Hi, I’m Newell Rinehart, Vice President of York Internet and PC Solutions ( www.yipcs.com ). I also work as Oakworks’ Social Media Coordinator, so I thought that I’d to share a few beginner social media marketing tips with you that will help you grow your massage practice. If you’re interested in using social media marketing to expand your massage practice, you probably already have a Facebook account. While Facebook is one of the widest reaching social media sites, it’s only one piece of the puzzle, so let’s take a quick look at a few more social media platforms and free online tools that you should be using to market your practice, and the best ways to get the kinds of clients that you want out of them.
The first step in any advertising or marketing campaign is identifying the people that you want to reach. Think about the clients that you already have. What brought them to you in the first place, and what keeps them coming back? When you think about your client base in these terms, you may realize that different people choose a massage therapist for different reasons. Some people look at price before anything else. Others search by modality, and choose a massage therapist that seems to be the most knowledgeable about the services that they perform. Finally, some people expect a more social experience, and prefer to develop a trusting relationship with their massage therapist. Social media allows you to target all of these groups by offering them exactly what they’re looking for. Facebook is perfect for building a therapist-client relationship based on trust, because you’re interacting with your clients on a personal level than you can through traditional advertising. Twitter lets you get important information out to a lot of people quickly. A good, informative blog targets clients who are looking for someone with the knowledge and experience that makes them a trusted professional in their field. When all of these different efforts are combined, you give your potential clients more information on what to expect from their first massage session with you. The more informed they are about your massage practice, the more likely they are to make that first appointment with you.
Who is in your target market? Why just have one target market at all? One of the major advantages of social media marketing is that you can reach the kinds of clients that you want to work with. Every piece of content that you write should speak to a certain demographic that you’re trying to reach. Write a blog post about the effectiveness of massage in preventing muscular adhesions and loss of flexibility in athletes. Post a Facebook status that explains how massage helps those battling anxiety and depression. You have a large amount of material that you can write about, and you’ll find that different types of content speaks to different people, diversifying your client base and making filling your appointment book much easier.
Take a look at your FB profile. Who does it speak to? Is it a page that was set up years ago to interact mostly with friends, but then gradually transitioned into an outlet to market your practice? If so you may want to consider setting up a Business page that’s more professional in nature. Also, you probably have friends or fans who are massage therapists themselves, and that’s great because it shows your clients that you are a respected member of the massage community. The problem is that many therapists post things on their wall that, while they are industry related, are directed more towards fellow therapists than clients. If your posts are too technical or discuss topics that someone outside of the industry wouldn’t understand, your clients may be intimidated and “unfriend” or “unlike” your page. These types of posts are a great way to stay up to date on industry trends and discuss best practices, but not in a public setting. The best way to stay connected with your peers in the industry is through Facebook Groups. When you start a group, posts are only visible to members, keeping your wall clean for clients to use.
Facebook Check Ins and Foursquare are perfect for reaching out to friends of fans if you have a studio massage practice, because when a client “checks in“ at your place of business, their friends are notified via Facebook that they are there, spreading word of mouth advertising and encouraging a meet-up at that location.
How many times have you had a client cancel a session with little or no notice? Thanks to micro-blogging sites like Twitter, you can offer your followers an incentive to fill that spot on short notice. Since posts appear in real time in their twitter feed, therapists with a lot of Twitter followers can fill an open appointment slot at a discount within an hour or two of posting about it. An easy way to gain followers is to post or retweet daily health tips that are useful to your potential clients and relevant to the massage industry.
LinkedIn is a great example of the power of social media, because its main function is to link professionals together through networking. If you are looking for customers for your mobile massage practice, a LinkedIn profile can help generate office massage clients. Just one or two connections on LinkedIn can easily fill up a full day of appointment slots with multiple clients in the same office building who are only a few doors or a few floors away from one another.
Another important resource for massage therapists is a well written, informative blog on sites like WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr (Oakworksblog is actually a free WordPress site). Writing a blog that’s directed toward potential clients is easy. Include information about the modality that you use…origins, strokes, what to wear. Write a post about the décor of your massage studio and include pictures. Write a profile of the massage school that you attended. Write about the stress relieving benefits of massage. Basically anything that is going to give the client an idea about what to expect, because if they are trying to decide on a therapist to visit, 9 times out of 10 they’ll go with the one that they the most about.
Positive client reviews are important in any industry, but they can be hard to come by in an offline environment. Luckily, sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and InsiderPages make it easy for your customers to tell the world just how great their massage experience was. These are just a few of the well-known sites that operate nationwide. You may actually find that you get better results from local business directories. Since there are way too many to mention here, I’ll just tell you how to find them: All you have to do is type “local directory, (your city and state)”, and the first few pages should be worth your time to submit your information to. Reviews are the original form of social marketing, and have been shown to be more effective than advertisements that people make themselves. Consider offering discounts or coupons to customers who provide reviews.
Another good idea is to create a video now and then to post on sites like Youtube, Vimeo, Viddler, etc…Even if you are a bit camera shy, this shouldn’t be a big problem. Just write a script that includes a short introduction and a short conclusion…The majority of the video will just be you describing the strokes that you’re using. This approach goes a long way in showing potential clients exactly what to expect from a session. There are a few shortcuts out there like TubeMogul, which let you upload your videos to several sites at once.
Even if you don’t have the time to use social media platforms every day, just having profiles set up on a number of sites will help you build a stronger online presence. There are even apps that let you schedule your posts in advance, so you can spend 10 minutes a week thinking up posts that would engage your fans and make them want to comment on, then set each post to go out at specific times during the week. Sites like Hootsuite and IFTTT let you link your social media accounts and post to them all from one place. Gremln allows you to schedule when you want your updates to go public. Twitter can also be a great way to find new clients, using a tool called FollowerWonk that lets you search users profile information section and target people by location. The next step is to search for local people who are using general words or phrases like “I need a massage” or “neck pain”, or even specific medical conditions like “Edema” or “Fibromyalgia”.
Post links to (at least) your Facebook and Twitter accounts on every piece of physical or traditional advertising that you do, offering exclusive deals for fans/followers. Not only will you encourage more loyalty from your regular clients, you will also bring in new clients who hadn’t considered following you on a social network.
Set up location based directory services like Google Places (now Google+ Local) and Yahoo Local, as well as any local business directory/profile sires that you can find. This way you can make sure that your clients know exactly where you’re located, especially if you can’t come to them.
Use all of your social media channels to network with other holistic professionals in your area that offer different services than you do (aromatherapy for example). Social sharing actions such as likes, shares, subscriptions, etc. are often reciprocated among related businesses that aren’t in direct competition with one another. This gives you visibility among a targeted group of individuals who already have an interest in similar businesses.
Social Media Monitoring sites like Social Mention and Addictomatic allow you to search public blog listings for any keyword or phrase that you want to. Use them to see who’s talking about you and what they’re saying.
Social media marketing takes time and effort, but the results are well worth it. Now that you’ve got all the tools that you need to succeed, the most important part is keeping your campaign going. An easy way to tell how often you should post to each platform is to look at how long the updates are. Your blog posts should be a full page or more, so you shouldn’t have to post more than once or twice a week. Facebook updates could be anywhere from a sentence or two to a paragraph, so once everyday day or two is fine. Twitter tweets are under 140 characters, so twice a day works well for them.
Remember that the more effort you put into social media, the better results you will see. Even if you’re not very computer literate, a few hours of creating profiles is all the time you need to greatly increase your online presence and with an effective social media marketing plan, you can grow your client list and create more meaningful connections with the clients you already have. With some time and effort, you can compete with the larger day spas and massage franchises.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re not marketing a product. You have to market yourself, and do it in a way that is fun for you and your customers. You aren’t just providing commercials or advertisements, you’re providing an experience that your clients can’t get anywhere else. At this point, they’ve seen pictures and video of your studio and know exactly where it is, they’ve read about your education and experience, and they’ve heard glowing reviews about your practice from their friends.
I hope this information makes it a little easier for you to expand your client list and generate publicity for your practice. If you have any questions or comments, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newell Rinehart has been creating and sharing Oakworks Social Media Content since late 2010.