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You’re local. Are you connecting locally?

| October 27, 2014 | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment »

by Erin Myers 

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If you’re a small business owner, then we probably don’t need to tell you how important it is to connect with people in your community. Chances are you’re already doing this in one way or another. Maybe you sponsor a little league team or set up a booth at the weekend Farmer’s Market. But did you know that opportunities to build relationships with people in your community are at your fingertips, always?

With over 271 million active users and 500 million tweets sent per day, chances are someone nearby is talking about something that is related to your business.

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Infographic via Hubspot 

You can use Twitter to stay in the loop with people who are talking about your business, services you offer or local events that are relevant to what you do. The great news is, you don’t have to be an expert on Twitter to take advantage of their Advanced Search function. In fact, you don’t even have to have an account to play around with the search terms and see what you can discover here!

Anyone can access Twitter’s Advanced Search by opening a web browser and visiting https://twitter.com/search-advanced. If you’ve never checked it out, we encourage you to read the following simple tips and then try tailoring them to your personal business and location. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find!

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For our example, let’s pretend that we’re a breakfast taco stand in Austin, TX — because after all, who doesn’t love breakfast tacos?

Before jumping in, it’s important to note that you can use any combination of search fields to change your results — fill out as much or as little as you’d like. That said, we suggest specifying the “Written in” language, “Near this place” location and “From this date” fields to make sure that your search is yielding results that are relevant to what you’re looking for. For this particular search we filled out the following fields:

This exact phrase: breakfast taco
Written in: English
Near this place: Austin, TX
From: 10/24/14 – 10/27/14

As expected, a lot of people in Austin have been tweeting about breakfast tacos. Here are a few examples that our quick search came up with:

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Here we have 5 excellent opportunities to start conversations with people who are nearby and thinking about breakfast tacos. If you’re unsure about how to open the conversation, you can always remember our golden rule: tweet like you’d want to be tweeted.

What we mean by that is be human, not a robot and don’t go for the hard sell, but ask questions that you would want to answer.

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For more insight on starting valuable conversations with potential customers on Twitter, this article breaks it down. Have you tried out Twitter’s Advanced Search and had success or additional questions? We want to hear! Share with us in the comment section below.

 

 

Make them go away: reviews that violate Yelp’s terms of service

| October 20, 2014 | | 2 Comments »

by Erin Myers 

Yelp.

If you’re a small business owner, then it’s definitely on your radar. From making sure that your business information is updated to crafting thoughtful responses to all incoming reviews — managing a Yelp page comes with a list of tasks to stay on top of.

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Even though the vast majority of reviews on Yelp are 3 stars or higher, you’ll occasionally come across a review that violates Yelp’s terms of service. As a business owner, you’ll want to know how to navigate the process of flagging reviews that violate Yelp’s terms. Recently, they’ve changed the process for doing this.

Before jumping into how to get reviews removed, let’s first talk about what can be removed.

Yelp’s Content Guidelines: The Cliff Notes

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If you identify a questionable review, you will need to know about two major changes in Yelp’s review flagging process. First, in order to flag a review you now have to have your page claimed. If you’re not familiar with how to go about doing this, it’s a simple but important process that we broke down for you here.

Once your page is claimed, you can take ownership and manage it as your own — that includes having the ability to request that reviews violating Yelp’s guidelines be taken down.  

The second major change is the way you actually submit a request. Below, we will walk you through the process step by step.

1. After claiming your page, visit the Log In to Yelp for Business Owners page and sign in.

2. From there, select “Reviews” on the left side of the page. Reviews are sorted by date, so you can easily find the one you want to respond to or flag.
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3. Locate the review in question and click the “Flag review” icon.

Below is a textbook example of a 1-star review that should be removed from a business page. It not only shares the full name of an employee, but it also hurts their overall star rating.  

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4. Next, select the reason you’ve decided to report the review from the menu.

For this particular review, it’s because it violates Yelp’s privacy standards.  

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5. Last but not least, Yelp will ask you to explain how the review violates their content guidelines. We recommend keeping your request clear and to the point, like in the template below. State your case and click “Flag”.

