Tag Archives: review

The Power of 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.

 

 

Visual storytelling tips and 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

25 Ways To Write Creative Blog Posts

If you are reading this, then I assume you are looking to be CREATIVE (and definitely not boring) when you write creative blog posts.  This way you will have plenty of admiring fans! 25 ways to write CREATIVE blog posts:

1. ADVICE You have unique advice that only you can offer to your readers.  Once you understand who your audience is, then you can write like you are writing to a friend.  They will feel like they know you and you will develop a huge following.

2. CA– USE– Why not rally your readers behind a cause you support?  Let them know what you are doing to make a difference and how they can help. Give a call to action. Seriously, don’t leave that out.

3. COMMUNITY Your community could be defined by your local area or it could be people who share a common interest or goal.  Reach out to “your peeps” and connect with them!

4. COMPARISON Take two things and compare them.  Whether you compare two breakfast foods or two fun activities, the fun is in comparing and contrasting them. This could be educational, entertaining, or funny as well. Speaking of…

5. EDUCATIONAL– People like learning about things.  That is one reason why search engines are so popular.  Tell them something that not everyone knows, but you know because you are an expert at it.  Everyone is an expert at something.  Blog about what you know best.

6. ENTERTAINING Everyone likes to laugh and have fun.  You could blog about entertainment that is coming to your community whether it is a music concert, sporting event, or theatrical production. Be sure to make it “entertaining” to read!  Since blogging is writing that is typically less formal than say a report, let your personality shine in the post.

7. EVENTS People like finding out about events–ones that will happen and ones that already happened.  If you have the “inside scoop” on the latest, you can “tell all” in your blog!

8. FAQ This common acronym is short for “frequently asked questions.”  Many websites have an FAQ page on them.  Blog about commonly asked questions.  Blog answers to familiar questions so you can refer your readers to when they ask them.  Saves you time in the process!

9. FAMILY Some of your best material can come from your family members and others with whom you are close. As long as you make it generic enough that you don’t single out any one person or you know they won’t mind your sharing it, go ahead.  You know you want to!

10. GUIDE A guide-type blog post could be a collection of tips about a specific topic. While similar to advice blog posts, they are different in that these tips can be applied by a variety of different people–not advice for one type of problem.  Example: Simple Tips to Get Clients To Pay on Time, Quick Ways to Find Just What You Want Online, etc.

11. HYPOTHETICAL Ask your readers what they would do in a hypothetical situation. Maybe answer that question as well. These types of blog posts tend to get a lot of comments because people like to imagine, “What if….?” Sometimes I imagine, “What if I win a ton of money in the lottery and get to quit my day job?!”  I kind of have to buy a lottery ticket first. Oh well.

12. INSPIRATIONAL Share something motivational with your readers.  Help them connect to you in a powerful way through your telling of someone overcoming a challenge and beating the odds.  Maybe that someone who overcame something big is you.  Don’t be afraid to share since it could encourage someone else!

13. INSTRUCTIONAL or “HOW TO” Give instructions on how to do something that others want to know how to do, and suddenly you have a captive large audience.  You can be creative with your titles of these posts as well. Two examples: How To Teach Your Dog Fun New Tricks, How To Make Delicious Homemade Ice Cream, How To Make a Memorable Family Scrapbook, etc.

14. INTERVIEW If you don’t have any famous celebrities you happen to know (most of us are in this boat), then you could always interview a person notable for what they do. A person who is accomplished in a career or sport or another area of life.  If you interview a person who has an inspiring story and then you have an “inspirational interview“! Wow, two different ways to write a blog post combined! You are an overachiever!

15. LISTS People love lists.  Examples: 10 Ways You Can Change Your Spouse, 20 Best Party Appetizers, Top 40 Bestselling Books About Fitness, etc.  You get the idea and they will too!

16. MEMORIES Often, we like to recall fond memories or retell funny situations.  We may even want to remember how we overcame a trauma for the sake of helping another person who finds themselves in the same emergency. When you blog about a memory, be sure to create a vivid picture in their minds of all the important details of your experience.

