At some point in your life, I’m sure you’ve had one those moments where you realize your zipper is down, your pants are hanging just a little too low or your skirt just a little too high. I am NOT about to ask you to admit to it in the comment box below, but I do want you to think about the embarrassment that came with it.
Now tell me, how embarrassing would that situation be if this happened with a client? Admit it. You would be mortified.
And yet, some travel professionals let this happen every day on social networking profiles with inappropriate photos, sloppy spelling, and incomplete information hanging out there for all to see. Think it’s different? I can assure you that clients are averting their eyes and attention in both situations.
It’s time for a major cleanup
I want you to take a hard look at your online profiles right now and consider if they portray the professional image you want your clients to see:
- Do you have a profile picture and is it appropriate?
It can be casual, but please avoid party shots, vulgar gestures, low cut tops and anything else that you wouldn’t do if a client were standing in front of you. There is such a thing as too casual.
- Do you have a bio or “about me” description?
Does it mention that you are a travel professional? Is the rest of it appropriate for clients? This is not the place to tell the world that your latest achievement has been to grow old and fat.
- Is the rest of your profile or account personalized?
You don’t need to be a graphic designer, just make sure you have a nice color palette and overall look. If you get blinded every time you look at the page, it’s probably not a good choice. Logos are good too.
- Are your website/facebook/Twitter/blog URL’s linked?
If not, add them. If you can only add one, pick the most relevant and make sure it links to the other profiles you couldn’t include.
- Are you linking back to your colleagues or company?
If you are part of a group, make sure you are all linking back to one another somehow. There is strength in numbers in the online world too.
- If you have room for work history, is it complete?
Make sure you are showcasing all of the expertise that makes you a worthwhile travel planning choice.
- Can you add social proof of your expertise?
If you have an area for recommendations or reviews of your work, are there any clients or coworkers who could add to them? Send out a few requests if you need to.
- Are your security settings set correctly?
Many networks let you preview your profile as another user would see it. Use this to your advantage and adjust your settings to show only what you want to show.
Go ahead, tuck them back in
Do you think I’m kidding with some of these points? I’m not. I’ve seen bad iterations of each one from travel professionals who were actively looking for business using those same profiles.
If you are remotely active on social media from a business perspective, your online profiles often introduce you to customers before you get to talk to them. Don’t give them a chance to chase your customer away.
As the saying goes: “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” So, if you are guilty of having an incomplete or inappropriate profile, take a minute now to tuck your underwear back into your pants and make sure you are putting your best foot forward. You can thank me for it later.
Sophie Bujold is a social media coach, blogger and speaker for the travel industry. For the past 8 years, she has worked for large travel agency organizations where she developed online initiatives and helped travel professionals understand how to use online tools to market themselves. Sophie strongly believes in the power of social media and wants to help travel professionals embrace it to create business success. You can connect with Sophie online through her blog at www.sophiebujold.com