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After you submit your request, Yelp will evaluate the review and get back to you within a few business days. If they decide to remove your review, well done! It will no longer appear on your page or average into your overall star rating.

If they decide not to remove it, then we suggest taking the time to write a thoughtful response that addresses your customers concerns.

We know this can all sound like a lot, but can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be in tune with what your customers are saying online. When do-it-yourself is too much, we’re here to do-it-for-you! Give us a call and let us optimize your pages and attract new customers for you. Call: 888-900-0920.

 

 

3 Ways to Make a Great First Impression Online

| October 13, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment »

by Jordan Paluch

We all like to think that we don’t judge a book by its cover, but realistically, first impressions make a very significant impact on the way people perceive us. Whether looking our best on a first date or getting a fresh haircut before a job interview, the smallest details are often the difference between success and failure. For a small business, how people initially judge you often determines their willingness to take the next step toward becoming a customer.

With 74% of consumers relying on social networks to guide purchasing decisions, your first interaction with a customer will often be through social media. To be successful, companies need to create a positive image online that accurately reflects the essence of their small business. Potential customers who don’t know your business won’t be able to understand the benefits of your products and services unless you put your best foot forward. The following three strategies could make the difference between standing out, or being passed over.

1. Make sure all of your social media sites are up-to-date and reflect your personality

Online interactions need to be seamless and stress-free. Hours of operation, location, menus, services offered — all relevant information about your business should be easily accessible on your Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+, and TripAdvisor pages. Why risk a customer leaving your page to find additional information and getting distracted? After interacting with you online, your potential customers should not only know what you do, but also what separates you from your competition.

Making a great first impression isn’t just about the services you provide, but also your customers’ unique relationship with you and your business. Embrace the passion and hard work you do every day to stand out. Showing your personality online is a simple way to humanize your business and separate yourself from the crowd.

2. Respond to all online reviews

Responding to reviews is a great way to show that you care about your reputation and work actively to satisfy your customers. Thank positive reviewers and let them know how much you appreciate their business.  When you receive a negative review, apologize for any missteps and tell the reviewer that you will work hard to improve. These simple interactions not only mean a lot to the reviewer, but also show anyone visiting your review sites for the first time how committed you are to pleasing your customers.

3. Reach out to potential customers

How many people in your area could use your products and services but have yet to hear about your business? Social media sites give business owners a unique opportunity to reach out and create meaningful interactions with potential customers. Be personal and personable. It’s important to start conversations, rather than immediately going for the hard sell. Treat those you interact with online the same way you treat a first-time customer at your business.

Our customers have the benefit of our HubTargeter technology, which seamlessly works to find local customers on Twitter based on business specific keywords. Without this technology, a business owner can still monitor hashtags and track local events to connect with Twitter users in their area. Leveraging this power, you have the chance to spread the word about your business and differentiate yourself from competitors.

Using your social media pages to give people a positive first impression of your business is one of the most cost-effective ways to gain new customers. Thanks to the power of online interactions, you have the opportunity to not only improve your reputation, but allow it to precede you.

 

A Tweet for a Tweet Makes Your Customers Happy!

| October 2, 2014 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment »

by Erin Myers

If the majority of guests sharing feedback about a restaurant are still in the establishment when they hit publish, then you have one more reason to make sure you’re staying on top of your social media pages.

Closely monitoring what’s being said about your business on social media platforms not only gives you a chance to make things right with an unhappy customer, but also see the positive things that are being said and say thanks to those spreading the word.

Here’s an example of how you could be putting that into action:

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A play by play of what just went down:

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As if that’s not awesome enough, onlookers will see that this local business owner cares about what his customers are saying and also takes the time to respond. These are the benefits you reap when you engage with people talking about the things they love on the platforms they use most frequently.

On that note, Twitter isn’t the only place where you’re likely to find people talking about your business. Chances are, with a little searching you will find plenty of check-ins, reviews and photos that your customers are posting just waiting for your attention.

When constant communication is at our fingertips and word of mouth is the main way that 85% of small businesses get customers, it’s now more important than ever to manage your online reputation.

