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The one constant in life is that methods of communication change over time. Remember learning in school about the carrier pigeon? The Pony Express? The telegram?

Nowadays, the majority of people get their information online, from news sites, blogs, YouTube, or social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Since today’s consumer spends hours on social media and nail techs also spend their time on social media, why aren’t more techs taking advantage of advertising opportunities on Facebook’s Marketplace when it’s totally free?

For those who may not know, Facebook’s Marketplace lets people arrange to buy, sell and trade items with others in their local area. Think of it like Craigslist, only safer, since you can see the seller's profile photo, their personal “about” info, and most importantly which friends you two have in common. You can find more details about how it works at www.facebook.com/marketplace/learn-more.

Marketplace is available in the Facebook app, as well as on desktops and tablets. Look for the little storefront with an awning icon and tap on it to open the Marketplace. People sell everything from apples to zoology books and all things in between (except for a few prohibited items, like animals, guns, porn, drugs, alcohol, etc.).

Now is the time to jump on this opportunity — while it’s still free and before the Marketplace becomes saturated with daily nail ads to compete with. Be warned: If you place an ad listing “salon services” as the title, Facebook will remove it. But savvy techs find ways around this obstacle and manage to gain new clients for their efforts.

“Just be very vague in the title and description because Facebook doesn’t allow the selling of personal services through Marketplace,” says Detroit’s Char Sewell. “I’ve gained well over 10 new clients on Marketplace just this month. When I had it listed as ‘nails’ the advert got taken down, but listed as ‘holiday specials’ it’s still going on strong.”

 

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Nail Techs Report Their Successes on Marketplace

The following advice comes from actual working nail techs who had success growing their clientele on Marketplace. Plus, as a byproduct of placing Marketplace ads, they increased exposure within their own communities. Free publicity is the best attention your business could have! Don’t forget that even if you don’t get an immediate response, your ad will be seen by people who might buy a gift certificate or book a service with you in the future.

> Tammy Jean Mains Dunnuck (Texas) says she runs free Marketplace ads every couple of weeks. “I delete the old post and then make a new one. I also post on my local “for-sale” pages, too. On the Marketplace, you have to find the correct words for the header or they won’t allow it. So words like “sale” and “beautiful” will work. You can’t use words or phrases like “nail services” or “salon services.”

> Nail tech Amy Lewis (Georgia) reports, “Facebook and word-of-mouth have helped me tremendously in building my clientele. I’ve been licensed a little over two years.” Lewis went on to say, “I lived in a very small town when I first started that had three other nail salons, the get-you-in-and-out type. So I had to hustle and push myself on social media as much as possible to get my name out in the town. I would run specials during the holidays and post my work on Facebook’s Marketplace.

“Most were just looking for a bargain. I also made an “Amy’s Nails” page, separate from my personal page, to post pictures, nail info, specials, educational, etc., but it helped me build myself to where in less than a year and a half, I have a steady reoccurring client base and have had to bring in a second nail technician at the spa where I work.”

When Lewis started out, her goal was to set herself apart from her competitors. “I offered options in nail art and products. I would post pictures of gel-polish manicures, pedicure “after” photos, and acrylic full sets. I listed my location, phone number and the special offered. Some potential clients would message me straight from the post.”

> Krissy Morine (Colorado) agreed that Facebook Marketplace was also good for her. “I got 12 people out of it and I posted once. I said I was looking to build my clientele, posted a collage of my work and stated my prices for all services.”

> When asked about the Marketplace, newbie nail tech Deja Greene (Virginia) laughed because most of her clients came from Facebook. “I got probably 40–50 messages within three days. I just don’t take many people because I just started and I’m nervous. I post in Marketplace and also share it in selling groups in my area (I share it in Groups made for selling things like furniture, clothes, etc., in my area).”

