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Tim Peter

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March 18, 2014

The 4 Rules of Social Marketing for Hotel Marketers (Travel Tuesday)

March 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

Couple by pool sharing their stayA hotel group recently invited me to talk about how they could use social media more effectively for marketing. Their key question was: “What rules exist in social media for hotel marketers?” I thought you might enjoy finding out some more about that, too.

Based on my experience, 4 rules exist when it comes to social marketing in the hospitality industry (and in most other industries, too). They are:

  1. Social is people. Your guests (or clients, customers, members, or whatever you prefer to call them), have individual needs and concerns. They’re busy folks on a mission to solve their problem, not spend a lot of time listening to you. “Social” isn’t a channel that you can use to simply shout about yourself. Well, you can. But you won’t see any positive results. Instead, you need to listen, understand, and engage with customers in social on their terms. That is, as human beings.
  2. All marketing is social. Broadly, the role of marketing is to connect customers with a solution. And since customers are social by definition, your marketing must be social, too. More specifically, you’ve probably noticed the increase in ratings and reviews in search results, and the way your competitors make it easy for their guests to share information with their friends and family and fans and followers on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and all the rest. Have you made it easy for your guests to do the same?
  3. Your brand = What you say + what guests experience. Every single guest in your hotel is now, effectively, a professional reviewer. And, as you’re likely aware, they’re more than happy to share their experiences with those friends and family and fans and followers I just mentioned. As I’ve noted before, working to increase the quality and quantity of your property’s reviews and ratings represents the single most effective way to improve your online marketing.
  4. There are no rules. As Barbossa memorably notes in Pirates of the Caribbean, these are “…more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” Social media continues to evolve. And your guests’ use of social evolves along with it. The “rules” that “everybody knows” today may turn out to be different tomorrow (in fact, I’d bet on it). So, instead, you’re best bet is to test and see what works for you to drive the results you need.

Anyway, that’s a quick look at what works today. When you get a moment, you can check out the whole presentation here:

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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December 5, 2013

Top 5 Social Media Trends for 2014

December 5, 2013 | By | No Comments

2014 social trendsEvery year, social media marketing becomes a more important component of online strategies. The biggest social networks are still the best and fastest ways for any business to spread marketing messages. But of course, as with every online strategy and the tech world as a whole, the rules keep changing.

What will 2014 bring to the social media table? Here are five trends for marketers to watch as we enter a new year of brand building and share-focused campaigns.

Companies Will Embrace User-Generated Content

By now, every marketer understands that the biggest key to successful social media campaigns is emphasizing the social aspect—the part that encourages participation and sharing. In 2014, more businesses will get on board with the idea of user-generated content.
This is already a popular strategy on a small scale. It’s been demonstrated that social media posts that ask a question receive better responses, more traction, and higher engagement. Now, many companies will take it a step further by inviting users to submit content related to their business—photos, videos, even personal stories or testimonials.

Inviting user-generated content not only increases engagement, but also lets companies measure ROI, a constant challenge for social media marketers.

Social Media Marketers Will Need to Diversify

In less than a decade, social media networks have exploded from just a few main players to a multitude of sites. While Facebook and Twitter still reign supreme, there are plenty of other networks producing results for businesses: Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumbler, Vine, and Instagram, to name a few.

Next year, more companies will experiment with multiple networks. It’s important to find the social media networks that work best for your type of business, but maintaining more than one will increase your cross-channel exposure and let you introduce different types of content into the mix.

Google+ Will Become a Must

Speaking of diversity, many social media marketers will discover that Google+ simply can’t be ignored any longer. The search engine giant’s social network is steadily invading more channels. For example, the Google-owned YouTube recently launched a comment section redesign that requires either a YouTube channel or a Google+ account in order to leave a comment.

More importantly, Google’s most recent statistics reflect more than 300 million active monthly users on the Google+ network. It’s a more visual platform than either Facebook or Twitter, and comes with greater opportunities for businesses to improve their SEO through an active Google+ account.

Businesses Will Get Better at Monetizing Social
Every business wants to turn a profit. In fact, an initial stumbling block for entering the arena of social media was the big question, “But how will it make money?” Since the answer seemed to be “it won’t,” a lot of companies avoided making social media a major part of their online marketing strategy.

Facebook and Twitter both failed to generate a profit in the beginning. However, Facebook has been consistently beating revenue expectations quarter after quarter, and Twitter isn’t far behind with the recent announcement that it’s filed the paperwork for an IPO. In 2014, expect more opportunities for revenue streams to begin surfacing among social platforms.

