Take a closer look at how nail techs and salons can use online video content for business growth.
Owned by Google since 2006, YouTube is currently the second largest search engine in the world. Its interface is available in 61 countries and languages, and, according to the site’s statistics page, over 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month. More than just a forum for fun, YouTube, in some cases, can mean employment. An estimated one million people from over 30 countries now earn money from their videos, with thousands of channels making six figures per year.
Its worldwide reach makes YouTube a place where everyone from the Swedish video game commentator to the skilled nail tech has a shot at success. And even if a user doesn’t become an Internet celebrity, a significant YouTube presence could lead to new job opportunities or even brand sponsorship. At the very least, they have the potential to drive new business to their practice — not a bad consolation prize.
Janne Damas, a nail tech at Florida-based hotels as well as the owner of her own mobile salon business Dearnatural Nails, has experienced much of her career advancement through YouTube. Using the handle Dearnatural62, Damas currently has more than 10.6 million views and 87,000 followers. She started her YouTube channel in 2011. At the time, Damas wasn’t a licensed manicurist, just someone who could create impressive marble nail art. But with raw talent, an eye for what users want, and a sincere personality, she caught the attention of many.
Fast forward three years: Damas now has regular nail clients, a branding deal with Sally Hansen to make videos for its professional line, and YouTube sponsorship from online beauty network Style Haul. “All these companies actually found me on YouTube — you never, never know who’s watching you,” Damas says.
While it’s important in this expanding Internet arena to just “go for it,” you’ll make a greater impression on the YouTube community by studying and understanding user trends and video basics first.
Celebrity stylist Theodore Leaf in one of his most popular YouTube videos “How To Do an Easy French Twist.”
Studies have shown that on average, online video viewers are looking for short, three-minute clips. Keep YouTube videos to-the-point and go for something approachable. Celebrity stylist Theodore Leaf (www.youtube.com/theodoreleaf), who taught the class “How to Be Your Own YouTube Sensation” at ISSE Long Beach 2014, has found that simple videos — not the best quality videos — are the ones that get views.
Whether posting a “how-to” or promotional video, an important thing for beauty professionals to communicate is the client experience. “Make them feel what it’s like to be in your salon with you,” says Leaf.
This doesn’t have to be literal. If you’re filming a nail art tutorial at home, just allowing your personality to shine through is enough to pique a prospective client’s interest.
“People will come in and get a service if they like what they see,” adds Leaf.
Damas says the number-one comment she gets on her YouTube videos is that people love her voice. “Whether or not your face is on screen, personality is key — you can’t be monotone and think people are going to be engaged by that,” she adds.
Another way to gain initial viewership is by creating an interactive space. Ask for suggestions and respond to comments. “My main ‘Water Marble Art’ video is so popular because I kept asking for color suggestions,” says Damas. “You grab people’s attention by getting them involved.”
By staying connected within the YouTube community, you can garner more repeat viewers and also get to know your audience. Are they mostly nail techs? Students? Prospective clients? Knowing these statistics will help you target your content.
Nail tech Janne Damas uses a DIY three-point lighting system to shoot her videos.
Lights, Camera, Action
Believe it or not, proper lighting and sound are much more necessary than fancy cameras and editing software when it comes to YouTube videos. “You can really make do with the basics,” says Damas. “Getting down a good system for lighting and sound recording is the first step — if viewers can’t see or hear you, they’ll leave right away.”
Damas uses a DIY three-point lighting system where three different light sources are utilized to light the subject (her hands). She uses two desk lamps on either side of her in addition to one overhead light. “I’m bouncing light in all directions to focus on my nails,” she says.
Another angle of Damas' video set-up.
In general, Leaf recommends investing in a Canon camera (an EOS-6D if you have the budget!) that also shoots video. But a camera with comparable features will also do. If the audio sounds weak, you can purchase a microphone that plugs directly into your camera.
Damas often uses an overhead angle for showcasing her step-by-steps on YouTube.
When setting up your shot, think like the viewer. How close would you want to see the demonstration? What’s the best angle? Damas goes pretty close with her camera — usually about four fingers are in the shot at one time. About 80% of Damas’ videos are only of her nails, but she’s starting to incorporate more face time.
When editing your video, don’t forget to add your contact information at the end of a video. YouTube has a built-in video editor, which is a great tool to use when you’re just starting out. Focus on a smooth, clean editing job; less is more.
Explore the annotations features, which you can access in your channel’s video manager. With this feature, you can layer text, links, and hotspots over your video. It helps enrich the video experience by adding information and interactivity. YouTube has a variety of resources on how to use this feature.
If background music will add to your video, YouTube also has an extensive audio library filled with royalty-free tunes. Damas suggests playing music quietly so it’s there to fill silences but doesn’t overpower your own voice.
As you grow, your video production and editing skills will too.
Damas maintains a relationship with her YouTube viewers by giving honest product reviews.
YouTube is a social platform, so on it, you have the opportunity to become part of a community. You can create your own channel, which is a page populated with your own videos and promotional items. When users subscribe to your channel, your content pops up on their feed. Strengthening the relationship you have with your fans — whether it’s through answering messages or posting scheduled new content — is what turns them into a loyal audience that will promote you and generate even more views.
The site can also be a place to network. Within the YouTube community, you might meet people who are trying to do similar things as you and would be interested in collaborating. Collaboration videos are a great way to expand yourself and gain more views.
Responding to comments is a good tool for community building. It makes you feel accessible to your clients and viewers. “Nowadays there’s a fine line between computers and televisions, so don’t close that channel of communication,” says Damas.
Product reviews as well are trending on YouTube. “Viewers want the honest thoughts and opinions of a professional,” says Damas. “They can tell if you’re sincere.”
Leaf encourages users to think of YouTube as a billboard. You can try something new in your video, upload it, and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, simply move on. That’s the beauty of the Internet.
If your salon already has a YouTube presence, Leaf encourages nail techs to create a space for yourself as well. “Have your own channel with your own promotionals so clients can find you if you change salons,” says Leaf. “Salons and individual nail techs can all coexist in this open space. This advice goes for other social media platforms too.”
To learn more about your community of viewers, take a look at YouTube Analytics (www.youtube.com/analytics) through your account. You can see data on your viewing history, the age range of your viewers, what country they live in, which content is generating the most traffic, mobile viewing trends, and audience retention.
The title of your video is one of the most important tools for creating traffic, as there are certain topics and words that people search fairly frequently. For example, if the words “how to” or “nail art” come up as commonly searched words, you might want to try and incorporate them into your title or description, so long as the content pertains to those words. One way to check on the status of certain commonly searched words is to visit www.youtube.com/keyword_tool. The Keyword Tool will tell you how many times per month things are searched.
Leaf suggests keeping your title short and simple. “People are lazy when they search, so don’t use dashes or underscores. The first 60 characters are the most searched so try and use 64 characters or less in your titles.”
If you have multiple videos on the same subject, it’s well worth your time to create a YouTube playlist. A user can search you and then watch all the nail art tutorials you’ve made back-to-back in a playlist without searching for them all individually. With Netflix and Hulu available, people are more and more interested in “serial” or “binge-watching” video content when it’s packaged conveniently.
Descriptions And Tags
A YouTube video description is the synopsis directly underneath your video conveying what it’s about. You can definitely use it to draw viewers in and tell them about yourself and your business. It’s a good idea to include a link to subscribe to your channel, your social media outlets, and personal website. “People actually read these,” says Leaf.
According to Leaf, the success of a description has a lot to do with the order of words. If a specific term like “back to school” is trending online, you might try and find a way to incorporate it. “I once wrote in the description: ‘Lots of people are going back to school, so try out this new hairdo.’” However, you want to be transparent and tell your viewers if a video is sponsored.
Tags are the underlined words that show up underneath a video description. They are manually entered when you upload your video. Similar to titles, tags are anything people search relating to your content and ultimately how they end up finding you. YouTube’s keyword tool can help with this as well.
When brainstorming for video content, think in terms of the calendar and give viewers things they expect year-round. Focus on bridal styles for June and Fourth of July nail art for July. By doing this, you’re showcasing your work while maximizing your audience potential. Leaf also calls this strategy “thinking like a magazine.” Go through back issues of NAILS Magazine to see the thematic patterns for yourself.
We can all attest that the DIY trend is loud and clear. Tap into this without worrying about it taking away from your business. “Clients are still going to come see you if even if you show them how to ‘do it themselves’ because they either want your pampering and your skill…or both,” says Leaf. “They might try it at home, but they won’t stop coming.”
Be your own public relations department and push your content out through social media. Promote yourself when new videos come out, including a link and thumbnail photo.
Learning the ropes of YouTube takes time. But by using the resources available to you and conducting your own research, you can make this platform a substantial outlet to channel business.
YouTube Statistics Lesson
> More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month.
> Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube.
> 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
> 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S.
> YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages.
> YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network.
> Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than three times since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than four times since last year.