There are 1.65 billion active users on Facebook, 400 million on Instagram, and 320 million on Twitter. There’s no question that the popularity of social media continues to grow each year, and it’s no longer just for the younger generation. People of all ages rely on social media platforms to get information, voice their opinions, and keep in touch with friends and their favorite businesses, which is why it’s so important for your spa to utilize these networks to engage current clients and attract potential clients. It’s a company’s digital voice, according to Erica Lee Dement, director of marketing at Lira Clinical. It allows them to personify their brand and connect with clients on a daily basis. “With the pervasiveness of smartphones in our modern society, users have constant access to all forms of social media,” she says. “They consider their Facebook, Instagram, and other accounts to be an extension of their daily lives and a fundamental communication tool.”
Clients have come to expect all businesses to have a social media presence as a way to stay up-to-date on news, happenings, specials, promotions, and tips and to easily reach customer service. “More and more users prefer to interact with companies via these platforms,” says Dement. “Users spend an average of 109 minutes a day on social media. This window of time allows you to engage your clients by promoting your spa, services, and retail items.”
Social media allows businesses to interact with clients outside of the spa, even when the business is closed, which helps to keep the spa and its services top of mind and remind clients they need to come in for another appointment, according to Kelley Moore, digital media manager at PCA Skin. “Spas can use social media to showcase their expertise in a fun, relatable way through sharing beauty tips and advice and also encouraging clients to make appointments by sharing any promotions,” she says. However, while there are many benefits that social media offers to businesses, there is also a potential downside. Inappropriate dialogue between employees and clients can occur, as can negative publicity, which can affect your business. Developing a way to control relationships between clients and employees through social media is an important part of running a smooth business. According to Chelsea Galaida, marketing coordinator at Millennium Systems International, this can be done by creating a social media policy that outlines and defines an appropriate employee-client digital relationship. “Once you have a policy in place, educate your employees on the benefits and disadvantages of connecting with clients via social media,” she says.
According to Moore, establishing social media policies and guidelines so employees know what is expected of their online behavior is a beneficial way to ensure employees engage with clients appropriately, but it’s also important to focus on the positive aspects of social media, as well. “These guidelines should be as much about what you’d like your employees to do as they are about what they shouldn’t be doing,” she says. “Your employees can be your best online advocates, so take advantage of that.” Once the social media policy is created, be sure to educate current employees and make social media training part of the onboard process for new employees.
According to Dement, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are a must when advertising a business and staying connected to current and potential clients, but platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ can also help diversify a spa’s audience and offer a different social media experience. Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa (Manalapan, FL) has Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts. “Facebook is where you make friends with people by letting them know who you are as a spa and what you have to offer,” says spa and leisure director Catherine Strange Warren. “Instagram is best for selling specific retail items, and Twitter is good if you want to start a conversation with your audience.” Warren tries to post every day to each of the accounts, as it is “free advertising that is accessible to everyone,” she says.
Before signing up for many different social media platforms, it’s important to consider how you will manage each one. Be sure to only take on those that you can be active on and manage successfully. “This means posting daily and responding to all customer service comments, even if you are commenting to tell someone to call into the front desk,” says Moore. “It is better to be active on fewer platforms than have a presence on all social media sites but never post or respond.”
She also recommends focusing on customer service to build relationships with clients. “When a brand or business engages on social media, customers expect them to respond to questions and comments posted to their page,” says Moore. “Depending on the comment, responses can range from a ‘like’ to directing the person to call the spa to answering the question directly on the page.”
Depending on a spa’s budget, Dement recommends either hiring an individual or a company as the social media manager to ensure that all social media accounts are getting the best digital customer service and constant quality engagement with creative content. Spas can manage their accounts using a social management platform, like Hootsuite, to see activity on all platforms, schedule posts, and monitor and engage in conversation, according to Galaida. Another way to manage accounts is to limit them. “This is a personal preference, but less tends to be more,” she says. “If you have three locations within an hour of each other, you don’t need separate social accounts for each location. Having separate profiles for locations near each other could cause your clients confusion. Maintain one social profile on your platforms of choice. If you promote a special that is valid at a specific location, make it clear to your clients. If you have 25 locations across the country, having separate profiles specific to each location is more beneficial. Create a social media standard by providing images, copy, and text to your locations to maintain a consistent brand voice.”
