Black Friday Open Comments: A Few of Our Favorite Things

Tiny frog is a favorite thing (courtesy foto3116 on Flickr Creative Commons)

The social web is MADE for the little guy (courtesy foto3116 on Flickr Creative Commons)

(Yes, this is the blog post where we’re getting together for an Open Comments / “open mic” chat session on Friday, November 23 at 8 pm CST. Drop by, put your feet up after all the Thanksgiving activity and Black Friday running around, and let’s talk about our favorite things. Comments are open!)

A few years ago, we began to notice a lot of people hanging out on Twitter the night of Black Friday (a big after-Thanksgiving shopping day for many in the U.S.) We decided that it would be fun to host a casual get-together that night and occasionally throughout the year on our own website; we call it Open Comments.

It’s an opportunity for us to bring people right into our Tourism Currents “house”, enjoy good company and happily allow some free … yes, it’s true! …. brain-picking.

The topic on 23 November, 2012 is Favorite Things – our best tips, tricks and tools for social media geekery. Stuff like….

**  Camera settings, Instagram filters and phone camera techniques to take rocking photos.

**  Ideas for blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates even when your brain refuses to work.

**  A framework for fitting social media into everything else you have to do.

**  Some sample metrics for social media measurement (or we’ll serve ROI Pie – haven’t decided which one.)

**  Favorite resources for blogger outreach and building your army of online champions.

**  Favorite stats and data to convince the boss that, nope, the social media thing isn’t a fad.

Most importantly, though, we want to hear about your favorite things, so bring an idea or a link to share with everyone.

Here’s how it works: you add your comments right on this post down below (once we open them up on Friday) and hit Refresh in your browser to see updates. It’s a conversation held in the Comments section. If you like Twitter chats like #tourismchat, you’ll love this; it’s inspired by Liz Strauss’ pre-Twitter Open Mic and Open Comments nights on her Successful Blog.

Thanks as always for your support – we’re looking forward to hearing about your favorite nerdy things!


Have you connected with us in your favorite places? If you arrived here directly from a link, here’s the email signup for this newsletter. Say hi to Leslie, Sheila, and Becky at Tourism Currents on….

Don’t miss these goodies, either:

Commenting area

  1. Are we all still full from Thanksgiving? I still have apple pie to share!

  2. Blargh, I’m lucky I got a little ham down for dinner tonight (did manage ice cream for dessert though….)

  3. It’s just now dinner time in Southern California, I’m using this to work up an appetite!!

  4. I’m interested in finding more blogging topics. I blog for real estate and that isn’t my forte. Any suggestions besides Google?

    • Welcome, Radha! I always get good ideas from questions people ask me. And the smartest real estate person I know writes mostly about the local community. She loves to write about the neighborhoods and businesses.

  5. Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm · ·

    I was totally alone for Thanksgiving, so I broke the rules and made a beef roast in the crock pot.

  6. Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm · ·

    Radha, take this tip from my friend Chris Penn:

  7. Well, my first two comments didn’t show up in Chrome, so trying from IE Explorer…

  8. Finally! Now, I want some pie and I’ve got eggnog!! Also Radha is my good friend and 15 year webmaster for Lake Arrowhead!!

  9. Hi Radha – for real estate – are there myths about buying property that you can correct? About financing, about home/property inspections, about pricing? Write a blog post for each one.

    Hi Tim – truth be told, I’m kinda meh about turkey. Roast Beast sounds fine to me!

    • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm · ·

      I’ve been doing my best to eat healthy since I moved to Baltimore (I’m wearing jeans that haven’t fit me in years!), but I just craved the flesh of a cow, dang it. It was my Thanksgiving and I’d eat red meat if I wanted to.

  10. Also for Real Estate Radha, how about “how to’s” – could be both social media and real estate related.

  11. Thanks for the suggestins. I think I also need a “real estate for dummies” book so I have a better understanding. I’ve been doing real estate blogging for a year and a half.

    • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm · ·

      At the end of the day, marketing is marketing, Answer three simple questions: Who are we talking to? What are we saying to them? What do we want them to do as a result of the messaging?

      Follow that process and you’ll be groovy. 🙂

    • Another thought, how about educating your readers about the marketing tools real estate is using to reach potential clients.

  12. Can one over do it by continually placing the keywords real estate in the title? I have an alert set up on my Google page for the keywords “big bear real estate.” Google only picks up if article if I use big bear real estate in my title.

    • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm · ·

      Yes. There’s a very delicate balance when it comes to overdoing it with keyword-rich content. Google changed things up about 12 – 14 months ago and started penalizing websites that spammed keywords. The recent Panda update made their algorithms even more strict.

