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Marketing 101

By Stephanie Beck

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Don't Let Your Massage Therapy Friends "Like" You to Death

Everyone seems to be trying to get a handle on the whole "social media thing" and the reality is it isn't some great mystery, magic bullet or the "be all end all" to your marketing. It is a tool, be it a very powerful and helpful tool, when used effectively for growing your practice. However, the majority of people are misusing it. Similar to trying to use a screw driver to hammer in a nail, you might get the job done, but at what cost?

In general, people are always looking for the "quick fix" and the same goes for business owners. Practitioners who don't really understand social media are getting sucked into a really BAD decision. The following is a real case study to help you avoid making the same mistake.

Red Flag #1

If you are a regular reader of my column, you know I spend a lot of time discussing marketing strategy, identifying ideal clients, search engine optimization, websites and social media. I've shared before how important it is for you to know who your target audience is and the importance of getting quality followers as opposed to a large quantity of followers. This example I'm about to share is the reason why.

A massage clinic owner asked for help in boosting the results of their social media, specifically their Facebook and Twitter business pages. On the initial analysis, it appeared to be normal with more than 400 Facebook fans, less followers on Twitter but obviously they had been investing some time and effort into building it.

liked - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark They were posting approximately one post or tweet a day, but the concerning part was no engagement. No likes, no shares, no comments – in all fairness there might have been one or two comments on a very rare occasion but, in general, we are going to say basically no engagement. Once in a while, there would be two to three days of no activity and then maybe a day of two to three posts, then nothing. So, the first red flag is consistently posting three times a day is key to growing your social media market.

Red Flag #2

I dug deeper and evaluated the content. It was pretty heavy on the promotional side. Most of the posts were "get an appointment" or talking about how great the clinic was. So, the second red flag to notice: people are not using social media platforms as a "buyers and sellers" market, they are looking for information and education and connections with people. You really need to incorporate the 80/20 rule: 80% informational, educational and business/professional and 20% of the posts/tweets promotional and personal.

This example is typical when evaluating most social media. The practitioner wants to treat Facebook or other social media like eBay and thinks that people are jumping on Facebook to "buy" things. They proceed to always talk about how wonderful their practice is, when they have openings and how much their treatments are, instead of trying to make connections, share relevant information and start or participate in conversations that their clients or potential clients will derive some value from.

The fix for this is simply to plan your strategy and use the tool the right way. Use social media as a "social" tool to connect with current and potential new customers. Create topics and content that appeals to your target audience and sparks conversation around how they benefit by working with you. Create a weekly social media agenda and integrate your marketing plan into the mix to create a nice balance of informational and education content.

Red Flag #3

Here's where we get to another huge problem that I see beginning to snowball in a much bigger catastrophic way. It might even be an epidemic to many practitioner social media pages. Okay, too dramatic? Perhaps, but it is serious and can end up costing you a great deal of money to fix, so I would advise you to pay attention.

Every business owner and internet marketer is discussing how much the engagement has fallen on Facebook. It's true. Facebook, as well as all the rest of the social media networks are big data mining programs. What that means is they track every single movement a user makes on their program, including all interaction with friends, businesses, organizations, entertainment, political and public figures for every user and how often and how much time you spend logged in and participating. The main reason they do this is so business owners can target very specific key elements for advertising. Also, because there is so much sharing and so many people using social networks, they are evaluating the type of content you are sharing and the type of followers you have. If your content isn't something that the computer program (known as an algorithm) deems as something that the majority of your followers have engaged with (liked, commented, shared, etc.) previously, then even though they have "liked" your page, NONE of your followers will see the updates.

If there is a conflict of the keywords, hashtags, descriptions, content being shared with the type of fans/followers you have, according to the social networks, your updates/content will not be "prioritized" as they call it. Which is a polite way of saying, your updates will not be seen by your fans.

"Liked" to Death

In this example, the practitioner worked and invested some time into getting more than 400 fans and obviously had invested time in creating content and trying to utilize social media to help their practice but it was all for not. Here's why. Even after creating the right agenda and sharing some content for one or two weeks, there wasn't a change in the engagement. I soon realized the issue was much bigger than consistency and content. More than 95% of the fans on the Facebook page and 100% of the Twitter followers were all the owner's massage friends! When I approached the owner to confirm who the target market was for the clinic, they confirmed they were looking for consumers within their city and shared the other demographics and pain points. The audience they were hoping to attract was the complete opposite of the type of fans and followers both pages had.

When I asked how they had acquired the fans, I was told that they had used the "let's share each other's Facebook pages" posts in various social media groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and the hundreds of posts of therapists sharing their links to their Facebook pages to get other therapists to "like" them. Basically, the owner created the situation where their massage therapist friends had "liked" their page to death! I'm not being overly dramatic here, especially with the recent changes all social media platforms are making to their algorithms, they are coming down hard on what they determine are "fake" fans. Why are the social networks doing this? Because three years ago it was all about getting huge numbers of likes and followers to get the most engagement and the pages with the most likes or followers always had the top spots in the newsfeeds. Big brands were investing big money into getting the most likes and followers and didn't care where they came from. The social networks saw the amount of engagement dropping because it allowed big brands and few small brands to "spam" the newsfeeds.

To try to correct the issue, the social networks have been adjusting the algorithms to deter this type of behavior to increase the amount of time users were spending on the social network. One of the benefits is that this is supposed to correct and create a fair environment for smaller brands, too. Unfortunately, when practitioners are participating in these "Let's share and like each other's pages" and go out there and are liking pages they have no interest in or ever intend to participate on that page ever again, it can mean certain death to a page. But there is hope. A page can be "resurrected" and here is how to get the process started:

  1. Unfollow or get rid of any “fake” fans/followers. This means you really have to be focused on who is your target audience and concentrate on engaging with them.
  2. Find groups and pages where those ideal target audiences are “hanging” out and follow those pages and join those groups and participate by sharing and commenting as your business page three to five times a week.
  3. Invest in some “like” ads or promotional tweets to your very specific targeted demographics. Or you can retarget the ads to your current page fans/followers once you have removed the “fake” fans and are sure you only have “real” fans/followers of your page.
  4. Continue to follow the social media 80/20 rule and you must be consistently posting/updating a status or tweet a minimum  of three times a day!

Yes, this means a little more work, but that is sometimes the price you pay if you try to take shortcuts, make "quick fixes" or use the tool inappropriately. Even if that wasn't your intension, most shortcuts in life really aren't the best thing. We all know that popular saying about the direction a certain "road paved with good intensions" is headed right? Let's just avoid that path to begin with. Unless your target audience is other practitioners/massage therapists, you aren't being a good friend by "liking" their page, but you are actually committing them to a slow and almost certain death.

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