At Main Street Hub, we understand that monitoring these sites can feel like a full time job for already busy small business owners — but it doesn’t have to be that way! Click below to learn more about how we can help keep up with your current customers and bring new faces into your business.

Use Twitter to Bring Customers Into Your Business

| September 24, 2014 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment »

by Keely Sutherland

@LocalBusinessOwner Are you engaging in conversations with your potential customers on Twitter? #YouShouldBe

There are currently 255 million monthly active users on Twitter sending 500 million tweets per day. Twitter is the holy grail of potential customers for your business. Not only that, but the site encourages two-way conversations and is the perfect place to build positive relationships with your customers.

Engaging in conversations with Tweeters is a great way to get people talking and to generate word of mouth about your business. Here are some guidelines to help your business engage in meaningful conversations with potential customers on Twitter.

Take a soft approach

There is a time and a place for the hard sell, but it’s not at the start of a Twitter conversation. Pushing your product on people right away is going to turn them off and discourage them from engaging in a conversation with you, especially on social media platforms. So, be a friend. Connect with people and earn their trust before you bring the focus back to your business.

They’re talking, are you listening?

Tweet at people about what they want to talk about first and foremost. From what’s trending in pop culture to someone tweeting about what they’re doing in the moment, jump in and start a conversation with them about it. The goal here is to build a positive relationship with potential customers and after doing so, invite them to your business.

Get to know people

Don’t be that person at the cocktail party talking only about themselves. The best way to start a conversation is by asking a question. Ask tweeters relevant and timely questions that you would want to answer if asked the same thing.

Talk like a person, not a robot

One of the biggest advantages of using Twitter is that you can humanize your business by engaging in ongoing, two-way conversations with your customers and potential customers. Tweet like you would talk and go for a casual and conversational tone. It gives your business personality and reminds people that they’re talking to other people and not just a company logo.

Use humor

Everybody appreciates a good laugh. Humor can be a great way for your business to engage with people and encourage conversations on Twitter. Just remember to use humor that’s in line with your brand and makes sense to your audience.


What are you waiting for? Your customers are just a tweet away – go forth and conversate!

4 Ways to Reach Customers Using “Facebook Insights”

| September 16, 2014 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment »

by Erin Myers

While a lot of factors drive the amount of engagement that a post you make on your Facebook business page will receive, there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure your posts are receiving as much interaction as possible. We define engagement as the number of Likes, Shares and Comments a post gets on Facebook. And why is it important? Because when a person interacts with a post you make, three magical things happen:

  • Your post appears in the newsfeed of their friend’s pages
  • Other people not only see, but interact with your post
  • Your business becomes a topic of conversation for people in your community

The main takeaway here: when people engage with your posts, it helps to spread the word about your business.

Now, how to help that happen? Following are some things you can keep in mind when writing and scheduling posts for your page to make sure you’re getting as much engagement as possible:

1. Post when your ‘fans’ are online:

Use data that Facebook is already collecting for your business page to make sure that you’re posting at times when the majority of your fans are paying attention.

We introduce you to Facebook Insights.

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When you click ‘Insights’ at the top of your business page, you will see an Overview of your page including number of Likes, Post Reach and Engagement from the past week.

At first glance, it’s a lot to take in, but using specific Insights data you can determine what time of day and what day of the week are best for posting, as well as what type of posts have been most popular with your fans.

Click on ‘Posts’ and you are taken to a page that details what day of the week and at what time on those days your fans are online. For this particular page, 1.7K fans are online Sunday through Saturday, but as you toggle between each day you can see how the time of day fans are online fluctuates throughout the week. On Mondays most fans are online just before 9pm.

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Now that you know what time your fans are accessing Facebook, you can publish posts to your page at times when the majority of people are paying attention.

2. Change up the time:

Since different people are logging in at different times of day, switch around the time you post to continue reaching a wider audience. Try posting at the second most active time or an hour before the busiest time of day (so you’re the first thing fans see when they login).

Once you have a better idea of when to post, you can start to think about what kind of posts get the best engagement with your fans. The beauty of Insights? Facebook has already gathered that information for you.

Click ‘Post Types’ to see what kind of content has the biggest reach on your page. In the case of this burger joint, Status Updates are getting the most engagement on average, followed by Photos, then Links.

