How The Ranch Malibu is Winning on Instagram with Authenticity

From four-hour hikes to plant-based meals and a serene design aesthetic, The Ranch Malibu, a luxury fitness, health, and wellness retreat, uses its endless therapeutic qualities to inspire their followers and guests via Instagram. The Ranch’s alumni is another source of inspiration for the brand’s social presence, and they are dedicated to supporting them through their results and achievements. 

The Ranch Malibu utilizes captions that always tie back to their challenging, yet rewarding programs. Think staff insights, fitness advice, and tips for the delectable dishes that are offered during the retreat.

Here, The Ranch Malibu team shares why creating placeholders and room to deviate on content strategy is important, how each member of the staff offers insight into different components of the program, and the reason why authenticity sells. 

When it comes to Instagram and Pinterest, what is most important to The Ranch Malibu? 

We are primarily focused on Instagram and expanding our reach globally. We are able to tell a more cohesive story via our Instagram feed and cultivate a community around passionate health advocates. Also, we love how easy it is to engage with our alumni and fans via Instagram, as it is one of our favorite things to do!

How has PLANOLY been an asset to The Ranch Malibu? 

PLANOLY has been an incredible asset to The Ranch as it allows us to schedule our content while clearly portraying the overall aesthetic of the feed. The visual aspect of this tool is extremely beneficial, as we do emphasize the flow of our content. We are also able to incorporate placeholders for content, which we take full advantage of because The Ranch is always working on exciting real-time content for surprising social media moments. 

What is the biggest learning from PLANOLY? How has that impacted The Ranch’s Instagram? 

The biggest learning from PLANOLY is how important it is to think of a brand’s feed as a whole entity—rather than one-off individual content. Each piece of content contributes to a full representation of the brand. For The Ranch, we want to encourage social users to experience our programs based on our photos, videos, and captions—and all of our content should work together to achieve that goal. An Instagram post should inspire a user to visit our page, follow us, and to book a program.

Your Instagram really tells a story thanks to the outdoor images, product shots, and UGC. How do you strategize your feed and stories and decide where to place what? 

We have a list of key themes to include, and we reference it for every calendar. If there are more timely items, such as our newly released cookbook “Food Food Food” (now available!), we will ensure that there is more coverage in the calendar for both IG stories and feed posts. For Instagram Stories, we often repost guests’ stories while they are participating in our programs so followers can also experience the brand in real-time. It’s all about implementing that perfect mix of content pillars!

The Ranch Malibu takes natural and organic ingredients very seriously. How do you implement that information onto your Instagram to create engaging content?

We emphasize the importance of natural ingredients by featuring our on-site certified organic garden, plant-based menu items, and natural beauty products. We really pay attention to making these posts visually compelling so that followers are more inclined to read the caption, which then gives us an opportunity to elaborate and educate on why and how we use natural ingredients. 

These types of posts can also highlight the ways in which we incorporate sustainable practices into our daily routines at every opportunity, how they impact us and the planet as a whole and how followers can implement our practices into their own lives. For example, maybe it’s not being entirely plant-based, but even going plant-based for a day or a meal helps, supporting local organic farms, trying clean beauty—there are endless options. It’s not about doing everything perfectly, which can be overwhelming, but doing what you can to make a difference.  

You have a great asset in your founders and all the experts that work at The Ranch Malibu. How do you include them in your storytelling?

Our founders, Sue and Alex Glasscock, are the embodiment of our ethos and we love to include them on our feed, but their passion for healthy living is truly reflected throughout our entire team. Our staff is such a big part of the guest experience that we couldn’t tell the story without them. Whether it’s our chef, master gardener, program guides, trainers, or resident naturalist—each offers insight into a different component of the program. I love posting videos with them and seeing the comments that come in from our alumni because it really shows how memorable they all are and the personal relationships they develop with guests during the program.    

Food is such a big aspect of The Ranch’s ethos. How do you explain your point of view when it comes to health and wellness?

Through our plant-based approach, we highlight what people can add to their diet—fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, and seeds—and not what they need to eliminate. We don’t tell people how to eat. The beauty of The Ranch program is that by the end, guests become very in tune with their bodies. As they start adding things back into their diet, they can see how specific foods truly affect them and then decide whether or not to continue eating it based on their own unique response. We will share concrete facts about a plant-based diet to educate followers on the impact that it can have on the body and planet, but ultimately, it is their decision to make.

That being said, our alumni can be very enthusiastic, so we love sharing testimonials and stories about how they’ve continued to implement a plant-based diet following a stay with us. We especially enjoy sharing stories when they are making our recipes at home!

The algorithm on Instagram can be tricky. How do you tackle that?

Authenticity sells. Users gravitate to a brand on social media because it gives them the real deal—no smoke and mirrors. Our programs focus on long-term lifestyle changes that directly correlate with physical endurance, mental health, and weight-loss. We want our social media followers (whether aspirational, current clients, or alumni) to feel like they can trust us. We are constantly diving into data and content to adhere to the behaviors of our followers. If they like it, we love it! Being aware of performance data allows us to curate our content so that users are looking for our next post. 

