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Guest Post for the Social Media Breakfast of Maine

Hi All,

This is going to be a real short post just to let you know about a guest post we did for the Social Media Breakfast of Maine (SMBME). The SMBME is a great group of folks who meet in Portland, Maine every month to chat about Social Media and what’s coming up next in the market place. The woman who organizes the event is Amanda O’Brien, VP of Marketing for Hall Internet Marketing. Great woman and awesome company.

Check out this blog “I’ll Drink the Pink, to That. Pepto Bismol’s Social Media Presence.”

Enjoy!

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My 3 Words

The gifted internet teacher, thought leader, and author Chris Brogan makes a challenge every year to his followers to come up with 3 words that they will focus on for 2012. His philosophy is that focusing on 3 words is a much more effective way of “resolutions” than saying “I want to quit smoking.” I agree with him so below are the 3 words that Social Impressions will focus on for the year 2012.

 

Positive

The most challenging battle is the one man has with his own attitude. My number one focus for 2012 will be to remain positive and focused on things that uplift my company spirits, ethics, and culture. To strive to maintain a positive attitude I commit to reading more books, investing more time with positive mentors, and paying less attention to my competition. Nothing can take the wind out of my sails faster than a discouraging comment from someone I look up to or someone I see as more knowledgeable than I. In 2012 I commit to maintaining a laser vision of what matters most in my life and keeping positive about those things.

The end result for you, the reader, is a better feeling when reading our posts and the knowledge that I am looking for the bright spot in the midst of any stormy weather. With a positive attitude I can keep my energy levels up and by doing this I can be more aware of great content inspiration opportunities, and more ways to offer you value.

Give

In 2012 I will be more financially giving. I run a pretty tight ship and money is one of those things that I always think about and often wonder if I have enough, planned enough, or have enough socked away for a rainy day. In 2012 Social Impressions will focus on giving away more money. Money is in my top 5 for most important things and I believe the more I give it away the more I will be blessed. My giving will be my normal tithe to my church , and then additional non-profits, or families in need that my staff and I feel would be blessed by our good fortune. We will not give based on the whether or not we feel the person would piss it away…we will give based on whether the person or organization is in need. If they are irresponsible with the gift – that is their choice. It will not be my excuse to not give. We will have a fund labeled “The Giving Fund” and it will be from here that each month we set money aside to donate or save for the next month until we feel led to bless someone else.

I have an issue with money, and I believe this will be a great way to get over my fear of not having enough of it.

Reflect

One of my favorite quotes about life is, “Detours will almost always prove worth it.” In 2012 I will do my best to take time to rest easy and reflect on the amazing things that have happened thus far in my journey. I commit to taking time to reflect on my well connected and smoking hot wife, I will reflect on overcoming cancer 10 years ago, and I will reflect on the many mentors and positive influences I have been associated with. 2012 will be a year of reflection for me as I journey into 2013, a year when I believe the seeds I will have been sewing for many years will begin to grow into a bountiful harvest.

I need to make myself reflect, otherwise I will be caught up in the day to day whirl wind of it all.

 

Can you relate with any of my 3 words? Anything you would add? I encourage you to take a moment and read Chris Brogan’s Three Words and let me know if you decide to write your own!

I leave you today with the three words my brother Tom challenges me with everyday –
“Be the Best.”

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Google Plus Marketing

Google Plus (Google+) is the newest elephant in the room that many hospitality professionals are choosing to ignore due to their “lack of time” to manage another social network. Many are choosing to simply disregard it, while some choose to make fun of it saying it will be another technology that Google will eventually kill off. The question is not should I have a Google+ page but why does my property not have one yet? This blog entry is my attempt to help you choose to create a Google+ page for your property and to encourage you to become active with it.

Circles

One of the first shapes I drew as a child was a circle, simple, connected, and fun. Many business plans and brainstorming techniques start with circles and grow from there. Google+ also starts with circles. If you can’t quite wrap your brain around what a Google+ circle is, think of your Facebook page and all the followers you have. Imagine if you could drag certain followers into a VIP subset, and employees into another, and people from the USA into another. Instead of posting a status of “Tonight’s special is Maine Lobster Macaroni and Cheese” that goes out to everyone (shot gun affect), imagine being able to post very specifically to just your VIP’s something like “Book a suite by April 1st, and receive a complimentary bottle of wine.” You see, one group might not care about the same content the other group cares for. Perhaps you define a VIP as someone who stays at your property 15 nights or more a year – if this is the case perhaps it makes sense to market your city events to this circle, as opposed to more general status updates that you would post to regular guests.