Marketers Will Spend More on Social Media

A survey from Decipher, conducted on behalf of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA), found that seven out of 10 marketers expect to increase social media spending in 2014.

That’s 70 percent of businesses putting more into social, compared to the 53 percent who will invest more in email marketing and the mere 16 percent who will increase print marketing spending.

Another report deals with the overall spending increase for this channel. ZenithOptimedia released a combined report and forecast that estimated social media advertising spending of $4.6 billion for 2013—up more than a billion from 2012’s $3.4 billion. And by 2015, the forecast estimates that social spending will reach around $8 billion.

Where do you see your company on the social media landscape for 2014? Let us know in the comments!

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing in a multiscreen world? Register to receive a special report Tim produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And, if all that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the trends shaping the social, local, mobile web and what they mean for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image credit: Image courtesy of falco.

Tim Peter

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September 24, 2013

The Single Most Effective Way to Improve Your Brand's Digital Marketing (Travel Tuesday)

September 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

Ecommerce satisfaction cycleOK, Big Thinkers, it’s pop quiz time: If you’re a hotel, resort, or restaurant, what’s the single most effective way you can improve the value of your marketing? More to the point, what will kill your other marketing efforts if you don’t take care of it.

Now before those of you outside these industries run off— and before I answer the question— stick around for minute. For many industries, the same tactic matters just as much.

I’ll give you a few hints:

  • It’s not SEO.
  • It’s not paid search.
  • It’s not social media (at least not in the sense most people think of it).

So, what is this “magic” tactic?

It’s managing your online reviews.

Seriously.

Think about all the places your guests and customers encounter reviews and ratings for your business:

  • TripAdvisor
  • Yelp
  • Traditional search engines, like Google and Bing
  • Map sites like Google Maps, Mapquest, Waze, and Apple Maps (you can read more about the business implications of the integration of search and maps here)
  • Online travel agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, and Hipmunk
  • Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — with many customers using the cameras and connectivity on their mobile phones to post pictures, ratings, and reviews while they’re in the middle of their stay
  • Travel and food blogs
  • Even brand websites for many hotel chains now feature ratings and reviews of their properties

In fact, just about every interaction a potential customer has with your brand online provides insights into what they can and should expect.

If you’re not a hotel, resort, or restaurant, don’t think you’re out of the woods. Plenty of dedicated sites exist across a variety of industries, while the non-industry specific sites (search engines, social networks, mapping tools and the like), often provide the same picture of your brand to customers.

So why are review sites such a big deal?

One word: Money.

Studies from Chris Anderson at the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research and Michael Luca at Harvard Business School [PDF link] show revenue gains of around 5% to 11% for each increase in star rating across popular review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp (this data supports the findings from my own research behind the P’s & Q’s model I talked about a couple of weeks ago).

Now, review sites aren’t perfect. For one thing, recent data from Maritz Research [PDF downloads of part 1 and part 2 here), suggests that roughly 45%-60% of users trust the data (it varies by site and demographic group) and that only a small percentage of users actually write any reviews at all. (H/T to Tnooz for the link to the study).

One of the main reasons for that lack of trust stems from the frequency of false reviews from businesses either trying to promote their own brand or, worse, downgrade their competition. Happily, states have begun to crack down, with New York recently charging some businesses with false advertising for trying to game review sites. While a small step, it undoubtably signals a positive direction for businesses overall.

Or at least those focused on improving their review scores.

Conclusion

Your brand is not some mystical, intangible thing; instead a brand is the sum of all the experiences your customers have with your business. Not just what you tell guests about yourselves, but what they experience, every step of the way. Your customers travel through myriad steps prior to making a purchase decision and each step informs them a bit more about who you are and what value you provide. And, increasingly, reviews communicate your brand more effectively and more efficiently than any other marketing activity you undertake—whether it’s the brand story you want your guests to hear or not.

Yes, fake reviews are a problem. But that’s beginning to work itself out.

And, yes, improving your ratings and reviews takes effort. But not working to improve your customers perception of your brand and business costs you money, every day. I didn’t say it’s the easiest way to improve your marketing’s value. I simply said that it’s the most effective way. So, before you start another marketing campaign, take a look at what your customers say about your business and your brand, then ask yourself, what can I do to improve what they say about me.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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September 18, 2013

Making the Most of Key Influencers in Social Media

September 18, 2013 | By | No Comments

Do you know what a Key Influencer is? Do you want to?

