‘Tis The Season to… Tweet, Like, Follow, Pin & Check In!

Seeking to better market your holiday offerings? Tap into the latest social media strategies.
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There was a time when day spa marketing consisted of four key elements: direct mail campaigns, in-spa signage, ads in local media outlets and good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth. That time is history. We’ve moved into the Digital Age, and spa business promotion now revolves largely around Tweets, Facebook statuses, visual social media, videos and online check-ins. And now, in this crucial pre-holiday period, is the ideal time to hone your own spa’s social media presence and approach.

“People are thinking about gifting and loving on themselves and others, and social media helps everyone get into the spirit,” says John Wayne Zimmerman, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook Marketing and CEO of marketing outfit eRocketFuel. “In addition to your promotional posts, now’s the time to put up links to printable holiday song lyrics, recipes for the best eggnog, and pictures of beautiful candle displays and incredibly decorated trees.”

Timing is everything when it comes to holiday marketing. “The pre-holiday rush—October through early December—should be a very engaged time,” says Jamie Ginsberg, social media strategist with media production company Cleveland Groove. “Because after early December, activity slows down, as people spend more time with family or go away on vacation.”

To help you devise a seamless social media plan for the season, DAYSPA grilled experts, savvy spa owners and marketing consultants for the most effective ways to maximize this essential aspect of your holiday promotional plan. Merry marketing!

Facebook Festivity

Statistics show that more than half of the U.S. population is on Facebook. Spalutions owner Felicia Brown points out, “No other marketing medium, other than perhaps the Internet, can make this claim, so it’s vital that spa owners tap into the power and reach of this tool during the holidays.”

Since Facebook is the No. 1 social site available, our experts agreed that this channel should consume the majority of your social media marketing efforts. Here are a few smart FB ideas:
Create a contest that asks people to share your post to be entered to win a free “shopping recovery” spa day, or a set of gift cards or certificates. “The more they share, the more entries they get for the drawing,” says Zimmerman.

Brown suggests posing a holiday-related trivia question and offering a prize for those who come into your spa bearing the correct answer. “Depending on the prize,” she says, “this can get a lot of attention. The questions need not even be related to your day spa, but should be designed to bring more people to your door or your website.”

Appeal to weary shoppers and overstressed clients by publicizing last-minute appointments. “Posting open or just-canceled slots on Facebook takes me very little time and almost always results in an additional appointment or two at my massage therapy practice,” Brown says.

Bruce Schoenberg, CEO of Oasis Day Spas, with locations in New York City and Westchester County, New York, fills in slow days via last-minute appointment deals that are offered to a text-message list of clients. The list is promoted via Facebook and Twitter: LAST-MINUTE SPA DEALS: Some of our BEST deals last just 24-48 hours, and are ONLY announced via our Text Message List. Click here to sign up! 

Take advantage of seasonal shopping traffic with check-in deals. “These are created on the back end of a Facebook page, rather than the status page, and they’re geo-location based,” Ginsberg explains. “When guests check into the spa, make available small deals that they can claim on the spot by checking in at your spa and presenting their phones as proof.” (Half of all Facebook users—more than 450 million people—now use a mobile phone.) This grants exposure—as your spa is now showing up on these clients’ news feeds—and entices others to come in and claim deals.

Spring for promoted posts. “Facebook advertising is a great use of leftovers in your budget at the end of this year—you can pay to promote certain key posts,” Ginsberg suggests. As these posts remain on followers’ news feeds longer, they’re ideal for holiday promotions and deals. “You’ll want to post those early and keep them up longer,” Ginsberg says. To use this functionality, though, your spa’s page must be set up as a local business and considered a “place” on Facebook.

Use de-stressifying wording and tone. Remember that people seek social media for fun and escape, especially during the holiday stress marathon. “Users will respond to calming images and inspirational messages that drive them to book appointments and share your message,” Zimmerman says. Rather than post, Treat yourself to a massage today, get strategic. Post a picture of a tranquil scene and write, Take a deep breath, release the tension in your shoulders, and have an amazing day today. You are at peace. And you are loved. Then put a call to action in the image that asks people to share this message with others, and include a link that drives them to a booking page to make an appointment.

One caveat: Be careful about pushing products or services in too many of your Facebook posts. (See Retail Promotion, page 60, for specific tips for this.) Here’s Zimmerman’s rule of thumb: “Only 25% of your posts should promote non-discounted offerings.”

Oh, Christmas Tweet

“Some social media newbies and tech-challenged older folks may not ‘get’ Twitter,” notes Brown, “but studies show that it appeals to younger spa-goers—think tweens through Gen Y—as well as those in more urban settings. It’s also a great place to cross-link blog posts and recent newsletters, and to share small bits of info.”

Tweets for the holidays needn’t just center on holiday promotions or festive treatments—experts recommend flaunting your spa’s personality and seasonal spirit by tweeting everything from simple holiday wishes to photos of your staff in Santa hats. Whatever you choose to post, the best way to take advantage of Twitter’s young, hip and fast-moving audience is to seek the almighty re-tweet. The “holy grail of Twitter,” as Ginsberg puts it, the re-tweet is the most efficient way to spread the word about your spa and gain more followers. “People re-tweet when they feel moved to share or want to inform people, so try to have your tweets either inspire or educate,” says Ginsberg. (Think obscure holiday trivia and unorthodox ways to de-stress!) Ginsberg also suggests including geo-location hashtags to ensure your tweets are reaching an audience who will actually come into your spa.

