Twitter: Quick-Hit Marketing For Health Clubs, Yoga Studios & Wellness Centers

When you think “Twitter”, do you picture a self-absorbed play-by-play of someone else’s day?

That’s a common misperception.

In reality, Twitter’s free real-time messaging service can be a handy tool for marketing your health and wellness business.

It allows you to post updates (“tweets”) up to 140 characters long to people who subscribe to your Twitter feed (“followers”). Your followers can then easily forward (“retweet”) your posts to others.

Below you’ll find get-started tips, do’s and don’ts, content suggestions, and advanced tools:

1) How important is Twitter to our wellness business?

It’s just one more tool – not a silver bullet.

Are lots of your potential and current customers already Twitter users? If not, prioritizing Twitter as a marketing tool probably isn’t going to pay off. Focus on your email newsletter instead.

Do you have anything interesting to say? If your club never has events or promotions, if you don’t do an email newsletter, and if the thought of coming up with quick tidbits several times weekly is scary, this probably isn’t the tool for you.

And if you’re not already doing some kind of email, online or social media marketing, Twitter’s not the place to start.

2) What can Twitter do for our wellness business?

Twitter makes it easy to send short-and-sweet conversational, informational or promotional tidbits.

Twittering can also help increase brand recognition by exposing your followers to a continuous and branded flow of information about your business, products, and services.

It enables word of mouth marketing by letting your followers quickly share your tweets with others.

You can also monitor what people are saying about your business on Twitter with third-party applications that alert you when a tweet mentions your business.

Is someone tweeting their friends about a bad experience with your health club? Contact them directly via DirectMessage and quickly resolve the issue. You’ll turn an unhappy customer into a fan – and extinguish the nasty word of mouth before it gets out of hand.

3) How do we get started?

a. Go to http://www.twitter.com and click “Sign Up Now”.

b. Complete the registration form. “User name” will be your Twitter handle. You can also choose to receive Twitter updates via email here.

c. See which staff, members and clients, and vendors are on Twitter. You can connect to those on G-mail, Yahoo!, or AOL. You can also enter email addresses of email contacts to see if they are on Twitter.

d. Uncheck all on the “Look who else is here” screen. This is only a list of popular/famous users and generally isn’t pertinent to health & wellness businesses.

e. Create your first tweet – in 140 characters. The Tweet box gives you a countdown of the characters you have left as you type. Keep it short and sweet, but informative and interesting.

f. Search for new friends to follow. You can search by keyword to find those that share similar interests and those in your area.

g. To follow a user, simply click the “Follow” button at the top of their page.

h. Further to the right of the “Follow” button, you can choose to block, report, or chat with them (@username).

i. Go to “Settings” at the top of the screen to add a profile picture. Use your photograph or a business logo. Under the Settings screen you can also manage your account, password and set up mobile monitoring.

j. To search for users to follow, click on “Follow People” at the top of the screen.

k. A Twitter badge invites visitors to follow you on Twitter. Add your Twitter badge to your blogs, website, email newsletters and other social networking sites. Facebook supports integration with Twitter, too.

l. Many blog sites allow you to automatically tweet each blog post. Check with your blog provider for set-up instructions.

4) What should we tweet?

The best tweets fall into these categories:

Relationship-building tweets

Here, your goal is to build connections with current and potential members. For example, you might tweet about how delighted you were that your personal workout made it possible for you to tote sacks of mulch this weekend. Or how impressed your mother-in-law was with your healthy version of cheesecake.

Now, don’t fall into the play-by-play trap we mentioned earlier. Make sure every tweet has a connection to what draws people to your business.

For example, say you run a weight management business. In general, I really don’t care what you had for lunch. But if you tell me how you modified your order at Chili’s to make it healthy, now I’m interested and it’s relevant to my interest in your business.

Other ideas: ask a question (“What did you eat for breakfast today?” for a healthy lifestyles business) or share a fun picture that’s related to your business. For example, one of our clients has a great picture of students studying anatomy with a life-size replica of a skeleton.

Informational tweets

We encourage brick-and-mortar businesses to emphasize their local presence. For example, if you know that a local hypnotherapist is offering a free stress relief seminar tonight that would be valuable for your clients, tweet them the details.

Other ideas: a daily lifestyle tip, relevant quote, link to an important news item, link to a promotion by another business of interest to most of your customers, links to your newsletter articles or blog posts

Promotional tweets

Tweet coupons and special offers like discount class cards or free personal training consultations to your followers. Notify them about special events and new products and services. Followers that are interested in your news can re-tweet your news to their followers.

Try to have conversations with your followers. Don’t try too hard to sell products and services to them. You know how you avoid watching commercials on TV? Well, the same goes in the land of Twitter. Followers will ignore or even block users that constantly try to sell them something.

5) Twitter Tips

  • Choose a short handle that easily identifies you and your business. Don’t pick something random or silly like Leslie5678 or BooyahBaby. Your first name and a key word from your business name is a good choice. For example, Roberta Smith at the Peak Lifestyles Wellness Center might choose BobbiPeak or BobbiCoach.
  • Want to change your handle? Just update your Twitter profile.
  • Find your “Twitter voice”. We generally recommend a personal, casual, conversational tone rather than a corporate, professional feel.
  • Don’t overuse textspeak – text messaging abbreviations. The 140-character limit makes abbreviations popular – but can result in messages that are hard to decipher quickly like this one: “It annys me 2 c pple txting wiv lttrs lft out.”
  • You can set up your mobile device to keep up with your Twitter account and those you follow. Go to the “Settings” screen and click on “Devices” to set up this feature.
  • If you choose to link your blog to your Twitter account, be sure to post other tweets in addition to the blog posts. Relying solely on your blog posts to update your Twitter will portray a robotic image.
  • Tweet enough – but not too much. Constant twittering is annoying. One or two useful tweets each day, or even each week, is enough to keep your followers interested, but not overwhelmed.
  • Designate one person to handle twittering as a daily responsibility to ensure that the Twitter account isn’t neglected.
  • To retweet Twitter posts by other people to your followers, use the following syntax: Retweet: @OriginalPoster new emotional eating tips www.LinkGoesHere.com
  • Since you’ve only got 140 characters to play with, use a tool like TinyUrl to compress web addresses.
  • The reply command in Twitter is “@username”. Your reply will show up on the recipient’s profile page. For example: “@username how r u” would appear as a public message “how r u”.
  • Direct Messages are private chats that you send directly to followers. From the Home Screen, click “Direct Messages”, select your follower’s name, and enter the message. Return to this screen to view replies to Direct Messages.

Helpful Twitter applications

TweetDeck – organizes updates and contacts from Twitter and Facebook

Twitter Toolbar: A toolbar plug-in for Internet Explorer and FireFox that allows you to post tweets and check status updates at the click of a button.

Social Oomph: An application that allows you to track conversations about your business, schedule future tweets, send welcome direct messages, and more.

Bubble Tweet: Allows you to post a short video message in a caption bubble that pops up when a user visits your profile. Use this application to personally introduce yourself or your business.

TwtQpon: Create exclusive coupons for your Twitter followers.

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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.

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