2013 International Spa Association Conference and Expo Recap

International Spa Association 2013

In order to look and really try to understand what was going on at the International Spa Association Conference and Expo, which will now be referred to as ISPA, I took a look at what happened both before and during the expo this year. The theme this year was “Grow”, and it was shown in a few different ways, there is the flower imagery that was used throughout some of the platforms, but not truly integrated into their Pulse magazine, or their ISPA Exposure Guide. Hidden in the Pulse magazine here, there is some of the flower imagery, but I would have expected an image on the front cover since this was the main event mentioned on the cover. Also, while the Exposure Guide showed the same color scheme as the flower imagery and the website, there were no flowers which was a little surprising. Some things that were also used for branding was the #GrowYourWorld hashtag, it was occasionally used. For the most part though, the event could be tracked through the #ISPA2013 hashtag.

They have a website, a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Blogger page. The conference took place from October 21-23 in Las Vegas, Nevada and was attended by a lot of famous speakers and businesses. Starting on October 14th the ISPA social media information and publicity really began. Some sites were utilized a lot better than others, while some were cross posted to various platforms keeping the branding and message consistent.

Social media was used as a way to both inform their guests about upcoming events, and registration times; as well as including pictures of what was going on behind the scenes.

Here is a shot of behind the scenes work that was happening on October 20:

ISPA prepThis was one of the many images that was posted both on their Instagram, Twitter and their Facebook. This image was great, and by cross posting it to the 3 various platforms it made sure that there was a lot of different viewings. I think when they used information such as what was going on behind the scenes and what various events there were to look forward to, it was a great use of social media. The usage of Instagram was really an integral part of the campaign since it gave people who weren’t attending a view of what was going on at the event. I will say, I think there could have been a lot more photos from the event. There were only a couple images of speaker or groups at the conferences, and almost no pictures of the booths. I think this was definitely a missed opportunity since visuals have shown to be such a great way to get engagement. The pictures from their Instagram simultaneously posted to their Facebook and Twitter page. This one picture got 31 likes and 4 comments on the Instagram page, 42 likes and 4 comments on the Facebook page, and 1 favorite on the Twitter page. Throughout the event it is easy to see that the best engagement occurred on the Facebook and Instagram page, bringing concrete evidence that visuals work the best on those two platforms. What I find interesting about the consistency of feedback and engagement on Facebook and Instagram is the fact that there are over 7,000 Facebook followers, over 4,000 Twitter followers, but only over 200 Instagram followers. This really exemplifies how impressive the amount of engagement that they are getting on Instagram. After the event, and during, they requested people share their pictures with #ISPA2013, and they created a page on their website here, with everyone’s pictures. I think that was a really nice touch and it gave people the opportunity to share their experience at the conference.

ISPA twitter The Twitter feed did not receive a lot of engagement, as I had previously mentioned. There was a wide variety of posts during the days, which makes sense since Twitter is usually used to keep things up to date. I don’t know if maybe there was more than one person managing the Twitter feed, but I did notice that sometimes the #ISPA2013 hashtag was used, while other times it was forgotten about. I can understand if this only happened when there was a lot to say in that one tweet, but it occurred randomly throughout all of the days. Twitter was used for a variety of reasons, there was a lot of reminding on Twitter. Such as, “Attend tomorrow’s last General Session w/ keynote Bill Rancic to learn how to think like an entrepreneur. It’s a can’t-miss event! #” or “Get your morning workout in with Lawrence Biscontini during the final Greet the Day on the Expo floor from 6-7 am!”. I think these are great ways to let people know about what is going on, and it gives people who can’t attend a snapshot of what is happening. Another use they made of Twitter was to give thank you’s to people who were speaking, which is nice but would have been better if they could have integrated the persons own Twitter handle into the tweet. Instead of, “Attend tomorrow’s last General Session w/ keynote Bill Rancic to learn how to think like an entrepreneur. It’s a can’t-miss event! #, there should have been more, “What a great first day! Looking forward to seeing speak on business on Wednesday!”. I don’t know why Twitter handles weren’t used, the last tweet I quoted was actually a retweet from someone attending the conference. I think using more Twitter handles would be appreciated by the people who want their own name out there as well. On the plus side, they did retweet any tweet that had their #ISPA2013 or #GrowYourWorld. To me, this is HUGE since so many companies completely ignore people when they are mentioned. It has actually become one of my biggest pet peeves, so the acknowledgement and retweet definitely made the Twitter feed stand out. Since the event ended, that is the biggest thing that they are doing, finding any tweets they missed and making sure they retweet them.

