Tag Archives: brand

Fantastic Fill in the Blanks on Social Media

 

Fantastic-Fill-In-The-Blanks-on-Social-Media

Fantastic fill in the blanks for social media can definitely attract more traffic to your website.  People love to use their imagination and share it with others online.

Do you remember Mad Libs? Those books filled with one-page stories filled with blanks that invited you to insert your own keywords? They were  invented in 1953 by Leonard Stern and Roger Price, who published the first Mad Libs book themselves in 1958.  It turns out that  these guys were ahead of their time in recognizing the power of the ‘blank’.

Fill in the blanks can prompt people to think about activities they would like to do and places they would love to visit.  For example, Disney posted, “If I could spend a day with a Disney character, I would choose _______.”

This is a great way to encourage creative responses as well as to promote engagement with your posts and tweets.  The blanks are essentially ‘platforms’ for people to share their creativity.

  • My favorite way to relax after a long hard day is to _______.
  • _______ always makes me feel inspired.
  • The best afternoon snack of all time is _______.
  • My favorite board game is _______.

These types of posts often garner fun and short comments, which then encourage your audience to react and interact.  Share a great photo and a good fill-in-the-blank sentence to inspire your audience to engage with you and your brand.

Twitter Fill in the Blank at bandbblogging Spring

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Fill-in-the-blank posts feel incomplete until they’re engaged with. People love filling in blanks, and the most effective fill-in-the-blank posts are the ones that let fans share their ideas.

Make fill-in-the-blank posts and tweets relevant to your fans and the space you’re working in to see the best results.

Use fill-in-the-blank posts as a two-pronged engagement tactic: interact with your online community and get to know them better for future marketing campaigns.

Use the post tactic in conjunction with a specific event, such as a holiday.

Fill in the blank contests are great as they have the potential to actually get people thinking. The contest consists of a sentence of paragraph, and your fans are asked to add their own unique perspective by, obviously, filling in the blanks.

Fill-in-the-blanks are similar to questions.  They are simple and create engagement.  Some samples of these are:

  • My favorite social media site is _______________.
  • I’ve lived in ___________cities in my life.
  • I laugh every time I think about ______.

Have fun with these, but one piece of advice is to be careful that you don’t leave the blank too open ended for a potentially bad response. Be careful what you make a fill in the blank because people can turn it ugly.  That is what happened when the German grocery chain posted this:

“I became an ALDI-lover when I tasted _______ for the first time.”

Tweet out a straightforward question that’s easy to answer.  When questions are short and simple, it’s easy for followers to respond because they don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about their answer or trying to fit a longer reply into 140 characters (or fewer if there is a hashtag).

Fill-in-the-blank tweets get your followers thinking and challenge to them to show their creative side. The key to making fill-in-the-blank tweets work for your company is to relate them to your followers’ interests.  Then you will have success!

Everybody Writes: Infographics

bed-and-breakfast-infographic

This wraps up our series of posts about Ann Handley, the author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide To Creating Ridiculously Good Content.  Ann offers practical infographic creating tips that we will illustrate with an excellent bed and breakfast industry infographic.

But first, just what is an “infographic”?  Infographics are expressed graphically via drawings, pictures, maps, diagrams, charts, and more and are all held together with a coherent visual theme and typically published as an image file.

According to Ann Handley, the best infographics express rich objective data in a more accessible and engaging way:

  • Checklist or resource
  • Compare and contrast study
  • Evolution of a movement, demographic, or industry
  • Illustration of the state of some business sector or function

Have the following characteristics:

  • Utility: entertaining, educational, intrinsically useful, applicable to your audience
  • Data: based on facts (not opinions); uses credible data and credible sources
  • Story: have a hypothesis and a narrative at their core
  • Logical sequence: organize your information so that it flows logically; the images and text need to make sense together
  • Great design: color, typography, illustrations, animation, videos, charts, text
  • Quality control: make sure your infographic is free of errors
  • Promotion: the goal is to drive attention to and interest in your brand
  • Shareable: make your infographics easy to share in social media

The infographic shared in this blog post was produced by Little Hotelier and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.  First, they share the statistics that the B&B Industry in the United States has an estimated worth of $3.4 billion.  The core of this starts with the estimated 17,000 inns in the United States and then branches out to all of the product and services needed:

The median performance:

  • Occupancy rate: 43.7%
  • Average daily rate: $150
  • Revenue per available room: $58

bed-and-breakfast-infographic

The infographic tells us that the typical inn has between 4 and 11 rooms with 6 being the average number of rooms and the average size is 5700 square feet.

