February 2010

Social Networking and the Evolution of Marketing

by Gerard McAvey, Executive Marketing Manager, Milady

A social network is a group or community of people getting together that share a common interest. Individuals in the social network of the beauty and wellness world are represented in such a diverse manner including, but not limited to, gender, ethnicity, and age.

According to a report in March of 2009, almost 45 percent of existing Facebook users are women between the ages of 26-44 and are among the fastest growing demographic on Facebook.

So how can you…the student, the teacher, the school owner, the administrator, the technician, the salon/spa owner benefit from this new world of online social networking and maximize your interaction?

STUDENTS – communicate with your fellow classmates about questions, ideas, suggestions you have from class and help each other out; network with potential employers, post your resume and showcase some of your work via photos uploaded to your page.

TEACHERS – Use some of these sites to remind existing students of homework assignments that are due or exams coming up; get your students involved and photograph the contests and/or activities at your school and show the world how good they really are.

SCHOOL OWNERS/ADMINISTRATORS – share the strengths of your school to post success stories, photos, distinguishing factors in your program to market to potential students. These types of sites are also the perfect way to keep in touch with your alumni and potentially communicate advanced academy programs.

TECHNICIANS – This is a fantastic format to build your networking and client base by sharing your expertise with folks in your area (as well as across the country) via social networking sites. As these sites become more prominent, you will start seeing State Boards creating pages that you can access for information on licensing, continuing education, etc.

SALON/SPA OWNERS – The possibilities are endless for you to utilize these types of tools. You can start a referral program and utilize these types of sites for that sole purpose. You can also build up your database of clients and continually market new and special offers and promotions to increase business and keep tabs on those that come into your place of business... making each and every one of them feel a little special by having you, “just check in with them.” (Note: School Owners can do the same thing).

Please complete your due diligence when venturing into the creation of any of these sites; although I believe that the mere fact that some of them have hundreds of millions of users should be enough incentive to get you moving on this. Facebook is the “giant elephant in the room,” hence all the references; however Twitter is right up there as a strong contender to reach people and YouTube is a perfect site to share videos and commercials with the world.

Five Things to Know and Mention about Social Networking

1) Don’t underestimate the reach of information — When updating these websites, either personal or professional ones, please assume that everyone can see what you post….good and bad. If you wouldn’t write it on a postcard, then don’t write it on these sites.

2) The Diverse Opportunity — One of the greatest things about social networking is that it doesn’t discriminate because all you need is an internet connection. Everyone has access to so many different types of people from all different walks of life. These sites provide forums for not only reaching out to people in your immediate community but it gives the opportunity for that student living in rural Wyoming to interact with the seasoned technician based out of New York City…it’s fantastic!

3) Be Courteous — A colleague of mine put it best when she stated that social networking is like going to a BBQ. Be friendly with everyone, make introductions, don’t ask personal questions right away, get to know one another and build the relationship by routine socializing.

4) Don’t place all your eggs in one basket — Social networking can enhance your school or business but it should be used to “build on” other communication and marketing methods, not replace them. To be honest, it’s important to get your toes wet now because before you know it, a 19 year old kid from Georgia will have created an insanely creative new website making Twitter out of date….it’s how the evolution of technology works.

5) Keep your money in your wallet — Basic use of any of these sites is completely free. My suggestion to you would be to reach out to one of your prize students or have one of your more tech-savvy technicians help you out. I’m betting that they can have you set up with a beautiful looking site in a matter of hours guaranteeing at some point that it will lead to at least one new client for your business or one student to your school. I don’t know about you but I think it’s worth it.

Editor’s note: This article was edited due to space constraints. To read the full version visit www.milady.cengage.com/eNewsOct2009/featurearticle.asp

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