Shimmy, Like, Follow, Pin!

mwindover    July 8, 2015

Organization name: BellyUp Belly Dance Studios

Web references: BellyUp BellyDance Studios, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Powhhow, Quicksprout, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube

Industry: dance studio

Name of contact: Joharah Kolishenco, Founder, Owner, Instructor, Artistic Director

Jewel tones are a major décor feature at BellyUp Belly Dance Studios, where scarves adorn the walls and there’s a steady jingle of coin belts. It’s a vibrant and inviting environment under the charge of owner and artistic director, Joharah Kolishenco. Since opening the flagship studio in Oakville in 2006, Joharah has expanded the business to encompass satellite studios in Mississauga and Hamilton.

As the name suggests, BellyUp specializes in teaching Oriental (belly) dance, and also offers classes and workshops in other ‘sister’ dance forms and activities (e.g., Latin ballroom, yoga). There is a constant rotation of specialty workshops and events featuring Egyptian masters such as Khaled Mahmoud and American stars like Sadie Marquardt. And there’s Joharah, herself an experienced performer, choreographer and invited instructor at workshops both home and abroad. In 2014 and 2015, she led her studio’s dance troupe, Ala Nar, to back-to-back first-place finishes at the Star Belly Dancer of Canada Competition.

2014 Winning Performance

2015 Winning Performance

BellyUp promotes inclusivity in the art form, welcoming all ages and sizes to reap the benefits of the dance. This is a message that has and continues to resonate with BellyUp trialists and devotees.

Description of how social media is used for business performance

Plug into any social media channel and you’re bound to find Joharah and BellyUp. The Oakville-based company is everywhere, from Facebook (2,120 likes) and Twitter (1,519 followers), to Instagram (543 followers) and Pinterest (354). Add to that a dynamic website and Shimmy Gazette blog, and you have a reach that extends far beyond the town’s population of less than 200,000.

Managing those channels takes time, but it’s an ongoing project that Joharah shares with Laura Varga, a BellyUp instructor, Ala Nar performer, and assistant to Joharah. Between Joharah’s marketing background and Laura’s audience-representative perspective, BellyUp operates its social media agenda with a strategy that’s built on research, creativity and metrics.

In part 1 of my interview with Laura, she outlines the background on the BellyUp approach to marketing on social media.

BellyUp complements its tweets and posts with regular email blasts. The focus is generally part announcement of what’s new, and part reminder of what’s coming up soon. It’s effective in terms of new and continuing student enrolments, and in maintaining an all-important presence. With all of these touch points, Laura targets the optimal times of day and days of the week to post on each social media channel. And yes, the optimal post timing does vary by channel.

In part 2 of my interview with Laura, she further elaborates on the BellyUp social media strategy and on taking BellyUp classes online.

If the BellyUp online presence wasn’t reaching into enough corners, in 2014 Joharah began offering online classes through Powhow. To promote this endeavour, Joharah naturally took to social media to share the news and a teaser link on YouTube.


Lessons for others:

  1. Know your limits – people love to hear what’s new and be reminded of upcoming events, but take care not to inundate your audience with your messages.
  2. Be everywhere – build an authentic presence in all the usual places, such as Facebook and Twitter. But don’t discount the rising popularity of Pinterest and Instagram if you want to be a serious social media player.
  3. Pay attention to the metrics – understand which social media channels are benefitting your business the most, as well as ideal times to send out your message.

Submitted by: Melanie Windover

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