It’s pretty much standard these days for all spas, as with pretty much all consumer businesses, to have a social media presence. It’s so easy to just set up a Facebook business page, why wouldn’t you? However, so many spas are not making the most of the massive potential to grow their business through an effective social media strategy. This article will take you through the advanced strategies and techniques necessary for your spa to create a dedicated online community of spa guests.
WHY YOU ACTUALLY NEED A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY FOR YOUR SPA
The difference between having some social media accounts that you occasionally post pictures and your latest spa deals on and having a dedicated online community that brings in new business is due to the existence of a well thought out strategy and use of the best techniques for connecting with your target audience.
A commonly heard complaint about social media is, “We’ve tried social media. It’s nice to have but it doesn’t have much of an actual effect on our business.” The problem with this attitude is that often these spas haven’t really had a proper social media strategy. They have just started randomly posting things and hoped they would somehow gain new business from this. Maybe the spa manager has just told the already busy receptionist that they need to post something at least twice a week. With this sort of an approach, how could you ever achieve genuine success?
The first step to social media success is to have an actual strategy. So, what is going to be included in this strategy? Hopefully, you already have an overall marketing strategy. If not, you’re going to have to go and get that sorted out first. If you do already have a marketing strategy, then that will help a lot with your social media strategy, as they really do need to be aligned. In your social media strategy, you need to answer the following questions:
- What are your marketing and social media objectives?
- What is your brand?
- Who’s your target audience?
- What are your key messages?
- Which social media channels are you going to use?
- What types of content are you going to post?
- When and how often are you going post?
- What other techniques are you going to use to grow your following?
- Are you going to use paid content promotion?
- How will you carry out social listening and online customer service?
- What tools are you going to use and what resources do you have available?
- How are you going to measure success?
As with any marketing campaign, it’s important to set objective’s for your spa’s social media activities. Look at your existing social media results and the results for your competitors and set yourself ambitious but achievable objectives. Set annual objectives and then break that down into six-month objectives, quarterly objectives and monthly objectives. It is only by measuring ourselves against clear objectives that we can see if we are making progress or not. You objectives could include some of the following:
- Number of followers
- Total post reach
- Engagement (likes, comments and shares)
KEEPING YOUR BRAND AT THE HEART OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
None of your marketing activities, including social media, should ever been done without a reference to your brand. The whole point of social media marketing is to build your spa’s brand, so you better be clear from the start what that actually is. Sharing a cute video of a pair of kittens riding on a Roomba might be something that lots of people react to and share on Facebook, but if you are running an upscale luxury hotel spa, then this isn’t really helping to build your brand.
Your brand defines your tone, who you are speaking to, what you say. What is the style of writing you will use for your social media posts? What should your images look like? What are the messages you want to convey to your audience? What sort of personality traits do you want to be know for? Are you knowledgeable, friendly, caring, exciting, funny, serious, or inspiring? All of this will determine how and what you share on social media.
Focus on what makes your spa unique and the reason why people come to your spa.
WHO ARE YOU SPEAKING TO?
Before you start posting on social media, you need to be clear who it is that you are speaking to. Start by drawing up some target guest personas. This should already be in your marketing strategy, but if not, now’s a great time to create them. A guest persona outlines the key attributes that define who your target guest is. Talk to the people who know your guests well – the spa therapists, the receptionist etc. You will want to work out most of the following attributes:
Name: Create a name for your persona
Age: How old are they? Give a specific age rather than 30-45.
Gender: Male or female?
Family and relationships: Are they married? Do they have children? Pets? Do they have a large and varied social circle or a small group of close friends?
Occupation: What do they do? What company? What career challenges do they face?
Nationality: Pick a representative nationality.
Education: Do they have a degree? A master’s degree, perhaps? What subject did they study?
Personality: How would you describe their personality? Serious? Dedicated? Caring? Funny?
Social media channels: What social media channels do they use? What sort of content do they look for? What makes them share content? What time are they on social media?