Google+ allows you to personalize your updates in a very one-on-one way. Are you a fine dining establishment? Perhaps your want to draw in more business from out of town guests so you offer a “book a dinner reservation for a party of four or more by 9pm and receive a free appetizer.” You can target this message to only the people in your “Out of Town” circles. This way the “Locals” circle doesn’t get upset about the special.

Pictures

Pictures you upload to your Google+ feed show up brilliant and large in the news feed. Your snapshots don’t have to be professional or photoshopped. Just be personal and interesting. Are you near the coast? How about a picture of today’s fresh catch. In the city? How about a picture of that new sky scraper or city wide concert? Remember, your followers follow you so they can feel connected. The pictures you load offer another look behind the scenes of the personality of the property your represent.

I cannot stress enough how much foodies love to look at food. If you are a chef, or restaurateur and are not loading pictures of your food, before and after photo’s, and even video’s of food being created – you are missing out on interaction with your patrons. Remember followers follow for a chance to connect with you more, the more connected a follower is, the most okay it becomes for you to sell them something periodically. Remember the theme is, “You earn my trust, now, you earn my money.”

Business Profile Page

There a few fun features on the Google+ Business Profile Pages that I really appreciate. One is that you can link directly to your business website. So, remember, when creating your page – every time you mention your establishment make that name a link so patrons can simply click and end up at your website.

The Google+ Business Page also offers a video tab. I wonder why that is there? Perhaps to promote you as a business owner to take advantage of the opportunity to share video’s with your fans! Video is where most of your marketing will be headed; take advantage of this opportunity to show the action behind the curtain.

Your Google+ Business Page also offers a “photo” tab. This is where the photo’s you add will end up. Check out some of the business pages I will link to for some idea’s on pictures that look amazing on Google+.

Search

I am not an SEO guy so I am not going to try and explain to you how amazing Google+ is for SEO reasons. What I will tell you is that your Google+ page offers a search feature. Is your business in Summerville, South Carolina and you want to know what users of Google+ are saying about your city on the network? Use the search feature. I have also found this effective when operating under my personal account to find possible customers, and tons of prospects.

My final thoughts on Google+ is that it is not going to go away and you need to stop making excuses as to why you should avoid the constant changes that the internet is going to continue to bring. If you want to learn at the speed of light about Google+ I recommend you subscribe to Chris Brogan’s Blog. Chris is a Google+ guru and recently wrote a book on Google+ “Google+ for Business” (affiliate link).

Below are a few links to great Google+ brand pages and please tell me, what did I miss?

Portland Harbor Hotel

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

ThinkGeek

If you want to connect with me you can do so on these networks:

Google+

Twitter

Facebook

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10 Blog Idea’s for your Hotel

A blog is where it all begins and where a deep customer connection can be made with your customer. Below are 10 idea’s that might spur your brain into action to start writing some fun blogs for your hotel website. Limiting myself to just 10 is a chore so whatever I leave out, feel free to add!

  1. The history of your hotel. Guests love to know the history of the hotel they are staying in, and what the building used to be, who used to own it, and any major renovations that have happened. You may be asking yourself, I am in a brand new hotel – this building has NO history!! I would beg to differ. What is the history of the land you built upon? How fast was the structure built? Was there any major weather events during construction? Get creative, your guests want something to talk about when they arrive.
  2. Famous people who have stayed with you. Nothing excites a guest more than knowing that Simon Cowell, Lady Gaga, or Elvis have slept in the same building they are sleeping in. It provides the guest a bit of hope that they may see someone famous too! A client of mine recently had Bruce Springsteen staying in their property while he was on tour. A guest was in the hotel restaurant eating lunch and sharing with the bartender how much he loved Bruce Springsteen and how he traveled just to see the show that night. Little did the guest know, Bruce was standing behind him, and tapped him on the shoulder to ask “Mind if I grab a burger with you?” That my friends, is blog material.
  3. Weekly concierge updates. Your concierge is the key to your city. He or she knows what is going on, and where it is happening. Allow them to have a weekly “concierge corner” where they can write about what is going on in the city and what restaurants not to miss.
  4. Video of anything behind the scenes. Your guests love to feel like they have been given a behind the scenes pass to anything doing with your hotel. What about a quick 30 second video blog entry about your valet staff where they describe the best car they have ever parked? How about a video of your chef making his famous lobster macaroni and cheese? Perhaps your bartender making a tasty Old Fashioned. Keep them short, informal, and fun!
  5. Hotel etiquette training. We have all been through hotel etiquette training, why not blog about it? Talk about the more proper things in life, the people skills training your staff receives, and who does a great job with it.
  6. Local restaurant stars. Living in Portland, Maine – I am lucky. The old port district offers a vast array of restaurant scene rock stars. (Here are few links for you to check out: 5 Portland Chefs, Food Across America) Perhaps your city does too. Do a showcase of the best chef’s within walking distance. It is great exposure for that chef’s restaurant and great value added information for your guests.
  7. How to’s. What does everyone love about going on a cruise? Is it the food, the drinks, or the giraffe made out of towels waiting for you on your bed? In my opinion…the giraffe. 24 hour pizza follows with a close second. Show your guests how to fold napkins properly, with pictures. Do you use napkin art? Show your guests how to do if for their Christmas dinner! All of this adds value to the relationship you have with a potential guest and builds connection. Remember the connection starts at their head, moves to their heart, and then their wallet.
  8. Housekeeping profiles. Does your staff increase in the summer’s with some very talented citizens of Jamaica or other area’s? Your guests would love to know their story, pictures, and something about what they love about their home. Make your guests feel connected, and make your staff realize how special they are.
  9. Guest Blog. Have a local celebrity do a guest blog and you write one for them. This provides great cross promotional opportunities and also will give your readers a touch of zest to their everyday reading.
  10. Decorating secrets. Who does the decorating during Christmas or other major holidays? Interview them, and show a picture slide show around your property. Guests love to see hotels all dressed up and they love to gain idea’s for their own home.