94% have private baths and 93% offer free high speed wireless internet.

Types of inns:

  • Suburban 5%
  • Urban 23%
  • Village 43%
  • Rural locations 29%
  • Historical designation 36%

bed-and-breakfast-infographic

Their infographic portrays amenities at most inns both in the common areas and in the guest rooms.

Amenities in Common areas:

Amenities in Guest rooms:

bed-and-breakfast-infographic

Their infographic ends with a statistic about the inn owners.  The percentage of inn owners that are 72% are couples, 18% are individual females, 5% are individual males, and 5% are non-couple partnerships.  Also it lets us know that 79% of owners live on the premises.

bed-and-breakfast-infographic

A big thank you to Ann Handley, Little Hotelier, and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International.  If you would like help with your online marketing, please contact us at Bed and Breakfast Blogging.

Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Managing Your B&B Reputation

managing-your-b-and-b-reputation

Managing your B&B reputation is more important than ever in this fast-paced world of easily accessed online information. Whether bed and breakfast innkeepers monitor it or not, people are talking about their inns. Do you know what others are saying about your bed and breakfast?  Do you look at reviews written by your previous guests? Conversation goes on whether or not you participate in it.  You can’t afford not to know what is being said about you and your inn!

According to Trip Advisor, 93% of people find reviews important when determining where they want to stay.  This is why receiving positive feedback from satisfied guests is so critical.  Every effort should be made to reduce negative reviews and improve the reputation and appeal of your place of lodging.

Online reputation management means monitoring and influencing the image of your property throughout the internet.  Places of hospitality should focus on review sites, social media, and search engine results.  People from all backgrounds and all over the world use the internet for online travel research before booking their accommodations.

Reputation management tips:

  • Monitor all feedback avenues regularly
  • Spend most of your time listening and paying attention
  • Read everything travelers are saying about your B&B on OTAs & review sites
  • Set up a Google Alert for the name of your B&B and other relevant keywords
  • Communicate why people should recommend your brand vs. your competitors
  • Know what messages about your brand you want guests to share
  • Provide plenty of opportunities for guest feedback during their stay
  • Answer all questions in a timely manner
  • Respond with an open mind to comments
  • Engage with sincerity and authenticity
  • Take all precautions to prevent negative events from occurring

Owning a hospitality business means you need to actively protect your image.  In the event that your reputation management escalates to crisis management, ignoring negative guest comments does not make them go away. Here are many things you can actively do to protect your hospitality brand.

  • Identify the naysayers and respond promptly
  • Make the appropriate apologies and explanations
  • Seek to positively solve their problem
  • Isolate them so the conversation becomes more personal, but far less public
  • Talk in a one-on-one private discussion to find the solution to their problem
  • For every zealot trying to hurt you, your loyal guests are ready to defend you
  • Consumers will generally “shout down” detractors who are way off base
  • Reputation terrorists often base their arguments on feelings vs. facts
  • Have an escalation plan in place for excessive bashing in multiple forums
  • Pick your battles and tactfully respond to criticism
  • Always take the high road

Gathering a lot of mostly positive feedback will increase your visibility because guest reviews will be distributed efficiently on social media as well as booking platforms. At the same time, you can avoid high provision fees by getting people to use your website and your booking engine.  A high rating means your reputation is on a good level, automatically driving demand for your B&B and creating more revenue for you and your employees.

The key is to be attentive and responsive to guests in person, on the phone with callers, and online with those asking questions or making comments.  If you do not have a blog already, considering adding one so that people can get to know the details about you, your inn, and your local area.  Managing your B&B reputation is critical to the success of your bed and breakfast.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Bed and Breakfast Linens

bed-and-breakfast-linens

As owners of bed and breakfasts, you build your brand based on the quality and level of hospitality you offer to your guests.  This includes guests’ first impression of your place and their individual guest room down to the look and feel of your sheets and linens.

As many of you know, the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) is an organization for bed and breakfast owners and innkeepers as well as vendors in the hospitality industry.  The following are a few of the companies that fall into the PAII Vendor Membership Category of “Linens, Bedding, Towels, and Accessories”:

Innkeepers should strive to provide an experience above and beyond their guests’ expectations.  Thus, choosing quality linens for your bed and breakfast is of great importance.  Create an environment where your guests will not want to leave.  This will encourage them to come back as soon as they can return.

Here are some tips to help guide you when selecting your linens. Before you start buying linens for each bedroom, make note of how many beds you’ll be fitting within each room as well as their respective sizes (twin, queen, king, etc.). Make sure you have extra pillows for your guests as well as a couple quality blankets for each bed.  One blanket can be placed on the bed between the comforter and the top sheet while the other blanket can be put in an accessible guest drawer or closet space.

When choosing the quality of your bed linens, ensure that the material is 100% natural content featuring a thread count of at least 500. Consider choosing white to avoid any fading colors. White also has the advantage of looking crisp and clean while giving an airy and welcoming feel to the room.

When selecting your bathroom sets, make sure you select plush, 100% cotton towels with a dense loop. Anything below these quality standards can detract from the guest experience. Also ensure that you have the correct sizes, including bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths.

Coordination is key. Colors should play off each other to give a natural flow from the bedroom to the bathroom.  What matters is the perceptions of each guest. Whatever you end up choosing, make sure the bedroom and bathroom colors complement each other.

Be sure to provide a generous number of towels, to give your guests the feeling of comfort and luxury.  By having an extra amount of linens and towels, they will last longer.  When your towels are plush and sheets are smooth, your guests are more likely to remember their positive experience (including restful sleep) and return to your inn for another visit.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Develop Guest Packages

how-to-develop-guest-packages

To attract more visitors to your bed and breakfast, you may want to develop guest packages.  Packages are a great way to reinforce your brand and your inn’s image.  This also allows you to offer discounts without cutting your room prices.  When you bundle several items, services, and features together, this adds more revenue to your B&B business.

Wondering how to come up with some great ideas for bed and breakfast packages?

Can you offer some courses or classes?  If you teach a particular skill (or can find a teacher), offer a bed and breakfast retreat.

Artist Retreat

Bird Watching Retreat

Book Club Retreat

Culinary Kitchen Getaway

Farming Retreat

Board Games Retreat

Gardening Getaway

Photography Retreat

Quilters Retreat

Scrapbooking Retreat

Writers Retreat

Yoga Retreat

What about featuring local attractions in your area?

Entertainment Package

Historic Tours Package

Restaurant Package

Spectator Sports Package

Wine Lovers Package

Do you want to attract a specific group of people?

Class Reunions

Family Reunions

Girlfriend Getaways

How about offering a promotional package during each season?
Winter Specials: could include activities like ice skating, skiing, and snowmobiling

Spring Renewal: everything starts to bloom again

Summer Fun in the Sun: could include amusement or water park tickets

Fall Foliage: certain parts of the country are known for their beautiful autumn colors

Is there a specific sport or physical activity that is popular in your area?

Bike Tours

Golf Getaways

Horseback Riding

 

What about promoting the holidays to your guests?

New Year’s Package

Valentine’s Day

Labor Day

Thanksgiving Package

Christmas Package

 

The bed and breakfast package could center around guests’ relationships.

Romance Package (not just for Valentine’s Day, but for any time of the year)

Wedding Package

Honeymooners Package

Anniversary Package

Babymoon Package

Family Travel Deals

There are so many different package possibilities:

For more alternatives, offer an a-la-carte approach and let your guests create their own package by choosing from specific add-ons you offer.  They could add chocolate, flowers, heart-shaped balloons, teddy bears, and other special upgrades to their room price.

The package could be centered around the time of the week the stay, “Midweek Specials” for slower times during the middle of the week.  “Spontaneous Specials” for last minute bookings for spontaneous travelers.  Even a Frequent Stay or Extended-Stay Discount.

There are many more bed and breakfast packages that you can put together based on what is in your local area, the types of guests you are trying to attract, your skills, and your amenities.  The key is to design your packages around the desires of the guests you want to attract.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Visual Storytelling: Tips

 

visual-storytelling-tips

This is the last of the series of blog posts discussing the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How To Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio.  This features their smart tips for social media photography.

