Instagram has quickly become one of the most revered platforms for hairstylists and influencers alike. In the hair world especially, countless icons have tapped into the platform's capabilities to share their work, connect with their audiences and learn the ins and outs of a primarily digital generation. We chatted with four industry notables—Larisa Love (@larisalove), Justine Marjan (@justinemarjan) and Shelley Gregory (@shelleygregoryhair)—to get the inside scoop on how they master their Instagram accounts.
AS: Do you limit how many times you post per day?
Larisa Love: Being consistent is key to growing a following. I post at least once a day, but always aim for more. I've found that the more I post, the faster my following grows.
Justine Marjan: I heard pretty early on that in order to increase your following it’s ideal to post three to five times a day. In general, I try to post no more than six times a day and always space out posts by at least an hour.
Shelley Gregory: I find posting at least once a day is important, but if I can post up to three times throughout the day, that’s even better.
AS: Do you respond to direct messages and comments?
Larisa Love: I try to respond as often as I can, but there are so many messages on the daily, so it's sometimes challenging to respond to every one.
Justine Marjan: Yes, I respond publicly to a lot of direct messages to help other people who may have the same questions and so that brands I follow can see that I am tagging them. Responding publicly allows for more people to see that I am engaging and encourages them to engage as well. It also allows me to directly connect with my followers and build a community on my page.
Shelley Gregory: I respond to most of my direct messages, but comments are tricky. I don't have time to respond to all of them, and I feel guilty selecting only a few. If you have time to respond to all, I think that's really great.
AS: What level of engagement is best for hairstylists/barbers and their followers?
Larisa Love: I like to say it's important to show your followers the same love that they show you. Engagement is key.
Justine Marjan: If you are trying to build a business with Instagram, engagement is the best way to do it. It builds more loyal followers because it shows you appreciate them, which makes them appreciate you more.
Shelley Gregory: You want at least 4 to 6 percent engagement. If you're not meeting that engagement, you might not be posting content that your followers want to see.
AS: Do you use any specific tags when posting to boost your following?
Larisa Love: I’m always sure to tag my salon location so people know where I'm located.
Justine Marjan: I only use hashtags that are natural for me or relevant to my post. It’s annoying to me when people put 100 irrelevant hashtags at the end of their captions. It’s also important to use hashtags that have less posts associated with them so that you are more likely to pop up in the "top posts" section when people search that hashtag.
Shelley Gregory: I always tag my top beauty industry peeps, but also mainstream media. If it’s something younger and fun, I will tag a teen magazine; if it’s a more editorial fashion, I will tag fashion magazines. Sometimes I even tag the local luxury magazines and newspapers in my city.
AS: Is there anything specific that you credit your following to?
Larisa Love: I think it’s important to not be a “sellout” and to avoid promoting everything and anything that is asked of you. Only promote what you truly believe and love, because your audience will be able to tell when it’s inauthentic.
Justine Marjan: Consistency is a big one—people like to know what to expect. I always post a recap of each celebrity look I do in my stories so my followers can screen grab them and save them, and I always post what products I'm using. I also keep my filters and editing consistent so there's a theme to my page.
Shelley Gregory: I would say it’s putting in the time and hard work. On the outside, followers may see one post or one picture, but usually there are hours or days of work behind each picture—from coming up with an idea, getting a model/client, the service, and editing and posting. You get back what you put in.
AS: How do you turn followers into clients?
Larisa Love: Always post before and afters, let your followers know when you are booking new clients and make sure they know how to reach you.
Justine Marjan: Think of your page as your own personal portfolio. You have the power to control how the world sees you through your Instagram. Only post work that you want to be doing more of, because that is what people request of you.
Shelley Gregory: Be sure to be clear about what your specialties are and where you are located by tagging your salon location in every post. Make it easy for a potential client to find you.
AS: What's your advice for newbie barbers/hairstylists on Instagram? Anything to stay away from? Any must dos?
Larisa Love: Stay true to your art and find that niche that will make you stand out from others.
Justine Marjan: Think about what the purpose of your page is. If it is to grow your clientele or business, keep the theme professional. Post photos of your work, and avoid photos of your cat or of you partying. Post consistently and set a goal for how many posts you need to do per day and per week. Generally, Sundays are my slowest days for engagement, and Saturday mornings are the best.
Shelley Gregory: Be consistent and always stay positive. Even if you delete a post from your page, it never truly goes away. My biggest advice would be to stay away from buying followers—people who know social media can tell, and eventually those robot followers will be erased.