on what they would like. Or it could be as simple as, “Which is your favorite season and why?” The important part here, is that if you do ask a question, be sure to acknowledge the answers and keep the conversation going.

 

“Customers report spending 20% – 40% more money on brands that have interacted with them on social media. Some people may consider social media followers a vanity metric that does not relate to more profits, but this statistic proves that simply isn’t true!”

- Lyfe Marketing

 

I just don’t have the time!

Ready to take the plunge, but can’t find a minute to do so? Create a social media editorial calendar, or consider a scheduling app to help you coordinate your efforts. You don’t have to be online all the time, you just have to find a time to check in and engage with your audience. Maybe over coffee in the morning, or as your settling down for a few minutes at night.

There are of course strategies upon strategies and best practices to help guide your social media efforts, but simply getting in the game should be your first priority; you can figure out the rest as you get comfortable and start seeing the results of your efforts.

Truth is, you most likely hired someone to build your website, because your website should look cool, and work, and you had no idea how to build it, what it should say, or what it should do. The same can be done for your social media marketing.

At 802Social, we strive to help businesses not only to succeed in their social media marketing efforts, but to understand the power and importance behind the investment. We have the time, and we know how to use it. Give us a call and we’ll help get you started!

 

Go Social with 802Social

Facebook Groups: Connecting Your Community

In my blog post from last August about Growing Your Facebook Business Page, I noted with some amazement that by the first quarter of 2017, Facebook had 1.94 billion active monthly users; by the fourth quarter, that number jumped to 2.2 billion! Of those 2.2 billion individual users, one billion belong to Facebook Groups.

Facebook has long held to its original mission statement, which committed the platform to giving “people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” There is no question they still do that, but in 2017, Facebook introduced the company’s new mission statement which envisions providing, “people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

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This focus on building communities and groups, is a natural evolution of the way we interact every day. Groups can galvanize new possibilities, and forge new, active, and important webs of connection.

Create Your Group
Anyone can create a group. Chances are, there’s already a group out there rallied around your particular interest. Do your research before you create your own group. Type your interest in the search bar at the top of the page and choose “Groups” from the list of possible search categories.

Groups can be small, just you and your siblings, or you and your office mates, or a much larger community of like minds in your industry. If you find groups related to your business or interests already exist, join up! Plugging into a group offers insights into trends and discussion you otherwise might be missing, allows you to keep an eye on the conversation, and provides an opportunity to present your brand’s perspective.

Set your notifications to alert you whenever there’s a new posting so you can stay on top of the conversation, at least for a little while.

Attract Like Minds
When you begin to set up your group, you'll need to decide on a name that resonates with the community you’re looking to connect with. Search for names you think work best to make sure they haven’t already been taken.

Make sure whatever name you choose clearly represents what your group is about. It's not necessary to make a single catch-all group, you may want to create smaller, more individualized groups focused on specific services or products your business offers. For example, TV networks have groups for their entire network, and separate groups for individual programs.

Invite people to join your group. Colleagues, employees, friends and family will help get things started. Spread the word by cross-promoting your new group on other platforms and reaching out specifically to active contributors to your Facebook Page or similar groups; let them know you’re creating a group that you’d love them to be a part of.

Privacy & Personality
There are three types of groups on Facebook, depending on the group's privacy settings:

· Open – Anyone can view the group, its members, and their posts.

· Closed – Anyone can view the group and its members, but only members can see group posts.

· Secret – Only members can see the group or any of its information.

Set the privacy of your group to reflect how you want the group to interact and conversations to unfold. As the group evolves, so can your privacy settings. You may start open, but want to close up a bit as your group really expands.

Finally, you’ll want to personalize your group. Go through the group settings to make sure you’ve provided all the information, photos, and images you can to customize and brand your group’s Facebook presence. Start populating your group feed with relevant content, and engage in any conversations that get started and gain traction.

Promote the conversation by asking questions, or asking specifically for input or advice. Conversations are the foundation of connections, and connections are what hold your group together.

Still unsure? Join my Facebook Group, and have a look around!  Behind the Scenes of Social Media

Be social! Join the conversation with 802Social.

Blah, Blah, Blog… What’s the Big Deal?

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There’s something I really like about writing a blog about blogging. We’re always told the best leaders lead by example, so it just seems fitting I should carve out a little time to write a blog about blogging.

My clients ask me all the time if I think they should start a blog for their business. Most of the time they rattle off a litany of reasons why they can’t, or haven’t yet. The number one reason most people don’t start a blog for their business is that they simply feel like they don’t have the time, and if there’s anything I really understand about running a business on top of everything else we do in the world, it’s definitely that feeling that there’s never enough time.

Just like everything else you do for your business and personal life, finding time to write a blog is all about sensible scheduling, reasonable expectations, and responsible deadlines. But why should you even consider doing it...?

Value & Insight
I like to think about blogging as both a way for me to focus my thoughts and insights, hone my skills, and reflect intentionally on the work I do; and a way I can provide real value to my clients and community.

Your business is constantly jockeying for attention from loyal customers, and working to build an engaged and active audience. The more value and insight you can provide for what is basically free, the more likely you are to build and retain an enthusiastic customer base.

Blogging is a way for you to differentiate your business from all the others. It’s where you can express your own personality, share valuable insights and information with a community that is interested in what you have to offer, and distinguish yourself as knowledgeable and experienced.

· Attract and Excite Your Audience
· Express Your Personality and Share Your Expertise
· Provide Real Insight and Value

Blogs aren’t limited to simply writing. The most dynamic blogs include photos, videos, links to specific pages on your website, or other social media platforms. The more you can do to keep your audience engaged, and provide access to insights and information they’re not finding elsewhere, the more they’ll come to rely on you and share your blog with a wider audience.

Social Media Content
Blogging for your business also provides you with ready-made content for other social media platforms. Writing a blog post once or twice a month should be a key part of your overall content marketing and social media strategy, and it’s a great way to drive traffic to and from all of your online venues.

New and relevant blog posts provide content and targeted destinations for email marketing campaigns, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts. All your social media postings should include links to your various other social media outlets, websites, and related blog posts. It’s like a shell game, except that under every shell there’s more interesting and illuminating information, and it keeps people and search engines interested and engaged in your business.

SEO & Google
Sometimes you just have to the feed the beast, and this beast loves valuable, relevant content. Google and other search engines are constantly scouring the internet and your website for new and dynamic content. Static, stand-alone websites that haven’t been updated in years, fall off a proverbial cliff when it comes to search engine ranking.

Blogging is an exceptional way to keep your website and other social media platforms active and attractive to search engines. Any new strategic content, text, videos, images, links you post, all work to attract search engines back to your website where they review your site and increase your ranking.

Make the Time
Make your blog a part of your business, or more importantly, a part of your business’ marketing strategy. Blogging shouldn’t be a chore, it should be more of an opportunity once or twice a month to sit down for an hour and focus your attention on something specific and interesting about the work you’re doing.

Don’t worry about length. Short blog posts with a couple of images and links are sometimes even better than longer posts that delve deeper into a particular topic. Use your blog to answer common questions you’re hearing from your clients and customers. Highlight new trends in your industry, or offer compelling solutions to your customers’ ‘pain points;’ they’re looking for answers, you just have to provide them, and blogging is a great way to do just that.

Blog social with 802Social, we’re spreading the word!