Social Media Travel Tips

 

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Hydra, Greece

 

I live my life in social media, so when I’m off duty and traveling I go through the same argument in my head.

How much should I share?

There’s the school of thought that says, don’t brag about your vacations on social. You know the cliche – bare feet on the sand on Instagram.

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On the beach in Truro, Greece in March 2015. Too cold for bare feet but you get the idea.

But then, I have people tell me how much they enjoy my photos and how they feel like they’ve been on vacation with me. After years of traveling and arguably, oversharing, I’m now getting genuine requests for things my friends want to see. Under my initial post on a recent trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, I received the following request:

On this trip, I’d like to go to the Concentration Camps, see where the Berlin Wall used to be… And any other cool places you find along the way! Thanks! – Lisa

So yes, I obliged with photos from Dachau Concentration Camp, a section of the Berlin Wall and a sunlit trip to the Alps and Austria.

 

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The gates of Dachau read: Work is the path to freedom.

 

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A section of the Berlin Wall in Nuremberg, Germany

After years of traveling and sharing, here’s what I’ve learned about social media and travel.

Facebook

This is my most used platform when I travel. It’s easy to get carried away and post all day about the exciting things you’re seeing, but I find it best to use my time at the end of the day, and the hotel wifi (when abroad I don’t pay for an international service) to reflect on what I what I want to share, then post an album of the day’s photos with a detailed explanation of what I learned along the way. The fact that I don’t have international service is deliberate, in that I don’t want to have my face in my phone all day. Instead, I want to absorb what I’m experiencing, and then reflect in the hotel over a glass of wine about the day’s events. I use these posts on Facebook as a journal and it’s fun when Facebook, years later, shows me “this day four years ago” in my feed.

If you do have an international service plan you could also do the following:

Go live – stream whatever you are seeing and hearing directly into your friends’ feeds. That wonderful aria in Florence, Italy. Broadcast it. My son and I came up on this in 2016 while strolling the streets of Florence. I have no words.

Use events – if you have free time, use Facebook events to find local art, sports and music events. You might even snag tickets to that jazz event you’ve been looking for in New Orleans. Trust me, you don’t want to miss that.

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My favorite jazz club in New Orleans

Use groups – if you’re traveling in a group like I do, create a Facebook group to share logistics details and make suggestions. It’s like a message board, and it’s a great way to stay organized. After the trip, use the group to share thoughts and photos of your experiences.

Instagram

With the multitude of filters, Instagram is a foolproof way to showcase your travel photos. Keep in mind that the audience on Instagram isn’t as tolerant of multiple posts per day, so try to keep your posts to one or two a day at the most. Be generous with your hashtags though. Using up to 30 will allow your photos to be exposed to people outside your following circle and you may just discover some new experts along the way. The most underused feature is the search option. For example, type “Rothenberg” in the search window and you’ll see all the photos, most popular and most recent, posted in the results. Using this feature I discovered we could walk on the wall in Rothenberg, something I would not have known if it weren’t for the app. And away we went….

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Climbing the wall in Rothenberg, Germany

Twitter

If Facebook is your friend circle, Twitter is the world. Depending on what type of audience you’ve assembled here, feel free to post with abandon. But don’t get so caught up in sharing that you forget the other uses. You might find last-minute deals on flash sales by using specific destinations, keywords or hashtags like #traveldeals. Following experts like The Points Guy (@thepointsguy) will help you learn to maximize your awards points.

Twitter is also great for customer service for airline snafus, hotel mixups etc. When my son and I were delayed 14 hours on a recent trip to Denver, Colorado (Frontier, cough, Frontier) you can bet I took to Twitter about it. We made it, but not without a lot of inconvenience.

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My son Johnathan and I in the Colorado Rockies.

Hint: many social media agents are more empowered than their phone counterparts, not always, but it’s worth trying your luck. I received a $300 voucher for complaining on Twitter.

Flickr

Perhaps Yahoo’s last and only product worth mentioning here, Flickr gives you one Terabyte of free storage. I use Flickr to upload my best photos after I return home. You can choose the type of copyright you wish to give and allow full use or restrict. It’s up to you. Personally, I find it fun to know someone used one of my photos in a blog etc.

Check out my photostream here.

Hashtags

Use hashtags as a universal way of finding what you need. Like Hansel and Gretel in the Black Forest in Germany, use them to find your way to whatever is interesting or useful to you. I use #traveltuesday, #lovetravel or #visit(nameofcountry) to find interesting and relevant information. I also use those when posting to Instagram to widen my reach and expose my audience to what I learned.

Google Photos

As an Android user I can’t say enough about this app. Without my doing anything, Google photos uploaded everything from my recent trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, made an album, inserted maps and organized the photos chronologically. All I had to do was share the album. It also allowed me to collaborate with my son Johnathan, who accompanied me on the trip.

Check out my Google photos here.

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So use social media to enhance your trip, but be sure to look up from your phones and enjoy what you’re experiencing! I know you want to catch that Mr. Mime on Pokemon, but there’s a world out there!

Social media and travel go together, and not just for those photos of feet in the sand.

To follow my travels on Instagram, join me @offdutysocial. 

 

The Value of SEO: How to Improve Rankings on Existing Content

 

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How to Optimize Existing Content

 

“The best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google’s search results.” 

Arnie Kuehn, Vertical Measures

You already know the value of creating great, quality content that helps your customers. Putting out that content for free is part of your strategy to create a body of work that helps potential customers with decision making. But what do you do when that content doesn’t show up in search results and isn’t driving the traffic you’d hoped? Here’s a few tips to optimize your existing content so that it ranks better.

Avoid using the same title tag across multiple pages.

If you’re using a WordPress plug-in like Yoast SEO it will ding you for this. Why? Using different title tags for your pages helps to tell search engines what your page is about. Using the same one, or none at all, confuses the search engines and implies that the page isn’t as valuable as you k now it is.If you don’t know what a title tag is, MOZ has a great Title Tag tutorial here.

Reduce page load time by optimizing images

That beautiful header image you downloaded from your image provider, like 123rf.com, is probably slowing down your page load time if you haven’t sized it or optimized it. Page load time is more important than ever, and search engines will rank slowly loading pages lower. Resize that image outside of your website using a program like Canva or even Paint, then run it through a compressor like Compressor.io before uploading it.

Make sure your keywords are in the right places

Say you want to rank for “Content Marketing.” Make sure Content Marketing is in your title, your first paragraph, your header tags, your last paragraph and, if you’re really trying, your image alt tags and titles. Don’t stuff your keywords though. You’ll be penalized rather than rewarded. Including more than one keyword in your content is especially important these days, so use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to help get ideas. See what other keywords are suggested, then go back and optimize your content for those words as well. Hint: you don’t have to be running AdWords to use this tool.

While the keyword meta tag isn’t that useful now, it won’t hurt to include your keywords there either. It’s a good idea to include your keyword in the meta description too, but remember that meta descriptions are not a ranking mechanism, rather a valuable description of the content for the user.

Optimize content ranking on page 2 or 3 of the results page

Do a quick search on the keyword or phrase for which you want your pages to display. Then click through the search engine results until you find it. If you find your content on page 2 or 3, try using these tips on that content first to improve the ranking. Check back regularly to see how it’s doing.

Remember that traffic can also drop to a site redesign or a poor user experience in general. If you’ve recently redesigned your site, check all these things to make sure you aren’t being penalized.Overall, the search engines want to serve up quality, helpful content to their users. If your content is helpful, answers questions, especially niche questions, and is well written and thoughtful, you’ll be well on your way to meeting the same goals as the search engines.

Overall, search engines like Google want to serve up quality, helpful content to their users. If your content is helpful, answers questions, especially niche questions, and is well written, focused and thoughtful, you’ll be well on your way to meeting the same goals as the search engines.

Complaining Customers and Social Media: How to Make Them Happy Again

Business relationship excellent customer service

Listening for and responding to customer complaints is critical for your brand’s reputation

Dealing with customer complaints as they arise is an important part of maintaining your brand’s reputation. Consumers are twice as likely to share a bad customer service experience than they are to share a positive one, according to the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer. When dealing with complaints, keep the following in mind to get the best results for both your customer and your business.

Get Past the Anger

Sometimes, the hardest part of dealing with a customer complaint is avoiding becoming defensive. The truth is, you cannot assume that because a customer is angry their complaint is invalid. Ask yourself exactly what caused the problem — did your customer service fail them, was your site’s copy unclear, or was it an infrastructural problem? Identify the exact failing that brought them to this point. Don’t dismiss a complaint because a customer may be less than articulate in expressing their frustration. Try to dig and find out why.

Track and Record

Some customers will complain repeatedly. Some are chronic complainers online while others have truthfully encountered every problem that exists with your product or service. Being able to sort through these complaints requires organization and consistency across all channels. If you’re running a small business, think about using a cloud -based call center software to keep records of customer preferences and history to provide a consistent customer service experience. If you’re a corporate social media community manager, make sure you’re able to record your customer service interactions on your corporate customer service platform. Break down those silos. In either case being able to track and sort your interactions will help you make process decisions to improve quality overall.

Take Responsibility

Nothing upsets a customer with a complaint like being told the problem is their fault or sweeping the complaint under the virtual rug. On social media it can be tempting to delete the offending comment. Don’t. Instead, go back to step one and try to find out more. When responding use language that shows you are listening and genuinely want to help.  If you know you or your company messed up, opt for language that instantly defuses frustration by accepting blame: “I am sorry our product did not meet our normal standard of quality,” or even a simple “We are sorry to disappoint you.” Then, try to take the conversation offline as soon as possible. Route them to your customer service team or have them message you an email or phone contact and continue the conversation there. Your social media audience will appreciate the transparency and your angry customer will feel heard.

Move Quickly

Automation has made our lives easier, but can also leave customers in limbo. HelpScout reports found on a Harris Interactive poll that 75 percent of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. While this is a subjective response coming from frustrated customers, the lesson is still clear. Connect upset customers with  an actual person as soon as possible. If you’re on social media, try to respond within 30 minutes of their original post. If you’re transferring a customer via phone keep it under two minutes. Be sure they understand the next person will be better suited to helping them. There is nothing worse than waiting for an answer, especially when you are frustrated.

Customers have more avenues to complain about your products and services than ever before. Make sure you are capturing all those conversations and responding in a way that diffuses the situation and provides an agreeable solution. The best possible outcome? You’ll turn that complaining customer into a customer advocate for life.

If you have questions about how to listen for and respond to complaints on social media feel free to contact me. I’m happy to work with you to set up a reputation management plan.

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