About Laura Alisanne

Laura Alisanne is an online marketing, social media/community manager, and business strategist for the destination travel industry. She is a writer, speaker and social media strategist, who has worked with innkeepers, ranch owners and state associations of all sizes in service of helping business owners and organizations make positive change happen.
She holds degrees in Journalism and Printmaking from University of Oregon, Graphic and Web Media degrees from Peninsula College, as well as Creative Writing from University of Washington. Study in the Old World includes Fine Art in Cork, Ireland, and French Language at The Sorbonne in Paris.

How To Increase Your Chances of ROI Using Facebook

January 8th, 2012 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Social Media delivers a return on investment differently than traditional forms of outreach. In utilizing Social Media, ROI happens through meaningful “many-to-many” interactions with your online community.

You’ve followed the advice of your marketing expert, and created a Facebook Fan Page for your business. You add a couple of the most recommended APPs including a “welcome” tab and “incentive” or “fan-gating” tab, as well as a custom profile image. You slowly, but steadily build a following of fans over several months. You post on a semi-regular basis, perhaps two to three times per week.

Feeling you’re doing everything right, you wonder, “why am I doing this?” “Is it actually increasing my revenue?” Am I seeing an upswing in bookings or sales?” “How can I measure this?” “Is all the time I spend on social media giving me a return on my investment?”

Great questions all, and it would be worrisome if your weren’t asking.

Facebook User Growth Chart by Ben Foster

Social Media is a relatively new animal. It is certainly newer than the acronym ROI.
With classic ROI, you look at what you put in: be it advertising, specials, promotions or marketing, and you watch. If “x” number of dollars were spent on this print ad campaign, or “y” dollars in promotional merchandise giveaways, then you expect a certain number of dollars to be returned to you via purchases, or bookings from your efforts.

One of the reasons you’re in business is to make money. But top performing marketers will tell you that the real commodity in business is not actually money, but people.

Social media, being “relationship” and “sharing” based, helps your business grow by fostering loyalty to your brand. LOYALTY is the steam that drives the potential to increase your profits. Building relationships takes time. This is a long-term investment.
In the world of social media, the number one way to increase your following is by actively engaging your fans in what they care about. Engagement fosters loyalty.

The Cold, Hard Truth

1. Once a fan “likes” your page, they very, very rarely return to the page itself. About 98% of the time, a fan never looks at your fan page again (unless you offer a repetedly compelling reason to go to it). That’s why installing a multitude of Apps as tabs on your page is secondary to posting engaging content that fans want to interact with.

2. It has become increasing more challenging to show up on your fan’s News Feeds. Facebook delivers content to a fan’s News Feed based upon how that fan interacts with fan pages they’ve liked, their friends posts, etc. Now it is important to post 1-3 times a day, with content that is relevant to your fans. The once-per-week post is a thing of the past. It will garner you very little.

What Are Effective Forms of Engagement?

The most successful forms of engagement come in one of three ways, but all are nestled under one umbrella: Engagement (aka participation).

Zappos featured fan photo


1. Ask Your Fans to Share

Request that your fans share their photos and experiences on your page. Then reward those fans by featuring them. Zappos, one of the most beloved retailers in the US today, does this very well by asking fans to post pictures of themselves, their kids and their pets with a Zappos shipping box. The participation level is enormous. Zappos rewards the fans who have participated by featuring one of the fan’s photos in their ever-changing profile image on their Facebook fan page.

2. Promotions:
These can be a fantastic way to engage your fans. Keep in mind that Facebook has strict rules about conduction promotions. The biggest rule to keep in mind is that you must use a 3rd party App if you’re going to conduct any kind of drawing, sweepstakes, contest or competition. Your own content in an iFrame app qualifies so long as you include the correctly worded disclaimers. Refer to this helpful post for more information.

 

Surf Dog Ricochet’s Dirty Dog Photo Contest on their Facebook Fan Page

3. Give-Aways:
Give-aways can take many forms, from helpful information and links to resources to enhance the life of your fans, to freebies like a magazine subscription for the best (or first) fan to comment on a topic you choose, or photo posts that get the greatest number of likes (votes) from fans. Surf Dog Richochet does this quite often, and in this example, they’ve clearly stated that for the photo posts of “Dirty Dog Photo Contest” likes equal votes, and the greatest number gets the photo poster a perk like a $25 gift card to Petco, Surf dog Ricochet t-shirt, or “Paw it Forward” wristband.

