They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but Instagram makes it possible for a picture to be worth 1,000 comments and likes. Owned by Facebook, this free app has over 80 million registered users. Simply download the app, snap a picture or choose from your camera roll, add a filter, caption, and share. Pictures are posted to your Instagram profile, but can be added to your Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr as well. Once your picture is shared, others can like or comment.
There are 575 likes per second and 5 million images are uploaded daily, according to Instagram’s own estimates. In order to find images to like or people to follow, you can search hashtags or the popular images page. You can even follow along with favorite celebrities, magazines, or brands.
Given all this content, Instagram is similar to Pinterest in that it’s a visual way to socialize. You can glean inspiration from posts or use the built-in Foursquare feature with a picture to show where you are. This feature alone is ideal for salon owners. When clients check-in at your salon, the display on their Instagram feed will list your salon’s name. Encourage clients to take pictures of finished manicures, pedicures, or nail art, then upload and share the location. Viewers of these photos can click on the location and be transferred instantly to a map. Other photos taken from this location will appear under the map. It’s free, effective advertising all at the touch of a fingertip.
The most important thing to remember about using Instagram for business is that it’s an opportunity to connect with current and potential clients. You don’t have to only post photos of nails and nail art. A sprinkling of anything that helps people get to know you and what sets your salon apart makes for ideal posts. Think add-on services, a picture of a cocktail served at your salon, or new furnishings. Take pictures of neighboring shops or dishes at local restaurants to promote your location. Post images that will make people want what you have and be where you are.
The Instagram for Business blog recommends having a personal account in addition to a professional one, so you can experience the app as a potential customer would. This will help you discover how you want to consume content and what pictures grab your attention. The blog also recommends sharing photos that can’t be seen anywhere else, such as sneak peeks or behind-the-scenes looks.
Samantha Schwemm’s Instagram account, Pack a Punch Polish, is hugely popular. With 11,000 followers, her secret is in the nail art. Though she posts when buying new polish, nail art photos and images of rare and hard to find polishes get the most attention.
Tags like #nailart or #nailpolish are good ones to incorporate into captions, as they get searched a lot. Once a phrase is hashtagged it automatically becomes searchable in the app. If you tap the hashtag, results from all around Instagram will show. This gives users an opportunity to instantly connect with those who have similar interests. It is best to combine general tags like those mentioned above with more specific ones. Hashtags such as the name of your salon will help grow your brand. Encourage others to invent hashtags specific to your services, salon, or area to appear in even more search results.
Lorena Marquez, director of education for Entity Beauty, recently started Entity’s Instagram account (@entitybeauty). Like Schwemm, Marquez noticed a spike in likes for photos that featured nail art. Not only did this attention pay off in terms of gaining followers, but it has helped with clientele. “My clients are coming in and showing me pictures that I post and requesting those designs or even pictures from nail techs around the world,” says Marquez. Instagram has thus become a flipbook of sorts for clients to peruse potential nail designs. Nail techs who are not salon owners can use Instagram to advertise their abilities, available polishes, favorite products, or color combinations.
And don’t forget about the quality of these images. “It is important to showcase quality work in a very clear photograph,” Marquez says. Despite the 20 filters available in the app to add effects to your photo, it’s best to not use ones that wash out or blur images, so potential clients can see the intricacy of designs and get a feel for how a color really looks.
Adds Schwemm, “I’d rather have the natural photo show through than cover the nail art up.”
The quality of pictures can also influence who you choose to follow. Schwenn follows accounts that show photos clearly, where users have made an honest attempt to clean up the cuticles and show the progression of their nail art. Marquez follows others in the industry, which is a good way to stay abreast of trends and available products. Since others are notified when you start following them, make sure you have a clear and relevant username, handle, and bio. Listing the address of your salon or a website will make it easy for clients to contact you and follow your account.
With so many gorgeous pictures on this app, it can become quite addicting. Challenge yourself to find a photo opportunity each day. The click of a camera just might lead to a picture-perfect business opportunity.
Here are some popular hashtags you might want to use:
> Credit a company by using its name in a hashtag or handle (name following the @ symbol). You never know, the company might even like or comment on your photo.
> Ask before re-posting someone else’s picture.
> If someone likes or follows you, make an effort to look at his/her profile and possibly return the favor.
> Try to respond to comments. If a comment is spam, delete it quickly.
> Ask clients if they have an account. If they do, tag them once you get permission to upload a photo of their nails.
> Post throughout the day and spread posts out. This leaves followers wanting more and keeps you from clogging their newsfeed.
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