Of course you do.

Key Influencers are those well-regarded and widely respected folks who help promote your content , brand, and business to their friends, family, fans, and followers on social media channels.

But how do you get them to do that?

Well, that’s the topic of my latest Biznology post, “Content Marketing for Fun and Profit”. Check it out if you get the chance.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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September 9, 2013

Facebook Etiquette: 4 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid by Megan Totka

September 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

Facebook marketing etiquetteFacebook marketing can be a tricky beast. As a business, you want Facebook engagement to translate to sales—but you don’t want to come off as pushy. There’s also the social aspect to consider, the need to be approachable and personal.

While there’s no magic formula for the right approach to Facebook marketing, remember two things:

  1. There are a number of mistakes you must avoid in any marketing channel
  2. Proper Facebook etiquette tips will help you boost engagement by not turning people off about your Facebook page, your message, or your entire brand

What is “proper Facebook etiquette”? Glad you asked.

Don’t Ask For “Likes” on Your Posts

The Facebook “Like” button has become something of a holy grail for some marketers. Get enough “likes” on your post, the idea seems to be, and you’ll magically go viral. Your fan base will explode. Money will start pouring in. That’s why you’ll find plenty of social media marketing advice out there telling you to ask for the like.

The problem with this strategy is that everyone knows it’s a strategy. There are massive numbers of posts on business Facebook pages out there starting with, “Like this post if you…” And while your likes may start to add up, those numbers aren’t going to convert to dollars.

It’s better to write fantastic content that people “Like” because… well, they actually like it. You may end up with smaller numbers next to your thumbs-up, but they’ll reflect a true, organic level of engagement that’s more likely to go viral because people are actually interested in what you have to say.

Don’t Clog Up Your Fans’ News Feeds

There’s a difference between actively posting and over-posting. You want to maintain a social media presence, but you don’t want to post so often that people see nothing but your company in their news feeds. That’s a fast way to get your page un-liked.

Instead, opt for quality posts over quantity. Make sure that when you post something to Facebook, it will add value for your followers in some way. The same advice applies for when you’re using hashtags on Facebook—post them strategically and sparingly.

Don’t Patronize Your Audience

Talking down to your Facebook followers is a sure path to disengagement. For some great examples on what not to do, check out the Condescending Corporate Brand Page, a parody Facebook business page that gathers, posts, and comments (sarcastically) on social media blunders from big corporations.

Along the same lines, avoid the appearance of capitalizing on national or global tragedies by not posting about your “sympathy” or “thoughts and prayers” on Facebook. It’s better to either completely avoid the mention on your business page (save it for your personal page), or instead of thin sentiments of sympathy, post a link that gives your audience a way to help, such as donations or official support websites.

Don’t Say “Thanks”

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t show gratitude to your audience for engaging with you. Rather, it means that when people take the time to offer thoughtful comments or suggestions, it’s dismissive and rude to respond with a single word. Just saying “thanks” makes it seem like you’re too important to bother thinking about their comment.

When you take the few extra seconds to offer a personal response to commenters on your Facebook page, you’re creating fans for life. So don’t simply go down the list and click “Like” next to your comments, or add “thanks, everyone” at the end—engage your audience, and keep them coming back for more.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image credit: Image courtesy of birgerking via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Tim Peter

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July 31, 2013

How Connected are Social and Mobile?

July 31, 2013 | By | No Comments

I spend a lot of time talking and writing about the social, local, mobile web. One reason is due to how connected the two trends are. A chart offered on Business Insider today illustrates the connection clearly:

Social is mobile and vice versa

You can check out the whole article on Business Insider.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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July 29, 2013

Which Social Networks Should Marketers Be Worried About?

July 29, 2013 | By | No Comments

Are Pinterest and Foursquare in trouble?

Consider the following social media services:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • TripAdvisor
  • Yelp
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Goodreads
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare

One of these things is not like the other.

Well, two, actually.

At least two of these sites likely are on the decline. And that definitely affects your marketing for next year.

Which two? And why?

