By Amy Filippaios, founder of SimplyHair UK, salon supplies online wholesaler for the hair and beauty industry
In our digital age, it may seem unthinkable to set up a business without a website, however this is exactly the route many business owners in the hair and beauty industry are taking.
Instead this sector, which is dominated by mobile stylists, freelancers and small independent salons, is prioritising social media over website development when it comes to their sales and marketing. In fact, 44% of hair and beauty professionals confirmed their business priority is growing their social media presence as 9 in 10 believe that social media activity has a strong or very strong influence on how a client chooses a salon1.
Why social media?
One of the main reasons business owners are prioritising social media over website development is cost. While businesses can pay specialists to optimise their content, invest in influencers to reach wider audiences and put large sums towards ad spend, they don’t have to when starting. In contrast, website development requires specialist knowledge for design, upload and maintenance as well as hosting costs, which can deter start-ups and smaller businesses.
Due to the popularity of image-led and video content online, it makes sense that aesthetic industries, such as the beauty industry and interior design, translate well on social platforms. Yet many industries can take advantage of the marketing benefits social media offers. As long as a business understands its target audience and their online habits, it is possible to reach and engage users in a meaningful way.
How do I engage my audience?
Engagement is a core measure of success as it makes your content more visible. In order to provoke a reaction, you need to start a conversation or give users a reason to comment.
Social media is designed for sharing. A sales spiel is not particularly engaging, rather than directly promoting yourself, it is better to discuss topics and trends related to your services that your audience are interested in. Posting content that other users want to share will expose your brand to a wider audience. However, they are less likely to do so if your images are heavily branded. It is understandable, particularly for creative professionals, to want to prevent others from passing your work off as their own, but this can be achieved with small watermarks placed discreetly on images. This way employees, customers, your brand advocates and suppliers will still share to their own feed.
Sharing tutorials to demonstrate products or techniques and using social media to respond to frequently asked client questions are just some of the topics that will command your audience’s attention.
How can I make my social media activity effective?
Social media sites like consistency, set a routine of posting regularly, at least on a weekly basis. Setting up a business account will give you access to your page analytics, which will help you to determine the topics that gain the most engagement and the best days and times to upload. This will help you to deliver more effective content, when the majority of your users are online.
Search is vitally important. The majority of users default to using search functions to find businesses and services. Using appropriate hashtags will make you more visible to new users. Stick to niche hashtags that target specific interests rather than generic hashtags that are widely used. From a search perspective, posts incorporating hugely popular keywords will be lost in the crowd and be less visible than accounts with huge followers using the same terms.
How can I effectively show my brand’s image and personality?
You may feel confined by the functions, features and layouts of particular social media platforms, which make it more difficult to post and arrange your content in a unique way. To stand out and ensure your pages feel branded, establish a visual theme, especially on Instagram. This could be as simple as choosing a colour and incorporating it into all of your images to help them flow together and ensure your followers begin to associate that content with your brand. If you’re stuck for ideas, platforms such as Pinterest provide inspiration for social media themes.
How do I create visual content?
Creativity doesn’t need to be limited to your core services, there is opportunity to showcase your products and services in different environments, using accessories and different backdrops to give a fresh feel. Feature your office or shop on your platforms, not only will this build recognition and familiarity with potential customers, but it also gives new content. Consider sharing updates on any changes to interior décor or give an office tour online.
Even if you don’t have a jaw-dropping space, you can still make creative content by investing in small props and background items. We launched a range of salon essential products, such as hair dye brushes and foils, which are usually sold in plain, monochrome colours, to help salon owners give their clients a more personal and Insta-grammable experience. Available in on-trend colours and patterns, including a palm-leaf motif and animal print, these accessories add interest to common treatments.
Will it drive sales?
It’s important to remember that just growing a huge following on social media does not necessarily equate to sales, especially if your followers come from across the globe but you only serve a specific geography or region. However, social media can influence your prospective customers and help to drive sales or traffic to your business.
It is crucial to make it easy for your social media consumers to transition from your platform to make a purchase, booking or enquiry. Think about your customer journey, from finding your social media account to buying – is it straightforward and are all the key contact details visible? Also consider whether there are ways to use specific social media functions to ease the process. For example, many hair and beauty professionals book appointments through Instagram direct messages but add appointments immediately to their own virtual calendar to manage them effectively. But as a 24/7 service, it’s also important to set expectations so you don’t find yourself managing customer enquiries late at night or forgetting to action anything you respond to “off duty” when you’re back in the office.
1 Simply Hair Industry survey, Feb 2021
Specialist hair extension and salon supplies online wholesaler, SimplyHair was founded in 2013 by Amy Filippaios. Created to serve ambitious independent hair stylists and salon business owners, SimplyHair offers high quality, affordable products, industry tips and technical tutorials alongside commercial advice to empower stylists to build their businesses.
SimplyHair’s products have been seen on women and men of all professions and ages and have even been featured on Dancing on Ice. Fantastic products and outstanding customer service with a team of digital and styling professionals at the helm, SimplyHair is growing exponentially and is currently expanding its warehouse and office space in Canterbury, Kent.