Social media photography tips:

  • Up your resolution to the highest resolution possible
  • Collages need to be of similar resolution
  • Divide your images into thirds either horizontally or vertically
  • Align your image slightly off center to make it more engaging
  • Variety matters, use a range of angles and setups
  • Take more pictures than you think you need
  • Frame your shot with less cluttered backgrounds
  • Use close-cropped images
  • Work the angles
  • Shine bright with lighting and filters
  • Show don’t sell
  • Celebrate occasions
  • Share great quotes
  • Include photos related to your company’s lifestyle
  • Inspire through the use of images by showcasing your company’s lifestyle, values, and opinions
  • Show how your products and services contribute to the greater good
  • Encourage emotion by featuring a sentimental side when appropriate
  • Propel action into a still image
  • Sprinkle in humor and have a little fun
  • Embrace creativity
  • Not all pictures have to have only one item
  • Go behind the scenes to make your customers feel like part of your brand

This is the conclusion to the blog series about the book The Power of Visual Storytelling.  I highly recommend this book.  I literally took twenty pages of handwritten notes from information in this book!  A special thank you to the authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio for letting me share some of their book.  I am not being compensated for this review, I just really think this book is great any business looking to grow their online marketing.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Visual Storytelling: Responses

visual-storytelling-responses

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, authors of the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand remind us that anything can happen at a moment’s notice online.  Companies need to identify common occurrences, both positive and negative.  It means looking for opportunities to create visual content solutions all around us.  Some strategies include:

  • Understand the most important factors that can influence sales and customer leads
  • Weather may be an important theme to craft content around
  • At key times of the year, companies can announce awards, rankings, events, speeches, partnerships, and make other announcements
  • Understand the most frequently asked service inquiries and comments, both positive and negative
  • Develop a robust content library to allow time for real-time opportunities
  • The best storytellers play off their audience responses to hit the message home
  • Extend the life of conversations and engagement as long as it is relevant
  • Look at the content fans are sharing each day

While on the topic of user generated content, there is a higher barrier to engagement if it is not natural for fans to share visual content.  Reward sharing behavior with a campaign, contest, and/or rewards.  Look for themes in the most common types of photos, videos, hashtags, and sentiment.

Choose a clear call to action such as a unique hashtag available across all social media channels.  Make full disclosure to customers how and where their photos and videos will be shared.  Highlight examples to show a range of creativity.  Give rewards and recognition by having an “image of the week” or randomly sending a thank you.

Customers can share their own content through videos shared on social networks like YouTube, Instagram, and the Vine.  Look at your content calendar to determine which video(s) will help tell your visual story in a way that other media cannot.  Think about your target audience, desired end goals, and what resources are available.  Evaluate the needs of your audience and show off your personality.  Mix up the content to a variety of different types and lengths of videos. Common videos include:

  • Announcements
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Case studies
  • Celebrity partnerships
  • Community involvement
  • Company overview
  • Demos
  • Event highlights
  • FAQs
  • Goals
  • How-to
  • Live streams
  • Office tours
  • Parodies
  • Testimonials
  • Video blogs
  • Visual portfolios

Fan shared content as well as company made videos can show another side to a business. The key is to make the most of what customers are saying about you.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Visual Storytelling: Shaping

visual-storytelling-shaping

According to the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, companies need to shape their visual story.  Each piece of content needs to have a clear theme and point of view as well as a take away message for the reader.

Content needs to be aligned with who you are as a company: voice, personality, and values. Once woven together, these themes shape your story.  It is important to list your goals and determine how visual content can help achieve them.  Ask yourself, if your company were a person, what would it look like in real life?

Embrace social media’s more personable, human side.  Look for the most commonly discussed conversation themes from your online consumers.  Shape your story and identify major themes to craft your visual content mix.  Look at your goals, company voice, and customer feedback by social media platform.

Determine Your Visual Content Mix:

  • The magic is in the mix to keep storytelling fresh
  • It allows you to deliver more personalized content to target audiences across different platforms
  • Evaluate your desired frequency per platform for posts, tweets, pins, etc.
  • Have a formula and clear plan of what steps you will take
  • Frequency varies by company and by social media channel
  • Quality content always trumps quantity and volume
  • Content must be interesting, important, and relevant to your audience
  • The usual shelf life of a tweet is considered an hour at most
  • The shelf life of a Facebook post is around 24 hours
  • Prioritize by social media platform the most important content themes that go into crafting your visual story
  • The mix needs to balance what is important from an ongoing visual storytelling perspective with goals, current events, questions, and general conversation from your customers
  • Content goals will likely change each month depending upon how much news your company has or tweets your making in response to fan engagement
  • Content should aim to be mostly upbeat, fun, motivating, and engaging
  • Outlining content themes makes it easy to identify what messages will be best conveyed as photos, videos, infographics, presentations, etc.

Authors Walter and Gioglio remind us to be listening and responding to what is being said about our company as well as learning the most commonly asked questions.  When we know that, companies can better respond to their own target audience.  This means setting goals and developing a strategy.  Our content will adjust in response to real time as we get live social media feedback.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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