What are your best social photography or editing tips for beauty bloggers using their phones?

Good lighting and minimal editing are key! You want your images to look crisp, adding filters or incorporating too much retouching will result in a grainy and ultimately lower-quality image. When taking photos, play with the angles and orientations of the photo. Keep Instagram dimensions in mind, as your photo may need to be cropped a specific way. 

What are the biggest challenges for The Ranch’s Instagram? 

The Ranch is constantly adapting to new platform changes and redirecting our efforts into optimization and segmentation. With every social media update, we adapt and strategize how we’ll continue to keep our momentum strong. The recent rollout of Instagram removing likes from posts has raised concern that this change will drastically impact engagement numbers from our influencers, organic, and paid media tactics. We’re on standby and ready to respond when the plan rolls out to a larger group of users.

What is your average engagement, and how did you initially grow on Instagram?

Our average engagement fluctuates throughout the year depending on key seasons for The Ranch. We usually sit anywhere between 4% to 8% per post. Additionally, influencer marketing and celebrity visits are a huge contribution to both our growth and engagement success. 

To further reinforce their brand ethos, The Ranch Malibu gave us a few more things to share with you! Including recipes from their new cookbook, Food Food Food, ways to make your own footbath, and soothing workouts you can do at home. Healthy living is truly The Ranch’s backbone.

Lemon Coconut Bars

This healthy dessert is loaded in Vitamin C to boost your immune system, promote glowing skin, and improve digestion and gut health. It also offers a boost to your brain and heart. The ingredients below make 12 bars!

Ingredients: 

1 cup walnuts
11/2 cup dates, pitted
1 Tbsp vanilla powder or extract
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp lemon zest, plus
1 Tbsp for garnish
11/4 cups shredded coconut,
plus 1/2 cup for garnish
3/4 tsp sea salt

Directions: 

Place the walnuts in a food processor and process to make flour.
Add the dates, vanilla, lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp of the lemon zest.
Process until mixed well and set aside.
Place 11/4 cups of the shredded coconut and the sea salt into a large bowl and mix.
Add the mixture from the food processor to the coconut and mix so that all of the ingredients are combined.
Line an 8- inch square glass baking dish with parchment paper.
Place the dough in the pan and spread out evenly.
Sprinkle the remaining coconut and lemon zest on top.
Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to set.
Cut and plate! 

Exercises to combat the effects of sitting from Josh Ray, Program Guide & Exercise Specialist   

Since we are all a bit more sedentary at the moment, it’s important to move your body to prevent postural distortions.  Josh recommends pairing the two movements below and doing them every hour to break up all the sitting we do in our lives. 

Posture flex to forward bend

  • Flex your feet, big toe into the ground with the arches lifted
  • Tuck your tailbone and flex your glutes as you draw in your belly button and lengthen the spine
  • Bring your shoulders back and down, squeezing your shoulder blades together to externally bring your thumbs out and reach your fingertips towards the floor.
  • Tuck your chin, head moves straight back
  • Hold this position and squeeze for 15 seconds
  • Curl down into a forward bend vertebrae by vertebrae
  • Hold and relax for 15 seconds
  • Roll back up to posture flex
  • Repeat 5 times

Shake it Out!

  • Bounce, shake, and relax all muscles for 30 seconds
  • Feel the blood flowing all over the body and brain, ready to think clearly and act swiftly!

Basic Meditation Tips from Yoga Instructor Alison Bristow

A regular meditation practice can offer a variety of benefits including helping to increase your attention span, improve sleep, lower blood pressure and reduce stress.  Below, Alison offers a non-bells-and-whistles approach to help those just starting out and it involves three simple elements:

  • Stillness: bring the physical body into stillness
  • Quietness: choose not to speak or project sounds out into the environment through the voice
  • Inwardly directed focus: this is at first most easily achieved by closing the eyelids.

Once these three elements are at play, you can simply watch what arises within you without the normal distractions and engagement with the external world. Sometimes, again because of the overwhelming importance that has been placed on thinking and doing, this can feel unbearable at first.

To ease this barrier, it often helps to engage in a practice like breath awareness – redirecting attention away from thoughts and onto the breath. Simply notice the breath as it flows in and then back out. Even keeping attention on that breath movement for three cycles in a row can noticeably shift the inner and outer state.  

Make Your Own Foot Bath

At The Ranch, our guests enjoy foot baths post-hike to relieve sore feet but right now this practice can also be incredibly therapeutic and grounding to do at home right now.  While ice water baths are geared towards reducing swelling and soreness, you don’t want to stay submerged for longer than 10 minutes.  However, a warm bath not only relieves aches and stiffness, reduces inflammation, and improves circulation but also promotes a sense of calm and can serve as an opportunity to reconnect with your body and tune out the outside world.  

You can enhance the effects by adding Epsom salt, flowers, and herbs to the water. If using fresh herbs or flowers, simply cut a few leaves and crush them before dropping them in your warm Epsom soak. Using warm water allows for their healing benefits and scents to be more easily released and because it’s more pleasant to soak in, you can better absorb the minerals and therapeutic qualities they offer. 

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