The way that nail salons find clients, promote themselves, and run their business is changing. Salons that used to have no problem bringing in business are quickly realizing how important the “online” part of marketing has become. If you want to have a thriving business, you need a solid online presence. This is especially true when it comes to social media and advertising. 

Social media ads work far better than any other type of advertising you can invest in. Print ads, flyers, posters, etc., have had their day … and it’s now over. These out-of-date advertising tactics are no longer effective and it’s time to look at new ways of promoting yourself. 

Facebook and Instagram are now the number-two and -three places that businesses advertise online; they made more than $50 billion on ads last year! Google is the largest advertising platform on earth; more than $100 billion was spent on Google ads in 2018.

Lots of businesses are jumping on board. Does that mean that your salon should too? If you’re just starting out, have a small marketing budget, and have never done ads before, does that make them out of reach? 

Definitely not. Even small nail salon owners or solo nail techs can increase profits and grow their client base from social advertising. 

That said, you should answer the following four questions honestly before you get started on social media ads:


1. Do I have the budget for it?

Are you at the point in your business where you are making enough profit per client that you can start investing in advertising? Are your business costs so high or your prices so low that your margins are little thin slivers? 

If so, you might not be able to swing the cost of advertising. Although social media advertising is quite inexpensive (you can invest as little as $3 per day on Facebook and Google), you need to factor in your cost of acquiring a customer through ads.

If you spend $10 per day on ads and bring in two customers each day, your cost of getting a new client is $5. For some businesses, that is a fantastic result. For other businesses that make a tiny amount of profit per client, it’s not feasible. 

Before running any ads, figure out how much you’re willing to spend for a new client to come in, and how much you’re able to spend on ads each month. I recommend you start with at least $100 per month. 


2. Do I have time for it? 

Social advertising is not a “set it and forget it” thing, despite how simple it is to create and launch an ad. It takes time to plan your promotion, film a video or gather photos, and write magnetic ad text. 

On top of that, when you run a promotion on Google or Facebook, you should regularly experiment with different versions of your ad text, different photos, videos, and even different target audiences until you find the “winner” — the ad that works the best to get bookings and clients. 

If you’re not willing to invest time in creating a fantastic ad, experimenting with different versions of it, regularly checking in on your results/analytics, and following up with leads, you might end up wasting your money. 


3. Do I know what I’m doing?

This one is kind of a trick question, because even if you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s OK. As long as you have a desire to learn and get the right resources, you can make social advertising work for your nail business.

It’s so important to learn the basics of what makes for a great Google, Instagram, or Facebook ad before you get started. Do some research and read some how-to articles. You can also check out my salon marketing blog for examples and guides at


4. Am I running ads to make up for lousy marketing? 

I see a lot of salons use Facebook ads as a last-ditch attempt at getting clients. But their website is a mess, they barely ever post on Instagram, their customer service is lacking, and they have terrible social reviews. 

It’s OK to have some imperfections in your business and marketing, but I recommend you have a good, solid foundation before investing in advertising; otherwise your results will be meagre. 

Get your website updated, post consistent and amazing content on social media, earn your five-star reviews, and make your customer service shine. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to set out on your advertising journey. 


Choosing Where to Advertise 

If you feel like you’re at the right stage in your business to start advertising, you’ve got another choice to make. There are several different options for advertising your nail salon online. How do you know which is the best platform? 

Here’s an overview of my favorite (and least favorite) places to spend your ad dollars. 


Best Overall: Facebook 

Facebook ads are one of my favorite ways to build a business. They are fun, social, and extremely effective if done well. For less than $5 a day you can target your ideal clients on Facebook, share a special promotion with them (along with  engaging videos or photos), and get them to book an appointment through your ad.

Facebook ads give you so much flexibility in terms of what type of ad you run: Do you want clicks to your website, messages to your inbox, or loads of video views? You also have a ton of options for who to target: your website visitors, your email list, or women 25-40 near your salon, for example.


Close Second: Google 

Google ads tend to be more expensive than Facebook for one very good reason: You’re showing ads to people who are already searching for what you offer.

The disadvantage is that you don’t have as much creative freedom over your ads. You can’t make them fun, social, branded, and personal like you can on Facebook.

That said, I do recommend testing out Google ads for your most popular service. Make an ad and promotion that’s for a specific service, and direct the ad to a specific webpage dedicated to that service. 


Best for Easy Ads: Instagram

Facebook advertising is always cheaper than Instagram if your goal is to get clients to book an appointment. That’s because on Facebook, people are more used to taking action. On Instagram, they’re used to looking at pretty photos, liking/commenting, and scrolling past. 

Instagram ads do have their place, however. If your goal is to get followers for your Instagram page, likes, comments, video views, or just to have more people know about your business, Instagram ads are for you.

It’s really easy to grab a beautiful photo or video (that you made yourself), set up a simple ad, and watch all the likes, comments, video views and followers come in.


Pretty Risky: Groupon

Salons that have tried Groupon ads usually fall into two camps: They had a terrible experience with cheap, deal-seeking clients who never returned; or they managed to make Groupon ads work after a few failed experiments, and now they use them regularly.

Groupon ads tend to be very expensive to run because you have to discount your services heavily and you also have to pay Groupon a large fee. However, loads of people use Groupon with the intention of experiencing a new business, so there is a positive side to it.

If you’re able to provide amazing customer service and put some rules in place for who can book and how, you may be able to turn one-time Groupon customers into lifelong clients.


Don’t Touch It: Yelp

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard some pretty negative things about Yelp recently. They’ve been accused of manipulating reviews, pestering advertisers, rewarding certain advertisers with five-star reviews, and showing bad reviews for businesses that don’t advertise. 

At its heart, the issue many people have with Yelp is this: if you’re on a website to find the top-rated businesses, you don’t want to choose a business that advertises. You want to choose the business that has the best rating. Period.

My advice? Instead of investing time and money in expensive Yelp ads, work on getting more five-star reviews for your salon on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. That will likely bring in more clients than Yelp ads can anyway. 


Do Your Research

Even if you’ve never done ads before, you’re a solo nail tech, and you have a tiny budget, social media ads can work for you.

If you’re willing to take some time and spend a bit of money on Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads, you can make them a success. It’s important to do some research ahead of time about what makes for a great ad campaign and see some examples of profitable ads. With some time and dedication, you can look forward to a full book in your future.



Stephanie Mitchell is the owner of Sunnystorm Marketing (, which specializes in helping beauty businesses grow their client base and brand themselves online. You can find more advice on her blog at




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