3 Ways to Sell More Instant Gift Certificates this Holiday Season

November 20, 2014 Stephany Toman permalink

IGCThe holiday marketing clock is ticking, and what you do now will help ensure you sell the most instant gift certificates possible.

Start advertising now

Now is the time to get the word out about offering instant gift certificates for your services. Create incentives for purchasing, and emphasize availability and ease of purchase in time to grab the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers. Let them know they can enjoy themselves in front of a crackling fire while everyone else is out fighting crowds, cold and general hostility in their pursuit of gift deals.

Make sure specials, packages and links to buy are available where shoppers are

This is when you update your website, add links and options to purchase on your social media platforms as well as any email correspondence you generate. And you need to generate email correspondence to let people know about how easy it is to buy instant gift certificates from any number of online locations – tell them, give them links, then let them do their buying thing.

Create in-store displays and gift sets to promote and support your online message

Gift sets are all great ways to incorporate gift certificates, and can help increase overall value and sales. Creating several for the holidays will bump the perceived value of the gifts you’re promoting and provide a nice tangible giveaway to boot.

This is not rocket science, but time is of the essence. So get focused, update your website, your social media, and put together some fun displays that promote your holiday packages.

Happy holiday prep!

Who is Your Holiday Marketing Audience, Anyway?

November 13, 2014 Stephany Toman permalink

Blossoming beauty treatmentsJust who are you targeting when you amp up your holiday marketing efforts? Friends. Loved ones. Teachers. Co-workers. Caregivers. Mechanics. Postal workers. Butchers. Bakers. And, last but certainly not least, men. (Who may or may not fall into any of the categories already listed!)

You get my point. Potential giftees span the spectrum. What does this mean to you? Keep that in mind when you craft your holiday packages. How?

Several ways come to mind.  One involves price points. Offering several price points for packages means gift givers will have the right choice for the recipient. We’ve discussed, many times, how having three great packages at different price points means you’ll most likely sell a majority in the middle, and, occasionally, for ‘special’ occasions, you’ll sell at the top end, too. For this holiday purpose, and given the wide number of potential recipients, a variety of options means you’ll be filling a need for gifts small and more generous.

Another tactic would be creating packages for a target group, say teachers, for example. Having cleverly named packages that are variations on your core service offerings (and which require no extra special products or preparation to speak of), that play on the school/teacher idea will make gift recipients feel special and appreciated.

Creating gift certificates around the potential recipient groups makes sense, too, and requires no additional services setup. Creating gift certificates for any number of specific themes/recipients is a simple task for a graphics person, and will add to your inventory of choices during prime gift giving times.

And let’s not forget the men.

Recent stats have shown that men comprise almost 1/3 of spa goers these days. 1/3. That’s a pretty significant number. And that percentage isn’t all seeking men-only establishments, though those have certainly created a lucrative niche for themselves in recent years and have grown at astonishing rates because of their focus on creating intensely male-centric environments for their clientele.

But your focus doesn’t need to be that narrow to capture some of the male audience. What you need is to market to both them and the ones who spend time with/gift them. Things that men prefer tend to the simple – a service menu with ten facials may well confuse, certainly the novice spa-goer, but one with 2 or 3 services designed specifically with the male client in mind will appeal.  And when it comes to naming male-focused services? Descriptive and traditionally masculine seems to do the job.

As you prepare for what is predicted to be a strong holiday season from a retail standpoint, be sure to consider your audience – all of it – and spend the time to create a few special offers or to tailor your gift certificates to reach the special giftees. The effort will be worth it.

The Power of Gratitude

November 11, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

Welcome, it's a pleasure to meet you!Think about the last time someone really genuinely thanked you for something. Made you feel pretty good, didn’t it? We express thanks all the time to our family, our friends, our employees, and our clients. But how often, especially in our business, do we really show our gratitude. Gratitude in business is often overlooked, but it can be a powerful tool for creating a successful and thriving business.

Customers who feel appreciated will keep coming back and will recommend you to their friends and family. Employees who feel appreciated will be loyal employees who help you grow and sustain a successful business and keep your customers happy as well.

As we head into the traditional season of gratitude, now is a great opportunity to take some time and plan out how you can incorporate more gratitude into your business practices throughout the year. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Create a Loyalty Program
Clients who feel appreciated and are rewarded for their loyalty to your business will keep coming back. Providing a system for rewarding them for their business is a great way to create a relationship with your clients. It’s also a good way to keep them coming back again and again and spending a bit more. We even have functionality built into your SpaBoom account that can help you run this type of program.

Create Customer Appreciation Events or Specials
Another great way to show your appreciation is to host an event or create special promotions to show your clients how grateful you are to have them. You could do this monthly or quarterly. It could be something as simple as a special reward for clients who make purchases during a certain time frame. Or something more elaborate like a customer appreciation open house with mini treatments for your clients.

Create opportunities for thanking your employees as well
Employees who feel appreciated tend to be more engaged and are more productive at work. So build some opportunities for thanking your employees into your business plan. You could create an ongoing feature such as Employee of the Month or Week, where you feature and reward an employee who has gone above and beyond. Or do something a little more simple such as an annual party to thank your staff for all their hard work during the year.

How about sending a quick message of thanks this time of year?
We all spend a great deal of time and effort on cultivating our clients and maintaining their loyalty. But one of the easiest ways to do that is often the most overlooked in this age of social media and email: the simple expression of gratitude. So think about sending out a message via email and social media this season that simply says “Thanks so much for being our clients.” So many of our communications are about selling or promoting something. This time around, let’s promote gratitude and further our relationship with our clients and staff.

As a business owner, there are so many things to be grateful for and so many ways to express that gratitude. Be sure to take some time out regularly to recognize that and to say thanks to those who help you make it all possible.

What Can Twitter Analytics Do for You?

November 3, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

twitterWe are always looking for better ways to connect with our clients online. Twitter is still one of the top social media platforms for doing just that, especially when your followers are on the go. And they recently made it even easier for you to analyze how effective your tweets are and what else your followers are doing online. Earlier this summer, Twitter released their Analytics Dashboard to all of their users (previously, it was only available to their paid advertisers). It is a powerful tool and we’re really excited to have it available for everyone to use.

Twitter Analytics offers a lot of useful information that allows you to evaluate what is happening in your Twitter feed, from what tweets are the most successful, to what your followers are doing and where they are located. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer. You can access Twitter Analytics at: https://analytics.twitter.com/ Once you are logged into your Analytics account, you will see that it is broken down into three sections: Tweets, Followers, & Twitter Cards. Here are a few helpful tips about each of those areas as you begin analyzing your Twitter data.

Tweets
This area provides you with information on your tweets. You can see how many link clicks, retweets, favorites, & replies were received for each tweet. Tweets is broken down into a couple of sections:

  • Impressions – The number of times a user saw the tweet on Twitter.
  • Engagements – The total number of times a user has interacted with a tweet. This includes all clicks anywhere on the tweet (hashtags, links, avatar, username, tweet expansion), retweets, replies, follows, & favorites.
  • Engagement Rate – The engagement rate is determined by dividing the number of engagements by the number of impressions.

You can also click on any tweet on this page and view a Tweet Details page of the data for just that tweet. Tweets is a good section to look at to get an idea of what tweets are getting the most interaction from your followers. You can then use that information to tailor your posts to create greater engagement.

Followers
Followers provide information on your followers. At the top of the page, you will see a graph that tracks the number of followers you have, so that you can see trends of rising or lowering followers over time. The Followers page breaks down your followers by location and gender and shows what your followers’ top interests are, and what their most unique interests are, based on what they are following and what tweets they are liking on Twitter. You also get to see examples of some of the other Twitter accounts they are following. This is all really useful information that can help you determine whether you are effectively reaching your target demographic. It can also be used to tailor tweets to match the overlap of your clients’ interests and your offerings.

Twitter Cards
Twitter Cards
are an exciting new addition to the Twitter family. Once set up and integrated Twitter Cards allow you to take your Twitter posts beyond just text and incorporate photos and videos. The main difference is that those images will show up in your Twitter feed as photos or videos, rather than as just a link to the image. So it makes the user experience that much better. There is a lot to learn about Twitter Cards. Here is a great article over at Forbes.com that will teach you all you need to know about Twitter Cards.

