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Keeping Your Website Real

Recently, Chris, from Design4Real.net, and I ventured down to Posada Yum Kin Hotel in Tulum, Mexico to work on their next web update. It has been a little over a year since images and content throughout the website have been updated, so once again, it is time to refresh everything.

Our trip went smoothly with a nice flight down, easy transfer over to our rental car and a fun, but relaxing 2-hour ride to Tulum, Mexico. Chris and I love working with Dan and Balvina, the owner’s of Posada Yum Kin. They are creative entrepreneurs that have stuck their heart and souls into this little piece of heaven and it is slowly, but surely paying off for them. Posada Yum Kin in the last year has consistently ranked at number 7 or above in Trip Advisor in the Tulum area.

The hotel, as always, was pristine and perfect. As a special treat, Dan, the owner, had placed us in their best suite, The Kinah (#7). It is a huge, oversized-suite with 1 king-size and 1 queen-size bed. It is the perfect room to be able to ‘live’ and work at the same time. Chris and I were happy to make it our ‘office’.The Kinah -Suite # 7

One of my favorite things to do while staying at PYK, is to visit with the guests. Besides great conversation, I always discover new insights from them. While chatting with recent visitors, Bob and Susan, from Whidbey Island in Washington State, Bob commented that our website images ‘fairly represented the hotel’. Well, of course, I thought “Shouldn’t they always?” What his comment pointed out to me though was that this should be a main focus, as it is a major concern for all travelers buying online. As Bob said “It’s disappointing to get to a hotel only to find that the images are either far out of date or perhaps appear a bit fake.”

As always, working onsite at any hotel is a fast-paced, multi-tasking challenge.  As Chris got comfortable with some initial shots of the property, I worked with Dan and the hotel staff on some issues like property management system implementation, training and work coordination.  As a small hotel, working efficiently takes a team coordinated effort to meet and track guest requests and keep things running smoothly. Our time went quickly.Jennifer and Manuel

With a small hotel like Posada Yum Kin, making every single peso count is key. One of our greatest challenges has been creating professional-quality images. How could we find models that fit our budget? Could social media help? I thought so and decided to test out the theory. I’ve been reading and writing on several of the local Riviera Mayan forums and found a very active online community. Starting with a simple post on a forum looking for people that would be happy to be included in our photoshoot for a very nominal fee, I was delighted to find travel blogger, Jennifer and, professional portrait photographer, Manual Salazar to sit as models –just for fun.

Jennifer and Manual, two ex-TV professionals, have a great story, which can be found on Jennifer’s blog “Bi-Coastal Living“. Describing themselves as a combination of expats and vacationers to the Riviera Maya area, they are a light-hearted, inspiring photographic and content-creating team that is bound to thrive in this entrepreneurial area. Their portrait portfolio quality far exceeds any that we have seen. Art Director, Chris Schudy from Design4Real.net said “Manuel and Jennifer’s work is some of the best I’ve seen. It beats some of the portfolio’s of the Fortune 100 companies that are out there right now.”

The day of the DIY photoshoot with Jennifer, Manuel and several guests was beautiful and went off without a hitch. Chris got some great shots that included ‘real-life’ pool shots with Jennifer, Posada Yum Kin’s massage therapist, Elvira and even the personal taxi driver, Artemio. Our goal of updated images was realized with Chris’ great new perspective.

The next day, we headed home and are working now to select the best images, ready them for online viewing and insert them in the site. It’ll be a week or so, but PYKTulum.com will have a facelift very soon. Watch for it!

5 Social Media Must Haves

Here are the 5 things every business must do to build a community online and bring in clients via social media.

