Tag Archives: relevant

Everybody Writes: Story Rules

everybody writes story rules

 

Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Contentexplains some Everybody Writes Story Rules of story writing.  I will show how her advice can be applied to bed and breakfast story writing.

 

 

Ann’s Compelling Everybody Writes Story Rules:

  • Must be true (always be truthful)
  • Must be human (do not have to pretend to be perfect)
  • Must be specific enough to be believable (avoid talking in generalities)
  • Must be universal enough to be relevant (must be relate-able)
  • Must be original (not commonplace)
  • Must be stories only you can tell (unique)
  • Must serve the customer (beneficial to them)
  • Must tell a bigger story aligned with a larger mission (ex: relationship building)

Ann’s Business Questions To Answer:

  • What is unique about our business? (what makes YOU different than other B&B’s)
  • What is interesting about how our business was founded? (share your story)
  • What is special about the founder? (unique background)
  • What problem does our company try to solve? (ex: add enjoyment, reduce stress)
  • What inspired our business? (such as a person or mission)
  • What AHA! moments has our company had? (major lightbulbs)
  • How has our business evolved? (process of changes)
  • How do we feel about our business, our customers, and ourselves? (state goals)
  • What’s an unobvious way to tell our story? (be creative)
  • What do we consider normal that other folks would think is cool? (stories from guests)
  • How will our company make a difference? (ex: eco-friendly)
  • What sets you apart? (ex: personal touch)
  • Why should your company matter to me? (what is in it for them?)

Your brand voice is simply an expression of your company’s personality and point of view.  Your unique voice comes from knowing who you are and who you are not.  The key is to be authentic (or true to) your own unique personality and innkeeping style as well as feature WHY people should stay at YOUR bed and breakfast inn versus a local competitor.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

The Power of 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 storytelling responses 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

The Power of 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 do visual storytelling shaping.  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

The Power of Visual Storytelling: Facebook

visual storytelling Facebook

The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand is written by authors and social media experts Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio. They devote a whole section of their book to informing the reader about Facebook statistics and giving profitable strategies for businesses using Facebook.

With over 1 billion active users, Facebook allowed brands and organizations to set up public pages in 2007.  Text, image, and video posts can all be seamlessly integrated in a user-friendly design.  Businesses can encourage comments, likes, and shares from their followers.

Facebook Statistics:

  • Half of Facebook fans prefer the brand pages to company websites
  • Posts between 100-250 characters get about 60% more likes, comments, & shares
  • Post at least one to two times per week to stay top-of-mind and relevant
  • Pictures receive 120-180% more engagement from fans than text-based posts.
  • 200 million photos get uploaded to Facebook on an average day
  • 80% of social media users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook.
  • Facebook is available in more than 70 languages
  • Facebook accounts for 1 in every 7 minutes spent online
  • Facebook accounts for 3 of every 4 minutes on social networking websites
  • U.S. desktop users spend an average of about six hours every month on Facebook
  • U.S. mobile users spend an average of eleven hours every month on Facebook
  • 2.5 billion content shares a day on Facebook
  • 2.7 billion likes a day on Facebook
  • 15 million brand pages on Facebook

Facebook Strategies:

  • Create photos specifically to generate conversations
  • Ask fans to upload their own videos
  • Create campaigns specifically for Facebook fans
  • Photos and videos work really well
  • Great creative with your header photo by choosing something eye-catching and inspiring
  • Change the header photo now and then to keep it fresh
  • Offer creative visual contests to engage your fans in a sustainable way
  • Ask questions to spark engagement
  • Improve customer service by talking to fans, encouraging feedback, and sharing images
  • Encourage user-generated content
  • Followers relate more to brands
  • Fans feel like they are an active part of the product experience than a passive consumer

The authors recommend that businesses use Facebook in order to attract fans, build brand awareness, and increase customer loyalty.  The key is engaging in conversations with fans, sharing useful content, and posting pictures and videos (from the brand itself as well as from the fans). Facebook is a valuable social media platform with which businesses can tell their story and interact with their fans.

