Your salon’s online reputation can make or crash your chances of business success. Internet users trust online reviews so much that most won’t think twice about abandoning your brand altogether if they stumble upon bad online press against it. What’s more, with the ongoing cancel culture hanging over our heads, you cannot afford to ignore social media’s perception of your salon. A bad online reputation can sabotage your local SEO efforts, throttle your warm business prospects, and take away from you the edge that you already have over competitors. That is why you should explore with us these 4 highly effective ways of improving your salon’s reputation.
1. Manage Your Social Media Reputation
According to Statista, there were over 3.6 billion social media users across the world in 2020. That’s already more than half of the global population, yet this figure could rise to almost 4.5 billion users by 2025. Such stats highlight the immense power of social media within the online space. If a disgruntled customer or a conniving competitor creates bad press against your salon on social media, whatever they say is highly likely to become the “reality” if you don’t move fast to clear things up. That’s the ugly side of social media.
Then there is the good side. Social media helps you moderate comments and discussions about your salon; to correct any misinformation peddled by malicious people. It allows you to keep in touch with clients and to build an army of loyal brand ambassadors who defend your salon if and when under attack, with or without your knowledge. Having a community around your brand is also a great way of collecting feedback and comparing your services against the competition. That helps you reinvent and reimagine your services to the benefit of the target market, which consequently boosts your online reputation.
Most importantly, social media gives you a platform for showcasing your expertise and setting you up as an industry leader. The content you post, the way you answer questions from customers, and the way you share expert opinions about different trends in the hair and beauty industry- all that creates a positive image of a trusted expert in the field. This is the reputation you need to precede you as you move on to manage how the rest of the internet sees your salon.
Do you need help on how to manage your social media reputation? Well, these 6 tips will come in handy:
- Use visual elements such as images and videos in your posts. You actually don’t have to write wordy posts on Facebook about how good your stylists are, for example. Images of satisfied customers will tell the online community all they need to know about your salon. While at it, encourage your loyal customers to share photos and videos of their experience at your salon. The authenticity of user-generated content is always good for social media reputation.
- Always conduct thorough research about a hair or beauty product before recommending it to your followers. If you are to be taken seriously as an industry leader, your followers have to find real, unbeatable value in the recommendations you make.
- Always maintain utmost professionalism when responding to negative comments. Don’t be aggressive even when pushed too far and don’t delete comments that you don’t like. Always see the aggrieved user as a paying customer who deserves nothing but empathy, no matter how strongly they come at your brand.
- Take control of your own story. Don’t always react. Sometimes tell stories of how you started, how your salon has evolved over time, and how your salon helps build the local community. Sharing about your social responsibility efforts will earn you extra credit in the streets of social media.
- Encourage your social media community to create as many social media reviews as possible. You can post images of your work, say in a pinned tweet, with a call to action for your followers to share their thoughts on the same. By doing so, you get ahead of the reviews, as opposed to waiting until someone is disgruntled enough to complain.
- Create a reward program where you appreciate staff members who are tagged or mentioned in a customer’s social media review. That will encourage your stylists to work harder and to get involved in your online reputation management efforts.
2. Increase and Improve Customer Reviews on Your Website
The reviews and testimonials on your website serve as social proof that your salon’s services and/or products can be trusted. Vendasta, a Canadian software company, recently published 50 interesting statistics regarding the growing importance of online reviews to modern shoppers. One stat worth noting is that you can win about 68% of hesitant shoppers just by posting a few positive reviews on your site. Another notable one is that about 40% of your online visitors will make up their minds after reading only three reviews or less. Most importantly, about 44% of your potential customers will disregard reviews that are over a month old.
What can we deduce from these stats? That you have to find ways of increasing the frequency- and improving the quality- of your customer reviews if you are to maintain a good online reputation. And how can you pull this off?
- Place reviews and testimonials where they can easily be seen, say on the homepage. Also, have at least three testimonials on each of your product/service pages.
- Encourage your clients to send in their honest testimonials and reviews on a regular basis. You can automate an emailing system that sends reminders to clients in case they take too long to review.
- Take note of the clients who are good with words and contact them regularly. You know, there are people who will effortlessly write glowing, factual, descriptive, and irresistible reviews. Keep such customers close- they are priceless.
- On the flip side, take note of clients with a tendency of dropping negative or okay-ish reviews. Contact them when you still can and make peace with them before their aggression gets out of hand.
- Reward regular reviewers with discounts and coupons.
- Video testimonials are very powerful. If you cannot get a customer to make a video review, at least request them to take a photo that you can then post alongside their testimonial. That adds a layer of authenticity to their reviews.
- Make it a breeze for clients to post comments on your website.
3. Improve Your Management by Investing in Reputable Salon Software
Online booking is fast becoming an integral part of salon management, and for good reasons. For starters, it makes it effortless for online clients to book appointments and make payments from their smartphones. Customers can confirm the availability of appointment slots and make- or cancel- bookings at their convenience.
There is more. Booking software collects important customer data and analytics such as their contacts, age, address, and birthday, etc. It can highlight for you which products a given demographic prefers, who your frequent customers are, and which pain points they mostly complain about in their reviews. You can use these analytics to improve your loyalty program, for example, or to optimize your email marketing and/or social media marketing. All these benefits pull towards creating a positive online image for your brand.
On your part as a team leader, salon software optimizes your staff management in many ways. You can, for example, use your software to keep an eye on employees’ performances, which helps you to weed out bad elements in your team that might jeopardize your salon’s reputation.
4. Leverage Event Marketing
Online users are people like you and me. They live amongst other people and they attend events too. They have a life outside of the internet that sometimes shapes their opinions; the very opinions that they so passionately share online. You can get ahead of any “offline” opinions about your salon by hosting hair or beauty salon events.
Event marketing gives you something online or social media marketing cannot give: Live real-life engagement with customers, industry leaders, and opinion shapers. It puts a face to your brand, something that your online community could use when conducting their ambassadorial duties on social media. Just find a theme (Christmas event or Valentine’s Day event, for example), find a date when most of your customers are available, get a budget, and then promote the event on social media, through emails, among other platforms.
During the event, ensure that attendees are treated to lots of special discounts, free services, entertainment, and an all-around luxury experience. You will have their respect and loyalty for life after that. One last thing: Remember to encourage attendees to take pictures and videos for the purposes of user-generated content, and to later review the event online.
There isn’t a silver bullet for all your salon’s online review challenges. You can, however, bet on the effectiveness of building a community around your salon, both online and offline, on matters of online reputation. Have as many foot soldiers as possible in your corner. And when you get the chance to leverage technology- such as booking software, ensure that you always maximize its benefits. That’s how you will gain control of your salon’s online reputation.