Salon owners share their how-tos for navigating the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and more.
When it comes to social media, if your salon is still not in, your business is missing out. That‘s the overwhelming message of salon owners who have jumped on board in the last several years. “Social media is a must for any business. It‘s about being able to connect to clients and potential clients,“ says Beth Lugtu, owner of Textura Salon in Vancouver. “People want instant. A business on social media can fulfill that want. An example would be a person tweeting out, looking for a new salon. We tweet back, ‘We’d love to wow you, call us.’ An hour later, a new client walks in the door. That is instant gratification; she found a new salon, we gained a client.“
Pros: “A video of your business adds personality. It gives clients a peek at who you are and what you do,“ says Lugtu. “It can be like a video newsletter, informing clients what you’re doing and where you’re going.“
Pitfalls: Making videos can be a lengthy process. For the salon, filming video takes about four hours and editing takes between two and four hours, depending on the amount of footage.
Top Tip: “Social media is another tool for businesses to get their brand message and their name out there. And it is instant,” says Lugtu. “With millions of people on social media platforms, it just made sense for our business to be on there as well.” After launching a website and joining Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Google Plus, YouTube has become the next stop for the salon. “Referrals are the lifeblood of our industry,“ says Lugtu.” So when a client tells someone to check out Textura Salon and that person can not only read about us on the website, see pictures on Facebook, follow our tweets, but can also see a video of us in action, that has a larger impact than just reading a review.
Pros: Flexibility on what you can post. A more personal connection with clients.
Pitfalls: “So many people end up spamming fans with deals,” says Eric Ducoff, vice-president of Strategies, a salon business consulting company. “They‘re not sharing any of their culture—pictures of the fun stuff you do, behind the scenes at the salon, stories of worst hair nightmares.”
Top Tip: “Don‘t spread yourself too thin,” says Ducoff. “It can become a full-time job. Facebook and Twitter reign supreme by amount of activity. Pinterest is fantastic because it‘s so visual. For any of these, if you get into it, make sure you can maintain it. If you don‘t stay involved and social, people lose interest.”
Kezia Morrone has been with Mosaic Hair Salon in Toronto for eight years. Now the front-line manager, she is also the social media manager. “It‘s fun and rewarding to see how clients respond,” says Morrone. She spends three hours a week on Facebook and Twitter, usually on Mondays when the salon is closed, planning out posts for the week. Then, for a half hour at the end of each day, she checks the accounts and responds to comments. “It gives us the opportunity to listen to what clients need and what works for them,” she says. “It extends your market reach and lets you establish and maintain relationships with your clients.” They‘ve done that by creating a weekly schedule that offers promotions on Mondays, tips and tricks on Tuesdays, hair facts on Wednesdays, trends on Thursdays and product knowledge on Fridays, often with special deals. “It creates a unique experience, and you can promote your brand differently,” she says.
Pros: It’s a great way for clients to find your salon and be enticed to make an appointment after reading reviews from your current clients.
Pitfalls: Negative reviews may be left as well, leaving you to delicately handle a tricky situation.
Top Tip: “Yelp can be double-edged sword,” says Ducoff. “The best thing to do is apologize and offer to do what you can to make it better. Post it publicly and ask them to contact you directly to discuss a solution. You should do that across any of the platforms. Respond with a cool head and as evenly as you can to make it right. It‘s only going to help your reputation.”
Every six months social media doubles in influence, according to Robert Barbosa of Salon Escape in Toronto. This is why it’s become essential for his business, which has a presence across multiple platforms. Yelp, however, has become one of the salon’s biggest drivers. He estimates 45 per cent of new clientele can be attributed to online efforts—of that, 70 per cent come to them through Yelp. That’s followed by Google optimization, Facebook and Twitter. The role Yelp plays cannot be overstated, especially as traditional referral programs falter and new client retention falls. “New client retention is at 25 per cent, when not long ago it was 60 per cent,” he says. “Loyalty is almost obsolete, and clients go wherever they want to and wait till the last minute to book.”
Pros: Fast and easy; 140 characters or less. Good way to show off photos, too.
Pitfalls: Short tweets limit the amount of information you can relay to clients. A fast-moving timeline means your tweets might get buried quickly.
Top Tip: “Stay involved in it. Don‘t start something and disappear. If you‘re going to post once or twice a week, do it,” says Leeanne Colley, owner of Tips Nail Bar in Toronto. “If you’re not posting information that’s interesting, they‘ll stop following you.”
Colley leapt into Twitter two years ago and hasn‘t looked back. “It created a really big buzz for us,” she says. “It increased our business and traffic 15 to 20 per cent. I wish I hadn‘t waited so long.” Colley has since started Facebook and Instagram accounts, plus, all nail techs have their own accounts. Facebook hasn’t been as successful for them as Twitter, though. “Facebook can be a little personal. Twitter is so quick; it‘s an easy way to connect,” says Colley. Her advice is to jump in, but start with one platform. “The easiest way is to watch what other people are doing,” says Colley. “I asked people questions about what to tweet and how to attract a larger audience. It takes the edge off when you connect through social media. You almost feel like you know the person already.”
While the four platforms in this story are leading the way for salon businesses in social media, there are plenty of others you can use to connect as well. For the salon industry, the focus on visuals with Instagram and Pinterest seems like a natural fit. But you’re also limited in the amount of information you can put out. For now, those might be better used in combination with a Facebook or Twitter account to help promote your business. If you go the Instagram or Pinterest route, get your entire staff on board and make sure they’re posting their work, too. Staying active and providing your followers with fresh content is the name of the game.