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See which posts have done well in the past and use that information to get inspiration for future content (but don’t let yourself fall into a rut).

3. Keep it fresh:

Posting similar content from week to week will surely bore your audience. Mix it up with images, engaging questions and text-only posts to keep your page balanced and interesting.

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Although Facebook can often feel less personal than chatting with someone in your place of business, always remember that you’re interacting with real humans! Whether it’s a neighbor or someone passing through town, the impressions you make online are lasting. Ask yourself: Would you ignore a customer standing at your register? Of course not. So, we ask you: Will you ignore a customer reaching out on Facebook? We hope not! This leads us to our fourth point:

4. Continue the conversation:

Your fans want to hear from you. When people comment on your post, take a moment to chime in: answer a question, say thanks, or even give a simple ‘Like’ to a comment that was made in the thread.

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When it comes to connecting with your fans online, it’s the little things that make a huge difference. If you take the time to post thoughtful updates and reply to the people who are reaching out on your pages, you will begin to see positive returns as you continue to grow your business.

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Doing these things will not only help you build your audience, but keep them engaged and coming back for more of the local goodness you’re serving up — happy posting!

Want to learn more about making the most of your online presence?

Sign up for a FREE social media assessment →

Why Facebook is Vitally Important to Your Local Business

| June 30, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment »

by

There are few better ways to simultaneously provide customer service, keep your business top of mind, and interact with customers than in the comments section of your business’s Facebook page. Facebook is one of the first places people go when they get up, one of the last things they check before they go to bed, and where they frequent when they simply have a spare moment. If you own or run a small or local business, there are three major reasons Facebook is absolutely crucial to your business.

Your customers expect it

Your customers have expectations. They expect you to have a website. They expect to be able to check reviews of your business on Yelp or Google+. They also expect to be able to find information and interact with your business when they’re on Facebook. The greatest way to succeed online is to be where your customers are. With over 1.1 billion people on Facebook, you definitively have local people on Facebook that can and will connect with your business if you give them the opportunity to. Not to mention, 47% of Americans say Facebook is their #1 influencer of purchases.

Social customer service is here to stay

Gone are the days when people’s first response to an issue is to call or return to a business. Social is now one of their first avenues for providing feedback, positive or negative. A business that takes the time to respond to comments and reviews shows current and potential customers that their feedback is valued and the business is listening. The conversations are happening online with or without you, join in and take control of the information.

Image from http://sociallydevoted.socialbakers.com/

Image from http://sociallydevoted.socialbakers.com/

Build a community to get found

By filling out your page’s information fully, it becomes a searchable source of information about your business in a place online that your customers are spending a ton of time. Post links, images, and updates about things your fans care about and are interested to keep them coming back and encourage them to genuinely spread word of mouth. Put focus on the “why” of your business and give people something genuine to connect with. This will humanize your business, spark conversation, and turn people who simply enjoy your products and services into rabid fans that want to see your local business succeed.

Convinced that you should take the reins of your social presence, but still need help getting started? Sign up for a FREE social media assessment and we’ll provide insight into what you can do right now to improve your pages. Click below.

10 Ways to Make Your Yelp Business Page Shine

| June 11, 2014 | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment »

by

trophy portion courtesy of sweetclipart.com

trophy portion courtesy of sweetclipart.com

For local businesses, Yelp is crucial to getting found and bringing in new customers. 61 million people per month use Yelp’s mobile app to search for something they want right now, and if your business’s page doesn’t entice them to choose you, they’re choosing one of your competitors. So what can you do to make sure that doesn’t happen? We’ve put together a list of ten things you can do to make sure your Yelp page stands out and to ensure that it brings you new customers.

Fill out all profile information

To some, this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many Yelp pages are lacking very important information. Do you know the last time you went into your profile and checked that everything was accurate and up to date?

Upload a business owner photo

In order to respond to reviews, Yelp requires that there is a photo of an actual person uploaded. This makes it a more personal experience, and will ultimately help you connect with your customers. Speaking of which…

Respond, Respond, Respond

The best opportunity Yelp offers is to handle customer service issues, thank your biggest fans, and show potential customers that you’re actively engaged and listening. This makes a huge impact on potential customers.