Other media: What magazines or newspapers do they read? Books? What TV programmes?
Health and wellness priorities: What are they most concerned about in terms of their health and wellness. Do they have any existing health problems? How healthily do they eat? What do they want to achieve? Why are they coming to your spa?
Interests and hobbies: What do they do in their free time? Do they read books? Travel? Go cycling twice a week? Do they go out drinking and partying with friends and want a way to recover and detox?
Create personas for all the main target groups that you want to reach. For every piece of social media content you create, you should be able to say which of your personas you are communicating with. If you are unsure about what content to create or how it should be written or which image you want to use, reference your personas as a guide. This will keep all your communications focused on what will match best with your target market.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO SAY?
Once you are clear on your brand and your guest personas, you can then work out what it is that you want to communicate. The aim of social media is not just to grow your followers and get more likes, but to actually communicate a few key messages. Your key messages could be:
- We are highly knowledgeable about nutrition and weight loss
- Our therapists are highly qualified and skilled
- Our spa is the perfect place to unwind after your 14-hour flight
- We have a luxurious hammam suite
- We have special deals on Wednesday nights
- Our facilities were designed by an award-winning designer
- Our anti-aging treatments are highly effective and use only organic ingredients
What are the few messages that you really want to communicate through your social media activities? Focus on these. You should be able to link them back to your spa’s brand and your guest personas. All of your social media posts should be communicating at least one of these messages.
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS ARE YOU GOING TO USE?
Finally, we get to pick which social media channels we are going to use. However, it was important to first be clear on what our brand is and who it is that we are communicating with before we did this. There are a large number of social media channels out there and to try and be active on all of them will likely mean you are spreading yourself too thinly. The thing that is most important is to be where your guests are. If your guests are using Facebook and Instagram but not Twitter and Google+, then you are just wasting your time with these channels. Are your guests mostly from China? Then you will need to be on Weibo and WeChat and can maybe forget about Facebook. Are you looking to build relationships with executives at professional travel agencies? Maybe LinkedIn is the place for you.
WHAT TYPES OF CONTENT ARE YOU GOING TO POST?
The type of content you want to create will be determined to a large extent by which social media channels you have chosen to use as well as who your target spa guest is, as well as what resources you have available. See the table below for a guide of which content works well for each of the major social media channels.
|Social Media Channel||Content that works well|
|Images, videos, text and links|
|Images and short videos|
|Links, text, images and short videos|
|Snapchat||Images and short videos|
WHEN AND HOW OFTEN TO POST
Part of whether you are a success on social media is posting at the right times and at the right frequency. Posting once a week on Facebook on a Thursday morning at 7 am is probably not going to be enough. Meanwhile, posting on Facebook five times per day is going to be way too much and will put off your audience and you will find them unfollowing you at a rapid pace. However, posting five to eight times per day is perfectly fine on a channel such as Twitter.
See the table below for a guide on optimal posting times and frequencies for each social media channel.
|Social Media Channel||Best times to post||Optimal posting frequency|
|Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 9 am, 1 pm and 3 pm||Once per day|
|Posting on Mondays and Thursdays is optimal and at 2 am, 8-9 am and 5 pm. Avoid Sundays and at 3-4 pm.||1-2 posts per day|
|Wednesday is best day and at 12 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm and 6 pm||15 tweets or retweets per day|
|Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm, 9 pm and 2 am. Food is best on a Sunday, Fitness on a Monday and Travel on a Saturday||11 pins per day|
Note: This information is based on average industry best practice and your perfect day, time and frequency may vary, depending on who your audience is. Experiment with different posting times and check the response to see what works best for your spa.
TECHNIQUES FOR GROWING YOUR FOLLOWERS
A common complaint from spas trying out social media marketing is that they just don’t see enough response for their efforts. They post a few pictures and special offers once or twice a week and expect to quickly gain thousands of followers. Firstly, social media is a long-term investment. It takes regular and consistent posting of excellent content to build a large following. If your social media community is not growing, then chances are that you are not giving them what they want. Try checking out your competitors that seem to be successful on social media. What types of content are they posting and what is the reaction to such content? Check out your customers as well. What accounts do they follow and what types of content do they share?
