I first wrote this in 2010 and have been updating it; here’s version 2013:
If I told you, you could speak to your clients whenever they were looking for info about hair & beauty? What about being their first stop for any or all information on you, your products and services? They will also share this information and advice with their friends, who will share it with their friends…. Oh and there will be new clients who will just be looking for great products and services who connect with you too. This will happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year without you having to be there all the time. Sound good?
You could being doing it right now, that’s how social media works and it is happening now, whether you are engaging, or not.
Despite this ease of access, there aren’t many businesses who understand the potential of this connect and are actually engaging their customers in social media. I get it, it is easier said that done and there is a lot to learn and get good at. Here’s the tough love: you cannot afford to ignore it any longer. You have to figure it all out and get started.
The way we communicate, promote and brand our business has changed forever with the emergence of Social Media. The old rules are obsolete and now is the time to embrace the new media and take full advantage of the new communication age. In an increasingly competitive market, salons need to stand out from the crowd and increase their profile online and offline. Salons have a great opportunity to connect with current clients and find new clients at a low cost without high-level technical/programming skills.
I have fully immersed myself in Social Media, some sites you know and others you will never need to use. Each site has their own purpose, community and language. I use social media to connect with clients and colleagues, research ideas and information, stay in touch with the world outside the suburb I am in and to connect with people I would never be able to connect with in the real world. I knew that there was a strong online community but being a part of these conversations and building relationships has enriched my business and me personally. I have spent a lot of time and effort creating my ‘digital footprint’ and the results have been outstandingly positive for me personally and my business. I have taken what I have learned and shared this with clients, in seminars and in my writing. Everyone who embarks on this wondrous process of connection have experienced the benefits.
In Social Media, you must be the creator and the curator. Create great information, share the salon’s activities and find great information about your area of expertise and share it with your ‘community’. In this space your clients are your community, they are people who will join you because you resonate with them and they want to support you. This is an important thing to remember as you navigate the new plane!
There are so many sites that you are able to access in social media. But we have to start somewhere so I thought I would start at the beginning; the oldest of the most relevant tools available to you: Facebook, Twitter & Blogging.
Before you do anything you must create a social media strategy that will define:
* What the overall objective of your social media activity is
* What sites you will use
* The voice you will have
* How to connect them all
* The campaigns and info on the site
* How and when it is all tied into the business’s website
If you have already started in social media, take some time to create a strategy so that your activity is fully integrated, ie: that the online and offline persona of the business is the same and that customer has the same experience wherever they interact with the business.
Creating an account is easy on all of these sites; they are designed to encourage you to join. Each have step-by-step instructions as well as comprehensive help pages. If you get really stuck you can always ask your Twitter or Facebook community for help and advise!
Social Media sites can be set up to talk to each other and to websites; this is ‘autoposting’, the user clicks ‘post’ on a site and it appears on another site. There are very careful rules to autposting, we’ll cover this in a later article in detail, but just remember, you don’t want to spam your friends and followers – just like real life!
This is the beauty of all these social media sites, that you can connect them so that an update on one updates the others. By connecting Facebook and Twitter; every time you Tweet, it shows on Facebook, every time there is an update to your Facebook salon page; it will show on twitter. By adding the Facebook & Twitter ‘Widget’ to the Blog, visitors will see a ‘feed’ in a box on one side of the Blog that will show the last few Tweets and Facebook status updates. They are also linked to each other so visitors can click from one to the other and still stay on your pages. EASY!
All the sites mentioned here are free to use and have a great support network. What could be easier!?
I have not really gone into content of your communications in detail in this article but it is important to say it must be interesting, engaging, relevant and original. Any mistakes or exaggeration you make online, will spread quickly and harm your business irrefutably.
Social media does not replace your website, it is meant to compliment your website by driving more traffic to the site and increasing your online profile.