Upload high quality photos

With Yelp’s overhaul of business pages a few months ago, pages are much more visually focused than they used to be. Photos are prominently displayed at the top of the page. Users can upload photos, but you should make sure you have some of your own, as well as a quality, high resolution logo. For tips on taking great photos for your business, check out this post.

Check your categories

To make sure you get found when people are searching for what you have to offer, you first need to make sure that you have your business listed properly. Decide the top one to three things people can expect from your business, and list them.

Periodically check for duplicate pages

An occasional audit of your business’s name on Yelp can ensure that you have a streamlined presence for current and potential customers to find you. Since people can create pages on behalf of a business, you should schedule a task on your calendar every quarter to search your business’s name on Yelp (and be sure to include common misspellings, too). Read here if you need help reporting duplicate pages to Yelp.

Offer check-in specials

People love a good freebie. Yelp allows you to create specials for people who check in using the mobile app. This is great for a few reasons: it can encourage people to choose you over a competitor that doesn’t offer something, it can encourage them to share their check in on Facebook or Twitter which spreads word of mouth, and people can search only places that offer check-in specials, which puts you on the shorter list of nearby businesses!

Share positive reviews on your social pages

Want to really impress your fans? Take a moment to thank your strongest advocates by sharing 4 and 5-star reviews on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Underneath a reviewer’s information, you’ll see the option to share a review. Click that link, thank the person for their kind words, and post. This spreads word of mouth, leads fans to check out your Yelp page, and can even lead to more reviews for your business.

Promote your Yelp presence

Do you have any signs or stickers up letting people know you can be found on Yelp? When you send emails, have you added a link to your Yelp page at the bottom? Considered putting a Yelp badge on your business’s website? All of these things help increase exposure, without violating Yelp’s guidelines around specifically asking for reviews, which you should never do. [Click here to share this tip on Twitter]

Update your page regularly

Seasonal hours vary, products and services come and go, and renovations happen. Any time something significantly changes about your business, you need to make sure your Yelp page reflects that. This way, people know you’re providing the most up to date information and there won’t be any unpleasant surprises (like someone showing up when you’re closed due to a change in hours).

Feeling overwhelmed by all that you can do with Yelp? We understand, and we’re here to help! Sign up for a free social media assessment and let us help you shine online.

Fostering a Positive Online Environment for Your Business

| May 22, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment »

by

There’s a common misconception some have: that the social media space is only for complaining. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A recent study shows that the vast majority of online interaction is positive or neutral (such as simple mentions or check-ins), and that overall only one-fifth contains something negative. According to recent stats from Yelp, 79% of reviews are actually 3-stars or higher. [Tweet This]

What some business owners don’t realize is that they can have an effect on which way a conversation goes. Let’s discuss some dos and don’ts to help your business foster an environment of positivity for your fans and followers.

Monitor your presence and be active

Do:
Simply being part of the conversation is the biggest step to creating the right kind of community around your business. When there’s an open void, people can go in any direction. Lead the conversation—spark positive engagement by asking fun and interesting questions, ask fans and followers to share their stories, or you can post about great things that are happening in your business or in the community.

Don’t:
That being said, we all have things we’re passionate about. Some of these things can become controversial or negative. It may be best to save those topics for your personal profiles and away from your business. A rant by your business can quickly inspire your audience to follow the lead, and may not go in a productive or positive direction. Unless it’s core to your business’s mission, keep things lighter, upbeat, and steer clear of hot-button topics.

Respond quickly

Do:
Put in the time to respond to comments and reviews in a timely manner. This can be a daunting task depending on how many incoming responses your business gets, but the payoff can be huge. In fact, according to a social care survey done in 2012, people are nearly 3 times more likely to recommend a brand after a positive social experience. [Tweet This] Whether the comments are positive or negative, showing your fans that you’re listening and value their feedback makes a huge impact on them.

