Tackling social media, face first

Are you neglecting your Facebook page? “It’s like you’re covering your ears when your fans are talking about you.” Tips to keep the conversation going
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SNEWS attended the Yoga Journal Live conference in Estes Park, Colo., Sept. 14-21, 2014, and throughout the next few weeks, we’ll bring you coverage from the event with news, education and trends from one of specialty retail’s fast-growing sectors.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated country in the world — and China doesn’t even allow Facebook. Take it as yet another motivation to get your outdoor business on that far-reaching social media site.

“It’s a little scary, but it’s an opportunity for us to step in. If we have a voice on these networks, it can have an impact on a lot of people. It’s this incredibly powerful, mostly free tool,” said Karen Mozes and Justin Michael Williams, founders of the Yoga Business Retreat, during the Yoga Journal Live!’s daylong session, The Business of Yoga. Their presentation, “Marketing 101: The Truth about Social Media and Videos,” covered a range of ways to get your business to stand out from the crowd, including how to get involved in the social media conversation.

Although the session was directed at yoga-focused businesses, the content is widely applicable.

As a first step, do a quick search for your name or the name of your business. Whether you’re a beloved yoga teacher or a favorite local outdoor shop, you’ll likely see numerous posts that mention your name. That’s why you need to be on Facebook. Mozes and Williams point out that by not getting involved in the conversation, “it’s like you’re covering your ears when your fans are talking about you.”

Standing Out
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and join Facebook — or maybe your business already has a page. Now you need to optimize it.

Seems obvious, but Mozes and Williams drive home the point by noting your Facebook page essentially acts as your digital brand, arguably more so than your website. Say a consumer visits your store, then heads to Facebook to share their great experience with the world and tags your business in their comment. “It’s like word of mouth, which we all know is the best form of marketing, but if [your] page looks shitty, then they’re never going to go to [your] website. A lot of times, the Facebook page is the first thing they see,” Williams said.

1. Insert a clear headshot or logo as the profile picture.
If you’re an individual, a yoga teacher say, then this should be a clear, “uncomfortably close” photo of your face. “You need people to see who you are in your profile photo, not a picture of you doing a yoga pose … They need to see your energy and vibrancy,” Williams said. If you’re a business, then use the profile picture to display your logo.

2. Select a cover photo that shows your specialty.
It should convey what you want customers to instantly know about yourself or your business. “Use the cover photo to creatively and visually promote what you have for the world,” Mozes and Williams said. Remember that the rectangle is 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. This space can be used to highlight an upcoming event or contest, but don’t leave the advertisement up for more than a week at a time.

3. Fill out all of the information.
You want consumers to get an accurate view for who you are, so don’t scrimp on filling in the blanks. Write your 75-word mini bio, include an email address (even if it’s a general info@yourbusinesshere.com), link to your website and post any upcoming events.

Effective Messaging
Traditional marketing follows the principle that the more people who hear your information, the more people who will buy your products. “That’s not true on social media,” Mozes and Williams said. “You want to have conversations with people and get them talking … social media is all about word of mouth.”

1. It’s vital that the content you post is engaging, not just a sales pitch.
Use a three to one ratio that dictates for every one promotional post, you have three posts that are non-promotional. Think about the activities, issues and items that your audience cares about and let those topics guide your posts. “Give the students useful, relevant and valuable information that will enhance their lives, just as much as when you see them in the classroom,” Williams said, directing his point to the yoga-focused audience.

2. Write posts to the customers who already love your business.
Current customers are the individuals visiting your site, so provide content that’s valuable to them. Use photos to enhance your posts and make them more visually interesting. The duo recommends that roughly 95 percent of all posts have a picture attached to them.

3. Post three to five times per week at generally the same time.
Your audience will appreciate the rhythm.

Some businesses, those in the yoga realm in particular, worry about marketing too much and coming across as insincere. Just remember the product being sold, whether it’s yoga equipment or tools and gear to get outside, have the potential to change people’s lives, Williams and Mozes said. “It would be like if there was a doctor in a town that could really heal people, and he/she was hiding the hospital.”

To boost your business acumen in person, check out the next Yoga Journal Live conference, which will feature a similar Business of Yoga daylong workshop.

>> Hollywood, Fla., Nov. 13-17, 2014

>> San Francisco, Calif., Jan. 15-19, 2015

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