International Spa Association 2013 FacebookWhen it comes to the Facebook page, as I previously mentioned, there was a lot more interaction and engagement. I think that some of the posts were really great reminding people about events, and sharing supplemental information to guest speaker’s speeches as well as saying thank you to sponsors. I am a little surprised that more of the sponsors weren’t mentioned. I don’t know if maybe that was because there was more than enough marketing at the event that listed all of the sponsors, but if each sponsor has a Facebook, they should all be listed. While every company is focused on their own publicity, it is always good to have your name brought up by other people so you aren’t always promoting yourself. I am sure every sponsor would have appreciated a “shout out” that linked back to their own page. Other Facebook posts were about speakers and provided information about the speaker and gave people the ability to learn more if they wanted to. I did notice though that only a few speakers were mentioned. There were actually over 30 speakers at the event, and I am sure each one would have appreciated a little blurb on them and what they were speaking about and when they were speaking. I think this is a missed opportunity to share more things to enhance the experience. If you want people to sit and listen to them talk, why not promote that more and give them a reason to sit and listen? After the event, there have been many call to action posts requesting pictures from the conference as well as asking for posts for their blog about people’s experiences.

International Spa Association 2013 Pinterest board

The Pinterest page is seriously lacking, there are only 24 pins on this page when there is such an opportunity for so many more. First of all, I don’t know if every single speaker was pinned, but if they weren’t they should have been. Also, every single booth and company in attendance of the event should have been pinned as well! What a missed opportunity! Whenever someone is a part of a big conference such as this one, they should be listed everywhere possible. I think they did their sponsors and speakers a huge disservice by not pinning them to this board. It would have made their board look better and more complete, as well as help with SEO.

ISPA blogThe blog was a little disappointing, when I envision a blog on a big event such as this one, I am picturing daily if not twice daily posts describing what the day will entail and what can be expected, or what people can look forward to. There was nothing posted during the expo. While the post that was made on October 14th, seen below was very informative, and posts before that were informative and helpful as well, there should have been much more posting during the event. Also, there could have been an in-depth recap of the event, but there has not yet been one which is not really a good sign either. Usually if a recap hasn’t been done by now, things start to get forgotten and missed when someone actually goes to write a new post.

The YouTube channel had a lot of videos from the past, and really only added one video during the time frame from a speaker, saying that it is Volume IV, while not posting any of the other volumes. I think this is a big misstep on their part since they should really keep consistent posting when it comes to images and videos, I know that images are always a lot easier to upload since they are snapshots, and with a video there may be editing that they have to worry about, however I think more should be added to the channel by now, since it is already 4 days after the event.

International Spa Association LinkedIn ProfileWhen I looked at the various pages, I was interested in the fact that a LinkedIn profile was being publicized as a place to be followed. I thought this was a great way to have businesses and people link up professionally after they both connected to the International Spa Association. I was shocked that I didn’t see more activity about the expo. With over 500 connections I though this would have been a great place to include articles and informational pieces about the speakers, sponsors and award recipients in order to really get more information out there. I recently learned that having a great headline with a lot of keywords is a wonderful way to get seen more and recognized more often, but the headline is fairly lackluster and so is the rest of the profile.

All in all there were some wonderful parts to the social media campaigning, and some lackluster ones. I will say that they fact that ISPA attempted to stay on top of 8 different platforms is commendable. However, they probably would have been better sticking to just a couple and consistently doing them really well. I think it is really great that they made a point of recognizing everyone who reached out to them and used their hashtags, it is a great way to make people feel as though they are being listened to and heard and it is a step that so many companies miss these days.


Different Types of Blogs, What Works and What’s Missing

This week I am learning more about blogs, I am really excited about this because before taking class I have wanted to blog but really haven’t made a commitment. Per this weeks lesson I am taking a closer look at some blogs that I normally look at.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 10.52.06 PMThe first blog I will be looking at is Lizzy Pancakes. I take a look at this blog from time to time for a couple of reasons. One is that I knew Lizzy in college, and the second is that I am thoroughly impressed with the adult she has become. Lizzy’s blog is a recreational blog where she makes food, or shows photography or explains sewing or crafting projects. It is a great culmination of various items that are highly detailed and photographed beautifully. Lizzy shares blog space and invites guest bloggers which improves her traffic. As a person she is highly unique and awesome and I think it comes across nicely in her branding of her blog. She is witty and honest and that shows in her writing and how she explains her projects. Lizzy keeps her content fresh, but since she is blogging in a more recreational manner her content doesn’t always happen in consistent intervals. She does have widgets to share her blog as well as providing information to connect with her on other social media outlets.  It is somewhat successful because of the integration and giving her followers the ability to be more connected, however she could be more successful with more consistent blogging. In her blog Lizzy talks about having a sponsored post about a cheese and it links to a group blog about Honest Cooking that she is a part of, which I believe helps drive traffic to her site. I think since I used to know Lizzy personally I would love to see more of her vivacity come across through her blog, and I would want more consistent blogging. Since Lizzy does a lot of cooking there are a lot of potential advertisers with either baking items for her to try out.