As you can see, the new Twitter Analytics offers you a lot of powerful tools to analyze what is happening with your Twitter feed. It can help you determine what is working well and where you need to make some changes to make your Twitter feed even more successful. Take some time today and sign into your Twitter Analytics account and check out your data. By using the data that Twitter is now providing you free of charge, you can start to strengthen your online presence and make more informed decisions about your social media strategy.

Keep Your Eye on the Turkey

October 31, 2014 Stephany Toman permalink

A  photo of Autumn forest and sunEven though the frost is barely on the pumpkin, things are starting to get serious in terms of end-of-year marketing. We’re about to hit the big time in terms of opportunity to generate significant revenue, all while we’re helping our clients choose most excellent gifts for their intended recipients, recipients who may not yet be loyal to your business.

Gift certificates represent a very solid way to boost your revenue stream and bond with those who are new, or at least new to you, in terms of enjoying relaxing, nurturing, stress-reducing services. There is a lovely symmetry to the gift certificate sale that begins with you promoting your services via your website, in house signage, voice mail recordings, and social media interactions and ending with the lucky giftee scheduling time in your establishment.

You reach out via the media that you’ve chosen to the people you’ve nurtured and to whom you’ve provided spa, massage, esthetic and salon services to in the past to do the right thing – gift a wonderful service to a friend or family member on their list – and in return you gain access to new and more potential long-term clients, clients that you will then be able to reach out to with great promotions and service offerings that they can then gift to other lucky people and so on.

Everything that you do to promote your business, and to provide the absolute best experience possible for everyone who walks in your door matters. Every time a future customer becomes a current customer your hard work has made a difference, for those people decide to seek your services for any number of reasons, all of which you have a modicum of control influencing in positive ways – a friend refers your business by straight recommendation or via gift certificate, an article you have written on your blog has impressed to the point where curiosity is piqued and a decision to try out your services is made, or a social media post gets liked by someone whose like is seen on a friend’s wall. The possibilities are limitless; the choice to reach out with compelling and thought provoking marketing, regardless the medium, is one that pays dividends in countless ways. The process builds on itself – that’s the beauty and frustration of marketing, actually. Even if you ask someone how they found your business, sometimes their answer is only part of the equation. After all, in our day and age of being constantly overwhelmed by a daily barrage of messaging and information – much of it designed to make us buy something or try something, or, right now, to vote in midterm elections for someone, actually – the real reason for finally seeking your services may have begun months before when a friend shared a helpful blog article. The fact that your new client has now bookmarked your blog, or is notified when a new article goes up simply reinforces the entire process.

Back to the turkey.

By now we’re all painfully aware of the Black Friday idiocy ridiculousness chaos tradition.  Most of us have participated at one point in the rush to get the best deal on a down comforter or TV or home appliances or….to be met with extremely long lines full of people suffering from serious turkey hangovers. It’s not fun, and often the object of your original desire is gone by the time you actually get into the place that’s offering up the deal. It’s fundamentally unfair, blows a perfectly good morning to sleep in and relax, and is so not how you need to do things.

You offer the perfect, elegant solution with your instant gift certificates for your services. Use the convenience factor, the elegance piece, the ‘they are absolutely right for so many people on your list’ aspect, and promote them like crazy.

Starting now. Because it’s about to get ugly out there, and you are in the perfect position to make the lives of gift givers a whole lot easier, once again.

Go forth and promote. And go easy on the stuffing – it’ll make you sleepy.

Partner Up to Grow Your Clientele

October 23, 2014 Stephany Toman permalink

Ready and willing to assist you with your choiceAs children, our parents always encouraged us to make friends. It wasn’t always easy, since society is complicated and not everyone gets along famously, but, over time, we ended up with quite a posse. Grade school through high school, many of us were friends through the travails of childhood, adolescence, then young adulthood. Having a close group of like-minded cohorts made us feel stronger and a part of something, which was a good thing.

