Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2009

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VISIT ABMP.COM FOR INFORMATION ABOUT SOME EXCITING SOCIAL NETWORKING INITIATIVES DEBUTING SOON. All the Rage Facebook, for example, is growing exponentially with women over 55. There are approximately 1.5 million females over 55 using the site today, a 550 percent increase in just six months. Are these your clients? Are they waiting to hear from you? individuals utilizing these resources: small businesses using these tools, too. Take, for example, massage therapist Mary Jenn in San Diego, who told the Times that she uses Twitter for letting clients know about last-minute appointments or special discounts. Within hours, she reports, her open appointment slots are filled up. All generations are buying into this trend. CNN reports that the popularity of Twitter and Facebook have become all the rage of late, with everyone from newscasters to politicians to bodyworkers coming into the social networking fold. Whether it be to test the waters on a new ad campaign or merely to stay in touch with clients and customers, the world is atwitter in social networking. According to the New York Times, it's not just big business or the millions of what I want to accomplish. Twitter is great for PR and having spontaneous conversations. LinkedIn is my favorite for connecting with people I've just met at a networking event. Facebook is great for digging a little deeper and sharing education material." Twitter has a language all its own. Posts are referred to as Tweets. Then there are Twitpics (pictures shared on Twitter), Twistoris (an ongoing social experiment), Twittercards (allows you to post your business card) and more. Twitter has dozens of applications, and an application creator that allows you to create your own, in the wild event you don't find what you're looking for on the site. Like comments on Facebook, "Tweets" appear in real time. OTHER ONLINE OPTIONS While the networks mentioned above are the most popular, there are literally thousands on the Internet, some that are open to everyone, others that are limited to those who are invited by an existing member. If you're entrepreneurial and technically savvy, you can create your own using any number of Internet applications. In addition to the networks, there are thousands of places where you can place free classified ads for your massage therapy practice. Gloria Coppola is a continuing education provider who uses a number of sites to post her classes. "Word-of-mouth has always been the best advertising," says Coppola, "and this seems to be the new word-of-mouth. I also get to see all the great events others are offering and attending." Coppola markets her classes for free on Backpage (www.backpage. com), Craigslist (www.craigslist.com), and EventBrite (www.eventbrite. com). While posting and searching for classes, meetings, and other events on EventBrite is free, for a reasonable fee they will also handle all your class and meeting registrations. As Coppola points out, so many people spend hours on the Internet nowadays, often to the point that print mediums such as newspapers and other traditional means of advertising are left by the wayside. Blogging is another way to keep yourself in that "top-of-mind awareness," a term I've borrowed from mentor, Felicia Brown, who owns the training and consulting company Spalutions! She uses her blog to keep in touch with clients and colleagues. My blog, Massage Collage, is directed at others in the massage therapy community. However, you could just as easily write a blog targeting your clientele. A blog is a weblog—a diary, if you will—where you write about subjects or express opinions that are of interest to your audience, whether that's clients, business contacts, or other groups. Blogs allow dialogue by means of people responding to your posts, although you do have the option of checking each response and deciding whether or not to allow it on the blog. That deters spamming and inappropriate comments. Most networks mentioned in this article will allow you to feed your existing blog into the network, or use one of their applications to create one. Wordpress (www.wordpress.com) is a free and user-friendly application for creating your own blog. These resources are valuable, no- cost ways to market yourself. Taking advantage of these opportunities can save you a fortune in advertising costs, raise your profile, and make the number of useful contacts you get virtually limitless. Networking on the Internet truly allows us to create a worldwide community, a family of hands. See you on the Web! Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009) and One Year to a Successful Massage Therapy Practice (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008). A third book, A Massage Therapist's Guide to Business, will be published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins in January 2010. She is the owner of THERA-SSAGE, an alternative wellness clinic of over a dozen practitioners of different disciplines, and continuing education facility, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Visit her website at www.thera-ssage.com Laura Allen is the author of Plain & Simple visit massageandbodywork.com to access your digital magazine 27

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