Matrix artistic director, social media coach and former owner of the Patrick McIvor Studio in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Taking the next step in his own personal evolution, Patrick McIvor currently spends the majority of his time sharing the wealth of knowledge he’s accumulated working with some of the greatest in the industry and leading his own salon in Pennsylvania. As one of Matrix’s artistic directors and a social media coach, he can be seen on stage at events including Matrix’s Imagine All You Can Be, Emiliani Beauty Show, IBS Beauty Show and Women’s Business Expo. As a salon coach and consultant, he offers practical, real-world social media strategies that salons can immediately implement.
ST: Why do you believe social media is an arena salons and spas must be in?
PM: Salons used to be the center of the community’s social network. If you wanted to know what teacher your kid should have in school next year or if you wanted a recommendation for a club, restaurant or movie, you asked your barber or your hair stylist. Now social media has taken over that arena, and because it involved computers and typing, many stylists backed away from it initially. If we don’t take this back now, we’re going to lose our viral co-efficient. That puts us in a dangerous place—a place where people like Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian or a 12-year-old with a following on YouTube may be the next person recommending beauty products because we’ve stepped away from social media. Plus, these are the tools many of us have been looking for our whole lives. Some stylists have always wanted their own TV show, well I’ve got a YouTube channel that has 100,000 views on it. Many of us have always wanted to show off our makeovers— you can do that right on Facebook.
ST: How have you seen salons really use social media to engage their clients and reach potential clients?
PM: One thing that tends to get the most responses immediately is a tip of the day. Like: “It’s humid today! Want to keep your hair straight and shiny? Try Total Results Sleek!” Give people the place to check what product they should use on their hair immediately after they check the weather. There’s also power in pictures—pictures of befores and afters and pictures of events. The other thing I love about pictures is you can use it to boost your retention. Use your Facebook page as a method of better identifying yourself. I did this when I put together the color department for Arrojo Cutler Hair Salon. I consciously thought about the different kinds of colorists I wanted— someone who could do classic things, someone who would do very, very strong colors, and someone who would focus on sexy colors. For example, in cuts, there’s a Sassoon bob, a Toni&Guy bob, a Rusk bob—they each have a signature. You can visually identify the signature of each one of your team members, feature images that represent their visual look and develop an expertise for each one. Now a new client looking at your Facebook page can analyze the work of your team members and identify the stylist who best meets her needs. I always tell people to stop advertising what you don’t want to do and start advertising what you do want to do and you’ll develop the following you want to have.
ST: How should salons encourage their guests to “friend” the salon on Facebook or follow them on Twitter?
Patrick McIvor with iPad in hand talks to owners about social media at a Matrix event. PM: My wife came up with the idea of using our one-ounce sample sizes. We posted messages that said, “Check in on Twitter, Facebook or FourSquare, let us know and we’ll give you a gift.” It switches the paradigm. Before, after the service the stylist was supposed to give them a sample and tell them how it would help their hair. Now they check into your salon on social media which by the way, announces to all their friends that they are in your salon— that takes the place of you hoping they tell a friend or two who does their hair. When they check in they tell the front desk, “Here I am, I checked in on FourSquare, which of these samples would be best for my hair?” and that initiates the retail conversation. Now, all of a sudden, you have had happen everything you’ve always hoped for before their appointment even begins. When it went well, we switched it up. For February clients got a free nail polish, for March they received a travel-sized shampoo, etc.
ST: In addition to clients announcing to friends that they are in your salon, how else can salons reach their clients’ friends, which represent a populat ion of potential new clientele?
PM: Well, there are a lot of salons that are doing updos for proms and weddings in the Spring. Why not take a picture of the finished style and offer to post it to their Facebook wall and give them a travel size of a hairspray as a thank you to keep their style looking great all night? They’ve just advertised to all their friends that you’re the best place in town to get your hair done for a special event. They want to show everybody—I mean how many kids already hold up their phones and take pictures of themselves anyway—all you have to do is ask if you can share it.
ST: How can salons encourage staff to get involved in social media efforts , too?
PM: All hairdressers, somewhere in their DNA, are proud of their work. I don’t know any hairdresser who does great work and doesn’t want to show it. It’s easy to get staff to post befores and afters, and when they do, they’ll see that success happens so fast. We’ve always had “mayors” of the salon, we just didn’t have FourSquare to tell us who they were—we used to call them “raving fans.” They wanted to brag about us all the time, but without social media, they didn’t have the easy outlet. Now they do.
ST: What ’s the next frontier?
Demonstrating the power of using a QR code with a stylist video to reach clients through their smartphone. PM: Well, the last few years have been about social media, but the next few years will be about creating games and I’m really passionate about that right now. For example, you can tell clients to go on your salon’s Facebook page for the song of the day, and the first person who identifies the song wins a free shampoo. My other favorite thing on Facebook is events. For example you can advertise a free blow dry boot camp next Thursday night after hours. In the past if you’d run an ad for that and no one showed up, you’d be out $500 bucks. Now if no one signs up, just post “Sold Out,” and try something else. When people see “Sold Out,” they start paying attention. I love that you can try different baits. I put up so many videos on my YouTube channel. Some I think will be great and nobody watches them, and others I can’t believe all these people have watched them. Don’t worry about being right, just try different things and see what works.
ST: How do you think the iPad is shaping the client consultation?
PM: One of my closest friends is Rodney Cutler and he once said to me, “If you’re showing somebody a picture they’ve already seen, you’re telling them something they already know.” Classically in the salon we’d refer to pictures in celebrity-type publications, such as In Style, People or Us, and most of the time our guests have already seen that image while waiting in line at the supermarket. I love the fact that with a tablet, we can pull up a picture on Google from an award show last night that isn’t even in one of those publications and reference it when we’re talking about a celebrity’s style. I also love that stylists can take a picture of their guests and bring them into a program— I like Adobe Ideas but there’s also a free program like Doodle Buddy—and you can draw right on the picture. You can show them your ideas for bringing up the length of the hair or adding in some extra highlights. As hairdressers, we know that most of the time when a guest tells you they like somebody’s hair, if you put your thumb over the picture what they really like is their face. At least with one of these programs, what you’re really talking about is them.
ST: How do you suggest salons use QR codes?
PM: First of all, I don’t use a business card anymore, I use a QR code. People shove business cards in their purse or their pocket and lose it or wash it or forget it. But when someone scans your QR code they have all your information and you know it’s all entered correctly and they won’t lose it. Another reason I love QR codes is it gives our clients a reason to brag about us. One of the things we did when we had the salon was ask each of our team members to pick their favorite product off the shelf and record a little two- or three-minute video on their Smartphone of why they liked it and how they would use it at home. Post the video to YouTube, copy the URL, then go to a website that allows you to make free QR codes—I like i-nigma.com. It puts it right into your photo library and from there you can print out QR stickers that you can put right on the bottle. When your guest goes home, they can pull up a video and see their stylist telling them how to use this product. When they want to brag to their friends about why they should come to your salon they can pull up the video and show them how cool your salon is. And, it’s absolutely free.