As professionals within the spa, massage, esthetics and salon industry, following our parents’ sage wisdom would be a very very good practice. For some reason once we’re adults, and practicing in various areas of expertise, the bonds we enjoyed in our youth seem less important. As members of a community of businesses that serve the needs of clientele seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, hair care, and beauty, we need to look around and become friends with businesses in our local area. Developing business relationships with restaurants, florists, B&B’s, golf courses, yoga studios, and others makes very good business sense.

Referring to others in your community provides an entre for your clients to enjoy that new French Bistro down the block, perhaps at a discount, or maybe with a lovely glass of wine added to their meal, gratis, because you sent those diners to try the cuisine. Conversely, offering up a special perc or add on to services for customers of that same Bistro who visit for the first time demonstrates your desire to spread good will within the local business community as well as grow your client base in the process.

I have seen many partnerships develop between small businesses that make me smile and believe in the power of collaboration and professional support as a way to engender positive feelings within a mutual client base, and, ultimately generate referrals which are really opportunities to form relationships with new clients.

Who within your business community could you strike up a referral relationship with? If you sit down and make a list of possible complementary partnerships you might be surprised at the potential just waiting to be tapped.

What Will You Do In 2015?

October 22, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

People working cogsWe’ve all been there. It’s Friday afternoon and suddenly you realize that the end of next week is the start of the Valentine’s or Mother’s Day season and you’ve been too busy to plan anything yet. So you spend the next several hours rushing to prepare some sort of promotion or special, creating stress for you and your team and ending up with what is probably not the greatest campaign. Plus, by then, it’s probably too late. Your competitors have been advertising their promos for days or weeks by now and probably have an effective plan in place that encompasses email marketing, in-store signage, and social media interaction. By waiting until the last minute, you’ll have to rely on your loyal clients to hopefully remember your business and choose it as their gift option. Or settle for a less than stellar campaign and poor market penetration.

Let’s make 2015 different. Why not schedule a bit of time in the next couple of weeks and get your 2015 marketing plan in order now? Not only will it set you up for success in the new year, but it will reduce stress, and help you plan out your promotions and stay within your marketing budget for the year. By planning it all out now, you’ll also be afforded the time to look at what has worked and what hasn’t this year and last year. And you can make more effective marketing decisions for the future.

Here are some things to think about when planning your marketing strategy for 2015:

First, some Analysis
The first thing to do is to analyze what has worked for you (& what hasn’t worked) in the past. Take a look at your promotions and numbers for this year and 2013. You should be able to look back and see what worked and what didn’t work. Your staff is a great resource to look to for feedback as well.

Here are some things to look at:

  • What promos were successful in the past year? in 2013?
  • What promos were unsuccessful in the past year? in 2013?
  • What did your revenue numbers look like by month?

From here, you want to really look at why certain promotions resonated with your clients, while others just didn’t seem to hit the mark. Were all the successful promotions during certain times of the year or for certain types of specials? What about the unsuccessful promotions?

This can also be a good time to do a SWOT Analysis to really take a look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as you begin to plan out the next year. Even if you don’t have time to do a SWOT Analysis, you can still do a less in depth analysis of your current situation and your goals for the future. Here are some things to consider:

  • Who is your current demographic? Are you effectively reaching them? If so, where?
  • Do you have a different demographic that you would like to target in 2015? If so, who?
  • As a business, what are you doing well? What could you be doing better?
  • Have there been any major changes in the marketplace?
  • Are there any new opportunities that you would like to pursue?

Now that you’ve completed an analysis of what worked and didn’t work in the past and where you want the business to be headed in the future, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to do in 2015.

Time to Lay Out a Plan
Start off with just a short calendar list of the promotions for the year. I like to break mine down by quarters and then by months. Lay out on the calendar when you will start and end promotions, along with a general description of what the promotion will be. But don’t stop there. You want to make your marketing plan more in depth than that.

Take some time to think about your social media and what sort of posts you want to share on there during the course of the year. Be sure to consider when and how you will post to social media and your blog. Keep in mind that while social media plays an important role in informing your customers of specials and promotions, that should not be its primary role. Social media is a place where you can create a community and use it to inspire and engage. If you do that well, then sharing news such as upcoming specials and promotions becomes an organic part of the communications.

Be sure to consider where other forms of communications, such as email marketing and newsletters, fit into this plan. Give some thought to what sort of information you want to feature in your newsletters and blog posts. Taking the time now to plan out what the overall year of posts or newsletters will look like will make it much easier down the road.

Make sure all of this gets onto your marketing calendar. And be sure to leave some room for flexibility. You want your plan to have the flexibility to make changes or shuffle things around based on the changing needs of your business and the marketplace throughout the course of the year.

Schedule Time to Implement Your Plan
Now that you have a plan in place, marketing in 2015 will be so much simpler. But there is one more key element of your marketing plan that you need to put into place. Regular attendance. A plan is only as good as the people who implement it. So make sure you schedule time regularly (once a week or so) for someone on your team to take a look at the plan and take care of the tasks that need to happen next to keep things running smoothly. If you make this plan a priority, and everyone knows what they need to do (& when they need to do it), then nobody will be running around in a panic at the last minute trying to get things done.

So now you have a plan in place and your team is ready for 2015. Be sure to revisit your plan regularly. Ask for feedback from your staff and clients. And don’t be afraid to make changes throughout the course of the year to make your plan even more effective. By putting a plan together in advance, you’re making it much easier to analyze and improve your business practices throughout the course of the year. That will lead to far less stress and a healthier business.

*** This article concludes our “Time for a Tune Up” series. We hope the series has helped identify ways that you can tune up your business practices, and carve out time to think about your business and marketing strategies for 2015.

Sometimes Credibility Comes From Outside

October 16, 2014 Stephany Toman permalink

Mature woman being pamperedFortunately for the spa and salon industry, many people fully understand the benefits and enjoyment around receiving regular massages, facials, manis/pedis, and hair treatments. These people have either learned from friends in the know, or simply appreciate the value of care delivered in serene, well-designed settings by professional practitioners.

There are some out there, though, who need a nudge in the right direction. These people may have perfectly good reasons for reticence, but mostly they may feel like they need science to justify spending on themselves (spending time and/or money). I have friends who never ‘got’ how healthy massages are for us until they heard a spot on Oprah or read an article in a health magazine outlining the benefits. After that, they were converts…

The good news is, there is more literature than ever espousing the benefits of massage, foot care and skin care. Using articles (referencing them on your blog, or linking to them from a resources page on your website, for example) to add credibility to ‘tangible’ benefits of your services can help convince those who just haven’t quite figured out what the rest of us embraced long ago – regular care by gifted professionals means feeling and looking better no matter what!

A quick search just netted two articles worth a view on the benefits of massage:

MASSAGE: GET IN TOUCH WITH ITS MANY BENEFITS
The Mayo Clinic published this piece, which is simple and straightforward, and provides some general information that may help the uninitiated feel more comfortable with massage as a beneficial addition to a healthy lifestyle.

MASSAGE
The University of Maryland Medical Center published this overview, which contains definitions of the various modalities of massage we tend to encounter, as well as the health benefits imparted by same.

Foot care also falls into the realm of ‘seems like an indulgence’ until the health benefits are listed at which point pedicures move into the realm of the possible, and not just for aesthetic reasons. Everyone’s feet can use a professional assessment from time to time, particularly if there is concern, as there may be in the case of diabetes or extreme athletics, that the feet are less healthy than they could be. From a diabetic perspective, keeping one’s feet healthy is a very serious matter as the consequences of blisters, sores, fungal infections or other breaches of the healthy skin layer can present concerns, and a need for medical oversight and treatment. From an extreme athletics perspective, the feet take a beating, and the results can include damaged toe nails, significant callous buildup, as well as strain and stress on the toes and feet structures themselves, all of which can be identified by a professional pedicure.

PEDICURE
Foot Vitals’ Dr. Kelsey Armstrong has outlined the importance of regular foot care in overall health, as well as the benefits of professional pedicures to help identify and relieve potential issues.

Skin care is also a hot topic, and from a very simple and practical standpoint, regular skin care means someone other than you is assessing the health and well being of the largest organ on the body. Professional estheticians see what we might not – changes that may indicate a need for a visit with a dermatologist for follow up, as well as signs of health concerns or aging that can be addressed with any number of modern approaches.

While we can’t win everyone over into the land of consistent spa, salon and skin care, we can use the power of information and the media to make the argument for us when all that’s needed is just that little nudge to venture into a beneficial and rejuvenating place.

‘Tis The Season (Almost) ~ Are You Ready?

October 14, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

People working cogsYes, I know. The kids just went back to school and football season just started. It’s still warm outside and Halloween isn’t even here yet. But the holidays – they are looming on the horizon. And NOW is the time to start thinking about them.

The holidays are a busy time for everyone. Not only are you trying to run a business and promote it as a gift choice during the holidays, but you’re also trying to manage your personal life, with parties, shopping, and your own holiday preparations and celebrations. Planning for the holidays now gives you the time to really think about what you want to promote and accomplish this holiday season. It also gives you the time to create good packages and effectively promote your offerings and your business as a gift option. By having a plan in place now, it makes it easier on you and your staff to effectively carry out that plan. It also makes it easier to market your promos and events to your clients with enough advance notice for them to make the time in their schedule to shop or attend. Your clients are busy during the holidays too.

Here are some things to start thinking about and putting together before the holidays are upon us. Take the time to plan these things out now, while it’s still a bit slow. You’ll thank yourself come November.

Think about your holiday packages
The time to start thinking about your holiday packages is now. You want to make sure that these packages are attractive and offer good value to your customer, while also not putting your bottom line into the red. What will you be featuring? Special holiday-themed packages & products? Tried and true offerings? Take a look at what did well, and not so well, last year and then start designing your packages from there.

Don’t forget to think about creating a few offerings for your stressed out clients during the month of December – maybe some mini-treatments to help them rejuvenate, de-stress, and spoil themselves a bit during the busy shopping/party time of December. A quick 15 or 30 minute mini-treatment could be a great quick break for your clients while they are rushing around running errands and getting their holiday shopping done.

Plan out your Holiday Campaigns!
What will you be promoting and when will those campaigns go out? It’s better to decide this now and start putting your holiday promotions schedule together. Once you have your holiday packages and offerings put together, start creating your holiday promotions and get them on your calendar and entered into your SpaBoom account.

Think about how you want to use your social media outlets to keep your followers engaged during the holidays. This could be as easy as creating posts that encourage interaction, such as “What is your favorite holiday tradition?” or What is your dream holiday destination?” or you could create a set of holiday mini-tips to post that offer your clients advice on managing the holidays while still looking and feeling great.

What about all the other holidays?
Don’t just think about Christmas – Consider all the other holidays to celebrate in the final quarter of the year and all the different ways your clients celebrate (from Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to celebrating small businesses on Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday offers). There are so many different holidays to celebrate during that time of the year. Find out what are your clients celebrating and market your holiday offerings to those holidays.

Are you Having a Party?
Do you want to host a holiday event (or multiple events)? Now is the time to start planning and promoting that event. The Saturday after Thanksgiving (Small Business Saturday) or a Holiday Open House in December are great opportunities to promote your business and offerings, while also saying thank you to your loyal clients. But you will need the time to plan out and market this so don’t put it off. Get started on your party planning now!

Consider Holiday Logistics
Take some time to think about some of the unique logistics that the higher traffic and sales of the holidays create. Do you need to stock up on extra product for the holiday? Or need to order decorations, signage, extra gift wrap supplies, or holiday collateral? Now is the time to think about getting those orders in. It’s better to think about these things now and get them handled before the rush starts. Nobody wants to be rushing around at the last minute trying to get more supplies in. That only creates stress and extra expense. Give some thought to whether your staff will need additional training on new services, packages, and products that you plan to feature during the holiday season. That training should happen before the holiday madness starts. Make sure you get that scheduled.

Will your staffing needs change during the holidays and the month of January?
As holiday traffic and business increases with gift packages and rising demands for regular services (during this festive party season), will you need to increase staffing or extend your hours? Consider how you will staff your business during the holidays and into January to ensure that you can effectively provide the regular services your clients expect as well as the demand for additional services that gift packages and increased gift certificate sales generate.

By taking some time to plan out the holiday season now, you’ll be ahead of the game when November rolls around. And that will mean you can focus on delivering the best possible experience to your clients and providing amazing gift ideas and options rather than running around trying to pull your holiday campaign together. It will make everyone’s holidays a lot more joyful.

