2010 Vision: Engage Your Social Media Networks


The new rules for decade 2010 demand that you and your brand, not just your service providers, engage your client and your community audiences. While that may seem like one more daunting task on the management checklist, the information age and the popularity of social media make it easier than ever.

2010 Vision: Engage Your Social Media Networks
Jenny DeVaughn

Before social media expert Jenny DeVaughn addresses the International SalonSpa Business Network May 2 to 4 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, we asked her to share some advice for salon and spa owners wanting to reach their audiences through social media. As director of social media for the international recruiting company Bernard Hodes Group, DeVaughn helps companies of all sizes develop their social media strategies, as well as establish internal social media policies.

"Basically, where I think many small business owners go wrong is they jump on the opportunity and follow trends that may not be applicable to their audiences," she says. "Before you rush to join a social network, develop your social media strategy first." DeVaughn offers our readers the following advice:

Find out where your clients play online. While Facebook may have more than 400 million users, that doesn't necessarily mean your client base uses it, says DeVaughn. She suggests querying your audience to determine what sites are most important to them. "I think this works best as part of the conversation a stylist has one-on-one with the client. You can also ask your reception staff to simply ask guests who are checking in or out, ‘Where do you spend your time online?'" she says. "Ask them if they'd like to be notified about special events or promotions, and if yes, how? Do they use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Shoutlife?"

DeVaughn also warns owners not to lose perspective on where social media fits in the realm of their marketing outreach. "Continue to strive to collect e-mail addresses from your clients-to me, e-mail is still King. When it comes to getting new clients, word-of-mouth trumps all, so continue to work the grapevine, either live or online," she advises.

Explore Advertising Opportunities. While most business owners are attracted to the ‘free' publicity status of these sites, don't overlook the value of them for low cost advertising for specifically targeting the clients you want to attract. "For the majority of businesses, I recommend trying a Facebook ad-they are very, very cheap, and you can specifically target any group (age, location, marital status, interest) and you can set up a daily limit on cost.

Facebook ads target users by the specific information they list in their own profile, as well as the comments they post. "For example, I once posted about cold weather in Minnesota, and ads for UGG boots and other winter clothing appeared," she says. "These ads are easy to create, and can target not only your fans, but the fans of your fans or the fans of your competitors."

Another benefit is you can turn your ad on or off whenever you want or only run it on certain days of the week. The ‘metrics available from Facebook are mindblowing,' says DeVaughn, who recommends that salon owners choose the "Pay Per Click" option and try to negotiate the lowest rate possible.

Look for sites that build loyalty in your brand. The world of social media is constantly changing. DeVaughn recommends to continually research and seek new sites that will help you build your brand. One of the newer sites she really likes for businesses is foursquare.com.

"It's a social media game that is location- based. When users walk into a place of business, such as a post office or a Starbucks, they go on the site via their phone and check in. When you check in, you can see which of your friends also is checked in to that location or you can make a comment, such as ‘Dulce Latte are the feature today.' When you have the most check-in points for a particular site, you can become the mayor."

Through foursquare, business owners can make special offers to users who check into a location for the first time, or you can make offers to people who check into other locations. For example, if users checked into a local gym, you could make an offer to those users to follow-up their workout with a great massage. You can create offers just for mayors, because those are the movers and shakers in a community. And, you can give clients offers when they show they've checked into your business. You can host an event, have everyone check into the event on foursquare, and pay to have the analytics after.

"While Yelp! has become a site for people to complain about businesses, foursquare is more positive and is designed to reward users loyalty to their favorite businesses," she says.

Use social media to communicate your value or point of difference, not to deliver the hard sell. If you only use your sites to promote your specials or sales, then your audience will quickly identify your messages as spam and will start overlooking them. If the hard sell doesn't work in your chair, it's not going to work online.

"Instead, use social media to tell why your salon or spa is different and make sure it matches your brand. I've seen resorts who are committed to maintaining a level of luxury and elegance promote coupons through social media that makes them sound kind of desperate."

DeVaughn advises you to ask yourself: Who are you trying to reach? What do you do that is different than everyone else? What kind of value do you give to those consumers to keep them engaged? For example, use it to promote staff who've attended extraordinary educational events, or talk about your philanthropic efforts. When clients give you positive feedback, ask them for their permission and post it online. "Most importantly, create content that's genuine," says DeVaughn.

Focus on the visual. Salons and spas are businesses that play on all the senses, so don't just focus on the written word in your social media outreach-when possible, use visuals and audio, too. DeVaughn recommends posting videos of you or your staff at shows or in classes learning new techniques and posting images of great styles that have been created on clients. "For example, if you do a bridal party, ask if you can capture a bit of footage of the party with their finished looks before they take off for the ceremony. Capture the emotion, the laughs and the tears and wish the bride the best," she says. "It doesn't have to be difficult, in fact it shouldn't look overly sleek and professional or it won't seem authentic."

More articles in this series, 2010 Vision: The New Rules of Engagement:
2010 Vision: Engage New Business
Engage Your Employees
Engage Your Conscience
Engage Through Marketing
Engage Your Social Media Networks
Engage Your Budget
Engage Through Accountability
Engage Without Compromise
Engage Our Future

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