When it comes to social media for spas, one of the main concerns is when appointments are scheduled on social media instead of through the front desk. This can be a problem, because employees might schedule an appointment with a client directly, while another appointment is scheduled for the same time through the front desk staff. “Existing clients should know the protocol when booking appointments,” says Aly Owens, social media marketing associate at Booker. “For new clients, make sure the protocol is clear during their first visit. You won’t be able to control everyone, so always have a scripted response ready for any inquiries regarding scheduling that come through social media—you can easily direct social inquiries to your front desk in order to book an appointment.” Also, by posting a scripted response directing the client to the spa’s front desk, there is a better chance that others will see the response and be able to figure out the spa’s scheduling policy. Spas can also utilize software that allows clients to book an appointment from wherever they are, on any device, and at any time of the day or night.
Keeping work and personal life separate is very important, as combining the two can negatively affect the business-client relationship. According to Fred Helou, CEO of Vagaro, it’s not uncommon for clients to look up your personal social media pages or those of your employees. As a result, he recommends using privacy controls to keep all of your photos and posts visible to only friends and family. “A simple dispute over a charge can easily turn into a personal attack on you if the customer can see your personal social media sites,” says Helou. “So, always keep them separate and never ‘friend’ a client.” The same advice is applicable to your staff. “As a business owner, you cannot tell your employees how to run their personal social profiles,” says Galaida. “Encourage your employees to direct clients to your business page instead of their personal pages by explaining how it not only benefits them as a service provider, but also as a business as well.” If an employee chooses not to have separate Instagram accounts or chooses to be friends with clients on Facebook pages, it’s important that you clearly define the manner in which they are allowed to represent your spa on their personal page.
During social media training, employees should be made fully aware of what it means to allow someone into their personal social media network. “By including a client, you allow them to essentially see your personal activity,” says Dement. “An employee must critically assess whether or not there is a risk of affecting the business that employs them by adding a client they might not know well.” Social media platforms like YouTube and Snapchat, for instance, can both help or hurt a person’s reputation. They allow followers to view videos and images of a person’s life and work, but they can be damaging if the content depicts the person or spa in a negative way or features something that can be considered offensive to others. Even with Snapchat, in which pictures and videos are posted and removed after 10 seconds, those quick glimpses into a person’s life can end up damaging their career—and the spa’s reputation, as well. “Anything posted on the web can easily come back to haunt you or directly affect your reputation later on,” says Dement.
Helou agrees that posts on social media can have long-lasting repercussions. “While social media is a great way to find new customers, it can be a double-edged sword,” he says. “You never want to connect to your customers using your personal Facebook or social media accounts, only your business social media accounts. You never know what might set a customer off—a political statement, a posted picture, a religious statement, or anything of the like is not appropriate on a business social media site.”
Warren is against letting employees “friend” clients, because it can increase the possibility that the employee will set up unethical meetings with the client outside of the workplace and also put employees at risk of offending clients by exposing too much of their personal lives, values, and beliefs on social media pages. “Whatever they post may be representative of your business culture in the eyes of your guests, as well,” she says. “Also, you do not want to leave employees vulnerable for stalkers or clients who may be able to track their schedules and whereabouts outside of work. When therapists create ‘friendships’ with guests outside of the workplace, myriad compromising situations could arise—including personal safety issues.”
If you decide that your employees should create a separate personal and business social media page, but some employees already have many business “friends” on their personal pages, this can be a tricky issue to resolve. Moore recommends that you create a business profile that is solely used to promote your spa and its spa employees as beauty professionals. A separate business profile can help to build your employee’s personal beauty brand and build connections with clients and the beauty community without blurring personal lines. According to Moore, once employees have created their new business page, they can simply post on their personal page encouraging people to follow their new business page. Employees can also put their business profiles on their business cards or write them on appointment reminders to encourage clients to follow them in the right place.
As social media continues to grow, and more people choose it as a way to communicate with other people and businesses, it’s more important than ever for you to be clear about what you expect of your employees. A social media policy can help prevent issues from occurring that can negatively affect an employee’s or a spa’s reputation and ensure social media is a positive platform for growing a business. “Just like you would have brand standards or a code of conduct within the workplace, it is also important to establish these guidelines within your digital presence,” says Dement. “Clearly defining what is and is not acceptable to post about the company or how to digitally engage with clients is vital to succeed in the digital space.”