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You might be an “influencer” and not even know it.

When a client comes to you, shows you a picture on her phone of someone else’s nails, and says, “I want that,” that’s influencer marketing. Your client was influenced by someone else to get a particular style or product.

But when you think “influencer,” who comes to mind? Probably big names like Kylie Jenner, right? If you think of influencer marketing in that sense, you might think becoming an influencer yourself is out of the question.

But here’s the good news: Influencer marketing has changed a lot in recent years, and you can use it to build your own audience and increase the popularity of your salon.

In a recent episode of the podcast Perlu: Influencer Marketing Reimagined, Randall Chinchilla, global VP of influencer marketing at Coty, discussed how salons can tap into influencer marketing. Coty’s brands include OPI, Sally Hansen, Sassoon Professional, Sebastian Professional, COVERGIRL and Burberry.

Here are some key takeaways from Chinchilla’s insights that you can use to grow your own client base.

 

Influencer Marketing Has Changed…Big Time

In recent years, there has been a big shift in how influencer marketing works.

When a big-name celebrity promotes something on Instagram or Facebook or YouTube, people now tend to be a bit skeptical. It’s hard to know whether the celebrity actually cares about the product or they’re just trying to make the big bucks.

On the other hand, if a close friend, local nail technician, or hairdresser recommends something to us, we usually pay close attention because we trust that person. Yes, brands used to fall all over themselves for a Kardashian endorsement, but what people really want are recommendations they can trust.

This has led to the rise of “micro influencers” — people with a smaller yet dedicated following.

When a micro influencer posts something, people actually listen. They may not be reaching millions, but they have an outsized influence with those who do follow them. People see them as peers, and therefore trust them more.

This presents an opportunity for you: You can actually be a micro influencer for all of your nail salon clients.

Chinchilla puts it this way:

“In our case, the number-one influencer is actually the hairdresser or the nail technician. And the reason for that is when a lady or gentleman goes to the salon and they’re asking for advice on how to cut their hair or how to dye their hair, they’re not going to their friends and family and asking, ‘Well, what shade should I use? What products should I use?’ They rely on someone that they trust. That is the hairdresser or the nail technician. They’re normally not asking which brand they’re going to use; they trust the brand that the hairdresser or nail technician is using. So for us, the number-one influencer by far is the hairdresser or nail technician.”

You can use your own influence to build your brand and attract new clients. Your salon clients and your followers on social media are looking to you for advice. They rely on your expertise. The more you share your expertise with them, the more they’ll trust you. When you recommend certain products or provide helpful suggestions, they will be grateful.

One of the big keys to becoming a micro influencer and building your brand is to constantly deliver value to others. The more value you provide, the more trust you’ll build.

 

The Power of Community

Another way you can use your influence is to create an online community. As Chinchilla says in the podcast, “I believe that brands should invest in developing their own communities of people who already love their brands and nurturing those relationships.”

For example, the Facebook group “Perfect Nails” has almost 40,000 members. In the group, people share ideas, inspiration and advice. A perfect opportunity for you to chime in with your wonderful insights.

Another option might be the Nail Art pack on Perlu, with members’ audience reach around 969,000 people. This also enables brands to find you more easily, opening the door to potential collaborations and projects.

Online communities allow people who are passionate about something to come together. Members can support one another, talk about the things they love, and offer guidance.

When you’re the leader of an online community, the things you say carry a lot more influence. You can offer expert advice to the whole group and also interact with members one-on-one.

These interactions allow you to develop real relationships with people who are interested in what you have to say and what you have to offer. And at appropriate times, you can promote products or services in ways that feel authentic.

Additionally, communities allow you to connect with other influencers in your space. This, in turn, opens up opportunities for you to collaborate and learn from one another.

Whether it’s something as simple as an online shoutout or as in-depth as a video, collaboration with influencers gives you access to their audience (and they get access to yours). As your audience grows, so does your reputation.

 

How to Form an Online Community

There are a bunch of ways to form an online community. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn let you create groups and then invite people to join them. If you’re a bit more traditional, you can regularly send out emails to a list of interested subscribers.

If you specifically want to collaborate with other influencers or have the opportunity to connect with brands, you can use a website like Perlu.com. Perlu lets you easily create groups (called “packs”) with similar interests and areas of expertise. 

Whatever method you choose, once you’ve created your group, take steps to get the conversation going:

  • Ask questions
  • Provide valuable tips
  • Post photos of your amazing nail art (or whatever you’d like to post to showcase your nail expertise)
  • Share helpful resources
  • Collaborate on content with others

Your goal is to create an online community where all the members are regularly interacting with one another.

 

Measuring Your Impact

How can you know if your influencer efforts are working? In the podcast, Chinchilla notes that Coty uses something called “earned media.”

Earned Media = Reach x Frequency x Engagement Rate

Here’s what each of these terms mean:

  • Reach = the total number of people who see something you post
  • Frequency = how many times people see something you post
  • Engagement rate = the percentage of people who interact with what you post

Basically, earned media tries to track how effective your social media posts are at getting people to take action.

So, if you post a photo on Instagram and 1,000 people see it (reach) one time (frequency), and 10% of those people interact with it (engagement) in the form of a comment, click, like or share, your earned media score is 10. The higher your earned media score, the more influential it was.

For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to just focus on the number of people you’re reaching and how much they’re interacting with you on social media, since it’s pretty easy to find those numbers on Facebook and Instagram. (Note: to see these numbers, you need a Facebook page or an Instagram business account.)

 

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At the bottom of every post on a Facebook page, you’ll see the reach and the number of engagements.

With these two numbers, you can easily calculate your earned media.

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On the bottom of every Instagram post, you’ll see “View Insights.” When you tap on that link, it shows you the reach and engagement for the post.

As you post on your social media accounts, pay attention to what’s working. Look for posts that perform particularly well and then double down on that type of content.

For example, if you post an acrylic nails tutorial video on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube and lots of people see it and like it or add a comment or share it, that’s a signal that you may want to produce more of that kind of content.

 

What’s in It for You?

Beyond audience growth, there are plenty of other reasons to start building a community and becoming an influencer in your niche.

Your new connections will lead to invites to events, free products and collaboration opportunities. The best part is building friendships that will continue to benefit you and your career for years to come.

And the wider your influencer circle, the more your clients will trust you, too. That can turn into even more audience growth and referrals. It might even get you trending on all those Pinterest nail inspiration boards.

 

Start Influencing Today

The power of influence no longer belongs only to celebrities and big marketing companies. Anyone can use social media to have a significant influence on others.

So don’t wait any longer to start building your influence, your brand and your salon. Share your expertise on social media, create a thriving online community of like-minded people who love beautiful nails and consistently measure the results. The more you do these things, the more your salon will thrive.

 

Brent Scott leads growth of the Perlu.com influencer collaboration and networking platform (www.perlu.com). An experienced marketing executive with a history of success in the digital marketing industry, Scott is skilled in influencer marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing and email marketing.