Thermae Bath Spa (England) launched a YouTube channel five years ago to showcase the property’s natural springs and give potential clients a glimpse into the treatments that await. The staff had no idea the collection of online videos would soon garner thousands of views, and even better, bring clients through the doors. “We decided to launch a YouTube channel because we had fantastic videos we wanted to share to showcase Thermae Bath Spa,” says assistant director of marketing and communications Charlotte Hanna. “It is very photogenic, and video is a lovely way to open a window into what we offer.”
Racking up both views and fans should come as no surprise. YouTube boasts more than one billion users, one-third of all people on the internet. According to YouTube’s published statistics, viewers are watching hundreds of millions of hours of clips and videos, and watch time is up 60 percent from last year. “What we’ve found is that video is pretty much the most effective way to market a business or a service or a product because a lot of things that used to work just don’t work anymore,” says Joseph Forte, co-owner and chief marketing officer for D-Mak Productions, a video production company. Video is becoming as vital for business success as a website. “Video communicates human emotion better than any other form of media today,” says Frank Klesitz, founder of Vyral Marketing, which creates custom social media marketing programs. “Every spa in your area can post professional photos on their websites, but you can differentiate by showing the humanity of your spa. Video will deepen the relationship your clients enjoy with your employees.” The Spa at Primland (Meadows of Dan, VA) sets itself apart with a video section on its homepage. “We are redesigning our website to have more visuals and less text,” says director of sales and marketing Julee Midden. “The visuals and video assist in painting the true experience of the resort and what guests can look forward to.”
Fortunately, producing videos and sharing them with the audience you want to reach has never been easier. “In today’s education-hungry and time-sensitive world, there is a unique opportunity right now to create fun, interesting, and educational content to generate more followers and engagement with products and services,” says Debra Koerner, chief strategist for Well World Productions, a branding, public relations, and production firm focused on bringing inspirational stories to life. “I look forward to seeing spas own the educational opportunity that short social-media-friendly videos can offer.”
When you’re ready to put your spa in front of the camera, there are two main video production routes: professional and self-made. Hiring a professional video production company streamlines the process. “I think video hands down can differentiate your spa from another spa and communicate that best to your target market,” says Forte. Firms like D-Mak and Well World Productions offer a range of services, including concept development, script writing, post-production, and more. “Firms like ours come in when a company is ready to strategically and professionally utilize video to create content with specific goals in mind,” says Koerner.
Self-made videos can still be effective on a small budget. “It is possible for marketers to develop a video-content strategy scaled to their resources,” says Mallory Stanton, digital strategist at 7th & Wit, a digital and social strategy agency launched by J Public Relations. For a small starter budget, Koerner suggests tapping someone on staff to capture in-the-moment fun content. “These self-made videos can be posted quickly to share what is happening at the spa at any time,” she says. “It is low cost and lower quality, but viewers are forgiving of the quality if the video has a spontaneous feel to it.” Smartphone apps for shooting, editing, and sharing enable basic video production. “There are a ton of great apps that transform an iPhone into a more effective device to capture video,” says Forte.
To take advantage of the technology, Stanton recommends stop-motion and hyperlapse videos. “These techniques allow brands to share creative microvideos that can be watched without sound and are great for showcasing products and demonstrating how-tos in an unusual, visually appealing way,” she says. “While they are more complicated to produce than regular photos, they require far fewer resources and are better suited to social audiences with short attention spans.”
Short and Sweet
Attention spans have never been shorter; now people generally lose concentration after eight seconds. According to a 2015 study from Microsoft, the average human now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. That doesn’t mean a successful video is limited to eight seconds, but the ideal length is anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds up to two minutes, according to Forte. “The first few seconds are vital to ensuring continued viewing and conversion rates,” says Koerner. “With platforms like Facebook allowing your videos to autoplay as you scroll, it is crucial that the first moments entice someone to click and watch the video.” According to Koerner, incorporating catchy images, bold text, and bright colors work well to attract viewers.