The following image is a good illustration of how your online and offline activity should be conducted:
One of the most popular topics with social media users is beauty and fashion. This means that there is plenty of content out there for you to share. Once you identify the influencers, those people with a large audience, you must connect and share their content and encourage a relationship where they too will talk about and connect with you and your salon.
I have received many queries and questions from salons and hope this will introduce the concept, demystify the media and encourage innovative entrepreneurial salons to get started (or seek help starting!). I have included theory and practical application to help you start creating your Social Media strategy.
Wikipedia defines Social Media as:
“Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media supports the human need for social interaction, using Internet- and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers.”
The objective of a Social Media presence is to:
* establish your business as an authority in your field, be the ‘go-to’ destination
* communicate with current clients
* reach out, find and connect with new clients who may be out of your local area (or country)
* create excitement about your brand
* increase your online profile and client awareness
* encourage regular contact with your market
* customise communications to suit different groups of clients
To understand where we are now, let’s look back a few years.
(www.myspace.com) was launched in 2003 and quickly became ‘the’ must-join site. It predominantly engaged and was used by Gen Y, artists and musicians. It was easy to dismiss as it did not have an obvious business application, even though it did launch many bands and artists worldwide. It connected them directly with their market and encouraged direct interaction. For the first time, people could have a ‘personal’ interaction with their favourite artists, as well as other people that spanned time zones, countries and demographics.
My Space challenged Gen X and older. We did not share our personal information with perfect strangers! We were more private and did not see a place for this social site in our lives.
It is important to understand that social media activity MUST be reflected in the business’s website as well. If the site loses popularity, closes down, changes rules, all the work that has been done won’t be lost as it will be on the website as well. All of the My Space users who only ever updated their My Space page, would have had to start from scratch once the site lost the traffic.
(www.facebook.com) quickly followed and was not as easy to dismiss or ignore. Initially, developed in 2004, as a ‘keep in touch’ tool for Harvard graduates, Facebook quickly spread around the world and across many generations. There are now over 800 million active users! It allows users to have their own FREE mini-website and a voice. Users set up their page, invite people to connect with them and share information, photos, music and videos. It was the photo application that was quickly adopted by users and lead to Facebook’s incredibly rapid adoption among the not so tech-savvy public.
Facebook Applications were added to extend the interactions on the site. There are over 9 millions applications on the site, ranging from surveys, quizzes, petitions, fortune telling & real time chess! In addition to a personal page, Facebook allows business pages, blogging, advertising, creation of group and events. There are over 42 million business pages on facebook. All of these tools/applications can be used to promote your business and develop a close relationship and interaction with current and new clients.
Pages can be public, so that anyone can view them, or private, where connections are made by invitation only. Generally, personal pages are private and people must send a ‘Facebook Friend Request’ or be invited to connect. Business Pages and Events are generally open and can be followed at the click of the ‘Like’ button. Facebook rules (which they enforce) clearly state that businesses must only promote their business on a Page but on a personal profile page. Create a page @ www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
Facebook users can post regular status updates, comment about information on friends’ pages or join a conversation on public interest pages. The choice is endless, the result is a closer immediate interaction. The beauty of Facebook is the ability to use images and text to make it more interesting.
Facebook Salon application:
* you can create a page for your salon
* link to your website, blog, twitter
* provide salon location, opening hours & contact details
* update salon news status daily with: new products in salon, services, sale information, product information, funny short stories, nice client interactions and experiences, website updates, loyalty program information etc
* upload pictures of your product lines & services
* invite clients to upload pictures with your products or experiences
* ask questions and engage your clients
* provide reviews / testimonials of past interactions
* add a calendar of in-salon events, in the Events section on your page so clients know what is coming then review it and upload photos after the event
* remember to promote your Facebook page in salon on your information and on your website and other media
* connect with suppliers
* share information on supplier pages and sites on your page so that you are no constantly having to create content – when you do this ALWAYS credit the source
* connect with magazines and blogs
* create photo albums of different services, products, season trends etc