Since Facebook changed the way users interact with fan pages back in November, it is possible for fans and non-fans alike to post on your wall, comment on, and share your content. What this means it that now, not only is it important to acquire fans via “likes,” is is also important to create content that non-fans want to share.

A Fan Base Can Grow Your Brand (aka business):

50% of small business owners reported gaining new customers through social media – most notably through Facebook and LinkedIn. *(Neilsen)

51% of Facebook users and 64% of Twitter users are more likely to buy from the brands they follow. *(Mediabistro)

Even if you have 500+ fans, it only takes 20 people to create meaningful many-to-many interactions and bring an online community to a significant level of activity.*(Ning)

Mediabistro infographic

The top seven post types that foster engagement:

1. Use images in your posts.
2. Keep it short and sweet as much as you can.
3. Keep the “I” to a minimum.
4. Include a call to action.
5. Give timely information that includes tips and links to useful resources.
6. Share a great cause that you believe in and want to support.
7. Share video. (Make sure it’s useful, or humorous or uplifting content).

And the final, and essential element, check your page regularly, and make sure you respond to comments. If your fans have taken the time to read and respond to your posts, then they deserve a response from you. If fans feel that you care enough to respond, they will feel their time has been well-spent.

Measuring Your Success

Find out how you’re doing. Study Your Statistics and Results using Facebook’s built-in “Insights” data.

Facebook offers some really great analytics for pages. Pay attention to them. If you see a big surge in fans (or a drop off), look at what you’ve posted recently and see if you can figure out any trends. Then post more of that kind of content (or less, in the event that you’re losing fans, or the engagement just isn’t there).

Sources:
Ning: http://www.ning.com/about/press_release_062011/
Neilsen: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/
Mediabistro: http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/small-business-social-media_b14294

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Major Changes Come to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

December 11th, 2011 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Updates to Social Media Marketing Heavyweights, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

It’s been a whirlwind week, filled with significant updates to three of the most important social media, and social marketing tools operating today.

Twitter is launching an entirely new interface for both desktop and mobile devices, and YouTube has rearranged everything on your YouTube channel to allow for more powerful marketing and sharing with video. Facebook is rolling out their most dramatic user interface update since its inception.

A New Version of Twitter:


Twitter introduced a new version of its user interface on Thursday. The new design will be rolling out over the next few weeks, so not all users have it yet. The design can be seen on both on Twitter.com and mobile phones, as well as TweetDeck. Twitter notes that the new design will make it easier to “follow what you care about, connect with others and discover something new.”

You can see it immediately on the just-updated versions of mobile.twitter.com, Twitter for iPhone, and Twitter for Android. You can get early access on your computer by downloading and logging into Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Android.

The new interface puts the five main components of Twitter front and center:

The Home Icon:

A new tab menu which is the same across all devices, gives you the same experience on mobile and desktop.

A simpler design where you can easily view your Twitter stats, get suggestions on who to follow and see trending topics.

See Tweets from all the accounts you follow. Tweets can now expand to show more information such as replies, retweets and embedded photos and videos.

The @ Symbol:

Connecting with @usernames:
Whenever you come across an @username—in the news, on a billboard or on a business card—enter it to learn more and connect instantly.

You can track your impact across Twitter. Interactions shows all the actions other people take related to you and your Tweets. See who follows you, retweets or favorites one of your Tweets, or adds you to a list.

See all the Tweets in which you are mentioned in one place, so you can keep the conversation going.

The # Hashtag:

The # symbol before any keyword allows you to search for things people are talking about. Twitter calls it “Discover.”

Enter any #hashtag to discover all of its related stories, conversation and content.

Your Profile Icon: Twitter Calls This the “Me” Tab:

When you click this tab, you can see stats on your tweets, as well as who your following and who’s following you. You also get a list of all your tweets in a nice big format. This is also the place to stay current with any direct message conversations you may be having.

