February 2010

Elizabeth Brown

Three Months of Marketing | Elizabeth Kraus


Marketing with Social Media

Ding-dong! The doorbell rings while you are making dinner and (reluctantly) you answer, opening the door to a total stranger who (you correctly assume) is there to make a pitch.

Despite your repeated attempts to (politely) say, “no, thank you,” the salesperson (trained to overcome your objections with at least 99 different scripts) continues to pressure, cajole, flatter and otherwise annoy you until you either give in and buy a little something or send them away with a firm rejection.

How do you feel afterward? Would you answer the door to this stranger again or pretend not to be home? Would you seek out the company that trained them in order to make additional purchases, thanking them for preparing the salesperson not to take no for an answer? Or would you craft a less complimentary message for this company?

While, for the most part, traditional marketing and advertising is comprised of overt sales and brand messages and a call to action, when it comes to social media marketing, one of the keys to a successful strategy lies in the first word: Social.

While you may include overt marketing messages on your social marketing channels once established, your primary goal in using this media should be to further increase your web presence, letting customers and prospects know more about who you are (sharing your values, principles, expertise), and creating opportunities for word-of-mouth marketing.

Using social media marketing channels to facilitate a hard sell message is a turn-off that will likely ensure that your sites receive significantly less – not more – traffic.

Why? In social media marketing you are inviting your customers and prospects to engage with you on a more personal level. You are asking them to trust you enough for an introduction to their friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. How personal would you get with the salesperson at the front door? Would you send them on to your family and friends?

When it comes to social media marketing for your salon, remember this is not just another marketing channel. Before you set up a Facebook page for your salon or professional services, set up a Facebook page for yourself. Add “Friends” and review their pages; chances are you will find that they are on Facebook primarily for social purposes and engaged primarily in social conversations.

When it comes to your salon’s social media marketing, use these channels in such a way that it is welcome in the lives of your readers. Craft messages that will be seen as an organic part of the conversation found in the “News Feed” on Facebook, rather than blatant sales pitches. Use these sites as if you were invited into the living room of the reader for a visit; yes, you would talk about your business, but you would not try to sell them – well – anything.

One of the best aspects of social media marketing is that there is little monetary cost associated with its use; however, it can become a costly endeavor in terms of time, especially when this assignment is one added to a long list in the life of a busy salon professional.

Some guidebooks suggest that as much as 25 percent of your working time should be devoted to social media channels. While the time you need to devote to this aspect of marketing may vary, the point remains that to be effective, it requires that time be consistently invested in updating, blogging, adding photos to demonstrate your work, inviting people to events and providing follow up to questions and comments.

Like any other campaign, your social media marketing cannot thrive without being nurtured. If time is at a premium for you, if you have never ventured onto the internet or if the idea of setting up a Facebook page or Twittering makes you break into a cold sweat, don’t despair! Social media sites have created interfaces that can – literally – be managed by even a computer novice.

If you are still reluctant to do it yourself, you can readily find a high school student in your family or among your clientele aspiring to a future in the salon industry or marketing who would be thrilled to work for you for a couple hours each week either to set up and manage your social marketing channels on an on-going basis, or to train you to take over. You may find that once you begin to experiment with these social sites, it’s easy to become addicted to the real conversations that are occurring every day on the “virtual” world.

And remember, as you wade deeper in to viral marketing waters, use these channels to create more “customer love” by sharing stories about your salon or staff that you would want to share in your client’s living room, and that they will want to pass on to others.

Elizabeth Kraus is the founder of Be InPulse Marketing and Design in Auburn, Washington and the author of 12 Months of Marketing for Salon and Spa. Email the author at elizabeth@12monthsofmarketing.net.