Beauty and wellness professionals have a great opportunity take social networking to the next level and leverage your time and marketing efforts with some simple steps. Health, massage, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, hair salon, nutrition and other wellness oriented services are hot topics that people socialize about on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, YouTube and even LinkedIn. They are there looking for resources like you everyday. Your business helps to improve the quality of their lives. To optimize social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Meetup, Flickr and Yelp for your business, you must these have four things: 1) Business Communications Mindset 2)  Consistent Professional Presence 3) Quality Content and 4) Strategic Plan to grow your relationships online.

1) Business Communications Mindset

The minute you say YES, I want social networking to work for me professionally, is the time when you must take seriously that all social networking sites are publishing platforms. Hence, the term MEDIA, in social media is a big clue that you can get a lot of mileage from this resource with a mindset to create a professionally personal presence. That means that very personal, private and what might embarrassing content has no place on your profiles. Rather you want to be “business friendly.” That means, 99.9% of what you post needs to be positive communications. It also means, you want to communicate valuable, interesting and/or entertaining information that engages your target market.

2) Consistent and Professional Presence

If you want to be taken seriously as a business on these sites, make sure your profiles are complete and have accurate information including working links to your website and updated contact info. If you don’t have a professional photo of yourself on your profile, make sure and get one immediately. Facebook is called “face” book for a reason. Furthermore, you want to be active daily (minimum of 3 times/week). You can train someone in your office to do this or outsource some of your social media work. Ideally, you are updating your profiles and participating in groups and relevant business pages and making new connections. In the beginning, do a lot of “listening” by watching what your market responds to. Eventually, you want to create a business page (formerly known as a fan page). Those people who want to “separate” their business from their personal profile are missing out on the advantages of using their personal profile for developing themselves as a “brandividual” and the benefits that a profile has with relation to jumpstarting your business page.

3) Quality Content

You offer a valuable service and have a lot of knowledge. Be a giver on these social sites. For example, as a hypnotherapist, I regularly post a link to a short hypnosis audio for my connections to benefit from. It’s free and a I get a lot of good will and buzz from it. I also answer questions on my Facebook business page (formerly known as fan page).  When I post a blog post or article online, I let everyone know. I also offer positive quotes, announce free teleclasses and events. Occasionally, I will mention a class or special I am offering. If you “sell” on social media, most likely no one will listen. Rather give, and build a great reputation. People will come as a result of trusting you over time. Videos are excellent ways to get visibility too.

Earlier I mentioned several social networking sites. It is not necessary to be on all these sites. And some of them can be set up and left alone for a while. You must determine where  your target audience is most and where you will get the best visibility.  Minimally, I recommend a Facebook profile and business page, LinkedIn profile (set it up), and Yelp for local business. Twitter would be my next recommendation. Each site set up correctly can help you gain search engine visibility.

Be sure to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity for major exposure. There are over 500 million people on facebook alone. Many of them are in your neighborhood and don’t even know about you. You have a rare opportunity to be seen for very little investment. Furthermore, not being involved on social media can cost your customers, visibility and credibility. It used to be enough to have a website, now if you don’t have a twitter and facebook account, people wonder if you’re really a viable business.

4) Strategic Plan for Growing Relationships Online

You can have the above, but if you don’t identify your purpose and target market, optimize your brand, determine what content you’ll be posting when and what results you want from it, you’ll be wasting a lot of time.

I work with small business owners and entrepreneurs everyday ramping up their social networking skills and presence. If you don’t have a large budget, consider getting trained or having one of your staff trained in basic social media marketing strategies. At www.TransformYourSocialNetWorth.com we train wellness professionals every day. To see when our next class starts, visit http://TransformYourSocialNetWorth.com.