The Quill Pen Icon: aka: The New Tweet Button

Click and post a new tweet, as well as upload photos from both your mobile and desktop. You can also add a location to indicate where you’re tweeting from.

With 100M active users per month, and the site overall seeing 400M monthly unique visitors, people, logged in or not, are using Twitter at a significant rate to stay connected and keep up with news.

Find out more in this Twitter-created video

The New Facebook: Timeline for all (well, everyone in New Zealand for starters, that is).

Facebook delayed the launch of the new Timeline, which was announced in September, after a company called Timeline.com filed a lawsuit against the name Facebook had come up with. Now that it’s all ironed out (well, except for Facebook’s new countersuit), they’ve decided to roll it out to New Zealiand’s 2 million Facebook users. Their strategy? “As a global company, we need to gain perspective and insights from outside the US. New Zealand is a good place to start because it’s English speaking, so we can read the feedback and make improvements quickly,”

In the meantime, you can only view the new Timeline if you yourself have it enabled, and the only way to do that currently is as a Facebook Developer. Here’s a view of one person’s Facebook Timeline:

Check out all the information and demonstrations on the Timeline from Facebook.

The New YouTube:

Last week, YouTube rolled out significant changes to their design. The overall look is much darker, and the layout is dramatically changed as well. The new YouTube is more focused on social activity around video and in letting viewers customize their home page experience.

YouTube is an often underutilized platform for marketing and connecting with users. However video is one of the most powerful way to connect your business to your guests and potential customers.

The New YouTube includes the following changes to the Channels design:

  • Avatars can be up to 1600×1600 pixels. It will be resized to be 36 x 36 pixels on many locations on the site.
  • New Channel width is 970 pixels.
  • You can choose which Tab you desire to be the Default View.
  • There are four new layout templates to choose from.
  • The Title Header can only be 64 characters long.
  • How long is that? Pretty long.
  • You can type or copy & paste some symbols
There are (as always) pros and cons to the new design. Here are some of the major points:
Pros:
  • Simple Design allows for better focus on Video
  • Channel Title can be customized up to 64 characters.
  • Friends/Subscribers not visible (to clutter up the design)
  • Sharing and Connected Accounts options is better
  • Search on the channel

Cons:

  • Absolute background color not changeable from YouTube “Gray”
  • Cannot manipulate the sections.
  • Channel Title background color not changeable.
  • Friends/Subscribers not visible (for others to see)
Find out more with these helpful links:
Try Out the new Channels.
YouTube’s video on using the new Channels.
YouTube’s Official blog post on the new Channels.
YouTube’s support guide.

You can experiment with the new Channels and then switch back as needed. In time, the new design will be enabled for all, so getting your feet wet now is a good idea.

How to flip between the old and new:

1. Click on EDIT CHANNEL

2. then “Switch back to the old channels design”

 

The last 10 days have seen a whirlwind of changes, with many new things to experiment with and learn more about. Tells us what you think, and share your thoughts here.

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Twitter for Your Business: An Intro Guide to Get You Up & Running

November 20th, 2011 by

Internet Marketing Weekly Feature: The Basics of Twitter for Business

Twitter for your businessWhat’s Twitter?

Twitter is an information network made up of 140-character messages called Tweets. It’s an easy way to discover the latest news (“what’s happening”) related to subjects you care about.

At the core of Twitter are small bursts of information called Tweets. Each Tweet is 140 characters in length, —you can share a lot with a little space. Connected to each Tweet is a rich details pane that provides additional information, deeper context and embedded media. You can tell your story within your Tweet, or you can think of a Tweet as the headline, and use the details pane to tell the rest with photos, videos and other media content.

How is it Useful?

Twitter contains information you will find valuable. Messages from users you choose to follow will show up on your Twitter homepage for you to read. It’s like being delivered a newspaper whose headlines you’ll always find interesting – you can discover news as it’s happening, learn more about topics that are important to you, and get the inside scoop in real time.

How to Start Using Twitter:

Reading Tweets and discovering new information whenever you check in on your Twitter timeline is where you’ll find the most value on Twitter.

