Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

By

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

By

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

By

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

By

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

By

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

By

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:

Tim Peter

By

February 20, 2013

Burger King Gets Hacked: 4 Rules for Surviving a Social Account Hack

February 20, 2013 | By | One Comment

Twitter logo outlineI mentioned the big mistake in social marketing yesterday, but failed to note one of the big social media marketing stories of the day. The story? Burger King’s Twitter account got hacked.

Getting hacked is no fun at all. I’ve lived through it several times (once here, once on Twitter, once on Facebook, and once on a corporate site). The Facebook one was my fault (I’d used a public computer to check my private messages and forgot to log out), but the others caused just as many headaches.

I’ve covered how to ensure your website stays alive in the past, but I’ve never shared my experience with social sites before. Mnay of the same tips apply, but here are a few worth noting:

  1. Have a plan. Knowing what you’ll do in advance can help you recover quickly. Expect that you will be hacked and plan ahead for what you’ll communicate with fans, friends, and followers.
  2. Be upfront about what’s happening. While it’s unfortunate and, frankly, embarrassing, your followers usually will be understanding. Just keep them in the loop.
  3. Use alternate channels to continue communicating. One of the best reasons for having a presence in multiple social channels is that you can continue to communicate with your fans and followers via the accounts that weren’t compromised.
  4. Remember, it can happen to anyone. Sad, but true. Most social accounts fall into one of two categories: Have been hacked and will be hacked. If you’ve got any kind of follower count, you can bet the bad guys are looking for an opportunity to scam you. Make sure you’ve got a plan for how to handle any attack. Take note of Twitter’s steps to correct a compromised account and Facebook’s “Hacked Accounts” page. (For Google+, you need to reset your password first and Pinterest doesn’t seem to have an account recovery option that I can find).

Getting one of your social accounts hacked is no fun. It’s a pain in the rear and, unfortunately, can cost both time and money to correct. But with some proper planning and a robust web presence, you can usually recover relatively quickly. And, with any luck, you’ll never have to use your plan.

Interested in more? Sign up for our free newsletter and get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Tim Peter

By

February 19, 2013

The Big Mistake in Social Media Marketing

February 19, 2013 | By | 2 Comments

Social media marketing tipsFast Company had a great article the other day looking at the $1.3 trillion price of not tweeting at work. And while FastCo’s number is staggeringly high, there’s no question social represents a healthy chunk of business for many companies (Oreo comes to mind. So does Poland Spring).

Whether you’re into Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or some other social scene, your customers live their lives in public, sharing with their friends, fans, and followers every single day.

For instance, check out this snapshot of Tumblr users from Pew Internet:

(You can see the rest of the series here: The Landscape of Social Media Users).

Of course, the biggest mistake in social media marketing is assuming your customers don’t use social media.

But you wouldn’t make that one, would you?

Interested in more? Sign up for our free newsletter and get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Tim Peter

By

February 14, 2013

Tim Peter

By

November 30, 2012

Where are social and mobile heading? 8 things to know (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest)

November 30, 2012 | By | No Comments

social and mobile mergeAll week I’ve looked at the intersection of social and mobile, first asking whether “Cyber Monday” will give way to “Mobile Monday” and offering some tips to help you prepare. Then I took a look at why mobile first matters next year. In the interest of balance, I examined the argument against “mobile first” (and why it’s wrong) and this week’s podcast asked “Is Social Media a Waste of Time?”.

As you might imagine, I’m not the only one asking these questions. Here’s a great list of additional points of view on where social and mobile are heading in 2013:

  1. Soshable explains why quality trumps quantity at nearly every level on social media.
  2. Social Sinergy looks at social media trends for 2013
  3. High-Touch Communications explores how businesses are getting in on Instagram.
  4. Brafton looks at why social content is better than ads for mobile marketing
  5. My new weekly Tuesday Travel Roundup on the TravelStuff blog talks about the increased importance of social and mobile in online travel
  6. Underscoring the growth of mobile, The Wall Street Journal reports ComScore will include mobile traffic in new measurement.
  7. Huffington Post has a list of 100 fascinating social media statistics and figures from 2012
  8. And the Socially Aware blog has a great info graphic detailing how much time consumers spend with social media (included below in an incredibly long scroll).

Have a great weekend, Big Thinkers. See you back here next week.

The Growing Impact of Social Media


If you can help those dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy, please visit the American Red Cross.

Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.