Well, let’s take a look. Most of the major social players have either expanded their services (LinkedIn added significant content, Twitter now allows users to post videos and images, TripAdvisor and Yelp recently added functionality to let you book hotels and make restaurant reservations, respectively), been acquired by one of the major AGFAM players (Instagram by Facebook, Goodreads by Amazon), or both (Tumblr and, yes, Yahoo’s looking to join the AGFAM-ily). And while I’m not terribly bullish on Google+, I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

By contrast, it’s pretty clear to me that Pinterest and Foursquare don’t fit this pattern. When you get right down to it, they’re not companies. They’re features. One lets you collect images and share them with other people. The other lets you tell your friends where you are.

I realize I may be giving these two somewhat short-shrift here. They offer somewhat more functionality than just that. Their problem stems from the fact that, in both cases, it’s only “somewhat.” According to comScore data, Pinterest’s monthly traffic growth has fallen since January and lags the trends seen by Twitter, Tumblr, Yelp, and LinkedIn over the same period. (January and June data available here).

As you begin planning your social media strategies for 2014, take a look at where your customers increasingly spend their time. And look at where you spend yours. While I don’t recommend trying to pick winners and losers ahead of time very often, I do recommend you look at which activities continue to drive results for you. And I suspect you’ll find Foursquare and Pinterest falling from that list.

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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May 20, 2013

What Did Yahoo Really Buy Today?

May 20, 2013 | By | No Comments

Tumblr logoSo, the ‘net is all a-twitter (if you’ll pardon the phrase) about Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr today. But what did Yahoo actually buy?

Normally, I don’t get too hung up on tools (remember: they really are just tools). But Tumblr is much more than just a tool.

As I alluded to in an interview with Ragan a few months back (paywalled, sorry), Tumblr is a social network first and foremost. It’s where the cool kids hang out. And it’s access to those cool kids that Yahoo actually bought today.

Which might be the fatal flaw in this deal for Yahoo.

In a discussion with TechTarget, I’d referred to Tumblr as “…the world’s biggest underground thing.” The young demographic Yahoo so desperately wants to attract and retain with this acquisition aren’t altogether thrilled about Yahoo poking into “their” space. As one teen noted,

“It may seem strange that a site bringing together strangers from points around the globe can create a space for interactions that feel more real than those with people at school and at home, but that’s how it actually is.
Tumblr is so much more than a website at this point. It has grown into such a huge community, one that could be easily destroyed by the sort of reckless marketing that Yahoo must be about to unleash.”

If Yahoo’s smart, they’ll treat Tumblr the same way Google treated YouTube for a long time: leave it alone. CEO Marissa Mayer hinted that might by Yahoo’s strategy in a blog post when she said, “We promise not to screw it up.”

I do think this is a good move for Yahoo, but only if they execute correctly. At its core, social is people. And, as a result, all marketing is social. If you want to get in your customers’ heads (or pants… pockets), you’ve got to start by satisfying their needs first. Tumblr today represents a safe, happy place where like-minded individuals can congregate and share stuff they like. It’s a community, not a commodity.

And If Yahoo can’t hang on to the audience that makes Tumblr so attractive in the first place, they’ll find that instead of purchasing prime Internet real estate, what they really bought is a vacant lot.

Interested in more? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of social generally and Tumblr specifically, including:

Tim Peter

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May 15, 2013

The Truth: How the Social, Local, Mobile Web Affects Sales Online and Offline

May 15, 2013 | By | 2 Comments

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to the New Jersey Chapter of MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group). They were a fantastic audience, offering great questions and a lively dialog. The talk highlighted companies like W Hotels, Nike, Tesco and other companies who get what the transition to social, local, and mobile means for their customers (like those I highlighted yesterday). If you’d like to take a look at the slides, they’re linked below:

I also recorded a brief video with NJ MENG Chapter president Monique de Maio on omnichannel marketing and how it pays off for brands:

As ever, I’m available to speak to your group, too. You can get all the details here.

You can also register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web, including:

Tim Peter

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April 23, 2013

The Key to Social Media Success (Travel Tuesday)

April 23, 2013 | By | No Comments

Social media marketing smallThis week’s Travel Tuesday post over on TravelStuff highlights The Key to Social Media Success including a number of tips from me and others in this month’s Travel Agent Magazine. As I note in the piece, travel agents face enormous competitive pressures due to the growth of online travel.

But those who’ve survived and thrived in this environment have done so by paying close attention to the needs of their customers. Which, as it happens, is a big part of what social’s all about.

So, check it out if you get the chance.

Oh, and if you’re interested in more, sign up for our free newsletter to get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy. You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of social, including: