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.

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Candy, Pets and Martha Stewart- A look at what works..

social-platformIn the past few weeks we have learned a lot about different ways that brands have taken control of their marketing. Some brands focus more on social media, while others integrate social media into their other marketing strategies.

The three companies I looked at are MandM’s, Martha Stewart and Petco. I have had experiences with all three which is why I chose them.

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MandM’s Black MandM Contest

MandM’s does a great job keeping up with the seasons and updating all of their websites to reflect the times as well as have marketing with their products in print and in person. Their YouTube page has lots of views, their Instagram has really funny photos for the fall, and their Twitter is fairly up to date. They consistently use the hashtag #mms which has created enough of a following that people have taken it and begun to use it themselves when they have pictures with various products.

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Ms. Brown MandM’s Twitter Page

Part of the integration method that they are using is combining different contests through various social media channels. For instance, on the left they posted a contest on Twitter that had a picture that linked to Instagram in order to drive traffic to that platform.

The way that this company uses all various forms of marketing between different social media platforms as well as marketing on products, in magazines, and in grocery ads is a well thought out strategy.

The next company I looked at was Martha Stewart. This brand is constantly working in various areas of improvement and updating their various social media platforms consistently. The way Martha Stewart integrates between the magazines she puts out, as well as all of the products she is selling, is a well thought out plan.

Martha Stewart uses various hashtags such as #MarthaStewartCrafts and #MarthasHalloweenHunt. Both of these allow other people to use the content provided as well as insert their own information to answer the riddles and connect back to their own Twitter.

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Martha Stewart’s YouTube

Another platform that they are using incredibly well is YouTube, the way that they connect their TV programming into clips on YouTube.

What Martha Stewart posts in her magazines is also mentioned on the website as well as having the ability to connect to her Apple apps for iPad and iPhones. The brand also allows you to subscribe to emails and receive daily messages on new posts.

The fact that she consistently uses the same themes in her work and stays up to date makes a big difference in her marketing. People know what to expect, they know that if a holiday is coming up there will be new content to look through for ideas on various items.

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Petco’s Facebook

Lastly, I looked at Petco for the ways that they reach out to customers. While you can sign up for emails, they also send you mail and you can sign up to receive coupons and discounts on items in store and online. Petco reaches out to customers and potential customers in different ways, truly showing how they integrate all of their marketing tactics.

Across all of their social media platforms they do keep consistent imagery and various campaigns. For instance, right now they are focusing on their Star Wars Halloween costume collection as well as timing it for their Halloween “Make a Scene” contest. They use their various social media platforms to cross publicize the contest and let people know what is going on. One thing they don’t do is use consistent hashtags. I was a little shocked about this, it seems as though creating a #Petco hashtag would be a simple enough thing for them to follow, but it is the customers who are using that and not the actually company.

Truthfully all of these companies have taken the time to stay up to date with their campaign strategies as well as making sure that they don’t only focus on social media. Something to constantly remember is that the best marketing is still face to face communication and word of mouth. Which is why even though all of these companies focus on social media they also make sure to have outreach to customers in other ways. Through product placement and sales, emails, social media, and mail.

Communication Planning vs. Media Planning

Before reading this chapter, I will admit that I thought communications planning and media planning weren’t all that different. However, I was completely wrong. According to Young (2010) “Media planning is focused on reaching as many of the right audience in the right place at the right time and at the right cost as possible, whereas communications planning is less about reaching people than influencing them.” 1 As more social media applications and platforms grow in popularity, influence is a major desire for companies and people. Knowing how you are influencing people has become such a major strategy that platforms have come out solely to measure influence, such as Klout. I have to say that when I plugged in all of my information and saw what my own Klout score was, seeing the impact of my influence was incredible. It was enough to really make me think of what I was doing to see how I could influence the people who follow, like, or friend me even more. I find it very interesting that across all platforms, people may or may not choose to follow a brand. For instance, I have a lot of followers on Pinterest, but not nearly as many on Instagram. This shows that some platforms may showcase my personality and ingenuity better than others. Just because people find me interesting in one aspect, they might not find me interesting at all in another. This holds true for brands and companies as well. Just because I have liked Old Navy on Facebook, does not mean I am interested in seeing what they are doing on Twitter. Influence is a concept that shows how much companies have to prove their brand management across various borders.

Thinking of how to apply the concept of influence to various channels, I took a look at the readings and video and would like to focus on how the tone, purpose, language, and persona can enhance a brand no matter what platform is used.2  By ensuring that what a company or person puts out into the world maintains the same branding as what they do in print and other communication appeals, I believe this is a good way to handle branding and create a communications strategy. For instance, I would like to expand my business in social media, so not only do I strive to show my personality through all of my social media interaction, but I also like to try and help others with ideas when possible. I created a Pinterest board solely about social media which has already helped me get new followers and new people interacting with me. This is a strategy that I am using to help my brand. Whether it will work or not, I will see in the long run. Right now my main focus is creating a brand that I feel best represents me. I think companies need to do the same thing when it comes to their own brand strategies and they need to figure out ways to be on many social media platforms in different ways that represent their own branding strategy.

1 – Young, Antony. “A Shift From Media Planning to Communications Planning.” Brand Media Strategy: Integrated Communications Planning in the Digital Era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 74. Print.

2 – Schwab, Stephanie. “Finding Your Brand Voice.” Social Media Explorer Finding Your Brand Voice Comments. N.p., 31 Mar. 2011. Web. 05 Sept. 2013. <http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/finding-your-brand-voice/&gt;.