Building your online following takes a lot more than just posting pictures of your work. It’s time to maximise your digi potential
Ignore the power of social media at your peril. Sharing your incredible colour work has become vital in order to boost your online following and expand your business. Juggling the ins and outs of algorithms and how to translate likes into actual client relationships is a constant learning curve… not to mention that a static image often fails to translate the extent of work required. Uploading examples of eye-catching looks or dramatic transformations will certainly see high engagement, but it can also make managing client expectations and knowledge of colour maintenance that little bit harder to negotiate.
Social media has been proven to reach new and existing clients in ways that were previously impossible. Whether you’re active on Instagram daily or prefer to post sporadically across social media, we’re working in an age where you simply can’t afford to ignore it. “As businesses we need to be using social media to our advantage,” says 2019 NHBF Best Social Media Award winner, Heffy Wheeler of HX Hair. “Although it can often feel like a ball and chain – constantly having to think about the content, factoring in the time it takes to post and the planning involved.”
Social media is instantly reactive, giving colourists the opportunity to share their work or news in real time. This is perfect for showcasing the latest trends, techniques and tutorials, or updates and launches within the salon. More and more colourists are turning to Instagram TV (IGTV) or YouTube to showcase their colour creations or hair transformations to both professionals and consumers. “I’ve always had a policy to share everything,” explains socially-savvy hairdresser Craig Purves. “Whether it’s educational content for hair professionals or top tips for your clients, my biggest piece of advice is to be authentic.”
Most people find a medium that chimes with what they’re trying to communicate. Craig adds: “Put yourself out there in whatever way you feel comfortable with. Create content that you feel proud to share and enjoy making, then others will feel the same about it.”
In the age of algorithms, advertising and everything in between, it can be hard to gauge genuine engagement across channels, but for Craig it is often his video content on Instagram which performs well. He shared that his mini tutorials and longer IGTV ‘process’ videos receive the most views. “I’ve always known education is an integral part of our industry, but the ability to react swiftly via my channels by sharing knowledge is so fantastic,” he concludes.
Samantha Cusick London has recently launched a weekly series on Instagram Stories to give followers the opportunity to send in questions for the team to answer. “Social media now plays such an instrumental role in our industry and it can be utilised in so many ways to help build your business. When it comes to using my own channels, I approach it in the way that I like to use Instagram myself, as a consumer,” says founder Samantha. “I like to follow companies and influencers that give honest and credible advice, so that is exactly what I aim to offer.”
Discussing product recommendations or retail up-selling during appointments doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but hosting these regular question and answer sessions online helps to break down that barrier when it comes to aftercare. “It’s about making genuine product recommendations to them that I know work, rather than just appearing to endorse them at the end of an appointment for a quick financial gain. Imagine how refreshing it would be if your clients already knew they needed sulphate-free shampoos,” she adds.
Using the voting or poll features on Instagram also works as an effective way to boost engagement by requesting responses from followers. It gives vital insight for creating future content or can build excitement, such as sharing ‘sneak peeks’ of transformations.
Wella Professionals Passionista Thomas Frear has experimented with the wide variety of tools that are available to see what prompts engagement with his followers. “I try and utilise every tool on Instagram – the more interactive something is, the more I find people react and follow what you’re doing,” he explains.
Stay One Step Ahead
While the established social apps are going nowhere, when it comes to building an online identity it’s important to stay aware of new launches which will take your networking and brand building one step further.
With more than 60,000 followers on TikTok and more than 900,000 likes across her posts, OSMO ambassador Heffy has been using the trending app to share her colour creations and transformations. “TikTok is a huge video platform that has slipped under the radar of our industry for some reason, despite having over one billion users worldwide. The short video app is ideal for creatives to express themselves and their work.” The best part about it? It’s so much fun to use! “With users all over the world, it’s gives hairdressers freedom to create and play without just creating content to appeal to clients for column bookings. It puts some of the fun back into social media,” Heffy adds.
“Engage, engage, ENGAGE,” urges Wella Professionals Passionista Thomas Badger. “Get your followers talking – ask them questions and get them to ask you questions. Ask for client selfies, tag them in your posts, ask them to tag you. Sharing is caring and it’s the way forward for social.” Instagram’s algorithms are notoriously finicky, but for real numbers you need to remember that this mythical engagement is a two-way street. Rather than just sitting and waiting for people to discover you, Thomas recommends reaching out to bridge the gap – liking, commenting on and reacting to other people’s content. “The more your online presence is engaged, the more people will start to come across your online account. It will rapidly grow your following and client base,” Thomas adds.
Likewise, if you want to build your engagement with clients online then you have to build a rapport. “People want to feel part of a community, so I always aim to respond to every message or comment. Nobody wants to be left hanging, and by replying it shows that you care about the client and are passionate about the industry,” explains Samantha Marais of the Schwarzkopf Professional Collective.
Using Instagram for business purposes requires a different approach to that of your personal account. It’s a free platform that can bring so many eyes to your salon and skills, but if you fail to engage with it properly then you’re just another square to be scrolled past. Luckily there are numerous educational courses available, from brands and experts alike, all geared towards how to fully utilise Instagram as a platform to get you seen. The likes of Wella Professionals’ Activate Your Digital Business and Redken’s Strictly Social courses, or more general digital business skill providers such as Hubspot Academy, can provide you with all the building blocks you need. If you’re completely perplexed by the digital scene then these courses can give you the grounding you need to create a structure your online work, understand the algorithmic intricacies, and make sure all eyes are on you. Happy snapping!