Making Connections

By Jayne Morehouse

Chances are you already have a personal profile on Facebook.

Do you have one for your salon? If not, log on and search for "salon" and check out how thousands of your colleagues are presenting their artistry online.

In addition to showcasing their work, many salons use their Facebook pages to drive out weekly specials to their clients to fill a day that might otherwise be slow.

Beauty companies, salons, distributors, educators, associations and even the media are connecting with and building their friends, teams, customers and future customers via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media.

Are you friends with Stylist Newspapers on Facebook? Connecting via social media is easy and relatively low cost compared with traditional newspaper and radio advertising, but it can give you a BIG return.

On Facebook, it's easy to follow the guidelines to create your own business page. The same goes for Twitter. You can even create how-to videos for your clients and upload them to YouTube. Then, invite your clients who follow your steps to do the same. You can even give a prize to the one your team considers the best.

But before you get started, follow this checklist to get off on the right foot:

Step 1: Develop your plan. Remember that launching a social media program without a strategy and a plan is no different from starting to cut and color a new client without doing a consultation first. And the results can be just as disastrous to your reputation. You need to know where you want to be and what you want to say. For starters, answer these questions:

What do we want to say?

Whom do we want to say it to?

Where do they like to hang out online? (Facebook, Twitter, the new Google+, YouTube, etc.)

What information do they like to receive?

What information would we like to share?

Step 2: Be yourself and be authentic. The tone, attitude and design of your social media need to complement your physical salon and all of your other printed and online media. If your salon presents itself as very classic and elegant, the tone of your social media must do the same. Or if your salon is on the edge, then your Facebook page and Tweets must be, as well.

In addition, spelling, grammar and punctuation count in social media every bit as much as they do in traditional media. If you aren't sure, write out your Facebook posts, Tweets and other info in a Word document and spellcheck it first or better yet, write out a week's worth at a time and have someone double check them for accuracy.

Step 3. Develop a concise, meaningful, fascinating message. Remember when we used to talk about our 30-second elevator pitch? Today, people's attention spans are nine seconds. That's how long you have to fascinate them by communicating how you impact their lives. Discipline yourself to describe you and your business in one short paragraph and 140 characters—the length of a tweet. It can be a frustrating exercise, but is well worth the efforts.

Step 4. Develop a daily/weekly calendar of meaningful messages. No matter where you're delivering your content, use it to position yourself as an expert or build your business. Don't start sharing every detail of your life. "Had my morning coffee" doesn't start your followers' day with a bang. "Had a cancellation at 10 a.m. today. Call me for a cut/color appt. at that time only and save 25%." offers value to your clients AND helps you fill an otherwise empty slot in your book.

It might look like this: Monday — comment on the hair in the most popular movie of the weekend with tips to get the look, Tuesday — feature a service of the day that's relevant to a celebrity, a class you just took, a new product you launched or articles in other major media, Wednesday — feature a team member and his/her specialties, Thursday—feature a client (Facebook friend) of the week, Friday/ Saturday/ Sunday — feature tips and products to help your clients create weekend looks. You can always adjust as the week rolls out, provided your new messages are in sync with your overall strategy.

Here are some other examples.

• Flaunt your knowledge! "Bangs are the must-have accessory for fall and better than Botox for hiding lines. Call me today for a complimentary consultation."

• Rev up retail. "A new hair color calls for a lipstick update, and our Fall Collection just arrived! Reserve one of our luscious, moisturizing shades today while supplies last!"

• Share good news. "Doing makeovers on 5 local women seeking new jobs on Live on 5 tomorrow. Don't miss our newest cuts/color/makeup for Fall!"

• Build a following. Let your clients and team know you're tweeting and invite them to follow you.

Step 5. Interact and listen. Traditional media were all about delivering your message. Think about it —your ads were all about you. Today, however, it's all about the customer. If you continue to bombard them with information about how great you are, they'll stop listening. In fact, they might even block you.

But when you develop a communications strategy that's focused on them, they'll be looking forward to hearing what you have to say next.

To listen to them, check out some of your key clients' Facebook pages, follow them on Twitter and see what interests them. When they're in your salon, have them take a brief survey to find out where they are and what they want to know.

Listen to others, as well. Many of your top colleagues tweet regularly, as do the editors of most of your industry magazines. Your industry associations and trade shows are also tweeting regular updates. Follow them so you hear what they have to say. Not only will you be in the know, but you'll also get an idea of what styles of tweeting you like and don't like. Plus often when you follow someone, they, in turn, will follow you, which builds the network of people who hear your messages.

You'll quickly learn about retweeting, chatting via Twitter and making connections all over the world!

Jayne Morehouse is a frequent contributor to Stylist Newspapers and the president of Jayne & company, a full-service brand communications agency for beauty companies and salons. Follow her on Twitter @JaynePR and @BeautyIQ and connect with her on facebook.com/jayneandco.

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