Make the most of it

As a business owner, social media should already be at the forefront of your business. Still, with a third national lockdown in full swing, some of the industry’s experts reveal how ramping up your social media presence will help you to bounce back when your doors re-open.

We’re all aware that over the past decade, social media has taken the world by storm. It has also become a vital tool in aiding businesses in communicating and engaging with clients as well as enticing new ones. However, in 2020, it became more important than ever before. 

Maintaining a social media presence, whether you’re a large or a small business, allows you to inform clients or customers of re-opening dates and times, safety procedures, or even to offer some words of support.

Some businesses may have switched their focus from the day-to-day running their salon and their offerings to developing an online presence and digitising their business to fit current restrictions. For example, a gym posting online workouts, or a restaurant running a new delivery service.

How social media channels are utilised is primarily industry-specific. However, there are a few different ways you can ensure you maintain brand awareness and bounce back stronger than ever when you can get back to business. We have caught up with some social media gurus as they offer some advice in applying your social media to still gain benefits whilst in a national lockdown.

Karen Davis from MoreThanMarketing believes that social media is imperative for a business: “It’s a free way to get your exact message out to your audience, you can track where they come from, and you can see who is engaging. You can widen the number of people that you reach, and you can form partnerships with others to drive even more sales.”

Karen advises differentiating your business social media from your personal: “If the two are currently intertwined, separate them out now.” Basically, your kids are lovely, but we’re looking for what beauty treatments you can offer.

So, you’re creating dedicated spaces for your business social media, but where should you be?

TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – there are so many spaces and, if you’re in them all, how will you have time to do any of the treatments? Karen believes it’s simple: “Where do your customers hang out? That’s where you need to post. No more than two spaces, you won’t have time and don’t choose the ones you want because you love them, pick the ones that your customers are on.”

Now you’ve got your preferred sites, set up your handles, what are you posting? According to Karen, you must ensure that the style and colours you use on your posts are consistent. It will help you to be recognised as a brand.

“On Instagram, go and have a look at the feed of a brand, have a look at the colours, and styles – is it a mess? If it is then subconsciously, the consumer cannot read that as the brand when they see any new posts. It’s a mess, and it’s not reinforcing what you’re about.”

Karen revealed that she has specific templates that she uses: “I accept that they may not be very exciting, but they are consistent, which keeps it on brand.”

Decide on your colours, fonts and style and stick to it. Think about how you want this to work for you and your current brand or salon colours because you need to echo them. Karen uses www.Canva.com to create some of her posts where you can put images together with text easily.

Whilst you need to be consistent, we accept that life is often fast-paced as a business owner, which is why it’s a good idea to create a schedule. You should be posting across your channels most days and once a day is sufficient.  

“Consider using software such as www.hootsuite.com which means you can create all your posts, with images/videos on a wet Sunday afternoon in a couple of hours, and they just run all week. This makes it much more manageable than having to post every day on the hoof.” Added Karen.

Bethany Thompson, Freelance Social Media Manager, also acknowledges that it is important to be on the relevant social channels and actually be active on those accounts as a business owner. No other marketing tool gives you the ability to directly communicate with new and potential clients how social media enables you to.

If used effectively, social media will help you to boost brand awareness, build relationships with customers and learn from competitors. 

“To ensure you are utilising the channels, you need to be thinking about your strategy. Having a strategy in place helps you build a strong and organic presence, target your audience more effectively, and stay ahead of your competition. Finally, if you have a monthly content plan in place, then this will save you a lot of time which leaves room for creativity!” Added Bethany.

Bethany Thompson’s five key steps for developing your social media strategy:

Create SMART Goals 

Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Audience Personas 

Describe your perfect customer. Why are they on social media? What platforms are they using? What do they want from those platforms? How do they engage?

Know your competition 

Complete a competitor analysis as this will help you get a picture of what your competitors are doing well (and not so well).

Conduct a social media audit 

A social media audit is just a review of all of your current channels. There are lots of great templates online for audits.

