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by Mark Volkmann
Posting pictures of your birthday party last weekend to Facebook, adding your favorite recipe to Pinterest and tweeting about your upcoming yoga retreat are probably second nature to you by now.
But using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the slew of social media opportunities for business are likely a whole new ball game.
Social media is a burgeoning marketplace for business communication and promotion—and it may seem like "just one more thing" you feel pressured to master as you manage your massage business. But now is an excellent time to get in the habit of using social media for business success.
Here's how to start leveraging your massage business via social media:
1. Have separate business accounts. It is important to not use your personal Facebook page or Twitter handle for business, too. Create separate accounts, and then feel free to promote your business pages on your personal pages as well.
You have different audiences for business and personal engagement, so it is important to keep them separate. It also keeps you out of trouble. Clients may not agree with your views or habits, so don't let that prevent them from coming to you for a great massage.
2. Pick a few to do—and update them regularly. Social media can be overwhelming and time-consuming. It's important to recognize which platforms are good for your business and which ones might just be fun.
Facebook is still one of the best ways to reach clients. While many people may be on Twitter, it doesn't tend to be the best place to advertise promotions or openings because followers have to see it as soon as you post it. Otherwise, your tweet may get lost in the hundreds of other tweets that show up in their feed in the next minute or so.
LinkedIn is a great way to connect with other therapists for asking questions, getting and giving advice, and creating an online community of your peers.
Reviews are very important to people booking a massage, especially for the first time, so having a Yelp! business page is a good idea.
3. Understand the content that goes with each social media platform. Although you can use some of the same content on each network, you still have to present it
Facebook is great for pictures, graphics and information clients can use to improve their heath and wellness. It's also a good place to put a newsletter, announce special promotions, post holiday hours and specials and publicize any openings you have for the next day. And whenever possible, engage your clients with questions to create dialogue with them.
Twitter is a good place to share articles and information you consider interesting and may be helpful to clients and other massage therapists as well.
LinkedIn is best for networking with other massage professionals and a great place to join discussions about issues within the industry.
Pinterest was the fastest-growing social network in 2012 and massage "boards" can be found all over it. If you are already signed up for Pinterest, then this is an easy one to add. Create a business page with your website, and then make every board something related to massage, health and wellness.
4. Don't be afraid to try new social networks. After you are comfortable with one or two social media sites and are posting regularly, you can start to branch out to other social networks. YouTube is the second-largest search engine behind Google, which means some of your clients are probably looking for information there. Also, having videos on your website and in your social media posts increases their search engine optimization, so finding a way to incorporate video is always a good idea.
Google+, which is a bit of a cross between Facebook and LinkedIn, is a growing network that will only gain in popularity if every techie in Silicon Valley is to be believed (and they've been pretty successful so far!). Getting a business page there and connecting to the massage therapy community is a great place to start.
Mark Volkmann, a practicing massage therapist in another life, is founder and CEO of MassageBook, a free Web solution helping massage therapists create high-quality websites with local search engine optimization and social networking built into the design. Knowing how hard it is to start and maintain a massage practice, he is interested in helping therapists do it the easy way. For more information, visit MassageBook.com.