 

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What to Include in Your Ad

You can post separate ads for pedicures at the same time you post ads for manicures, or you can post ads consecutively; for example, run a nail ad for two weeks and then run a pedicure ad for the following two weeks. Be sure to specify expiration dates for each post to avoid confusion. Specials will always catch the reader’s eye and can be set up as a percentage off the service price, a dollar amount off the price, or a free gift with purchase of a service.

Remember to list your salon’s address, phone number, and days and hours of operation. Also, if you have more than one nail tech in your salon but your goal is to fill appointments for a specific tech, then be sure to list that tech's name.

Provide a one-paragraph, detailed description of what your ad special is about. Any longer and most people won’t read it. If you have a perk like free parking or if you do not accept credit cards, be sure to list that in the description, too. The easier you can make it for the customer to understand what’s going on in your ad, the better.

Techs can place ads touting upcoming specials to coincide with holidays, wedding season, proms, summer vacations, pedicure season, a local festival or football game. Ads for wedding parties, bridal showers, or baby showers can be tailored for salons booking groups of six-plus new clients to fill a half- or full-day on your appointment book. (Always get a non-refundable deposit in advance at the time of booking worth at least 50% of the total group service.)

 

Photos Are Important

Photos taken using your cell phone should be clear and illustrate the service you are wanting to promote. Two reasons not to post a photo of the front of your salon as the first photo consumers will see (yes, you can add more than one photo to your ad): 1) it’s not as eye-catching as a set of nice nails and 2) consumers really don’t care about the exterior of your salon as long as it’s not in an unsafe location.

Potential customers want to see what they’re getting, so post photos of nails that you created. Don’t use generic nail photos from a Google search (yawn) and definitely don’t post photos of someone else’s work. If you post about a $32 gel-polish service, don’t run a photo of long coffin-shaped nails with Swarovski crystals and art that cost $75. Nobody likes to be misled and it’s an excellent way to tick off consumers who have the ability to post negative reviews about your business practices. 

Remember that most people will view the Marketplace on the small screen of their cell phones, so your photo needs to be uncluttered (omit jewelry and the dog on your lap, lest people think you’re selling the ring and the puppy) and the image posted should be easily recognizable as a hand with fingernails or a foot with toenails (seems self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised).

 

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Hashtagging

It’s a good idea to use hashtags to make sure your ad gets seen by potential clients as they search online. For those unfamiliar with this practice, hashtags turn words or phrases into clickable links within your posts, so people searching for particular topics can find what you’re selling. Chattanooga, Tenn.-based nail tech Dianna Johnson Fourte often runs Marketplace ads, and uses the hashtag “#chattanooganails” as well as hashtags for each specific service, such as “#gelmanicure” or “#pedicure.” That way, when someone types “#chattanooganails” in the search bar (located at the top of everyone’s Facebook page), they’ll see a “feed” (aka a page) of miscellaneous posts from everyone who also included that specific hashtag in their posts. Hashtags must be typed as a single word without any spaces, but may include numbers, such as “#jamesbond007,” which will lead to various posts containing James Bond 007 information.

 

Learn What Works Best

Learn from your mistakes and keep trying ads until you succeed. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your younger nail tech friends or relatives for help if you get stuck. You should keep track of your ads (the date and duration), the photo used, the special offered, and the number of inquiries versus how many appointments were actually fulfilled. That will give you a clearer indication of what appeals to the consumers in your vicinity so you don’t waste time posting ads that aren’t well received.

In order to survive, techs of all ages must absolutely embrace new technologies, plus learn to explore social media, because that’s where the vast majority of potential clients in today's world spend their time. Ten years from now it could be somewhere else because technology changes rapidly. But now is the time for everyone to Carpe Diem!

If you allow the fear of trying something new to hold you back, then rest assured your competitors will not make that same mistake. Why become as obsolete as the pager (remember those?) when the opportunity to grow your nail business is free and at your fingertips?

 

Nail tech Jill Wright is the owner of Jill’s – A Place for Nails in Bowling Green, Ky., and the founder of the Nail Tech Event of the Smokies nails-only trade show (www.nailtechevent.com).