There are many spa topics that lend themselves well to video. “Because the spa industry is so focused on the experience of clients—more than most other industries—it can really benefit by translating that experience into video to bring its social media to life and connect with fans on an emotional level,” says Kate Bennie, social media expert at Zec Media, a boutique social media marketing company. With Zec Media, spa owner Esther Trapp created a video campaign for Urban Day Spa (Brisbane, Australia). “Use of video has definitely boosted the reputation of the spa, and it is a great way to get people talking about your business,” says Trapp. “Feedback shows that people have a very high opinion of the quality of service and experiences we provide at Urban, and this can be linked directly to video.”
Once connected, clients are eager to learn from your spa’s expertise. “The key to making video work for a brand is to veer away from the self-promotional aspects of products and services and move toward creating videos that quickly educate on interesting topics,” says Koerner. Highlighting philanthropic efforts of the spa is a smart use of video. “Consumers are becoming very attracted to businesses that are making a difference in their communities and the world,” says Koerner. “Offering content that promotes this aspect of a business can go a long way in ensuring long-term fans.” Others recommend turning to happy clients to appeal to viewers with authentic stories. “Customer testimonials are by far the most effective type of marketing video that’s been studied,” says Forte. Video content should also mimic the atmosphere your spa cultivates. “Your clients want to feel relaxed and calm in your spa, and your videos must create the same feeling,” says Klesitz. “Adjust your speaking and communication style accordingly.”
Producing a video of any length is only the beginning. “YouTube is just a place that you put the video, but you still have to distribute it using social media tools and influence marketers,” says Forte. Once shared, it’s a good idea to ask current clients about the video and to gauge how well it is performing. “You’ll want to ask everyone who visits your spa, ‘Did my video or social media presence influence your decision to book your spa treatment here today?’” says Klesitz. “Your video may have an unimpressive number of views and likes, but if that minuscule reach generates a significant number of profitable clients who return for many years, that’s an incredibly effective campaign.” According to him, the sales generated and appointments booked trump the social media metrics.
As such, it is important to allocate budget to sharing and marketing the videos properly. “As the social media sites develop and incorporate video more, companies are going to have to pay attention and adjust their marketing budgets accordingly to be able to provide content to those platforms,” says Forte. He says reach, a statistic measuring the number of people who could have seen a post, can be four times as large with videos compared to photos or text on social media.
Understanding metrics like reach, engagement, impressions, and views is important for knowing whether the video and accompanying marketing efforts are a positive investment. According to Forte, this is where many fall short. He recommends distributing through video hosting sites like Wistia, which offer the added value of analytics and video marketing tools. It tracks viewers, what they view, and where they go after watching.
Not everyone is a video enthusiast, as some cite limitations with social media platforms. “One of the biggest changes we’ve seen are the recent Facebook algorithm shifts to prioritize posts containing videos,” says Stanton. “However, because the algorithm still exists to optimize user experience, video content must be engaging and shareable in order to garner views and in turn fuel its own reach.” She also has noticed a discrepancy between the reach and engagement of video posts. Facebook’s autoplay feature for news feed videos means videos are considered viewed if they play for three seconds or more. The views end up inflated, and the rate of truly engaged viewers in proportion to total impressions will often be very low.
Still, video is an ideal way to tell your spa’s tales. “Your customers want to know the story of your spa, the stories behind your treatments, the solutions you have for common skincare problems, and how to get the best spa experience possible,” says Klesitz. “You are their trusted advisor on their spa experience journey. This is your opportunity to educate your customers and further position yourself as their preeminent spa experience expert.”
Check out the statistics on notable video-friendly apps for engaging with potential clients.
Facebook: Users log more than one billion video views per day.
Meerkat: Brands report higher engagement with Meerkat than Periscope.
SnapChat: More than 400 million Snapchat stories are created each day.
Instagram: Videos get double the engagement of photos compared to any other social media platform for 400 million monthly active users.
Periscope: Users are watching the equivalent of more than 40 years worth of live video daily.
YouTube: YouTube reaches more 18 to 49 year olds than any cable network in the U.S.