Creating enough content to post on Facebook every day, let alone on Twitter 15 times per day, is very difficult, even for a full-time social media manager. This is where content curation comes in. Not everything you share on social media needs to be created by yourself. Try sharing content from other, third-party sources. Maybe it’s an article from a healthy lifestyle magazine on the benefits of eating more tomatoes or maybe it’s a video from YouTube about how to perform yoga stretches in the office. This content might not be as great as if you created it yourself, but it does show that you are a hub of great information and knowledgeable on healthy lifestyles. The important thing is that it matches you brand and the messages you want to send to your audience. Other things to share could be social media content from the hotel you are located at or your product partners.
For social media channels such as Facebook and especially Twitter, not everyone will see everything that you share. It is said that the average life of a tweet is just around 18 minutes. This means that if a follower of yours doesn’t happen to be online within around 18 minutes after you post, it likely they will never see that tweet. This means that it is recommended to re-share the same content if it is not time sensitive.
For Facebook, this means that once posted, the same content can be shared again one month later, then two months following that and then maybe again once more six months later.
For Twitter, this can mean that once posted the same content can be re-posted maybe three hours later, then again the next day at another time, then one-week later, then one month following that and then again two months after that.
However, to make the content seem new and to not spam your audience, it is recommended to alter the text of what is being posted.
Currently very popular in social media marketing is the inclusion of user-generate content. User-generated content for spas would often include re-sharing the images that your guests have shared on their social media channels. Guests often ‘check-in’ on Facebook, allowing you to see and also share their posts with the rest of your followers. Guests will also tag their Instagram posts with the location of your spa. Using apps like Repost will help with sharing these posts with your followers. If you are mentioned on Twitter, you can easily retweet your guest’s tweet to the rest of your followers. Potential guests will trust communications from your other guests more than they trust communications directly from a company. Sharing user-generated content gives you more legitimacy as it is not you saying how amazing your spa is but your own guests. One thing to remember with user-generated content is to always thank and credit your guest for the image.
The followers you gain on Twitter, may be interested in following you on Facebook and your Facebook fans might be interested to follow you on Instagram as well. Occasionally, make sure that you encourage your social media community on one channel to follow you on other channels that you regularly post to. If you tailor your content for each channel, this will give them something new to see and will boost you followers and engagement.
It’s a good idea to promote your social media channels at every opportunity. Put links to them on your website, put them in the signature of your emails, put details about them in you spa menu and guest survey form, put them in your advertising and put a sign up at your reception area.
RUN SOCIAL MEDIA COMPETITIONS AND PROVIDE SPECIAL DEALS AND DISCOUNTS
People love the chance to get something for free or at a reduced price. Running competitions can be a fantastic way of spreading awareness of your page and spa. Competitions are particularly popular on Facebook and Instagram. Try giving away a spa voucher or bottle of Champagne to winners. You can also offer special discounts for people who have liked your Facebook page or Instagram account.
Do note, however, that most social media channels have specific rules about what is allowed and not allowed with running competitions on their platforms. See Facebook’s rules here. For example, on Facebook you can’t require that someone share a post on their timeline or a friend’s timeline or to tag themselves in a post in order to enter a competition. However, you can ask that someone ‘like’ the post or comment on the post.
GET YOUR STAFF INVOLVED
Your staff are another resource that can be useful in building your social media presence. Encourage staff members to follow you accounts and maybe share your posts. Forcing them to do so is rather unreasonable, but certainly encourage it. If your own staff aren’t interested in liking and sharing your own content, then why would other people?
In order to encourage more pages to pay to achieve a greater reach for their posts, Facebook adjusted the algorithm for what posts appear in people’s newsfeed. This means that on average your posts will likely only reach around 6% of your Facebook fans. In order to increase the reach of your spa’s posts, its important to share content that your audience will really want to engage with. Here are also some other tips and techniques you can use.