ImageThe second blog I looked at, is one I love to go to for recipes, called The Shiksa Blog. Even though I was raised in a Jewish home, my mother didn’t really cook or host large family gatherings, so when I got married I was determined to turn that around. This blog helped me do that, it is a very informative blog about various kosher-style cooking. This is a professional blog with advertisers, cookbooks that can be purchased, consistently updated content and various ways to connect. This website is unique in the way that it provides people with kosher style cooking recipes in an easy to follow format that assists with celebrating Jewish holidays. I think since Tori Avey talks about how she converted to Judaism and really takes the time to explain things it helps with  her branding and reflects who she is. This site comes up high in the search engine, which is how I found it to begin with. Since this blog is about kosher-style cooking, I believe that it speaks to a specific group of people and due to that it would be greatly improved with an email newsletter system. I have looked over this website and have not found any way to sign up for a newsletter. Since there are so many different Jewish holidays, I think that is something that is missing. I wouldn’t say that a weekly newsletter should be put out, but an email a month ahead of a holiday with recipe ideas and information? I would definitely want that, and I bet a lot of other readers would as well.

ImageAnother site I found by searching, is The Pioneer Woman. The recipes that this blog puts out are raved about not only in other blogs, but on Pinterest too! What is most interesting to me is that even though she become popular on Pinterest for a lot of her cooking, her site is so much more. There is a “Confessions” section, as well as an “Entertainment” section proving that Ree Drummond is more than just a woman who cooks. The site gives people great ideas about cooking as well as giving a deeper look into the Pioneer Woman and what she deals with in her life. The way she has her site shows a lot about her branding and who she is, and by sharing in the way she does, it makes her unique. I do believe quite a lot of traffic is driven to her blog by Pinterest, but she also has an email newsletter that people can sign up for, which I am sure gives her a lot of return traffic. This blog is a professional blog with consistent updates, lots of innovative and creative content, ways to share and connect. She advertises her own book as well as having giveaways, some of which are done by advertisers and some of which she sponsors herself. Honestly, this blog is so well developed with such a unique sense of personality that shows throughout the posting that I don’t think anything is missing.

Image The fourth blog I looked at is called Make It and Love It, it is a semi-professional site about a wife and mom of 3 who would rather craft than clean a bathroom. Who can’t get behind that? I think the fact that Ashley is so open about how much she would rather do crafts and cook than clean is a huge part of why she is so successful. It creates an honest and open relationship that has become integrated in her branding. As seen in the picture to the left, there are many ways to connect with this site, include RSS Feeds and a newsletter, as well as various social media platforms. The main reason for this site is the tutorials section, and this leads me to believe that most of the traffic comes from searches, or word of mouth. Although digging deeper into the site shows some giveaways as well, which is also helpful in gaining traffic.  When you get to the site though, there are lots of tutorials and personality to keep you there. There are also a lot of advertisers on the site, varying from Adwords advertising, to specific sponsors. Ashley posts consistently a few times a week and varies which topic she is posting about. I think that something that is missing from this site is the life stories. She has 3 kids and a husband, while she adds anecdotes into what she is doing sometimes, I feel like a whole section could be added on what she is learning being a mom.

ImageThe last blog I am looking at is the Tip Junkie blog. This is a group blog with tips and information about a wide variety of topics. Food, Gifts, Holiday and Lifestyle just to name a few. The site has over 147,000 people liking them on Facebook, and even offers a Tip Junkie app! Readers can subscribe via email or RSS feeds, and can also connect on various social media platforms. It is a great site that has compiled data from lots of different women sharing and holds it in one place so that things can be found in an easier format. There is advertising from various advertisers, as well as Etsy advertising from their own store. I really think that this site is missing an “About” page explaining how it was founded and thought up and why it is there. I think that the lack of that information leaves readers without a lot of information about the person who thought this up, and sometimes buying into the branding of the person is what makes you come back for more. Since this is a group blog and has lots of followers on Facebook, as well as a daily tip newsletter, it shows up high in searches and gets a lot of shares whenever someone in the group posts their own tutorial.

All in all, I learned a lot about blogging this week. It makes me think of what my own branding and blog should be about. I have realized a lot while looking at these blog posts. It is not enough for someone to just be informative, I really think showing personality is key to having people truly enjoy your blog and want to come back for more. I also believe that even for a recreational blogger, consistent posting is key, since it gives readers something to look forward to. What do you think makes a great blog?