Keep reading →

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Create and Optimize Your Bing Local Listing Using Bing Business Portal

October 9th, 2011 by

Internet Marketing Weekly Feature

Many of you understand the importance of showing up on Google in location-based search, and have even claimed your Google Places listing. But how much time and attention have you given to your local listing on Bing?
If you haven’t been paying much attention to the Bing Search Engine, head over, and conduct a search, using location-based terms along with what your business does, and see where your website places on the first or second page of Bing. Just as with Google Places, you can claim (or create) and optimize your business listing.
The Bing Business Portal (formerly known as the “Local Listing Center”), allows you to create and control the online listing for your business. When you first visit the Portal, you’ll be able to either create a new Bing business listing, or manage your existing listing.

1. Adding Your Basic Business Information:

There are a few unique things to know when creating and claiming a new business listing.
Fill in the standard form with Name, Category, Address, Phone, and basic contact info.

Editing your local business listing using Bing Business Portal
A wonderful feature that Bing includes (and one where Google falls a bit short) is in the fields where you add your Facebook and Twitter profiles. A truly essential feature these days.

The Bing form has a special field at the bottom for a company logo, which should not be confused with photo uploads, which are separate. On the right side, Bing also lets business owners list additional phone and/or email addresses for specific purposes or departments.

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Social Media Round-Up: September 2011

September 20th, 2011 by

There have been some major leaps and bounds in social media this month. Read on to discover important features and enhancements in Facebook, Google+, You Tube and Twitter to help you navigate the social sphere of your marketing efforts.

 What’s New This Month on Facebook?

1. Facebook Subscribe Button added to Personal Profiles:

Similar to the concept of following someone on Twitter, you can now allow people to subscribe to your Facebook updates, (non-Friends can only see posts you share publicly). Facebook users subscribing to your posts have the ability to filter the types of updates they want to follow including “Life Events, Status Updates, Photos, Videos and Games.” On a friend’s home page, click “Subscribed” then choose what content you want to see. Click to deselect items checked by default.

Facebook Subscribe Feature

Customize the content you see.

2. Create Smart Lists to quickly view content posted by Friends.

Facebook automatically creates Smart Lists based upon profile information you and your friends have in common, as well as any lists you’ve created in the past. You can also create new Smart Lists, as well as add and remove people from the lists any time you like.

Facebook Smart Lists

Manage your lists with Facebook Smart Lists

3. Filter Your News Feed: “Close Friends” and “Acquaintances” Lists

When you add people to your new Close Friends list their updates appear more frequently in your news feed. Your Acquaintance list will post only major updates from people in your news feed.

Facebook Lists

Close Friends list helps you manage the information in your news feed.

4. View Who Shares Your Pages Content

Now you can view Fans who share content on your Fan Page, or Pages you like. Under any wall post on a Fan Page, you can now click the link “View all shares” to see who’s shared the content.

View who shares your Facebook Pages content.

View who shares your Facebook Pages content.

5. Sharing Via Google’s New +Snippets on Google Maps

With +snippets, Google+ users can share directions or places with their Circles.
This new feature makes it easy to visit a web page and then share it on Google+. +Snippets is now available with Google Maps and will roll out on other Google products soon.

Click “Share” in the Google+ bar to share your Maps with your Circles

6. Edit Your Previously Uploaded Videos Right Inside YouTube

There’s no re-uploading necessary, and your videos maintain their video IDs, allowing you to keep the comments and view counts you’ve acquired on your videos. YouTube is a powerful means of marketing and sharing your business, and also a well-used search engine

7. Twitter Web Analytics Now Available:

Wondering how effective your Tweets are in driving traffic to your website?. Twitter Web Analytics is a new tool being rolled out in stages to users, that shows your three things:
See what content on your website is being shared on Twitter, what traffic is coming to your website from Twitter, and how effective the Tweet Button in on your blog, posts or web pages.

Twitters New Web Analytics

Twitter Web Analytics “will be made available to all website owners within the next few weeks.”