Video does better than most other post types, but only if uploaded natively to Facebook rather than just sharing a link to a YouTube video.
Images are quite popular. Try sharing pictures with your posts to make them show up more prominently in people’s feeds
Try using just one to two relevant hashtags for posts.
Actually ask people to ‘like’, comment or share your posts. It really does work.
Use the ‘Preferred Audience’ or ‘Audience Restrictions’ feature to make sure that your posts are seen by people most likely to be interested in them.
Ask people questions. Questions will encourage people to comment on your posts and this will expose them to a wider audience.
If all you do is post occasionally to Twitter, it is likely that your number of followers will grow very slowly. One of the most powerful techniques to rapidly grow your follower number on Twitter is the follow-unfollow strategy. When you follow another account on Twitter, that person will receive a notification that you have followed them. Quite often, the person being followed will check out the account that has followed them and, if they like what they see, they may follow you back. Try a Twitter search for people posting about topics that your ideal guest would be interested in or try following Twitter accounts that are already following your competitors. You can then wait for about a week or so to see if they follow you back or not. If they don’t, then feel free to unfollow them. Unfollowing is necessary as Twitter limits accounts to just being able to follow 2,000 other accounts. The ManageFlitter tool is free and very effective at helping you to do this. However, be careful, as Twitter also limits how many accounts you can follow per day. If you follow too many too quickly, Twitter may temporarily suspend you account. Around 20 follows per day would be fine. Keep this up on a daily basis and you will soon see a constant and regular growth in your follower numbers.
Another technique with a lot of potential is to mention/tag popular Twitter accounts in the spa, wellness, beauty and health sectors in your tweets. If they then share your tweet with their followers, you should gain additional followers too.
Twitter invented the social media hashtag 10 years ago in order for users to be able to find all the tweets on specific topics. Using hashtags can extend the audience of your tweets beyond that of your existing followers. However, use them sparingly. Don’t use more than two or three hashtags in any single tweet. Therefore, you will want to do some research and find out which hashtags are most popular and relevant to the content of the topics you are tweeting about.
The absolute best way to get more people to see the content you share on Instagram is hashtags. Just like Twitter, hashtags on Instagram help to collect all posts on a specific topic together for people to explore. The more hashtags you use, the more people will see and like your posts as well as gaining more followers. Instagram allows the use of up to 30 hashtags for each post. If you want the widest coverage for your content, use your full allowance of 30 hashtags. Thinking up hashtags can be difficult, especially when you want 30 of them. A useful website that will do this all for you is DisplayPurposes.com.
Other effective ways to gain more Instagram followers is, just like with Twitter, to follow lots of other Instagram accounts that have an interest in the topics you focus on. You can follow the followers of your competitors or follow people who are sharing content related to a commonly used hashtag relevant to you spa. For a hotel spa, follow, like and comment on the Instagram posts of the hotel’s guests that have been geotagged as being at the hotel or in the area near your spa.
PAID SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION
All social media channels are now offering the option of paid promotion. For often quite small sums of money, you can promote your account or some of your best content to a much broader audience than just the people who already directly follow you.
The benefit of this is that it is highly targeted. You can target people based on interests, location, family background, career and education level, and so much more. Try using Facebook to promote a special offer targeting tourists currently visiting the area of your spa that are female, aged 30-45, are degree educated and have an interest in yoga, eating healthily and exercising. Often, a very small amount of paid promotion can lead to very effective returns on investment.
SOCIAL LISTENING AND ONLINE CUSTOMER SERVICE
One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of social media marketing is what is known as ‘social listening’. Many of your guests or potential guests are having conversations about your spa right now on social media, and you might not even know about it. With social listening, you can actively follow these conversations and get involved. Maybe people are complimenting you spa and you can then thank them and even share their comments with the rest of your social media audience. Also, people might be making complaints about your spa, and you can then jump in with a considered response that shows them and everyone else involved that you deeply care about customer service.
