Senior editor Katherine Fleming (far right) and I came under the influence of Dame Helen Mirren (center), who happens to love Orly nail lacquer. We ran into her at Orly Color Labs in L.A.

Senior editor Katherine Fleming (far right) and I came under the influence of Dame Helen Mirren (center), who happens to love Orly nail lacquer. We ran into her at Orly Color Labs in L.A.

I saw a thread in a Facebook Group recently where nail techs were asked what an ideal brand ambassador program looked like. A lot of the answers called influencers the “new educators.” I wonder how true this really is. From my perspective, an educator is closer to being an employee of a brand and her job is to travel, teach, and be an expert on the products and methodologies of that brand exclusively. An influencer, however, is usually someone companies supply products or a service to. Lately, the lines between these roles can often be blurry.

I recently spoke to a salon owner who expressed frustration when it came to the treatment many of these influencers get from nail brands. She wondered why companies wouldn’t entrust a salon with product first, in exchange for posts or videos. Sure, their reach may not be as widespread, but at least it would be the target audience. In the hands of a licensed nail professional, a salon could use product on a client for immediate feedback and test how it sells, applies, and lasts. The nail tech could also then educate the consumer. This owner pointed out that oftentimes clients come in with a post of a certain shade and then ask for anything close to that shade, regardless of which brand it is, thus defeating the purpose of that “influential” post.

I’ve seen many in this industry rise to popularity. I’ve also seen many who are gifted educators, though they may not have thousands of followers. There is room for both in this industry, but if we want to drive clients into the salon and fuel demand for professional services and products, then I do think that professionals need to be treated more like potential influencers. Let’s try to un-blur those lines and remind clients and companies alike that when it comes to the salon space, it’s the licensed professional behind the table who has the sphere of influence.

If you’re a nail tech who wants to work with a brand but aren’t sure how, do your research and make sure you’re comfortable with the capacity of the role you’re taking on. If you aren’t interested in exclusivity because you love multiple brands, then being an educator is probably not best for you. This is a day and age when it’s possible to teach and reach others through a simple upload and a tap. The opportunities may seem abundant, but you should still be true to your skill set and own personal brand.

I for one don’t believe the influencer reign will last forever. So learn what you can from these people who have managed to cultivate a strong social media presence and apply it in a way that works for you and with the needs of your clients. After all, having a positive impact on your clientele is the ultimate example others will want to follow.