*** This article is part of our “Time for a Tune Up” series, designed to help you tune up your business practices, get ready for the holidays, and think about your business and marketing strategies, both for the rest of this year and heading into 2015.

Tune Up Your Social Media

October 1, 2014 Kathy Watts permalink

People working cogsThese days, just having a Facebook page and Twitter account is not enough. They shouldn’t just be an afterthought, or something you signed up for because you thought your business should have them. They also shouldn’t just be a place to advertise your specials.

People spend more time on social media than they do watching television, so making sure your business is not only present but offering interesting and engaging posts is more important than ever. People are looking for engagement and benefits from liking your page. Social media should be a place where you create and foster a community. That community then becomes a captive audience and a strong contingent of your regular customers.

Now is a great time of the year to tune up your social media pages & rethink your social media strategy. Here are some things to consider:

First, Do a Bit of Housekeeping
Here are a few initial places to start off the housekeeping on your page:

  • Is your contact information (phone number, address, & website) correct? Have you entered your business hours and are they accurate? Is your About section filled out and up to date?
  • Make sure your Facebook page is a business page and not just a profile. Not only is it more professional, it also doesn’t violate Facebook’s policies. If someone can “Friend” your page, then you have a profile. A Business page can only be “Liked”.
  • Do you have a cover photo and profile picture? Studies show that users are drawn to pages with photos. Make sure your page has them and they are sized to fit properly.

 

What makes a good post? Trends in Posting
More and more people are spending more and more time on social media, and they aren’t just on there to watch videos of cats. They are there looking for inspiration, engagement, and to feel like part of a community. So make your page the sort of place that provides that sort of experience, rather than just a spot to check out your specials. Inspire them with tips and information about how to achieve a more beautiful and healthy lifestyle. Engage them with questions that encourage interaction. The trend in posting to social media is moving towards shorter, more frequent communications, with a focus on visual. This is the perfect place to test out your brand voice and personality (two topics we’ve covered recently here on the blog). The best posts create and foster a sense of community and initiate conversations.

Think Visual!
Consumers continue to become more and more visual, and they are drawn to posts with images. So think about incorporating more visuals into your posts. All of the social media platforms are set up to incorporate photos or videos into your posts, so posting with photos is now easier than ever.

Consider using Video
YouTube has more viewers than cable television. Used effectively, video is a great way to connect with even more of your clients or prospective customers. Plus, with the Facebook algorithm, users who watch videos will start to see more videos in their feeds, which means your posts will show up more frequently if they include photos and videos. Video can be a great tool for sharing tips with your followers or introducing them to your staff.

Create a Series
Series are a great way to generate interest and also a way to bring followers back again, to check out the next installment. It’s also a great way to set your business up as an expert, or to help foster your brand identity online by helping your followers get to know your business better.

A great idea for a series is to answer your five most asked questions in little videos. Then share them on your social media outlets in a weekly series & make a landing page on your website that features them as well. Or create an Ask the Expert series where followers can post questions and you post a video response/tutorial once a week.

Should you add another outlet?
Facebook and Twitter are still the kings of social media. But there are lots of other platforms out there that continue to grow in popularity. Now might be a good time to think about adding another to the mix. Consider Google+, the fastest growing of the social networks. Experts predict that it will only continue to grow and its users are very active. It could be a great third social media outlet to add to your marketing plan.

There are also quite a few social media platforms that are a bit more specialized, such as LinkedIn for business contacts, Pinterest for pinning fave photos and links to websites/articles, Instagram for posting snapshots, and Vine for posting short 6 second videos. It’s worth evaluating these to determine whether any of them will provide added benefit to your social media strategy.

Now more than ever, having a strong social media marketing strategy is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing plan. Make sure you keep it up to date and invest the time and effort to make it useful and interesting for your followers. You’ll see that commitment reflected in your bottom line.

*** This article is part of our “Time for a Tune Up” series, designed to help you tune up your business practices, get ready for the holidays, and think about your business and marketing strategies, both for the rest of this year and heading into 2015. It’s not too early to start thinking ahead, and now is the time to start preparing for even more success.