Sometimes your account will be directly tagged in the comment or maybe people are commenting on your page. This will send you a notification that you have been mentioned and can then reply. However, there are many times when you won’t be directly tagged in a comment and won’t be notified. To find these comments, you may need to do a search on Facebook. This will only show up public posts, but it is better than nothing. On Instagram you are able to find all posts that have been geotagged as having been taken at the location of your spa. Make sure to check these regularly and respond to any comments. On Twitter, it is even easier to stay aware of any discussions about your spa. Using the Tweetdeck or Hootsuitesystems, you can create dedicated Twitter feeds that contain any mention of your brand name.
SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS
Managing a social media marketing strategy can be rather time consuming, especially if you want to be effective. However, most spas don’t have a dedicated full-time social media manager to handle all of this. Luckily, there are numerous social media marketing tools available that make the job much easier. Here are some of the best tools to consider.
Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive and versatile social media management tools. It will allow you to compose social media posts for all channels, schedule your posts, create a feed of comments and mentions, and provide analytics on how well your social media activities are working.
Like Hootsuite, Buffer provides the ability to make scheduled posts for most social media channels. While less comprehensive than Hootsuite – Buffer doesn’t provide social media feeds or alert you to comments, likes etc. – it is much easier to use than Hootsuite for automatically scheduling posts.
Tweetdeck is a website for managing Twitter accounts. It provides a much easier user interface than the regular Twitter interface. Similar to Hootsuite, it is very easy to create feeds for various search terms and notifications.
As mentioned above, one way to rapid growth of your Twitter followers is the follow-unfollow technique. ManageFlitter, is the best tool to effectively put this technique into practice. ManageFlitter will help you find targeted Twitter accounts to follow, help you follow them and then easily highlight the ones that haven’t followed you back.
Repost is a mobile app that lets you easily source Instagram images from other users and then repost them with attribution on your Instagram feed. Great for sharing images from guests at your spa.
Want to make great images with inspirational quotes for your social media channels? The Typorama app provides beautiful background images and a variety of text styles to make your posts look professional. It will also automatically resize the image to the optimal size for whichever social media channel you wish to post it on.
IFTTT (which stands for If This Then That) enables you to connect different apps together to automatically carry out actions. For example, IFTTT allows you to automatically tweet Instagram images to Twitter rather than just share a link as would happen normally if you just shared directly from the Instagram app. Or, automatically add all people who tweet using a particular hashtag to a Twitter list.
Need to find relevant and popular hashtags for your Instagram posts? Display Purposes will give you all you need to expand the reach of your Instagram posts. Just give it a couple of topics and it will automatically produce 30 hashtags ready to be copied and pasted. Also, find out which hashtags are the most popular near to your spa with the map feature.
The only way to be a success with social media is to be constantly watching what works and what doesn’t and make the necessary adjustments. How does your target audience respond to what you are posting? If something works, keep doing it, but if something isn’t working, it’s best to stop it. The only way to know this is to check your analytics. Most of the main social media channels provide you with the opportunity to automatically gather statistics on what content gets the most likes, comments or retweets etc. Every month, you should be measuring your success against your targets and decide if what you are doing is working or not. Divide your content into different categories so you know what to do more of or less of. Are those inspirational quotes working really well? If so, try sharing some more of them. How about those healthy recipes you are sharing? Nobody interested in your reviews of local cycling routes? Maybe its best to stop. By constantly updating your strategy and techniques, you will gradually get better responses and grow your social media audience.
ACHIEVING SUCCESS FOR YOUR SPA WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Success with social media will not happen overnight. It’s a long-term investment in the future of your spa. However, it will also never happen if you don’t offer anything exceptional. It requires a well-defined strategy, excellent content that appeals to your target audience, and the use of some advanced techniques and tools that make sure you make optimal use of your time and resources. With the right focus, you can create a dedicated community of people enthusiastic about your spa business.