Q & A with Nick Mirabella and John Harms: Grow Your Salon With Social Media

With nearly two billion people using social media, your marketing plan can't ignore such a powerful medium of communication with your current and potential clients. Social media allows you to see your target market up close and personal. By reaching out to your followers, you can solve problems, recommend products and services, find more customers and beat the competition.

With social media being the hottest topic for every salon professional, we reached out to Nick Mirabella, Founder of Brick and Mirror Beauty Bar, to learn his thoughts and specific approach.

John: What does your salon aim to achieve with social media?

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Nick: There are multiple things I want to achieve with social media. First and foremost, to be a leader in the salon industry using social media. To use it as a tool to offer content—not just for potential clients who could walk in the door, but for clients that I can’t reach geographically.

I sell retail products on my website, so my goal is to offer my expertise and knowledge to a client in Indiana, for example, who reads my blog and watches my videos. From there, they trust me as a hairdresser and purchase my products through my website. This will help increase my retail sales.

I want to get the general population away from retailers like CVS and ShopRite— and away from Amazon. I want them to come to a professional, either via a professional’s website or a salon to buy their products.

I feel that by being an expert and authority on the subject, and using social media as that tool, that’s going to help us bridge that gap. Not diversion, because we’re never going to end it (take over the entire market share), but bring the salon professionals back to the fight.

John: What social media platforms do you find to be the most successful and why?

Nick: I would say Facebook and Instagram. Both of them are neck and neck. Instagram is good for showing your work, and I feel that the demographic of females on there are looking for more creative colors and hairstyles. It's more searchable. I’d add Snapchat as well.

With Facebook, you can target your market. For example: I could target women between the ages of 18-24 and hammer them with ombres and crazy colors; show them nice haircuts and styles, and maybe throw in some beauty tips—like tips on their bangs. I can do this on Facebook, but I can’t do it on Instagram. That’s why it’s important to be everywhere.

As for Snapchat, I have 100% user engagement  when I send them a direct snap. If I’m giving a haircut, a tip or reviewing a product, I send that to my followers and they watch it because it’s going to disappear.

If I’m doing a 24-hour sale on Snapchat, I put that on my storyline and then in 24 hours it’s gone. So it’s a legit 24-hour sale.

Twitter is also big. I can search for girls who say, 'I don’t like my hair' located around Parsippany, NJ. Then I can message them and ask, 'Why do you hate your hair?' I don't have to tell them to come to my salon. I just give them tips and eventually they’ll think, 'Wow, he’s not trying to be a salesman. I’m gonna try to go to him.'

You need to be on every branch of social media and use each one for what it does.

John: Are you seeing an increase in your following? What strategies do you use?

Nick: Yes, I see an increase. It's mostly about giving free, valuable content—whether it's makeup tips or something else. I don't just link them to a product, but I give them something they need—like a shampoo that can make their highlights stand out. That’s where I really see the following come through.

If I’m just doing a sale, like a $200 Brazilian Blowout or whatever product or service I’m trying to sell, I’m basically saying, 'Give me, give me, give me.' Then they're not going to come in or they'll even unfollow me on social media because that’s not what they want.

John: What percentage of your business comes from social media? Any plans to increase this number?

Nick: I’ll give you my example. I did hair after high school, just like my sister, who made great money. I was doing okay, then 9/11 happened and I joined the Marine Corps. I jumped in and out of hair for a while, then two years ago I went back full-time. 

If I had to put a number on it, I’d say 85% or more of my business comes from social media. Some are by word-of-mouth and referrals, but most of my current clients found me through social media. One of my original clients was from a Facebook post. Another client that I did hair for 10 years ago found me through social media. Now her mom and sister are my clients.

My business grew leaps and bounds because of social media, but I’m still not where I want to be with it. I have a plan I’ll tell you about next. I’m been neglecting Pinterest at the moment. Pinterest has a big field of demographics, where I can add good content from people re-pinning my stuff.

Also, it's the way I list my products online. My hair products are all about needs—it’s like a dating website. When you read a product description, it’s speaking in first person. 'Hi, I’m Sebastian Shaper Hair Spray. I’m great for this.' The whole idea is allowing the product to talk about itself. I make it fun and playful for them to read. I give them a slight entertainment factor when I pitch products to clients on the retail side.

John: How often do you post on social media each week? Do you post at a certain time of the day?

Nick: It depends on how much time I have. Right now I 'm behind the chair, so with long working hours I try to post in-between appointments. When I post, I don’t think about the number of times. It’s never too much. When I feel the need to post, I post. The reason is because you’re giving them content. If you’re posting irrelevant content, then one post is too many. But, if you’re posting value, one million posts isn't enough.

As far as posting at a certain time of the day, I try to look at the numbers and see how many likes it got. I once posted a makeup tutorial at 7:48 p.m. and it got 78 likes in under 15 seconds. The next day I tried the same thing and it got about 14 likes. Just put it up there—people will find it useful, eventually.

As long as you’re consistent and original, post away. It gets to the point where people may get annoyed, but if you’re giving them valuable content they probably won’t and they'll eventually go to your salon. Once they see all the hairstyles you’re doing, they finally just come in. 

I get people coming in after taking a screen shot of my work, or messaging me on Facebook, saying, 'I have to come see you.' And it's not just me they're coming to see, it's each stylist at my salon. I’m trying to help them create their own brand as well.

You need to get personal. For example, if you’re into horseback riding and you’re also a hairdresser, try to tap into that demographic. There might be a girl who needs to get her hair done and she likes horseback riding. Post something related to that on your social media pages. If you’re a mom, post pictures for other moms who can relate.

You can post those specialized pictures in other related Facebook groups aside from your main page. Post there every now and then, just to let these people know, 'Hey, I do hair.'

John: What kind of content are you sharing on each social media platform?

Nick: I post anything and everything that has to do with beauty and hair. My personal Instagram brand is success and motivation. I share lots of positivity and my work. I might throw in a selfie here and there, just so people see my face. My salon shares beauty tips and shaving tips. Every now and then, we’ll do a product or offer a discount code. I limit those posts because I don’t want to seem like a commercial.

In just a few months, I have gained over 1,000 Instagram followers. In a year, I want to be at 10,000 and eventually reach over 100,000 followers. I use hashtags a lot; I use different apps for likes. I use all the photo editing apps, but it’s really getting your team in there to post which will help out.

About: John Harms, Founder & CEO of Millennium Systems International, creator of Millennium Software, has been designing industry leading salon scheduling software and educating the beauty & wellness industry since 1987. Today Millennium is utilized in thousands of businesses in over 38 countries and operating with approximately 150+ employees worldwide.  Millennium currently runs its corporate headquarters out of New Jersey and its international office is based in the U.K. 

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