In today’s digital age, social media has become a common way for spas to create, share, and exchange up-to-the-minute information with current and potential clients. Though a spa’s number of fans, followers, and friends can indicate its level of exposure, it is also important for spas to provide content that is timely and relevant to its audience in order to engage clients and followers. “Social media is an extension of a spa’s online presence, and a strong online presence has become an important strategy in leveraging exposure, general interest, and, eventually, revenue for spas,” says Roger Sholanki, CEO of Book4Time. “Social media breaks the boundary between business and client, making both the spa and its clients visible and accessible to each other. This accessibility opens the doors to communication in which spas can easily engage with and attract more clients, and thus positively affect their bottom line.”
Unlike traditional marketing and advertising channels, social media is an inexpensive way to connect with large numbers of people. “It is a virtually free channel to give a brand a voice and create community and buzz around it, which can lead to many more business opportunities in a highly cost-effective way,” says Frank Pitsikalis, founder and CEO of ResortSuite. According to Jennifer Martinelli, marketing and advertising manager for Millennium Software, spas that use social media to build a good reputation for their brand are more likely to gain new followers. She also notes that how spas present their business online directly dictates who follows them. “Social media provides a quick and more direct platform for followers to take in any information the brand or spa offers,” says Martinelli. “When used effectively, clients can spread news about a business with a simple post, share, like, or comment. The opinions and posts of followers inevitably grow the reputation of that brand, as well as new followers and customers.”
Many spa software companies offer programs and services that help spas improve their social media efforts. SpaBooker’s software, for example, integrates with a variety of different networks, including Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter, allowing spas to create promotions within their SpaBooker account and post them directly to their social pages with booking links for customers to redeem the offer. In addition, spas can utilize SpaBooker’s Book Now application and gift-certificate app on Facebook to drive appointments and sales directly. Similarly, ResortSuite provides marketing assistance to its spa clients by extending their email promotions through links forwarded to clients’ social media pages. “A single email forwarded by someone to their Facebook newsfeed or Twitter account can be viewed by hundreds or thousands of followers that trust that individual’s taste,” says Pitsikalis.
Book4Time software comes complete with a social media management center where spas can control their social media accounts from one central hub. “Our platform schedules social media posts, tracks their effectiveness, and generates reports to compare the overall popularity and reach of a spa’s communications,” says Sholanki. “The platform saves spas time and effort when communicating via social media and also takes the guesswork out of whether or not their efforts are effective.” Milano Software offers educational webinars and hosts an annual user conference, teaching clients how to attract new customers and strengthen relationships with existing ones by using effective social media strategies and other marketing tactics to promote their businesses.
Because a successful social media strategy requires effort and a plan, SpaBooker suggests creating a content calendar to help spas achieve their goals. “Spas should take a step back from what’s directly in front of them and take a look at the big picture,” says Grace Nelson, social media specialist at SpaBooker. “In addition to posting specials, spas should think about what kind of content they would like to share, such as links to industry news and trends. Taking an overarching view of the month to strategize, set goals, and plan posts accordingly is an effective way to map out a social media strategy.” Michelle Perroton, business development manager for the spa and salon division at Demandforce, agrees that setting goals is crucial, as is establishing ways to measure the effectiveness of a spa’s social media campaigns. “You don’t want to do things and spend time on initiatives that don’t move the bottom line,” she says. “Also, make it a group effort and let team members participate in the social conversation—but put some rules in place to make sure the brand of the business is always top of mind.” Perroton also suggests diversifying posts with a variety of topics. “Have fun with it,” she adds. “If you do, people will have fun with you.”
Listening to clients is one way Sholanki says spas can increase their online visibility and boost business. “Know who they are and why they’re on social media so that you know how and when to engage with them,” he says. Once a spa knows its target audience, it should run deals, contests, sweepstakes, promotions, and giveaways that fit their needs, and, because an outdated social media profile reflects poorly on a company, be sure to update those pages regularly. “If someone comments on your page or sends you a message, don’t take weeks to reply,” says Kosta Gara, CEO of Vionic. “Show them you value their time by providing swift responses or ‘like’ their comments if they had something good to say.” People often need an incentive to repost information, so Gara suggests rewarding followers with a coupon code for sharing the page.
Another way spas can attract potential clients to their social media pages is to partner with vendors for contests, events, and promotions. If these vendors mention the spa on their business pages, it will likely draw more followers to your spa’s page. “Aside from good old-fashioned discounts, our two most effective strategies have been cause marketing—Susan G. Komen was a fantastic partner—and pairing up with a successful vendor,” says Julie Oliff, director of Remède Spa at The St. Regis Aspen Resort (CO). “Both not only appeal to a large fan base but they also have the added benefit of being cross-marketed across pages with wider reach.”
While social media is a great way to promote your spa, it should feature other relevant content as well. “Social media, in its most basic form, is a conversation, and by only posting content that promotes your company, you are essentially the person in a conversation who only talks about themself,” says Mark Jackson, president and co-founder of DaySmart Software, makers of Salon Iris. “A good rule to follow is one promotional post for every four social posts.”
Matthew Wiggins, co-owner of ProSolutions Software, also suggests asking spa-goers to review their experiences on a non-moderated site, such as Yelp or Google+. “The reason that ‘non-moderated’ is so important is because recent surveys suggest that if potential customers believe that you have control over the reviews posted, you will not post negative ones,” he says. “Therefore the ‘positive’ reviews are worthless. So, by having positive reviews on a non-moderated site, your reviews carry much more weight. Of course, the negative ones do as well, so the strategy here is to ask your best customers to review you to increase the likelihood of getting a positive review.”
While there are myriad social media networks available, it is important to choose a select few to devote your time and energy to developing. “Don’t become a jack-of-all-trades and master of none,” says Sholanki. “When it comes to social media, trying out every trendy platform on the Web can be tempting, but this approach tends to spread spas’ social media efforts too thin. Instead, focus on the one or two social media platforms where your customers are, and master them.” And while social media can often seem like a popularity contest when it comes to the number of followers, the goal should be quality, not quantity. “Don’t become obsessed with how many fans or followers you have,” says Jackson. “One hundred active followers are far more valuable than 1,000 followers who never interact with your company.”Envision