Monday, April 18, 2011

Marketing Monday: Facebook Adventures, and Not in My Pajamas

Here I am not in my pajamas, but with my new client, Fran Philip
When I first started blogging and consulting,  I always got a chuckle out of other bloggers and entrepreneurswho wrote about how great it was to write and edit and send e-mails and make phone calls, all in their pajamas!

Why did I find this humorous? Because as much as I might have indeed made a call or two in my pj's, or answered some email, or maybe even written a post like this, most of the time, I was -- well-- dressed. I like to get up in the morning and get dressed, as it makes me feel organized and purposeful. I like to go out to events and educational workshops and meetings and conferences, to network and meet new people and educate myself, and these all require, obviously, being dressed!

Those of you  who follow my writing here might have noticed that I've posted a bit less often the last few weeks, and the reason for this is actually great news: I've been busy with a new client, the recently opened yoga and pilates studio here in town.  The project is ideal in a number of ways, as it has required not only the pr and project management skills I had acquired earlier in my career in nonprofit communications, but also a real workout in social media and brand management, which I've been immersing myself in the last 6 years.


The Challenge and Some of the Issues
Fran Philip, the owner of the new studio, had previously had a business a few blocks away. The former business was a small pilates studio, where most of the interaction was on a one-on-one basis. Here at the new studio, she was faced was a much larger space, and much more complex scheduling, marketing, and management issues.  One inherent challenge Fran faced  right away, was that everyone identified the studio with the previous space, and thought it was still closed, as it took her a while to get her new awning and signage set up. While the previous studio had been popular, the students had dispersed and found alternative fitness options in the months since the old studio closed and Fran's opened up, leaving a gap for Fran's business and requiring some major rebranding and regrouping. Fran also wasn't sure what the demographlc was for her new ideal customer, as she wanted the studio to appeal to all ages, but knew that due to its location, size, and teaching staff, it would appeal skew to a slightly older demographic then some of the other studios in the surrounding area.

Fran hired me to assist with many of these challenges, and particularly branding and marketing. After careful assessment,  and reviewing information she had provided on my client intake form, I made the following recommendations to her as the foundation for a rebranding strategy, which is now underway. The strategy incorporated 3 basic elements: Social Media, Public Relations, and E-Newsletter Content and Production.  I'm going to focus on Facebook for this post, and continue on in later posts to the discussion of the e-news and PR components.

1. Social Media and Facebook: 

New Facebook page for the yoga studio, after a facelift.
 *Changing the Profile Photo

 Of course, social media is an important component these days in any business, but was particularly key here, as I wanted to use social media tools in order to get a stronger sense of the demographic that was beginning to  opt-in to activities at the studio, and to find out what additional events and activities would be enjoyable for participants. I focused primarily on Facebook, as Fran already had set up a profile. There were 40 Fans on the Facebook page, and not a whole lot else going on, as Fran didn't have a chance to post many updates, as she was so busy learning the many aspects of her business. The profile photo was a rather bland photo of the empty studio. While the studio is a great space, I felt it was important that the Facebook profile image reflect the nature of her business more fully, so I replaced the photo with a dynamic photo of one of the teachers in a yoga pose.  I liked the way you could still see the image clearly even when it was reduced down, and it brought the studio to life much more then the photo of the empty space. My plan was and still is, to rotate various teacher photos to use for the profile for the next several months, so all the teaching staff felt like the were part of the site and were getting some visibility.



 *Adding a Custom E-News Sign up Tab

 Fran did not have a customized landing page yet,  so her Wall was the default landing page -- not the ideal-- as this can be a busy page that new visitors can get lost in. But she did have a newsletter she was eager to grow, so in the first week, I made it a point to set up a dedicated newsletter sign-up tab, using the Constant Contact App in Facebook, as her temporary landing page. I was pleased to see that this app had been refined in the year or so since I had used it for my business page, and that one could now write welcome text on the page, as well as include a logo and links. Constant Contact has been making huge leaps and bounds in their social media integration, so it made sense that they would have embellished this feature.

*Building a Media Library

In order to enhance the Facebook page and a YouTube channel which we're in the middle of setting up now, I spent about 2-3 weeks generating multimedia for Fran -- photos and videos, primarily. I developed a Media Consent and Permissions form, which not only the students, but the teachers signed as well.  I used for videos primarily my Flip HD, as well as a Kodak Easyshare camera I've been enjoying for several years now for photos, and a PalmPre (now HP) smart phone, which I only use as a camera -- the quality is that good. Since part of the strategy was to highlight Fran's up close and personal attention to students, as well as the benefits of a smaller boutique fitness studio, I took a lot of studio shots as well as small group instruction, to capture Fran's warmth and that of the studio. I focused on video early on, because I knew from prior events and marketing clients, that many of my videos, thanks to good new fashioned SEO and naming them the right title, had popped up on the first screen in search results. I also wanted to create a central Overview Video for the studio that would populate the customized landing page I had in mind for Fran, and for this I used Animoto, a great tool for creating quick and effective videos, particularly for a small business.


*Using HyperArts to Create a Custom Welcome Tab

Using Hyperarts, I created a custom landing page for the yoga studio that hosts
the welcome video I made, using Animoto.

Just this weekend, I enjoyed using Hyperarts to create a custom tab for Fran's Facebook page.  I knew there were quite a few Facebook custom programs out there, including Involver, Pagemodo, and a company called LuJure, whose demo video looks impressive, with lots of cool drag and drop features.  They asked for a credit card, even for their Basic Plan which is supposed to be free, so I was a bit hesitant to sign on. In the end, I went with Hyperarts, as I had heard it mentioned by Guy Kawasaki during his "Enchantment "presentation at Santa Clara University in the beginning of April, and I love what they did with his custom page for his new book.

With Hyperarts, you simply add the App to your Facebook profile, choose which of the pages you administer you want to apply it to, and follow the instructions, after selecting the Custom Tab option. The program offers you previews of both your Before Like and After Like views, so you can see what your page will look like once it's published. I typed some simple copy, and then picked up the embed code from the Animoto video I had uploaded on to YouTube, and the video published, no problem.

A  note of caution when using HyperArts -- this program assumes you know some HTML, and does not offer any drag and drop features or simple editors. So, if you know little or no HTML, you're going to end up with simple default type that you cannot format. I learned the HTML Code for inserting a web site link, as I needed the link to Fran's main site for a coupon, but I did not incorporate any color or type changes. Also, the free version only allows users one tab and one page, and the default tab name that can't be changed is "Welcome." Still, I think it's a good basic platform for customizing your Facebook Welcome tab.

Results

Slowly but surely, we are seeing increased involvement and activity not only in the studio, but on the page, with a Fan count of 73, and good participation on the Wall. I've made use of Facebook's Question app, to find out preferences for styles of t-shirts, and choice of fitness classes. I've also added teacher interviews and quotes from my video library that I created, and tried to interject some personality and humor into the status updates, by introducing "Skelly," the skeleton in the Pilates room used to demonstrate alignment. I've been having fun with it, and getting good interaction there. We've also introduced giveaways and promotions, and a monthly random drawing for a prize for all who have "Liked" the Page.

We'll be tracking more results in the coming weeks, and I'll also be highlighting here some interesting public relations activities that have taken place, as well as describing some best practices and tips for e-newsletters, based on some of the newsletter changes and upgrades I introduced!

So, now you see why I'm not in my pajamas, although now that I am headed for bed, that's another story.

How about you? Have you recently redone or had your Facebook page redone by someone, using customized tabs? Do you work in your pajamas? (I had to ask...)



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