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Facebook Newest Contender in the Coupon Game, Rolls Out Social Deals in Five U.S. Cities

April 27th, 2011 by

Could Groupon and LivingSocial Be Doomed?

Facebook has just launched its second deals program: Social Deals. The new effort appears to resemble Groupon-style daily deals. The original “Facebook Deals” is now being called “check-in deals” to distinguish it from the new program.

Check-in deals, free to users, are mobile centric and operate much like conventional coupons. Facebook’s new Social Deals, must be purchased up front using money or Facebook Credits (its virtual currency).

Think this might be a big deal? It is and here’s why:
There’s the small fact of Facebook’s massive user base. Groupon and LivingSocial offer nothing but deals. Facebook puts deals in between pictures of your friend’s adorable new puppy. And with more than 600 million users, each of whom has an average of 150 friends, the deals will be in front of a lot of people using Facebook.

Coupon sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial use Facebook to get new customers and to get them to share deals with their friends. But Facebook’s Deals will be more tightly integrated into the social network, giving it a significant edge over the other Social Buying sites.

Facebook so far hasn’t disclosed how much it plans to collect from businesses that offer deals to consumers through its service, saying only, “There are no upfront costs, Facebook takes a portion of the proceeds only if a deal is purchased.” Groupon and others typically keep up to half of the revenue.

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Website Redesign: Seven Essential Pieces

April 5th, 2011 by

Redesigning Your WebsiteYour website, built five years ago by a professional (or someone’s cousin for free), is showing its age. You’re embarrassed to send clients there. It has out-of-date information. And nobody can find it on Google. Perhaps you feel your website is fine because, hey, you fill your guestrooms each season, but you notice that your Google Analytics bounce rate has gone up or your visits to the site have gone down.

Remember that while your aging website has been doing its job, your competition has been working diligently on their marketing efforts, many of whom have beautiful new, high functioning websites.

We’re just going to go ahead and rip the band-aid off and say it:
It’s time to update your website.

Planning a new website design for your inn can seem daunting. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are a few basic functions and content areas you should include to make it an effective marketing tool.

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PAII Northwest Innkeeping Conference Here We Come!

April 4th, 2011 by

IOS_ at_PAII_NW

InsideOut Roadtrip! Making our way to PAII NW

It isn’t very often that we get to drive to a conference without first getting on a plane. How delightful to spend time with colleagues wending our way from the northern edge of Washington State in a 4+ hour drive through small towns, misty forests, hugging salty inland waterways replete with oyster beds and fishing boats on our way to the 2011 Northwest Innkeeping Conference and Trade Show held just south of Portland, Oregon in Clackamas.

With the conference located in such close proximity to the offices of InsideOut Solutions in Sequim, WA, it’s become possible for a good number of the staff to travel to the conference to meet innkeepers from all over the Northwest, including Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

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Facebook Giving Admins the Ability to Unmerge Their Fan & Places Page

December 25th, 2010 by

FaceBook_can_unmerge_fan_places_pages

Fan Page Admins can now Unmerge their Merged Fan/Places Page!

If you are Facebook user who had created a Business or Fan Page, spent time and effort cultivating your Fan base through custom tabs and funtionality, then unwittingly “merged” your page with a Places page (complete with Bing map to pinpoint your location), this will be very good news.
On December 23rd, Facebook began rolling out the option to Unmerge to Page admins.

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To Merge or not to Merge on Facebook

December 2nd, 2010 by

dont-merge-facebook-places

Claim your Places Listing without Merging: Click to enlarge image

About 45 days ago, Facebook began offering Business page owners the option to also “claim” their Places Page (this uses address data pulled from and integrated with Bing Maps).
If you either come across your Places Page, or are asked by Facebook: “Is this your Business?” You will be asked if you’d like to Claim it. You may proceed to claim the Places Page, however, after the verification process is complete, you will receive a dialog box saying “You have successfully claimed this Place.” If you are given the option to “Merge” or “Continue without merging” we recommend that you choose the later because if you chose the “Merge” option you will lose your Business Page as you now know it, including the ability to set a custom landing page as the default for new fans. According to Facebook, a merge cannot be reversed. Here is a step-by-step visual guide to claiming your Places Page.

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