Don’t:
Some business owners think if they just ignore social media it will go away, or that responding to complaints somehow validates them. Neither could be further from the truth. In fact, a study from BazaarVoice has shown that simply responding to negative reviews and comments actually minimizes any negative effect. Not only does responding show potential customers that you’re listening, it makes negative posts LESS negative. It can also make things like this happen:

Respond Appropriately

Do’s:
People typically just want their voice to be heard. Thank them for taking the time to reach out to you. Remember, they actively gave you the opportunity to be part of the conversation. That’s important. Calmly address any concerns they have, and let them know that you’re here to help. Really take a moment to get to the core of what’s bothering them, and they will almost always think better of you for it.

Don’ts:
Negativity begets negativity, and no one wins in an online shouting match. If you feel yourself getting worked up over a comment or review, don’t respond. Walk away, give yourself time to cool down, and approach the customer with a level head. If you can’t emotionally separate yourself, ask someone else to help, or hire an outside company (like Main Street Hub) to help you craft responses that protect your reputation and provide great customer service.

Remember, participation in the conversation is the most important part to managing your reputation and customer service online. Your customers are talking—join in the conversation.

Did you find these tips helpful? Learn more by downloading our Social Media 101 eBook below!

3 Important Things Hotel Owners Need to Know Right Now

| May 20, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment »

by

The summer travel season is just about upon us, which means millions of people are taking to the web to research their summer excursions. As a matter of fact, according to TripAdvisor’s 2014 Summer Travel survey, 89% of those surveyed plan to travel this summer, citing the Polar Vortex as the top reason they need to get out in the sun!

Just before the 2013 holiday season, we wrote a guest article for Leisure & Hospitality International with some actionable items travel and leisure business owners can follow to prepare for an upcoming travel season. Many of these also apply for the summer season, so we recommend brushing up on those basics. There are, however, some very important aspects to consider for this new season.

Reviews mean more than ratings, which mean more than price

Yes, you read that right. According to a recent survey, people are considering the content of recent reviews as one of the most important indicators of whom they choose to do business with. This is important to you as the business owner for a couple reasons.

First, if customers are paying attention to these details, you should be too. Do you see certain complaints popping up in reviews? You can bet that potential customers are going to notice, too. Watching for trends in customer feedback gives you the opportunity to pinpoint areas that you can improve and questions you can answer, not only for those customers, but potential ones as well.

Second, if potential customers see you responding to these reviews, good or bad, they’ll get the sense that you’re listening and care about feedback. Not only that, but responding gives you the opportunity to tell your side of the story and balance out any negative perspective. Just remember, keep your cool, approach the review as genuine customer feedback, and respond like everyone’s watching…because they are.

Word of mouth from others still reigns supreme

Market research firm PhoCusWright conducted a study of TripAdvisor users, and 73% stated that they make decisions based on other users’ photos. A recent Neilsen study shows that 84% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations most. One thing to note here—just because the information is coming from your customers doesn’t mean it’s completely out of your hands.

Upload your own high-quality photos to your Yelp, Google+, and TripAdvisor pages so people get a glimpse of what they can expect and compare/contrast with user photos as they do their research. You can even use photos uploaded by customers as a guide to what you should be uploading yourself.

Reviews sites aren’t the only places people will be doing their research, though. Your Facebook and Twitter pages are on their radar, too. Because of this, you should occasionally encourage your fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter to share their favorite moments from their visits. Make it fun. Perhaps jump on the #ThrowbackThursday hashtag (#tbt on Twitter) and ask people to share their favorite photo or memory from their stay. You can even feature awesome comments and stories that people share by creating a post thanking them it (see below). This way, you’re getting user generated content that potential customers want to see, but in a way that works for you.

People are eager to travel this year

TripAdvisor and Ipsos surveyed American and International travelers, and the results are astounding. 97% of those surveyed in the US plan to travel domestically some time this year, and 22% of them plan to spend more than they did in 2013. As mentioned above, those folks will be doing their research, so it might not hurt to do a little spring-cleaning to make sure your online presence is tidy, streamlined, and ready for the increased traffic that the travel industry can expect this year.

Could your hotel use some help getting your social media in order? It’s not too late. Sign up for a free social media assessment below and one of our local marketing experts can provide some one-on-one suggestions!

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Call: 888.900.0920