One final note about all this blogging. Have fun! Have personality with your writing and realize that the people reading your blog are potential customers who are not looking to read a QVC sales pitch. Relax, take a deep breath, and write!

What did I miss? What do you like to blog about for your property?

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Social Media, Christmas, and Hospitality

It is the most wonderful time of the year for hospitality professionals! This is the time of year when our budgets get filled with holiday parties, Thanksgiving Dinners, and Christmas cocktail hours! From mid-November until December 26th, let the dollars fall from Santa’s sleigh! This is also the most wonderful time of year to utilize your social media to the best of your abilities. Below are a few idea’s and example of fun social media things to do, Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

Facebook

Since by now your property/restaurant definitely has an active Facebook page that you post to at least 5 times a week (riiiiight??), it is time to start using it to promote how beautiful your establishment looks for the holiday season! Why not take a few before and after shots of a function space before a holiday party set-up and after? Your followers will love to see the changes and don’t forget those pictures are larger in size now than they used to be!

Has your lobby decked the halls? Take some pictures and share it with your network, let your followers feel like they are getting a look behind the curtain. Now may be a great time to ask what their favorite holiday toddy is. Why not do a survey question?

Colorful Lobby Shot of the Portland Harbor Hotel

Twitter

Planning on some great holiday events? Why not create a custom Hashtag (#) so all of your Twitter followers can keep up to date? The hotel I work for has an event every year called “Ice Bar.” During this event we bring in over 2,000 pounds of ice and create bars out of ice, vodka louge, and scupltures. Since this event is very well known, and brings in roughly 9,000 people over the last weekend of January – we created a hashtag of  #IceBarME (The ME stands for Maine). Go ahead and check it out on Twitter, follow our fun and keep up to date. We plan to announce when the new vodka arrives for the Ice Bar, when the ice sculptures arrive, and of course up to date info while the party is happening. We also gave our Twitter followers first notice of when the tickets went on sale. What events do you have that could benefit from a Hashtag?

Google+

First off, do you have a Google+ business page yet? I really hope so! For the sake of the length of this article I’m going to operate on the assumption that you do. Google+ offers you a fantastic platform for sharing photo’s and video’s. With Google+ your photo’s appear larger in the feed than they do on Facebook.

Notice the brightness and size of this great Google+ photo

 

I hope some of these examples give you some fun idea’s for your property! What establishments do you follow that do a great job with Social Media? Would love to hear from you and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

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Money Making Advice

I have been very fortunate to have been able to surround myself with some pretty impressive mentors from all walks of life. Some I talk with almost daily, others monthly, and one – just once a year. Either way, their advice has proven priceless over the years and I thought I would share some of their thoughts with you, perhaps you will find a nugget in here that will help you accomplish some of your goals too.

Only you know what you are truly great at.

This advice, though it sounds simple, was a thought I had never marinated over until it was said to me by the wealthiest person I know. We were talking about career goals and business goals and I told him that I was frustrated with so many opportunities that seem to appear to me, all of which look attractive – but I just don’t have time for them all. His first question was, why did the opportunities come to me? The common answer I gave him was “Someone noticed I’m good at X,Y, or Z, and thought I would make a great partner, owner, or employee for/with them.” Initially my mentor sat back and said “Feels good huh?” He was right, it felt great!