      To quote my friend Paul McLeod, who works in SEM at Simpleview: “if you included the same keyword in every other sentence on a page, that could be considered “keyword stuffing.” Another example could be writing a 500-character page title that repeated the same words repeatedly. Most sites do not do this, but some that optimize their content according to best practices from ten years ago might be in trouble. As a rule of thumb, if you read your content and the keywords stick out like sore thumbs in places where no one would ever include them in a world without search engines, tone it down a little.”

    • I would say to think like a potential customer. Always write the titles so they make sense to real people.

    • Have you played around with other alert titles to see what else might work?

  13. Sheila, look at this pic I just found of you and me and Rick Calvert from BlogWorld in New York:

  14. Hi all!

    I’m glad to see you all enjoyed Thanksgiving. And, survived Black Friday?

  15. I just converted my website from html to wordpress. Google hasn’t picked up all of my pages. We did a 301 redirect and have a sitemap.xml set up. Any suggestions?

  16. So, time for me to share…..My new favorite thing is Google’s Field Trip app. Have you all tried that? I’m finding it’s getting more and more content by the day and it’s fun to have on when traveling around.

  17. Am wondering why the pretty faces from Tim, Radha and I aren’t showing up ~ do we need to do something special or is this just another problem only I am having???

  18. Report from Akismet spam catcher: “NFL Nike Jerseys Outlet” had a really interesting comment with about 38 links in it, but was not allowed to post it. God bless software.

  19. Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm · ·

    So, for my favorite thing: Evernote.

    Chris Penn introduced me to it a year ago, and I would be totally lost without it now. Having notes sync on computers, my phone, my tablet …. it’s a Godsend. Great for scanning receipts and business cards, too.

    • I completely agree! My writing is better because I use Evernote for all the stages from collecting ideas and references, outlining, to actually writing.

      • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 8:50 pm · ·

        It came in so handy when I lived in Madison. A topic for a blog post would hit me as I was waiting for the bus, then I’d just type it into my phone, and presto, it was waiting for me on my laptop at home.

    • I downloaded Evernote at least a year ago (maybe even longer) and still have not used it even though everyone raves about it. I need a quick 101 class to get going with it I guess.

    • I can’t seem to get into Evernote, mostly because I can write faster with a pen than pecking out a reminder note on my phone. Am I going about it wrong?

      • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm · ·

        Eh, different strokes. For me, it’s handy to type out a shopping list and save the note on my computer, then whip out my phone when I’m at the grocery store when I’ve got that “damn it, there was SOMETHING ELSE I needed to buy, what was it” feeling. 🙂

      • Another way to get into using it: start clipping articles you may want to read or refer to again. Then they are easy to find by search.

        Or start using it to shoot pics of receipts, etc., you want to retain.

        Either way, you’ll start letting it remember instead of relying on your brain alone.

  20. One more question – Can anyone recommend a good tech book on blogging? Not a beginning book, but something that gets into tags, linking (inward and outbound), etc. Thanks!

  21. What do you think of Klout score?

  22. Good grief, this is wilder than a Twitter chat! I keep going back and seeing comments I missed!!

  23. New favorite thing – measuring social media efforts so skeptics will quit asking whether “it’s working.”

    We did a Facebook Page poll recently about people’s interests – more on social media measurement info/training was a top request.

    So, let’s start with an easy one that’s a favorite: website traffic (specifically unique visitors) going up over time, as a metric for measuring whether you’re achieving a goal of, say, increased awareness of and interest in your destination.

    Make sense to you? Too simplistic?

    • I had a discussion the other day with a local competitor of mine. For me, an uptick in unique visitors is what I want to see. Others need to see ROI.

    • On measurement, I’ve had a few people mention they don’t want to start measuring “too early.” They’re afraid of showing a low starting number. I think that it’s never too early to start measuring. If they first number is zero, there’s only one way to go: up!

      • Metrics rule!

      • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm · ·

        That, to be blunt, is absolutely asinine on their part. If it can’t be measured, it isn’t worth doing, and if you ARE measuring, there’s no reason to artificially limit the amount of data you’re collecting.

        • I would disagree Tim. I use Google analytics to show trend in traffic, time spent on site, etc.

          • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm · ·

            I believe you’re misunderstanding me. I was saying it was asinine for someone to think they could measure “too early.” If you launch a website and don’t have Google Analytics plugged in from Day One, something has gone horribly wrong and you need to blow up your marketing strategy.

          • Yup, you’re right Tim.

    • I’m all about keeping it simplistic – that whole “it’s not rocket science” thing, although I know others who live and die by deep measurement/analytics.

      • Leslie, I think it depends on the client. For the Resort Association, we have to supply metrics. But, to me there are many subtle rewards. I think having conversations with people builds brand loyalty.

        • Sure, on the social media side being social is what counts!

        • If we want to track whether social media efforts really result in visits, we need to do a lot better nailing down how people made the decision to book.