Create your content plan 

Try and limit your promotional content as generally, people don’t like to be sold to. However, when you share promotional content, try to have in mind the problem you are solving. People don’t care about what you sell; they care about how it can help them. 

According to Bethany, people buy from people they know, like and trust, which makes sense: “Try to add a face to the brand. Tell people your story and who you, and your team, are.”

In terms of you, as business owners using social media during lockdown to make up for your doors being closed, Bethany advises trying to position yourself as the “hair guru” of social media. Share content that will help educate and inspire your audience whilst you cannot provide your normal service. 

A couple of Bethany’s content ideas include ‘tips for keeping your hair healthy at home’, 

‘the do’s and don’ts of home hair drying’, you could even run a live Q&A or include a ‘meet the team’.

“Providing valuable content to your audience will give people a reason to follow you and to engage with your brand. It will also put you in a strong position when the business re-opens.” Said Bethany.

We’re sure you’re aware that the options are endless when it comes to social channels and it can sometimes become overwhelming when choosing which ones to focus on.

Bethany explained: “I would recommend using Instagram and Facebook. Instagram is a visual social channel, so it is an excellent place to create your work portfolio. It is also an ideal platform for targeting potential clients and building relationships. 

“Facebook is perfect for keeping your clients up to date with the business and developing that relationship further. Joining local Facebook groups for residents or local businesses is also another great way of getting your name out there.”

Bethany’s big tip for ensuring you remain consistent (specifically in lockdown) is to plan your content in advance and use a scheduling platform, as Karen mentioned. Doing this means you aren’t continually thinking daily about what to post, and it allows you more time to engage with your followers and plan more content. 

“Here is the routine I use twice a day. It should only take you 10 minutes in the morning and again in an evening. Comment on three posts from people you follow, choose three hashtags you regularly use and comment on five recent posts and message new followers.”

Bethany thinks the most critical point is first to establish why you are on social media. What are your goals? Make sure you are consistently engaging with your audience, not just on your posts but on their posts too: “A key part of marketing is to be a good listener and hear what your audience is saying. Imagine going into a room full of people and just shouting all about you and not listening to anyone. Do you think people are likely to want to engage with you? Probably not. Well, the same concept applies to social media. Make sure you are engaging with other people’s content and don’t be tight with the follows!” This here is golden advice!

In the opinion of Marketing and Sales Coach, Nargis Cross, some salon owners struggle with social media because they are investing time and effort. Still, it’s not translating into new clients: “It’s imperative you have a strategy behind everything you are doing to help convert clients.”

Nargis explained that you need to leverage the time you have right now to grow your client base. Coming out of lockdown, there’s going to be many people looking to get appointments booked, get their hair done and get treatments. 

“During this time, business owners need to be implementing promotions such as giveaways and offering as much online as possible so you can begin to build your customer database. You should also be working to move people off social media and into email marketing so you can communicate directly about your upcoming promos as soon as lockdown is over. Taking pre-bookings is an amazing way to start to build that waitlist – come out of these lockdowns fully booked.”

Nargis echoed what Karen touched on regarding keeping your feed ‘on brand’: “It’s smart to have a consistent and cohesive look for your brand on social media and their website to help differentiate from their competitors. 

“Gone are the days of perfectly curated feeds and layouts, but it’s still important to keep consistent when it comes to your branding. Your social media page’s look and feel should be loyal to your brand and incorporate your colours, fonts, and unique brand elements. When a potential customer lands on your page, they should immediately recognise your brand (consistent with your website etc.) but also see that you are professional and passionate about what you do.”

Another useful strategy from Nargis is, a business owner, you need to be cross-promoting: “Hype up your blogs on social, hype up your social on your website, promote your website in emails, and promote your email list on social.” This will help you to control your social media strategy and your direct marketing strategy. 

Done correctly, social media marketing, combined with organic efforts and paid advertising, can positively affect revenue. Take the expert’s advice on board, ensure you’re consistent, and your social media is aesthetically in line with your brand. All of these views and reach can easily convert into new business, in addition to upping your client retention and current customer spend post-lockdown.