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Tim Peter

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September 22, 2014

Is Google+ Dead, Dying, or Something Else Altogether?

September 22, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

Is Google+ dead?Larry Kim writes on Wordstream’s blog that Google has dropped its mandatory Gmail integration, which used to require users to create a Google+ account when they signed up for Gmail (and some other services, too). Kim notes:

“Rumors of the decoupling of Google+ and Gmail first surfaced in the spring. Google, unsurprisingly, hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to shout about the change from the rooftops, instead choosing to quietly shelve the mandatory integration.

Although the change means that new Gmail users will no longer be forced to sign up for Google+, they’ll still have the option to do so, as you can see in the image above.”

Loads of folks have wondered for some time whether Google might be killing off its social network, especially since the departure of former head Vic Gundotra. Let me be clear: Google+ isn’t dead… but it may be dying. Despite its popularity among a focused, passionate user group (photographers, for one, seem to love the service), it’s never really caught on as a mainstream alternative to Facebook. But that’s not the important part. No, the real question, though, is whether Google+ is dying for your business.

And the answer is, for many businesses, probably not. Google continues to emphasize Google+ in its Google My Business and Google+ Brands offerings. And evidence suggests the search giant increasingly values brands in its search results. Claiming your brand’s identity within Google+ should only continue to benefit you in the near-to-mid term.

Now, does that mean that Google+ is the perfect social channel for your brand and your business? Of course not. But, to be fair, no “perfect” channel exists. Instead, use Google+ for the benefits it offers — simple content posting, clear profile for Maps and search, some favorability for search rankings. It doesn’t matter whether Google+ is dead, dying, or (most likely), evolving into something else altogether (for example, many business’s direct access to Google’s back-end directory). What matters is that you use it correctly and get the benefits you deserve.

Curious about the marketing and e-commerce trends that will drive your business in 2015? Check out the slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, if you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and 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.

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

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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September 24, 2013

The Single Most Effective Way to Improve Your Brand’s Digital Marketing (Updated: 2017/08)

September 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

Want to drive more direct bookings to your hotel? Click here to learn more


Improve your brand's digital marketing: The e-commerce satisfaction cycleOK, Big Thinkers, it’s pop quiz time: If you’re a hotel, resort, restaurant, spa, retail store, or other service provider, what’s the simple, proven, and single most effective way you can improve your brand’s digital marketing? More to the point, what will absolutely kill your other marketing efforts if you don’t take care of it?

Now before those of you outside hosptiatlity 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 brand’s 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 experiencing your product. The could be in the middle of their stay, in the middle of dinner, or in the middle of talking to you and start sharing with their friends and family and fans and followers how they feel about the service you provide
  • 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).

Additionally, Pew says that “…82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time, including 40% who say they always or almost always do so.” That’s, y’know, a pretty big number.

Now, review sites aren’t perfect. For one thing, Maritz Research posted research a few years back [PDF downloads of part 1 and part 2 here), that suggested only between 45%-60% of users trusted the data (it varied by site and demographic group) and that only a small percentage of users actually wrote any reviews at all. (H/T to Tnooz for the link to the study). But those numbers are changing. Recent research from BrightLocal shows that “84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation” and now “7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to.” That’s a big shift.

False reviews still do pose some problems for consumers too. Some businesses either try 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. And many of the review sites themselves have taken actions to eliminate false reviews from their pages. While not perfect, this 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:

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing guest behavior shapes hospitality marketing, e-commerce, and distribution, be sure an 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 want to take a moment to review the slides from my recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, 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: