By Wendy Lewis
571 – the number of websites that are created every second.
250 million – the number of photos uploaded to Facebook in a day.
40 million – the number of photos that get uploaded to Instagram daily.
27 million – the average number of tweets per day.1
With these staggering numbers, it is getting harder for aesthetic practices to stand out in the digital world. It takes a double dose of ingenuity and a creative mind-set to build a community and keep members engaged. Social media users are a fickle crew. They are easily distracted by the next new thing, and they have the ability to quickly screen out or ignore anything that fails to catch their interest. But a social media campaign with the right tone and relevance can affordably create meaningful engagement with audiences compared with the cost of traditional advertising.
Back in the Mad Men-Don Draper era, advertising was pretty simple. Marketers developed formulaic ads with hopefully memorable taglines that were placed in traditional outlets, such as television, radio, magazines, and newspapers, where they would be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. But that model does not work anymore. There are countless competitive brands going after the same sets of eyes and ears, and a plethora of vehicles to reach them. If an online campaign fails to entice and encourage participation, it will be blocked. And social media users can be brutal. If you miss the mark, they are not shy about telling you so.
|Basic Format Types
(NOTE: Subject to change without notice!)
FACEBOOK – Paragraph, link, video, or photo
BLOG – Short paragraph of
YOUTUBE – Original video, snippet
TWITTER – 140 characters (like a text), #hashtag
INSTAGRAM – Photo, snippet, #hashtag
PINTEREST – Image, boards, #hashtag
LINKEDIN – Paragraph, link
GOOGLE+ – Snippet, image, video
Fast forward to 2013. There is no golden rule book for going social. Social media marketers are constantly challenged to find unexpected and innovative ways to get audiences involved with their brand. Still, only a select few campaigns actually go viral.
You have to give your audience something unique that they can’t get anywhere else, and give them a compelling reason to talk about it. If you get those things right, it is possible to achieve a favorable return on your investment of time and resources. The true litmus test of a great idea is how far it will go before you have to spend big bucks to promote it. Social campaigns can have an impact without spending a fortune, but you do need to set aside a reasonable budget.
Dreaming up clever competitions or essay or photo contests to generate excitement online is a good way to test the waters. Everyone loves the chance to win something, but don’t expect to take the web by storm like the “Prancercise” lady (the Coral Springs, Fla, woman who became an Internet sensation after sharing her “wacky” aerobic routine on YouTube). Rather, you may end up with 25 or 50 entries, some of whom may be serial contest entrants.
The key is coming up with content that is easy to share and allows you to continue a dialogue. Use your content to identify fans who are willing to talk about your practice and what you have done for them. Discover what they love about you and what you can do to motivate them to share that love. You will never get your fans to talk about you by only talking at them. Social tools give you the means to ask questions, invite fans to take part in the content-creation process, and give them a sense that they have a stake in your brand. This is the core of what you are trying to achieve.
To determine if your content is on the right track, ask yourself if it is influencing consumers to take action—ie, to do or buy something. This is getting easier to track as social media analytical tools evolve.
So what do you do when you just don’t feel very creative? The pressure of a blank status update staring you in the face is a common lament. For community managers, this can be a real challenge because you always want to be engaging, interesting, and entertaining. However, sometimes you just have nothing interesting to say.
One way to avoid getting stuck in a rut is to create a slew of content (about one month’s worth) at a time. Leave room for extra posting as topics arise throughout the month, too. There are platforms and apps that can help make it easier to schedule and automate some of your postings, but make sure to intersperse preprogrammed content with fresh, timely comments, replies, questions, and more.
Here are 10 suggestions guaranteed to get your juices flowing:
1. Data Mining: The comments and discussions on your Facebook page are social media gold. They offer insights into what your audience really cares about. Use them as clues to figure out how to spark new conversations. Go for the ASK. People love to talk about themselves, so give them a platform to do so. For example, ask a question of your fans and followers, and allow them to respond. Pay attention to analytics of retweets, shares, likes, and comments. Also analyze any content that gets ignored to avoid repeating more of the same.
Read more about Lewis’ views on using social media to market your practice
2. Tap Into the News: The news is great fodder for picking up a theme, event, or trend to tie your practice into. Scan CNN or MSNBC to see what is happening in the world. Check out what is trending on Twitter. Set Google or Yahoo! alerts for topics that may be suitable for sharing. Stay on top of relevant celebrity comings and goings. Try not to force the issue; rather, do this in a real way that helps communicate your key messages.
3. Get Personal: Don’t be afraid to reveal some details about the human side of your practice. People love anecdotes that make them feel like part of your brand’s experience. Don’t overshare. Physicians must be careful not to merge too many details of their personal life with the professional image of the practice.
4. Leverage Media Coverage: Media hits offer great material to use across social media platforms and blogs. They can be repackaged in different ways for each channel. For example, an appearance on the local news can be used as a link on your Facebook page, a clip for YouTube (if you can get the rights to it), as well as a screen shot for your blog. This strategy can help to magnify the value of your media coverage. Media hits also confirm your reputation as an expert, and may get passed on to friends of fans and followers of your followers if you make it easy for them to share.
5. Remain Relevant: All too often, brands tell the story they want their audiences to hear, without considering what information their audience is actually interested in. For example, sending out a press release extolling the virtues of your new website may seem important to you, but it is irrelevant to your core audience. To stay relevant, be a good listener. Watch what your audience is talking about and the questions that pop up most often in online forums. Give some thought to how consumers search for information online. What do your patients ask most often? Use this as a framework for key messages to weave into your content.
6. Let Me Entertain You: Let’s face it: A little dose of humor never hurt anyone. Some subjects lend themselves better to humor than others, however. For example, matters of politics and religion are too emotionally charged to make good topics for this purpose. Creating engaging content that infuses an upbeat, lighthearted tone can help avoid drifting into the flat and boring zone. Anecdotes and real-life stories (NOT about patients!) will make your content more interesting to fans. Visuals are also important. All of the social media channels your practice has a presence on should have an eye-catching, recognizable image.
7. Make It Actionable: Think about whether the content your practice is posting is enabling your audience to learn something or get something that they can’t find elsewhere. Are you educating them about something they want to know more about? Is your content offering personal expert insights that will help them make an informed decision? Try to include content that leads your audience to a course of action they can follow.
8. What’s The Point?: The content you create should have a point. For example, it can be geared toward gaining insights into what your community thinks. This should be a more subtle method of extracting information that helps your marketing team find out what they need to know to sell your services. The more you know about your audience, the better able you will be to keep them interested and engaged. By the time your prospects reach out and contact your practice, most will have done extensive research online and among their circle of friends, and will be ready to make a purchasing decision.
9. Seasonal Themes: Set up a spreadsheet to manage your content that includes seasonal events and holidays into your content calendar. Everything from weddings, graduations, the first day of Spring, “Best Friends Day” to “Hump Day” is fair game.
10. Choosing the Right Format: Before you post arbitrarily on Facebook or Twitter, consider which content format type is the best way to get your message across. Each platform in your integrated marketing strategy has unique attributes and targets a specific audience. Think about the best format to reach your target audience. You can then reformat the content to be shared on other platforms as needed. For example, by linking your Facebook page to Twitter, when you post a brief paragraph on Facebook, an abbreviated version will be tweeted with a link back to your Facebook page. In this case, be sure that the key theme of the post is evident in the first 40 characters to have the most impact.
Make every post count.
|Wendy Lewis is president of Wendy Lewis and Co Ltd, Global Aesthetics Consultancy, author of 11 books, founder/editor in chief of www.beautyinthebag.com, and contributing editor of PSP. [email protected]|
1. Capstone Presentations, F.I.T. Master’s in Professional Studies Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management, June 5, 2013.