The next thing my mentor said was “Only you know what you are truly great at. All of your life people will offer you opportunities if you work hard and are not afraid to out work your competition. The challenge is that in your heart there is a very small list of things that will truly light your fire.”

I often see small business owners who lose sight of what they are truly great at. Perhaps it’s a bookstore who gets influence by the major chains and tries to open a cafe’ and a bookstore. Down the drain goes the entire operation…why? They lost sight of what they were truly great at.

THINK.

This advice came from a mentor of mine I know very well and also an extremely successful guy – My dad. I cannot recall how many times as a child my dad would say to me “David, Think before you take the next move…” This simple word is not the easiest one to obey, but can help make or break your company.

Angry at a customer? THINK, before you send that email response. Pissed off about your competition? THINK, before you post that comment. Being pressured to lower your prices? THINK, before you take your next move. Sometimes it pays more to breathe before you jump.

Keep your focus on what new business you can earn, not what your competition is saying about you.

This little nugget was offered to me just last week while I was in the midst of closing a big client. We began talking about how he created such a successful company, and what types of distractions he would avoid. He shared with me that he stays focused on innovating and prospecting – not chasing his competition or comparing himself to larger company’s.

Do not sacrifice your family for recognition amongst your peers.

This was shared with me by a close friend who now lives in North Carolina. He has been a mentor to me for many years and he got his start in the computer industry back when computers took up entire rooms, he has since sold that company and now makes his living running a successful Amway marketing business. Many times we have sat on his porch to discuss the trappings of success and how easy it is to get caught up in your own success but one day turn around and see your house is empty and the only thing full – is your wallet. I do not remember who he would quote that said, “Do not get so busy creating a living, that you don’t create a life.

How often as small business owner’s do we choose a “fun” evening networking event over the challenges of a home life? Perhaps your spouse is sick, a child is acting up, or you have bills to pay. It is much easier to have a few suds till 8pm with some cronies who will not help your company actually grow…than it is to go home and deal with the issues that may be cracking the foundation of your family.

I can offer this advice as an offender of this rule. My wife has had pancreatic issues for roughly 5 years. When we first got married I would choose to work late or “make sales calls” till 7pm, rather than come home and have to face how scared I was of loosing her. This makes me sound like the ultimate jerk I know – but I justified it with the thought of “I’m providing for us.” Was I really?

What nuggets have you gleaned from mentors in your life? Do you agree with the advice I have been given? I would love to hear your thoughts and someday soon I will add some additional thoughts. In closing I refer back to what Dylan Thomas once wrote,

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old time is still a flying,

This same flower blooming today,

Tomorrow may be dying.”

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10 Rules for a successful Facebook Business Page

As promised here is our 5 final rules for having a successful Facebook Page, starting with #6…

6. Cross promote: Is there a company that you do business with who would benefit from you telling your followers about them and your followers would benefit by knowing about them? Then tell away! We all know the phrase “What goes around, comes around.” Same thing goes for doing good. Don’t be afraid to tell your followers about that great restaurant down town, or the great experience you had at the local theatre. The worst thing that could happen is they get more business – and you get some great positive vibes sent your way.

7. A Picture Says a Thousand Words: What’s happening inside your business today? Is the mechanic fixing the A/C? Is the chef cooking an amazing lobster? Is your salon packed with customers? Let people know! Share a picture, the more exclusive the better. Your followers want to see what is going on inside of those 4 walls. Want a great example? Check out the Copley Square Hotel Facebook Page.

8. Exclusive Deals: Nothing makes me love a company more than one who offers me a chance at a Facebook Fan Exclusive Deal. Recently the Portland Harbor Hotel’s restaurant Eve’s at the Garden offered their guests a free beer during happy hour when their fans answered this questionl “My favorite local beer is…”

9. Have a steady voice: When you decide what voice your business is going to speak with – keep it. Are you going to be a little snarkey and fun or serious and dapper? Either way, once you have chosen keep it consistent. Having three of four different employees write your statuses might save time – but it may also make your voice confusing to your followers. Be sure your employees know your policy and your voice.

10. Consistency is key. Who won that epic race, the tortoise or the hair? Consistent, persistent effort is key to keep your followers coming back to you. Most statistics say that updating your Facebook business page two to three times a day is acceptable. People follow you because they want to hear from you, keep in touch with them and nourish the relationship.

And 1 to grow on, Add Value: Always add value. Give valuable content to your followers and they will trust you and look forward to what you have to say.

What did I forget?

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