While most traditional marketers, media gurus and public relations experts grapple with just how to leverage the power of digital media and social networks…real emerging trends sometimes go unnoticed. Sometimes all it takes is to tap into the world…and particularly the people around us to realize just how life as we know it is changing.
A picture may be worth a thousand words…but most hotel PR & Marketing managers today would be at a loss for words at the plague of user generated photos out on the Internet today. Hoteliers may need to get used to the fact that competing with their ‘official’ previews of what to expect, past guests have provided quite an unflattering visual footprint for those to follow. It’s no secret that hotels pay thousands of dollars for painstakingly taken, doctored photos that would entice even the most hardened globetrotter to positively drool in anticipation…and hit that book button. Great pictures DO sell.
Just as the transparency offered by the Internet in terms of rates has given many a hotel revenue manager gray hair, the ability to easily share rich media on the web promises to do the same for the marketing ilk. One only needs to turn to photos posted on TripAdvisor or Flickr to obtain unflattering photos of virtually every nook and crany of your hotel these days. Plus aesthetic slip-ups and the dreaded ease with which users can now take and publish photos online virtually guarantee that any dirty rooms, dropped drinks, deteriorating facilities and other ‘oops’ moments get their 15 mintues (or perpetuity) of fame on the Internet (as if old high school photos resurfacing on Facebook wasn’t bad enough!).
So is it all bad news?
In this day and age, it’s a rare luxury to be able to switch off completely…no phones, no internet…connectivity (and work-life integration) thrown to the wind! Yet, I had the opportunity to do just that last week…and despite the tons of pending tasks, I flew out, switched off…and had a ball!
Of course, when you get back, you always wonder why you ever left 🙂 The price…800+ emails waiting in multiple inboxes and the mountain of tasks had grown just a little higher since I last saw it. But it was worth it!
Here’s a curious bit of netiquette I stumbled onto upon my return. Now, I’m a huge fan of Twitter and I think its paved the way to a better live / realtime Web. But to be honest, I’m a low to moderate user at most. I love being able to check what people are saying about certain events, brands and products. The plethora of tools and sites that boost Twitter functionality are also fun to experiment with. Plus I’m slowly getting the hang of ‘Twetiquette’.
This message had me stumped though:
(I found this in my @replies…I’ve blurred out the thumbnail and twitter ID of the sender)
A great 60 minute interview on Charlie Rose with Marc Andreessen, the man behind Netscape and Opsware, both companies that were acquired and made Andreessen a billionaire. In this interview Marc talks about a variety of topics, including Cloud Computing, Facebook, Twitter and Ning. Some really great insights on tech development and the (non) impact of the current recession on Silicon Valley. A must watch for any tech enthusiast!
You can watch the entire interview below (note: 60 mintues long!)
“Great…another lame social networking site. I don’t have time for this stuff! Heck, I hardly use my Facebook account…how do people manage to keep these things updated anyway?” exclaims a fellow hotelier. On some days and with certain social networking offshoots I’d be inclined to agree. However Twitter is truly something else.
Although it’s hard to take a count, there are at least 140 ‘popular’ social networking sites, varying in community focus, from business networks to friend feeds to photo enthusiast platforms. MySpace and Facebook lead the pack, with Compete.com ranking Twitter the 3rd largest, with a population of approximately 6 million users and 55 million visitors per month.
I did a quick survey recently called the Twitterati Dozen. This was basically an online survey with 12 questions addressed to prominent and very active Twitter users, to obtain their thoughts on Twitter use, connections, peeves, best practices and more. A big thank you to those of you who participated – the survey link was posted on Twitter and 100% of the results obtained within the first 24 hours. The majority of survey respondents who were contacted directly are based in the United Arab Emirates / Dubai (60%). Other geo-locations include France, the Netherlands, Spain, UK and USA.
The world has been ‘atwitter’ for quite a while now, and the thousands of people join Twitter by the day…and even more ‘tweet’ about their lives, their work, their passions and in some misguided cases, even their bowel movements. So just what IS Twitter, you ask?
In the simplest terms, Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows to send and read others updates in the form of short text messages (140 characters max). It’s kind of like blogging by sms. So who’s doing it? Kids, Professionals, Marketers, Bloggers…and even President Elect Barack Obama, while he was on the campaign trail!
For most hoteliers and indeed most people Twitter is a tough one to relate to, unless you happen to be obsessed with Facebook and updated your status 50 times a day. But there is more to Twitter than meets the eye. At the very basic level, here’s what Twitter can allow you to do as hoteliers or hotel internet marketers: