This article was originally written for Fringe, the Irish magazine for salon directors and owners, stylists and creatives.

Instagram is so many things. It’s where your friends share their personal milestones, artists display their masterpieces, foodies archive their gastronomic adventures, celebrities connect with their fans and businesses sell their wares. But where do hair salons fit into this burgeoning hub of activity?

At the time of writing, #fringe has 2,754,952 posts on Instagram. That’s a whole lot of bangs! The ever-growing social media channel has become the ultimate digital lookbook for anyone in need of instant #hairinspo (5,162,871 posts). In many ways, Instagram is the home of beauty. A 2018 Instagram report revealed that 78% of millennials in the UK use the platform for beauty-related purposes. It makes sense, after all Instagram is a decidedly visual platform. Not to mention, it is remarkably popular, with a total of 500 million daily active users (pretty impressive when you compare it to Snapchat, which lingers around the 200 million mark).

So, it makes sense to be on Instagram. But what if the business of Instagram is not your speciality? Don’t worry! We’re going to clue you into 5 ways you can get your salon’s Insta shipshape.

1. Get Your Team Involved

Running a salon is a team effort. Throw your eye across the room on an average day and you’ll see a rhythmic dance in progress as members of your team move in harmony between clients, sinks, the front desk, and the backroom. Ideally, you want your salon’s Instagram activity to work in the same way.

To drive traffic to your official Instagram profile, encourage your team members to engage from their own professional profiles. Chances are many of your ambitious team members have already set up profiles to showcase their skills. By leveraging this resource, you can tap into their networks and drive more traffic to your salon.

2. Make A Content Plan

Half the battle of knowing what content to post is won by having a plan. Daily posts work best, but it’s better to set a timetable you can stick to. Consistency is key. It makes posting manageable, keeps followers engaged, and will make your metrics more meaningful (more about that below). Best practice says to post on Instagram outside of work hours, i.e. lunchtime (11 am to 1 pm) and after work (7 pm to 9 pm).

With that decided, you can start to brainstorm what type of content you will post. From the before and after makeovers to progress videos to behind the scenes Stories to team pictures to inspirational regrams to user-generated content, there are so many ways you can go. All we’ll say is that year-on-year users have been increasing their video engagement by 80% and 70% watch video in the form of Stories on a daily basis…

3. Increase Traffic With Hashtags And Profile Tags

There is no magic formula when it comes to what hashtags to use. Everything online is transient, so the hashtags that are popular today may be old news by next week. Or Instagram might simply ban them for no reason! Luckily, you can Google what hashtags are banned, but finding out which ones will get you engagement is only possible through experimentation and watching what other popular accounts are using.

As for tagging profiles, do it as often as possible! Tag your hairdressers, tag industry events, tag your products, and definitely ask clients if can you tag them in those “after” pictures. If some clients are uncomfortable having their snap taken in the salon, suggest that they send you on their own preferred selfie.

Top tip: did you know that there are curator accounts on Instagram that will share your posts on their profile as long as you tag them? You’re welcome!

4. Grow Your Follower Count The Right Way

Beware of the follower count vanity metric! It can harm engagement with real customers if you’re not careful. What are we talking about? Bots! Instagram is plagued by fake robot accounts. They seem harmless, but unfortunately Instagram only shows posts to 10% of your followers. This means that if you have bot accounts following you, your real customers are probably missing out.

We advise deleting these bots from your follower list, even if it means that tantalising metric takes a hit. Instead, grow followers with genuine engagement. Responding to comments within 60 minutes is a great trick to get Instagram to show it to more people because it’s generating activity. Also, it’s just good manners!

5. Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

Likes, followers, reach, shares – all metrics you’ll get familiar with. You’ll find there is a clickable menu at the top right corner of your profile. Tap it and it will reveal a menu with Insights coming second in the list. Here you can compare how posts and stories have performed, recognise trends based engagement, and discover what content and hashtags are working best.

Take note of metrics for new content 24 hours after posting so you can make fair comparisons between new and old posts. Followers come and go, so use broader time spans to track this kind of growth (i.e. monthly). Instagram also provides valuable audience insights, such as age, location, and gender. All this data combined should guide how you tweak and refine your content plan over time.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the different ways you can use social media to your advantage. If you’d like to dig further, get in touch with us today!

Justine Durnin

Author Justine Durnin

Social Content Addict at Engage. I research, create and implement content for online communities. My passions are reading, writing, Photoshop tricks, seeking out the absurd, finding new quotes, niche cultural critiques, and eating good food with great people (or vice versa). Motto: "Everything in moderation, including moderation" (Oscar Wilde).

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