We Wish You a Merry Pinterest

While the image-based Pinterest might not drive as much traffic to your spa as Facebook and Twitter, some would say it’s actually the best fit for day spa marketing, as great visuals are a powerful way to get people into your spa.

And creating a holiday-themed pinboard is a slam-dunk. You can include photos of your spa’s décor, your staff in festive garb, seasonal herbs (such as peppermint) used in treatments or any holiday-related visuals featuring your community. Oasis plans to create several non-spa-specific pinboards that will be of interest to clients, such as The Holidays in NYC and Holiday Happenings in Westchester.

“Content on Pinterest needs to stay fresh,” notes Ginsberg, “and creating a pinboard for each holiday is a great way to ensure that.” He adds, however, that while Pinterest is “a great space to have a presence, it isn’t the social media network to devote much time to.”

As with Twitter, it’s crucial with Pinterest to seek re-pinning action. “Create images of your spa so striking that people will want to re-pin, and make sure each image includes your business’ name or URL in a tasteful, inconspicuous way,” Ginsberg advises. “One way to do this is to use a small, faded watermark in the bottom corner of your images—you can use the description copy at the end to promote your specials.”

Interestingly, Zimmerman suggests that spas not only pin images depicting tranquility and relaxation, but also showcase the opposite. “It’s common for spas to only post the images that depict the end result, but as a business it’s paramount that you let people see the other end of the spectrum.” (Think crowded mall parking lots, ugly Christmas sweaters and stale fruitcake!)

“Rub that pain in a little,” says Zimmerman. “Then share imagery depicting the loving connection achieved through wellness and in pampering oneself.”

Yuletide On YouTube

While most social media outlets make great promotional tools, YouTube’s primary purpose should be to educate. Many spas use the video site to post informational footage about spa treatments, products, skin care and body work, as well as at-home “how-to” guides, tours of spa facilities and interviews with skincare and wellness experts. Consider shooting a special video about simple ways to de-stress during the holidays, highlighting the tension-busting benefits of a few signature services.

Other holiday-themed video topics? How to care for winter-ravaged skin, holiday-themed manicures (i.e., how you create a snowflake design on a client’s nails), and a tour of your retail area that shows off your finest stocking stuffers.

“Start today,” Ginsberg urges. “It’s very simple—iPhones have high-quality video capabilities and YouTube makes it easy for anyone to upload, edit and post a video.”

“You have to use video,” Zimmerman adds. “It’s the next wave in the Internet explosion. Use an iPhone and get some testimonials from current clients. Do an interview. Show your space and holiday atmosphere.” (And then, naturally, you’ll want to post your spa cinema on Facebook and Twitter!)

Holly Jolly LinkedIn

Contrary to popular opinion, LinkedIn isn’t just for business professionals networking for their next career move. It’s actually a social site, rife with potential spa clients, that’s currently woefully underused by spa owners. Information- rather than image-oriented, LinkedIn can be a great place to distribute your spa’s holiday-centric blog, share your background and education, and show yourself to be an expert in your field.

“This is a community of people with money, many of whom hold high-pressure jobs and may be stressed and sorely in need of some spa time,” points out Ginsberg, who suggests spas have clients write testimonials for them on LinkedIn’s “recommendations” page. One tip: “Keep the content and wording professional,” says Ginsberg.

Come, All Ye Websites

One of the most important things to remember this holiday season is that whatever you do through Facebook (i.e., a contest, promotion, sale, local deal, special offer, etc.) should be cross-promoted via all of your other social media sites, as well as your blog and email newsletter. “Use social media as a part of any promotion, but not alone, in order to get the best results,” advises Brown. “If you’re hosting a holiday open house, for example, send out an invitation by email and also post it on your website and social media pages. Share details in the days or weeks leading up to the event, and perhaps some pictures of the preparations. During the event, give live updates and pictures of guests as they arrive, and so on.”

Oasis, for example, plans to market its new hairstylist by creating Express Holiday Makeover packages for clients to use after work to get ready for holiday parties. “We’re already thinking of clever hashtags to use on Twitter, ways to promote it on Facebook and hairstyle photos to feature on Pinterest,” says Ruby Gu, creative director at Oasis. “Cross-promoting is so key.”

Santa’s Little Helpers…

Round out your social networking arsenal with these players.

Foursquare: As long as you’re offering holiday shopping season check-in deals via Facebook, expand your “instant offer” reach with a Foursquare presence. (The location-based Foursquare uses GPS to allow users to “check in” at businesses and receive points.) Oasis will offer a small percentage off services or a sample-size product to those who check in at the spa using Foursquare this holiday season. “That’s really it,” says Ginsberg. “Spa owners should have a presence, but I wouldn’t put much time or effort into it.”

Google+: Depending on whom you ask, Google+ is either going to be putting Facebook out of business or will soon be out of business itself. Most experts agree that maintaining a presence is beneficial for search engine optimization but, as with Foursquare, Google+ shouldn’t require much of your time or effort. Simply cross-promote what you’re offering on your primary social media outlets—as well as on your website, blog and newsletter—by sharing a link through your Google+ account. “The great thing about Google+ is that it shows up high on Google search feeds,” notes Ruby Gu, creative director at Oasis Day Spas.

Retail Promotion

It can be tricky to push retail items via social media without your posts sounding too “sales pitch-ey.” Felicia Brown offers this handy way to mask them: “Highlight specific active ingredients in a product you’re promoting—lavender, for example—and create a few posts about its benefits, history and applications. Then showcase a couple of lavender-rich products. I’d also tie the product into an in-spa service to get double use out of the initial posting, and then perhaps offer a special for those who purchase the product or service and/or share the deal.”

Carrie Borzillo is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author.

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