There is no doubt that social media efforts can be a challenge. However, with a little knowledge and a strategic plan, social media is a golden opportunity to make your spa stand out among your competition and increase your bottom line.
At the recent SpaExec San Diego event, Julie Keller, the Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of American Spa Magazine, facilitated a panel discussion on “The Realities of Marketing Your Spa Through Social Networks.” To follow are some of the main points we discussed as panelists:
Why should spas care about a social media marketing campaign?
By providing quality, relevant and timely content for your audience, you have the ability to position your spa as a thought leader in your online sphere of influence. According to the Global Spa Summit Report in July 2010, “Spas and Wellness: Synergies and Opportunities,” 71% of respondents said they would be more likely to visit a spa if they knew the tangible health benefits of spa treatments. Social media is an effective, real-time way to share this kind of information, as well as encourage others to engage and share your content with their online sphere of influence. The more newsfeeds your spa’s content hits, the more the awareness of your spa’s brand will increase.
Another reason spas should care about social media is that people are talking about your spa whether you know it or not. By listening and participating in the online conversation, you have the opportunity to build relationships with your brand fans and you have the ability to turn these fans into brand advocates. By identifying, connecting and rewarding these brand advocates, they will do the marketing for you!
Furthermore, it is important to listen because you may have the chance to fix an issue before it becomes a greater challenge. For example, if someone leaves a negative Yelp or Google Places review, connect and engage with that person. Find out what the problem is and make it right. Chances are you will turn this online naysayer into one of your brand advocates. Ignoring the issue will not make it go away.
What are some best practices in making social media marketing a priority?
One of the first and most important things to do is to create a social media marketing plan. If you don’t have a strategy, it’s just as if you are a captain of a ship setting sail without a destination. This can be daunting if you have never done it before or if you don’t know where to begin. So, either spend the time to learn, or hire a social media marketing consultant to help baseline where you are today, determine your overall goals and help you create systematic and effective implementation program.
Remember: in social media, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You will not receive results overnight. But, with consistent, strategic messaging that adheres to best practices, there is no doubt you will increase brand awareness and positive word of mouth that will ultimately increase your bottom line.
What are some mistakes that spas make in social media?
One giant mistake that spas make is not engaging back with their audience. Check your Facebook wall. Has someone posted something and you haven’t “liked” or commented on? What about your Twitter account? Has someone @ mentioned your spa, but you didn’t reply? This can hurt your spa’s brand because it gives the perception that you don’t care. Certainly you do, but remember: the online world is a vibrant, growing world that is just as important as the real world. Treat your online relationships the same as you would as if a client was in your spa speaking to you in person.
Another big mistake spas make in social media is solely broadcasting sales-oriented messaging. That’s like watching television but all you see are commercials. Apply the Pareto Principle to your social media efforts, otherwise known as the 80/20 Rule: 80% of your messaging should be quality, relevant content, and 20% of your messages should be sales-oriented.
What are some ways a spa can engage their online audience?
One of the hallmarks of social media is engagement, and a multifaceted approach is an effective one. First, create accounts across all social media channels and be certain they are consistent and reflective of your brand. Then, create true, authentic meaning around your spa’s online presence. On Facebook for example, you can do the following to engage your audience:
- Take pictures and tag people, encourage others to tag themselves so your spa shows up in other newsfeeds
- Create a two minute video that shows your spa’s signature treatment and educate your audience about how and why it’s beneficial and special
- Ask your audience questions and encourage feedback
- Share meaningful quotes of the day
- Offer “Facebook Fan Only” specials to fill off-peak times
- Provide incentives for location-based check-ins
- Integrate a third party application that generates customer reviews and takes online booking appointments
- Share and comment on things your audience cares about from other pages
- Like your brand advocate’s fan pages and post on their wall
- Last but not least…post sales-related messages for both services and retail!
Stacy Conlon,Principal, The Zen Girl Marketing