1. Website

It’s your web basecamp, start here.
Work in Progressphoto © 2006 Grant Kwok | more info (via: Wylio)

2. Blog, forum, or some way of delivering active audience-focused content.

I have a few clients that really do not want to blog. They know they should to get the best online results, but they do not have time to create a post daily, weekly or sometimes even monthly. Hmmm, what to do? Well, number one, you can try NOT calling it a blog. Call it News and Events, or Random Thoughts. It gives you the ability to post when YOU want to without hearing the tapping of your audience’s foot waiting for a post sent out at strictly timed intervals. Sure, you might not get astronomical SEO, but you will get the liberty of posting at a time that is right for you and your business while still building your SEO. Forums, yes, forums. Great audience-generated content. Sit back and engage with your audience in a forum on your site. Glean that great content for use in blogs, I mean a ‘Random Thoughts’ column, new product ideas or your next promotion. Downside? Monitoring the forum for the wayword spammer or opinionated [expletive here] that maybe has ulterior motives or just wants to cause trouble. Other ideas? I’ve seen everything from ‘a quote of the day’ snippet to contests that involve the audience on a daily basis. I liked the later much more than the former. The key here is knowing your audience, using some imagination and creating something that entices people to involve themselves with your site regularly.

3. Social Media Networks

Facebook, Google, My Space, Google+, and Twitter are just a few of the networks where you may want to create a presence. Deciding which ones to join and how many you can be active with is a choice you will need to make, but usually the more the better.

4. Review Sites

Review sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp!, etc. are often overlooked, but surefire ways of getting great objective feedback. It’s always best when someone says something nice behind your back. They make it easy to ‘nudge’ those comments along with widgets that you can put on your website to show off your reviews. This is a free and easy way to make a big impact with your social network.

5. Visit the folks –other folks that is.

Find a forum or comment on someone’s blog (not your own) where your audience or fringe audience hangs out. You might learn what you should be doing and be able to offer some advice or help out. A couple of useful places to engage with an audience, whether niche or broad, is Quora and Alltop.

Integration

As you build this infrastructure, you’ll need to integrate as much as possible. From adding a Facebook ‘Like’ button to adding your website in your signature as often as possible there are countless possibilities for integration. The person that does this best wins.

At this point, someone usually says –“That’s it! That’s all you have to do.” Or “You can do this all yourself practically for free.” Yes, you can. But if you decide to do all this on your own when will you have time to produce your product or deliver your actual service? Now, might be the time that you realize that there are some things you do and some things you get help for. Give us a call today! We’ll set up a social media system that fits your talents, what you need and what you can afford.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

First Steps to Successful Inbound Marketing

So, you’ve watched Socialnomics with Eric Qualman and now you ‘get it’.

Haven’t seen it yet? Here it is again.

Now, you’re ready to begin the first steps to successful Inbound Marketing. Because traditional marketing will never be the same. It will no longer get you ‘there’. If you want to move your business forward, then you will need to focus on what you’re doing online. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Own Your Own Website
There is nothing more important than owning your own website. It’s your basecamp. The place that all your social media efforts revolve around. The place where all your communications should originate from -and end up at.

Location, location, location!
Now more than ever location matters. Whether it’s a busy street corner or a hard to find hole in the wall, getting your spot on the map right is vital. My recommendation is first things, first. Can people find you? If you’re a restaurant, hotel or auto repair shop, then start by registering your address and details on Google Places. This will literally, put you on the map.

Google Places http://www.google.com/help/places/index.html

Get Found
Make it easy for others to find your website (you do have a website, right?) by adding it to these most popular search engines, as listed below. Yes, all of them. This will allow the search engines to find you without waiting for them to ‘crawl’ your site. Being proactive on this is a good thing.Socialnomics

Google – http://www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl
Bing- http://www.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx
Yahoo! Local – http://listings.local.yahoo.com/
Yelp! http://www.yelp.com/business?country=US

Consider these:
__Craigslist- http://yourcity.craigslist.org/
__Here is a link where you can submit your site to MANY places:
http://www.locallytype.com/pages/submit.htm

Next steps
For all businesses, the top things that you need to do is establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and start a blog. For hospitality businesses, include TripAdvisor in that equation. Put it at the top of the list.
I’ll cover those in future articles. Stay tuned!