Tag Archives: sharing

Everybody Writes: Infographics

everybody writes 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:

  • Real estate
  • Insurance
  • Hospitality
  • Furniture
  • Food and beverage
  • Cleaning
  • Safety
  • Heating
  • Cooling

The median performance:

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

everybody writes 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%

everybody writes infographic

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

Amenities in Common areas:

  • Internet
  • Magazines
  • Hot/cold beverages
  • Board games
  • Fireplace
  • Televisions
  • Refrigerator
  • Newspapers
  • Telephone
  • Cookies, cakes, candies, and fruit
  • Fresh flowers

Amenities in Guest rooms:

  • Internet
  • Magazines
  • Televisions
  • Fireplace
  • Luxury bed linens
  • Robes
  • Premium branded toiletries
  • Jetted tubs

everybody writes 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.

everybody writes 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

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

Power of Visual Storytelling

power of visual storytelling

 

Another great book is The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand co-written by Ekaterina Walter (cofounder and chief marketing officer at Branderati)  and Jessica Gioglio (social media manager for Dunkin Donuts). The back of the book says, “Attention is the new commodity. Visual storytelling is the new currency.”

According to this book, “Visual content in real time can give people a different perspective instantly.”  The goal is to create visual, shareable content that conveys your brand’s central message. Visual storytelling has the potential to:

 

  • Enhance loyalty
  • Strengthen customer relationships
  • Increase awareness
  • And much more!

With 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions at the end of 2012, about 96% of the world population has a cell phone. With the on-the-go nature of people’s lives in this present age, sharing user-generated images and visuals is happening in real time.  According to the authors, visuals are processed by the human brain 60,000 times faster than text!

Creating the right image to convey your message means you must know who you are as a brand, what you stand for, and how this relates to the goals of your customers.  The book reveals some fascinating statistics about what website visitors think is important:

  • 46.1% of people say that a website’s design is the #1 criterion for discerning the credibility of the company (research from Billion Dollar Graphics)
  • 67% of consumers consider clear, detailed images to be very important, and carry even more weight that then product information, full description, and customer ratings (MDG Advertising Research)
  • 51% of Americans trust user-generated content over other information on a company website

The Power of Visual Storytelling details the vast variety of visual content that is available for companies to use:

  • Images
  • Photography
  • Graphs
  • Drawings
  • User-generated images
  • Collages
  • Images with text overlays (captions, quotes, stats)
  • Word photos
  • Memes (imitated things)
  • Postcards and e-cards
  • Cartoons
  • GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format)
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Presentations
  • Aggregators

Collaborative storytelling benefits both customers and companies.  Customers get to see their images liked by fans of the brand.  Companies get insight on what customer motivation. According to BuzzFeed, every minute online:

  • 208,300 photos are posted to Facebook
  • 27,800 photos are shared on Instagram
  • 510,000 photos are liked on Instagram
  • 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube

The authors caution readers that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to social media. Each network has its own character and audience.  Instead of being “broadcasted to” audiences want to feel “listened to” as we invite them to be part of the conversation.  The next series of posts will feature their tips for various social media networks, including:

Later we will highlight their tips to developing a visual story road map from strategy to implementation.  I highly recommend that businesses read The Power of Visual Storytelling!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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

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.