The summer months are busy ones for those in the beauty industry. As people prepare to bare their pasty limbs and tattered toes, those running salons and nail bars find themselves inundated with customers. But smart business owners don’t just rely on the weather to keep their enterprises ticking over. More entrepreneurs in this sector are turning to social media to aid their marketing efforts, and to create a buzz around their business that lasts all year round.
It has always been the case that a great haircut or beautifully manicured nails will prompt compliments and a request for a beautician’s number, but word of a salon’s good work can spread much further these days via social media. Almost half of smartphone users engage with social media sites at least once a day, according to market research firm Nielsen, with Facebook still being the most popular. Pinterest and Instagram are also rapidly growing in popularity, and Twitter is still the platform of choice for those who want a quick hit of bite-sized information. Many of your clients are likely to be engaging with social media sites via their handsets even when they’re in the salon chair or waiting for their pedicure to dry.
Apart from using social media to market your business, and get feedback from clients, there are also a series of apps that salons can employ to win last-minute customers. Sites such as Salontracker, Wahanda, and Vagaro allow users to make appointments with little or no notice, and can allow businesses to win custom on days when pre-booked clients are thin on the ground. But when it comes to tackling social media more broadly, there are a number of things that salon and nail bar owners should take into account.
- Which social media platform is really best for your business? Spreading yourself too thinly could dilute your message, and make a lot of work – it takes time to create new content for different platforms. Facebook has great potential reach, and clients could be encouraged to become ‘friends’ of your brand and share their experiences on your page. Twitter can be good for sending out last-minute promotions and offers. Google Plus is very strong on social sharing, so could help you send your message far and wide. But beauty businesses are also very image friendly, so may lend themselves best to visual platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest. For example, if you’re happy with the work you’ve done for a client you might ask them if you could take their picture and post it on these sites. As the saying goes, a picture’s worth a thousand words, and most people will be flattered to serve as a model for your work. You could do worse than to take a straw poll of your customers to find out which sites they favour, then focus your attention on the most popular channels.
- Your customers are your greatest advert – and marketing tool. Many people still find their hairdresser, beautician or nail technician through personal recommendation, so why not ask your clients to tweet or post something favourable about your business on their preferred social media site if they’re happy with your work. You could even make some customers social ambassadors for your business, offering them discounts or entry into a prize draw in exchange for spreading the word about your business online. But ensure that you have a genuine relationship with anyone you put in this position, and monitor what they say about your company. They have the power to do as much harm as good.
- Don’t forget that you’re an expert in your field, and you can reinforce this message by filming video content to show just what you can do. Online tutorials via sites such as Youtube are an opportunity to show viewers how to create popular hairstyles, retro make-up looks, or classic manicures. It’s not taking trade away from your bricks and mortar business, but showcasing just what you and your therapists can do if people visit the salon in person.
- Is your salon as beautiful as the work it produces? If you have particularly impressive decor or a striking display of products think about taking a picture to post via your chosen social platform. Users of social media respond strongly to visual content – Facebook pages containing images receive 53 per cent more ‘likes’ than those without, Hubspot data suggests, and tweets containing pictures are twice as likely to be retweeted. So, don’t just show off your professional handiwork, lure in potential customers with your attractive surroundings, too.
- Remember the ‘social’ in social media – communicate with your clients and followers. If someone says something positive about your business, thank them for the comment. You might even offer them a reward or money-off voucher for making contact. Discounts shouldn’t just be for first time customers, but also an incentive for existing clients to remain loyal.
- Social media is a great place to offer customers deals, but be careful not to devalue your company’s brand by being permanently cut-price. Good promotions will boost demand when times are quiet, rather than offering money off when your business would be doing well anyway. Try and plan your deals for the entire year ahead to get a balance of offers across the months.
While you should embrace 21st century forms of communication, don’t neglect more established forms of marketing and customer engagement. Text messages are still a very effective way to alert people to up-to-the-minute deals – and fill empty salon chairs. Collect and keep the mobile numbers of clients for SMS mail-outs of this kind. Be aware, too, that more than a third of consumers value email as a marketing medium, according to research from the Economist Intelligence Unit and Lyris, so this could be valuable information to collate from regulars. About half of punters still like to learn about a business via its website, so make sure your home on the web is up-to-date and features all of your latest prices and offers. And some of the old-fashioned marketing tricks are still the best. Consumers rate friends’ opinions, in-store displays, and even postal catalogues over social media when it comes to making a decision about using a company’s products or services, new Gallup research suggests. So, put an effort into creating a balance between digital and traditional channels and you should make the biggest marketing hit this summer – and the rest of the year, too.
Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net