17. NEWS Did you know that sometimes bloggers are the first to break a news story? There have been cases where a blogger has gotten in trouble for sharing some kinds of sensitive information.  Keep your day job and don’t blog about company trade secrets. Another word of advice is to keep your love life private so no one tries to sue you for disclosing personal details.  However, if you are in attendance at an exclusive event that you have permission to be blogging about, then by all means SHARE!

18. OPINIONS If you loving sharing your opinions, then blogging is right up your alley!  As long as you are tactful and the topic is appropriate, it is alright to share what you think. You don’t have to have all positive comments from your readers.  In fact, it makes it more interesting when some of your readers do not agree with you.  Usually readers who do agree with you, will come to your defense when you are criticized by others.

19. PHOTOS If you took a great picture or want to share several incredible pictures, then you may want to have a photo blog post.  When your text is all about what is in your photo(s), then you have a photo blog post.  Whether your pictures are of smiling people, grand buildings, gorgeous nature, or something entirely different, there are others who would love to learn about how you managed to capture the photos and the techniques you used in getting it to look the way it does.

20. PREDICTIONS It is common at the end of the year (or the beginning of the new year) for people to come up with their predictions about some topic.  Examples: The Future of Technology, 10 Social Media Predictions, What is To Come in American Education, etc. Similar to the hypothetical “what if” posts, these are your thoughts as to what will come about in the next year (or whatever time frame you select) concerning a particular topic. Inquiring minds want to know!

21. PROBLEMS Life would not be nearly as exciting if there were no glitches.  Inevitably, snags come along.  You spill chocolate ice cream on your brand new white dress shirt.  You get a ticket for speeding on your way to work early one morning.  Your problem post could be written to be a funny look at everyday life or it could be a solution post in which you address how to solve a particular problem with a specific idea, product, or service. People are always looking for solutions!

22. QUIZZES Some people love taking quizzes for fun.  Why not write a blog post that is a quiz about something interesting?  Examples: 15 Questions to Discover the Vacation of Your Dreams, How Well Do You Know Yourself?, etc.  The point is to make your quiz blog post appealing enough to your audience, so that they want to take it.

23. REVIEW Everybody loves reading reviews.  You could blog a book review, a restaurant critique, or a movie screening.  Reviews help other people who, for example, were thinking about reading the same book, dining at the same restaurant, or watching the same movie; decide if they want to based on your review.  When you write a review blog post, you have the power to influence your readers to take action or avoid it.  Don’t let the power go to your head!

24. SECRETS This could mean quick shortcuts, little known facts, or juicy details.  Like news posts, people like finding out things they would not normally know had they not read your blog.  Same cautions apply!

25. STORIES People love reading fascinating stories.  A story blog post captures the attention of your audience yet is brief enough to be the length of a blog post. Stories with important lessons for your readers earn you loyal readers.

Try one (or a combination of several) of these types of blog posts the next time you write! Don’t be afraid to write CREATIVE blog posts. Most importantly, enjoy the process that blogging requires.  It always helps me to visualize my readers reading this.  Will they think this is funny?  Does that tell them everything they need to know?  etc.  Feel free to share your CREATIVE blog post ideas or to ask me a question related to this post.

Professional Associations

   

Do you know the value of belonging to professional associations?  Many inns and bed and breakfasts are members of professional associations. There are international, national, regional, and local associations, all of which provide services to both their members and the travelling public. Many require their members to meet specific standards of quality, while others simply require a lodging establishment to pay dues. These associations also facilitate marketing of the individual B&Bs and provide a stamp of approval that the business in question is reputable.

While various local governments have regulations and inspect lodging establishments for health and safety issues, membership in a state or national bed and breakfast association can indicate a higher standard of hospitality. Associations sometimes review their members’ properties and tend to have additional standards of care.  Associations may offer informative conferences.

In the US for example, each state has an innkeeping association (usually non-profit) that exists to promote the industry and tourism. Within those state associations, many city and regional bed and breakfast associations can be found. Many state, city and regional associations, have inspection criteria that often exceed government requirements for safety and cleanliness.  We have talked about organizations like AAA, the Better Business Bureau, and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International in previous blog posts.  People find comfort in staying at places that have earned high ratings.  Think about your B&B’s marketing strategy.