Visual storytelling can take place on Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Slideshare.  We will look at more social media platforms as the Visual Storytelling series continues.

 

The Art of Social Selling

the art of social selling

 

I highly recommend Shannon Belew’s book called The Art of Social Selling: Finding and Engaging Customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Other Social Networks. Belew says the power has shifted from the brand to the consumer.  Marketing has become a two-way conversation with the customer. The art of social selling is based entirely on your ability to build relationships.

 

Did you know that over one BILLION people are active on social networks? Thus, it is extremely important that you know where your customers are hanging out.

Shannon Belew defines “social selling” as the identification, targeting, and reaching out to prospective and existing customers through social media channels and social communities in an effort to engage them in conversations that result in a potentially mutually beneficial relationship.  This means being more social (listening and conversing about the customer’s needs) and less traditional selling.  The heart of social selling is relationship building.

This book reveals Belew’s ten most important rules for online social interactions:

1) Be genuine: your social networking persona should be an extension of your real persona

2) Listen, listen, listen: to truly hear what the customer is saying so you can present a viable solution you must find and monitor conversations that relate to your prospective customer’s needs, concerns, and interests with the goal of remaining relevant to your customers

3) Be responsive: to customer-related complaints and concerns voiced across social media channels

4) Follow the leader: follow group guidelines, watch how members participate and interact with one another

5) Tailor the conversation: find common ground and share information relevant to your audience

6) Be helpful: offer educational opportunities, general support, and even inspiration

7) Identify the enter and exit signs: know if it is polite to enter the online interaction and make sure to exit gracefully

8) Maintain separation of professional and personal: make sure what you share is suitable for both audiences

9) Be consistent: give people a clear expectation of who you are and what your area of expertise is

10) Admit when you are wrong: be willing to apologize, it is a sign of strength and goodwill

Shannon Belew’s concept of “unselling:

  • Unselling is a process that occurs over time
  • Requires consistent interaction with your prospects via social media
  • This establishes your credibility as a good resource
  • Identify and interact with industry influencers
  • Be a thought leader to build social influence
  • Embrace consultative sales in which you are developing conversations that educate and assist the prospect through the buying process
  • This opens the door to an increased amount of sharing
  • This increases the comfort level of prospects as well as puts you in the role of expert

Belew talks about word of mouth marketing.  Social shoppers are not only influenced by their friends and family, but by perfect strangers, too.  Encourage your happy and satisfied customers to provide online testimonials.  Include your links on thank-you pages and emails. Respond to negative reviews quickly.  Thank customers publicly for their positive reviews.

In this book, Shannon Belew cites a Technorati Report that stated that blogs are the third-most influential digital or online resource and the fifth most trusted resource on the internet.  Blogs are great for sharing on social media.  Plus, points made in a blog post can be posted or tweeted on social media.  Later in the book, Belew gives specific tips about using each of the major social media channels.  This is an incredible resource for business owners.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

How To Ask for a Link Request

how to ask for a link request

 

Do you wonder how to ask for a link request?  I am going to sum up the main points in the awesome book published by Entrepreneur Press called Ultimate Guide to Link Building: Build Backlinks, Earn a Higher Search Engine Rank, Increase the Authority and Popularity of Your Site by Eric Ward and Garrett French.

 

Steps:

  • Look over the website you want to have your link on to make sure it is relevant
  • Do not put the words “link request” in the email subject line
  • Start the e-mail off addressing the website owner by name
  • Introduce yourself, your website, and why you would like to the link
  • Identify the exact URL on their site where you think the link is a fit
  • List the exact URL from your site that you want them to link to
  • Give a valid email address and respond to any email requests they send
  • Provide your phone number–something a spammer would not do
  • Follow any link request instructions they give
  • If a reciprocal link, confirm that you have linked to their site and provide the URL
  • Be attentive, professional, courteous, and to the point

This book also lists Link Building Strategies written by Jon Cooper of Point Blank SEO:

  • Start blogging on your website
  • Have internal links to other content on your website
  • List resources and outside links
  • Build relationships with others
  • Find niche-specific directories
  • Write guest posts or have guests write posts for your blog
  • Provide educational content
  • Write compelling testimonials
  • Provide useful lists–there is power in making lists!
  • Be interviewed or interview someone in your industry
  • Offer timely/seasonal content
  • Use humor
  • Provide printable resources
  • Host contests
  • Cover news first
  • Give helpful infographics
  • Host online webinars
  • Promote National Days and Events
  • Survey people and post results
  • Debunk popular myths
  • Comment on relevant blogs
  • Do question and answer blog post
  • Ask customers what they want to see more of
  • Connect with industry associations and organizations
  • Attend relevant conferences
  • Call people
  • Host local group meetings
  • Retweet Twitter tweets
  • Provide email signature listing website & ways to connect with you via social media
  • and much more!

There are always things you can do to draw bigger audiences to your website. By taking the steps to ask for link requests and implementing the link building strategies, you will be well on your way to developing more a popular website.

Readers, I welcome your responses to this post as well as other ideas related to the topic of link requests and link building.  I read every comment and respond when appropriate. Thanks! Kristi

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Verify Your Website To Pin Smarter

 

pin smarter

 

Pinterest helps people discover things in a simple and visual way. Pinners might find something they love while browsing your boards, scrolling through a category you’re listed in or searching for your bed and breakfast directly.  It is important to verify your website to pin smarter.

 

 

Pinterest offers Business sites to help brands and businesses who wish to use Pinterest to connect with their audience. In this blog post I will tell you exactly why  you want to verify your bed and breakfast’s website for your Business Pinterest Profile. Without verifying your website, you will be missing some very important information!

First, to verify your website, visit your Settings page and click on the Verify Website button. When your website is verified, people will see a checkmark next to your domain in search results. They will also see the full website URL and checkmark on your profile.

The verification badge helps people identify high-quality sources of content and more easily find the business they want in search results.  There you’ll find Pinterest tools and resources relevant to you, and see examples of how other businesses are using Pinterest.

Pinterest offers tips to businesses, including:
  • Pinning from various sources rather than one specific site.
  • Pinning from within Pinterest to engage with others (pinning is one of the most social activities on Pinterest and it’s how any user really builds his/her network of followers)
  • Creating at least a few boards that cover a broad range of interests, rather than maintaining a single board devoted to one topic.
For businesses, pinning can be a great way to highlight aspects of your brand that may not come to mind at first when people consider your brand. For example, not everyone knows:

  • B&B’s can have spas, salons, and shops
  • Bed and breakfasts can offer retreats and some perform weddings
  • All the wonderful amenities bed and breakfasts offer
  • About your wonderful hospitality and homemade cooking

Pinterest can also be a great tool to learn what your audience and potential guests like. Once your website is verified, you have access to Pinterest Analytics.  This is the why I was talking about.  This shows you which pins are most popular with pinners and see which pins are driving the most traffic to your site!

You can also see what boards your stuff appears on, how the pins are described and what people pin along with your stuff.  All of these insights will help you make smarter choices about what you pin and even develop a pinning strategy when you pin smarter.  Watch out: pinning can be addictive!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Social Media Success

Social media success is possible for any business owner including innkeepers. Using social media is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get the word out about your own business, products, and ideas.  The popular social media websites include:

  • Facebook (one of the first big social media sites)
  • Twitter (limited to 140 characters per tweet–which forces people to get to the point!)
  • Linked In (the best business social media network where you establish connections with other professionals)
  • Google Plus (you can add people to your circles)
  • Pinterest (you can post pictures of your bed and breakfast–inside and out!)

Social media is an industry by itself. People can actually earn social media certification through various programs both online and offline. There are search engine optimization (SEO) experts who will tell you that it is extremely important that people have blogs using keywords that are relevant to their audience.

The search engines love it when you generate a lot of traffic regularly to your website and they reward you with higher rankings.  Many businesses seek to be one of the first search results for a specific set of keywords.

Blogs need to be written regularly so people know they can come back to your blog for relevant, useful, up-to-date information. I hope I have encouraged you to think about the possibilities of widening your particular audience by using social media!