Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This Blog, Social Media, and Some Questions

Today we have a different sort of post.  I hope you will read all the way to the end.

It's called "Why Does the Hawthorne Hotel Have a Blog?"

Over eight (8) years ago I attended a two-hour class at Salem State's Enterprise Center.  It was about things like blogging and I was immediately interested.  The speaker told us that blogging was easy.

I have always liked to challenge myself so I went back to the hotel and created a Hawthorne Hotel blog.  The speaker was right -- it was easy, and was exactly what I was looking for -- a way to reach out and "talk" to our current guests and potential guests, and even staff, through the power of the Internet.  Best of all, if I could get the blog posts linked onto our website, it would become a place where I could personally reach out to our customers.

Once I set the blog up, I made myself a promise to post every day.  I called it our Daily Diary, and it naturally become a kind of living history of the hotel. Well, I can tell you that they (my staff and family members) all, to a person, looked at me like I had grown several additional heads.  They had no idea what a blog was, let alone why I was so excited about it, nor why I would commit to posting every day.

Today we live in a world where Social Media is the normal way of communicating for many people. Blogging has become a household word, although not everyone does it.  We have since started a Twitter account and a FaceBook page, and have linked the blog posts to both of those.

Our Daily Diary Blog

My initial thought about the blog as a way to communicate to our guests has in some ways been supplanted by FaceBook, which is much quicker and even easier to do, and which has a lot more followers than our blog does.  However, in linking the blog to our FaceBook page and Twitter posts, we can add more depth of information to those audiences, should those folks take the time to click on the links to the blog.

The idea that the blog could be a kind of "living history" for the hotel turned out to be quite true, and it has also turned in to a good way to connect to the various members of our team, so that they know more about what is going on in the Hotel, in Salem, and the region.  Even our owners enjoy reading it.

Along the way we created two additional blogs (as though one done every day wasn't enough!) and those two other blogs have turned out to be valuable.  They are our Wedding Blog, which showcases Hawthorne Hotel weddings, as well as weddings we run at other sites such as the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) and related wedding ideas.

Weddings at the Hawthorne Hotel Blog
The other blog is called Travels with Nathaniel,  and is written by travel blogger Linda Orlomoski, who "travels" for us from Salem to various historic sites that are all within a short drive from Salem.  Linda takes a "mini-Nate" doll with her -- a representation of Nathaniel Hawthorne -- and writes her blog posts encompassing a great and abiding love for history, especially the history of this area with an occasional viewpoint that she thinks Nathaniel Hawthorne might have of her destinations.

Travels with Nathaniel Blog
Our FaceBook Page

Our Twitter Account
In talking to people about Blogging versus Twitter-ing versus FaceBook-ing, I liken our blog to a magazine article.  Generally, I like our blog posts to have lots of photos, like a magazine would.  FaceBook is like a newspaper, and Twitter seems more like a radio "sound bite" to me. All three have importance.

So...Why Did I Write This Post?

It seemed appropriate after eight years of doing something every day to just take a few minutes to consider why it was started, and what has become of our initial expectations, as well as to consider whether or not to continue to do something like this.

Wondering?
So, if you have read this far I have questions for you.  First, do you think I should continue to blog about the Hawthorne Hotel, Salem and the region?  Every day?  Second, is this blog meaningful to you?  Third, what would you like to see more (or less of)? Finally, if I do continue doing it, I welcome any suggestions about how we can get more people to read it!

Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing from you.

Juli

Juli Lederhaus
General Manager
HAWTHORNE HOTEL




6 comments:

  1. Never stop Blogging about the Hawthorne. Why? Well for several reasons actually. For one, you are not just a Hotel, you are an Institution! No your not the Hilton. No your not the Ritz Carlton. No your not owned by Donald Trump. You are a place that is endowed of history and of many cherished memories. You are a symbol that is the center of a City renowned for bitter trials and symbolizing triumphant personality! If people wanted the Ritz in Salem, it would have found a way to be there. People love the Hawthorne because to all of them the Hawthorne "IS" their center of Salem! The Hawthorne is as its named forbear crafted. It is poetry.
    Secondly, well, to put it simply, your one heck of a great hotel that treats its guests right and I think your Blog speaks that!
    ROCK ON GUYS!!
    As always,
    WD Allan

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  2. WD -- Thank you so much for your kind comments! I really do appreciate your taking the time to respond. I realize you are a huge fan of the Hawthorne -- a brand advocate to use current marketing jargon -- but way more than that, and I thank you personally for your loyalty to the Hawthorne Hotel. ~~ Juli

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  3. The blog provides, as you pointed out, a virtual diary / record of what goes on at the hotel and in the community. I know of no other source that reports the same kind of information as you do, provides commentary on what's going on in Salem, and shares the events and activities of other, nonaffiliated institutions; basically everything that you think could possibly be worth knowing about for Salem's visitors and residents.

    I could understand doing the blog two or three times a week, rather than daily, but I'd definitely feel a loss if it ended entirely.

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  4. Crazy, Thank you so much for your commentary. I truly do appreciate it. ~Juli

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  5. Part I:

    Obviously I'm prejudiced when it comes to the Hawthorne and blogging but thankfully you already know that and won't hold it against me! Just like hopefully you won't hold it against me that this comment is so long I have to post it in two parts!

    As someone who has been blogging in one form or another since 2004 I know the time, effort, and thought that it takes to write a post whether it be a short post or the type I write which are probably way too long for most peoples' taste but which I write anyway because, to coin an expression, "that's how I roll!" That said though, I also know the frustration in not having that many followers or thinking that no one is reading the posts that you are taking the time, the effort, and the love to write and yes, I said "love" because if you don't love blogging then you certainly wouldn't do it!

    It took me awhile before I decided that not having a lot of comments on a post wasn't the end of the world and neither was not having a lot of folks "following" my blog(s) either for in looking at my blog stats I could see that people were in fact visiting - they just weren't leaving comments or signing themselves up to be a follower. Maybe they saw a link on Facebook or maybe they found a post via Google or maybe they took a wrong turn in Albuquerque and accidentally landed there but the numbers showed that people WERE stopping by. As much as I would have loved for one or two of them to leave a comment, I decided that I was going to be happy that they were coming at all and not stress that no one was ever reading.

    IF you're starting to feel that maybe this blog isn't being well-received and that's why you're looking back at the last eight years and perhaps wondering if it's been worth everything that you've put into it then I'd have to ask you what YOU have gotten out of it over the course of that time? Have you felt a stronger tie to the community? Have you felt closer to your staff and guests? Have you felt like you have provided a valuable service to folks by pointing out things that they might not have known otherwise, have you ever gotten that glow of happiness when someone says, "Oh, I was reading your blog and ..."

    If you can answer 'yes' to any of those then you've also got to answer that 'yes' it has all been worth it and that it would be worth continuing. This blog IS a sort of magazine, a chance to write something more expansive than you can on Facebook or in the small amount of characters that you can fit into a Tweet. Here you can post photos, more extensive information, lots of links, and some terrific stories that even if someone doesn't read them the first day that they're posted, they're still here later on should someone need them.

    (cont'd below)

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  6. Part II:

    To be perfectly honest, I feel that many other hotels - both big and small - could take a lesson from you when it comes to this blog. It's a great way to make a great hotel even more accessible to current guests, past guests, and potential guests; it's a fantastic showcase for all that there is to see and do in Salem; and it's also a terrific way to show the world what great employees you have.

    So, to try to wrap up a very long comment (which I'm sure you no doubt expected from me!) - I say that absolutely, positively keep the blog. Should you wish to maybe only post two or three times a week rather than daily (depending on what you have to write about) you could certainly do that or you could also fill in the other days with photo posts as Salem has so many great photo opportunities and those posts could provide folks with ideas of where to go and what to see while they are visiting Salem.

    As for getting more people to read this blog, that's a tough one and one that I've yet to figure out for my own blogs! Blogging requires a certain amount of faith ... well, no, blogging requires a LOT of faith ... that you aren't just writing to yourself and that someone is actually reading. Having had the extreme pleasure of meeting you and then getting to know you, all courtesy of this wonderful world of blogging, I know for a fact that you have no lack of faith so guess what? I'm going to wager you've got the faith and the heart and the interest to keep this blog going for as long as you choose and I think that in the long run you'll be glad that you did because that's how YOU roll!

    Whew!

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