BBB Accreditation Standards

BBB Standards

Do you know what BBB accreditation means to your bed and breakfast? Better Business Bureau Accreditation is an honor – and not every business is eligible. Businesses that meet their high standards are invited to join BBB. Businesses deemed to meet Accreditation Standards are presented to the BBB’s Board for review and acceptance as a BBB Accredited Business.

BBB ensures that high standards for trust are set and maintained. They exist so consumers and businesses alike have an unbiased source to guide them on matters of trust. BBB provides educational information and expert advice that is free of charge and easily accessible.

BBB sees trust as a function of two primary factors – integrity and performance. Integrity includes respect, ethics and intent. Performance speaks to a business’s track record of delivering results in accordance with BBB standards and/or addressing customer concerns in a timely, satisfactory manner.

The BBB Code of Business Practices represents sound advertising, selling and customer service practices that enhance customer trust and confidence in business. The Code is built on the BBB Standards for Trust, eight principles that summarize important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business.

1. Build Trust
Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.

2. Advertise Honestly
Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.

3. Tell the Truth
Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.

4. Be Transparent
Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.

5. Honor Promises
Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.

6. Be Responsive
Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in
good faith.

7. Safeguard Privacy
Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of customers regarding the use of their
information.

8. Embody Integrity
Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and
commitments with integrity.

Each bed and breakfast, whether BBB accredited or not, has a rating. The BBB letter grade is based on BBB file information about the business. In some cases, your grade may be lowered if the BBB does not have sufficient information about your bed and breakfast despite their requests for the information.

BBB assigns letter grades from A+ (highest) to F (lowest). In some cases, BBB will not grade your business (indicated by an NR, or “No Rating”) for reasons that include insufficient information about a business or ongoing review/update of your business’ file.

BBB Business Reviews generally explain the most significant factors that raised or lowered a business’ grade.  BBB grades are not a guarantee of a business’ reliability or performance, and BBB recommends that consumers consider a business’ grade in addition to all other available information about the business grading elements.

BBB grades are based on information in BBB files with respect to the following factors:

1. Business’ complaint history with BBB.

2. Type of business.

3. Time in business.

4. Background information on business in BBB files.

5. Failure to honor commitments to BBB.

6. Licensing and government actions known to BBB.

7. Advertising issues known to BBB.

Bed and breakfast owners, if you are unsure if you have a BBB grade, look up your own name in the BBB directory to see what your file says.  If there are any unresolved complaints, you can contact your local BBB to resolve any issues with your BBB Standards.  It is best to be on good terms with the BBB.  People do consider a business’ BBB grade.  You can apply for membership by contacting the nearest BBB location if you are not already a member.

 

Guests Staying for Class Reunions

Guests may visit to attend their class reunions. The following comes from an actual online review of a Bed and Breakfast:

I stayed at *** B & B during a high school reunion weekend. The rooms were gorgeous, well-appointed, and very comfortable. The B & B is located very near many good restaurants and attractions in NW North Carolina…the innkeepers…seem to truly enjoy their work and taking care of their guests!!! They are friendly, knowledgeable and, above all, tremendous chefs; the breakfast each morning was out of this world!!!”

This tells us that guests can decide to stay with you because of a class reunion, family reunion, or any other kind of special gathering in your area.  If you live near a college or university, you are more likely to have people staying with you for a class reunion.

In addition, this shows us the power of online content.  This testimonial gives this particular bed and breakfast a great review. Your own blog can review all the wonderful things about your B & B.  Each blog post can highlight the things that make your bed and breakfast stand out.

Special amenities such as:

  • Rooms with their own private jacuzzi
  • A beautiful outdoor garden and porch swing
  • Spa facilities or in-room massages
  • Computers and internet access
  • Individually decorated rooms with distinctive features

So whatever makes your bed and breakfast extra special and for whenever any class reunions are happening in your area, having your own blog can attract more guests to your website.