          As a traveler, though, if I’m asked that when I check in to a hotel, for example, I might have a hard time trying to remember just exactly how I ended up someplace.

          • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:18 pm · ·

            Yeah, conversion tracking can be difficult in the travel vertical, because oftentimes the navigation path goes: Inbound source < CVB website < booking engine, and along the way you lose the unique tracking token.

          • And there is no reasonable way to factor in the offline and “dark social” channels that make a difference in people’s decision path.

      • And yes, I think starting at zero is great as you’ll look like a rockstar as things grow.

        • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm · ·

          A backdoor benefit of metrics and meticulous reporting is that, if you’re catching flak from a boss for whatever reason, you can pull out a report and say, “Look, sir, this metric is up 300% year-over-year!” (Even if it’s a completely meaningless one.) It’s important to always have a few “get out of jail free” cards in your back pocket for when you’re on the receiving end of stupidity down the chain of command. 🙂

      • Leslie, I love your “it’s not rocket science” lecture! People tend to over-complicate measurement. Pick a few simple meaningful numbers, and work on them.

        • Thank you Becky! I do believe that many people shy away from all of this simply because they think it’s “too hard.” That’s where we all come in and show them that it can be as simple as they need it to be to make it work for them.

        • So, here are 3 rule of thumb social media measurements, assuming a goal of raising destination awareness & interest:

          ** Mentions and direct conversations on Twitter, including DMs, going up over time.

          ** Facebook Insights – Reach and Talking About This going up over time.

          ** Website and blog: increased unique visitors over time, increased email & RSS subscribers.

          I really want to give people a place to start!

  24. I’m tired. I need to go raid the pie.

  25. I’m kinda with Sheila and whomever else. Which metrics to track depends on what your goals are. If you desire a large readership, then web traffic might be an appropriate measure. But if you are aiming to increase potential clients, then web traffic means little.

    And, that is probably too obvious to even say, but it is Friday evening and I am hungry and without appealing leftovers in the fridge. 🙂

    • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm · ·

      Exactly, it all depends on what the desired end results of your strategy are. That’s why I hate-hate-hate-HATE “industry averages” or “benchmarks” (I went on a tirade about it here: . There’s no such thing as an average audience, and every company (even within the same vertical) is going to do its marketing differently. Find what moves the needle for YOU, and focus on that.

    • Although you share certain common goals with others in your industry, you have specific goals that are different.

  26. Here is one of my favorite things and is probably why I’m still not grokking Evernote:

    And it HAS to be the Micro point. And is HAS to be black ink. So there.

  27. One final thought: sometimes it is more about spider plants than about SEO…

  28. Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm · ·

    Is there anything more dangerous than a boss who casually glances at tech blog headlines?

    I had a boss who loved to do that; he’d see a headline about the “next big thing” one night and then immediately go to me, first thing in the morning, and quiz me about it. “Is our website / email / kitchen using responsive design?” YOUR FACE. I WANT TO PUNCH IT.

    • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm · ·

      Boss: “I saw last night that Research In Motion’s market share dropped again, they’re on borrowed time.”

      “Yep, they’ve reached the point of irrelevancy.”


      “… we … aren’t?”


    • Playing devil’s advocate …. at least that boss was paying attention to a changing world, instead of the overabundance of ostriches who can’t believe that the ground is shifting underneath them ….

      • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm · ·

        There’s a deplorable excess of those ostriches in the CVB industry. News flash, folks, the search engines have won and they won a long time ago, the path to go is to offer awesome, kick-ass content, not try to be a concierge.

    • Oh, man, Tim. That must drive you nuts! I’ve been using the farmer analogy lately: we have to plant seeds (projects), we have to give them time to grow, and then we can harvest. We can’t plant one project, rip it out the next week to jump on the new hot seeds, and still expect to be on track for a good harvest.

  29. I need to sign off, but I wanted to stop and say thanks first. I appreciate all of the comments and input. Thanks so much and good night!

  30. Another favorite thing: when I travel and need a place to eat, a combination of the Foodspotting app and Yelp has rarely steered me wrong.

    • Tim Brechlin November 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm · ·

      Yelp has been an absolute Godsend ever since I moved to Baltimore. Haven’t tried Foodspotting.

    • Love Foodspotting because it is nothing but positive and I use it all the time.

    • I own a liquor store in a small town. (You all knew that, right?) I get a weekly Yelp report emailed to me. Usually, there are zero searches in my town for liquor stores. I appreciate that it does matter, and I’m glad we have good reviews there. But in small towns, it just isn’t the primary driver.

  31. I’ve noticed I’m killing off discussions tonight. I should have some champagne.

  32. I pointed out to my husband that we have 173 comments.

    Mr. Smart Aleck said, “Yeah, and I’ll bet 115 of them are yours.”


  33. Good chatting with you tonight. Thank you. Now, I need food! 🙂

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