10 ways to grow your salon's social media presence

1. Focus on one site at a time
It’s important you know how to use each site individually before trying to master them all. “The biggest mistake salons make is trying to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all at once. You will get burned out,” says Chris Brennan, social media and content marketing executive at salon software company Phorest. “Start with Facebook because once people have liked your page, and you’ve got used to it, it is a good funnel for you to get users to book appointments directly. I would then move on to Twitter; it’s a much more conversational platform but you only have 140 characters to get your message across. Each post you create needs to be tailored to the channel you’re using.”

2. Plan what you want to say
“Twitter relies on short bursts of information and quick engagement – blink and you could miss it. It’s important to maintain a high turnover of chat, as well as following key people and local businesses, so your hashtags work for you,” says Sam Francome, owner of Hazelwood beauty salon in Chippenham, a finalist in this year’s Professional Beauty Awards. “Instagram is a dream platform for the visually minded and let’s face it, most of our customers work beautifully this way. As it’s picture-led, the viewer feels they get to know who you are and what you’re about,” adds Francome. She advises that when you’re time poor, share or comment on your followers’ activities to stay active.

3. Don’t post too much or too often
Stefania Rossi, director of Utopia Beauty & Advanced Skincare in Essex, says posting too much could lead clients to feel like you’re spamming them. “If you try to provide too much content in one go your audience will stop paying attention because you’re overloading them. Keep your message clear, simple and focused,” says Rossi. “Sending posts at certain times is more effective than doing it sporadically. At Utopia we’ve learned from trial and error that early mornings and late evenings are the best times for our posts, using a combination of conversation and images.”

4. It’s all about the hashtag
“People search for a specific topic using hashtags, so there’s no point doing an update on Twitter or Instagram without them,” says Warren Knight, social media speaker, author and co-founder of Social Media Elearning and Training. “Always include key words about what your picture or post is about, such as the location you’re in, products you’re using and treatments you’re talking about – for example, #Bromley, #Dermalogica and #facial. But then you also want to add in your emotional hashtags like #feelbetter and #lookyounger to tap into a wider audience. These hashtags will get you noticed.”

5. Go easy on the hard sell
“Don’t think of your social media channels as a marketing platform. No one opens their account and thinks: ‘What will I buy today?’ Your posts need to be social with the odd sprinkling of a promotion,” says Catherine Trebble, who runs salon web and social media consultancy Full Appointment Book. “And when it comes to promotion, it’s stories that count. One salon I worked with introduced an acne treatment with a story from a therapist who suffers from the condition. The owner gave her the products to try at home, asking her to post before-and-after pictures, and because the therapist was sold on it there was no need to discount the treatment to introduce it to clients. The therapist’s recommendation was a more appealing message,” adds Trebble. 

6. Engage with your audience
“Engagement with followers is what makes social media so valuable and what supports us in building our profile and being recommended and shared,” she adds. And there should never be a reason why you don’t get back to anybody who is liking, retweeting and commenting on your posts. “Facebook is an algorithm. It knows when somebody has put a post on your page and you’ve not replied to it,” says Knight. “For example, let’s say you have 500 followers on your page and some comments on your latest post but you don’t reply. The next time you put a post up hoping it will go out to your entire following, it won’t. Facebook knows that, as a business, you can’t be bothered to communicate with your customers and is going to rank your posts lower, ultimately reaching fewer people.”

7. Don’t ignore complaints
No one likes to find negative reviews about their business on social media but it happens. The important thing is how you deal with it. “When you respond to someone’s negative post it shows to them, and to all your users, that you care and you’re going to do something about it,” says Carina Gerrelli, web designer at digital agency Bibble Studio. “Post a public apology and offer a solution – whether that be a gift voucher, refund or photo evidence that the problem they complained about has been resolved. Don’t just remove the post because it will make your users angry."

8. Mix up your content formats
“Salons are posting up a daily deal and walking away but they are only using 5% of what they could be using online. You need to create a conversational community. Introduce your clients to who you are as a brand with games, competitions and jokes,” says Brennan. “My advice is to spend two hours searching sites like Google and Pinterest to develop a library of funny beauty memes, inspirational quotes and more that you can use to post over the next couple of months. As a salon owner you have a good understanding of who your clients are and what they like, so use this knowledge in your search.”

9. Be creative with your smartphone
“People love tips and want advice from their therapist – someone they know and trust,” says Trebble. “Videos and pictures on how to do a make-up technique are not only easy to make but easy to upload – all you need is a smartphone and a willing model.” Lawson is also in favour of therapists getting the camera out: “Videos are fab and connect people to you as the face of the company. My videos about waxing and doubledipping have had the most interest on our social media channels.” She suggests that if you’re unsure about videos, you could always take step-by-step pictures of a technique and post them as a “how-to” photo collage instead.

10. Measuring your success
Like any part of the business, you need to keep an eye on your social media accounts to see what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. While most social media does not translate to direct sales, it’s vital to measure success in other ways. “The proof is in the growing of brand awareness. It’s successful when you get likes, shares, retweets, comments and followers – it means you are being viewed,” adds Francombe. At the end of each month put the figures into an Excel spreadsheet and use this to monitor your profile increase. Information on your growth for the month can be found in the “analytics” section of each social site.