Marketing and PR expert on Angie Petkovic on how to make the most of your social media presence
Social media is one of the things I find most difficult to justify when working for clients. They want to see how likes on Facebook equate to immediate, direct sales, when quite frankly, they don’t.
If sales are at the top of your wish list, you’ll need to change your attitude if you want to make your social media accounts a success. In this column, I’m using Facebook as an example, but these same strategies can also be applied, in part or in full, to other platforms.
The purpose of all social media platforms is to facilitate social interaction and connect with people. It is the actual connections you make with them that matter, not the number of fans you have.
Imagine your Facebook fans as physical people in your spa: you could have 5,000 people standing in your foyer staring at blank walls. Unless you have friendly staff striking up conversation with customers, engaging displays and a good customer journey, it’s not likely that they’ll buy anything. Social media is exactly the same and it’s all about the quality.
Social media provides brands with the opportunity to create meaningful content; content that is of value to your followers and makes them engage with you – rather than just shouting about how good your brand is. Instead of focusing on how many followers we can get them, I always advise our clients to assess us on the number of their existing followers we can interact with and engage. This is far more likely to bring the business sales, even if it does so indirectly.
Never start anything on social media without a plan; decide what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it, then regularly review to make sure that what you’re doing is working. For example, your objectives could be online bookings, filling last-minute appointments and driving demand for new services, and the way you do that is by sharing regular commentary, interspersed with short, exciting and engaging posts with last-minute offers.
A successful social media strategy is not all ‘me, me, me’, it should be about helping and supporting your followers. For example, it’s not about how good your therapists or your facilities are; it is about sharing the benefits of regular steam room usage, how a lymphatic treatment can support wellbeing, and how to care for your nails at home. This won’t support direct sales, but works indirectly. By becoming a reputable brand with a name people remember, you will become their first stop for spa treatments and days.
A common mistake people make is to treat all their platforms the same; not only is this boring for the user and means you’re not making the most of what the platform has to offer, but you’ll also find it difficult to measure how effective each of them is.
For example, Facebook enables photo albums, events, advertising, regular posts, comments, features, reviews and ratings. You can maximise this by creating an album of the spa and the products you stock, adding listings for exclusive events only open to your Facebook fans, introducing discounts (or preferably added value offers) just for them and by asking them questions.
This will give you the chance to engage with them and start a conversation, ensuring communication is not just one-way. You will also benefit from them feeling that they are special to you and will be better able to monitor direct sales generated through social media.
A good example of how to engage your clients is a Top Tips for Summer Skincare post; linking the content to products you sell in the spa and including a treatment upsell. The focus here is on providing expertise, but with the added bonus to your business of also enabling you to sell products and treatments.
Your long-term ambition should always be to build trust. Consumers are on average 25 times more likely to buy from a brand that they or someone they know trust. By being transparent, engaging with them, and helping and supporting them, you will get them to start trusting your business.
When to pay…
Whether we like it or not, Facebook’s strategy is to be commercial and to make money and they do that largely through advertising. As a result, brands that never pay to boost their presence perform consistently below those who do pay, unless your page is so interactive that they just can’t hide you away. Paying for posts seems wrong and in many ways it is, but I work on the basis that it helps your overall strategy.
I encourage clients to set a manageable budget every month, splitting it between advertising aimed directly at your followers and their friends, and advertising that goes out to a wider audience, and using it to promote some of your most popular posts. This will keep Facebook happy, which means they display more of your posts, even when you’re not paying. At the same time, it’s presenting good content to a wider audience. It really does work.
One final point is to treat your social media connections as you would a friend. Work at the relationship, keep it interesting, treat them every once in a while and don’t expect too much. Get it right and your fans, even if there is only a small group of them, will become some of your best customers, recommending your business and driving up sales and turnover.
Angie Petkovic is the managing director of Apt PR, a UK marketing and PR agency whose clients include spas and other businesses across the beauty, hospitality, leisure and tourism industries