A Guide for Navigating the Digital Landscape

Our most recent and upcoming Better Business Digital Supplement are sponsored by Redken, Matrix, PureOlogy, L’Orèal Professional, Mizani, Baxter of California, SalonCentric, Essie and Decleor–this is must-see content that you don’t want to miss. 

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Your map for navigating the digital landscape

The digisphere is the new town square. With tablets, smartphones and 24/7 connectivity, our online lives have become inextricably intertwined with our real lives. Americans spend, on average, about 60 hours per month online, according to a 2014 Nielsen report.

In just a few short years, digital marketing and social media have changed the paradigm for business success. No longer is it necessary to have a mammoth advertising budget to get results. Now anyone with imagination, energy and a little know-how can make a splash not just around the neighborhood, but around the world.

It’s a paradigm that favors beauty professionals, because of their innate creativity and naturally social nature. Those who want to use the power of the Internet and social media to its fullest need only do two things: Get educated and let go of their fears about technology. Once they do the first, the second usually follows.

❯ First step: Familiarize yourself with the landscape of this brave new world. >

Digital Platforms

A platform is the means by which users interact with the digital world. Think of it as a podium or a grandstand: This is where you go to connect and to get your message out. With digital platforms, it’s important to know who’s hanging out where, because different platforms have different audiences.

Social Media

Social media encompasses all the online worlds that mimic the social interactions we have in real life. Facebook, the most successful social network, reaches 82.1 percent of mobile and personal computer users every day, according to a recent article in the New York Times Business section. Google+ is a community that requires a bit more user knowledge and experience, while LinkedIn, designed for professional networking, has a huge beauty segment. There are also social networks designed specifically for hair and beauty professionals, such as hairbrained.me and bangstyle.com and styleseat.com.

Third Party Review and Referral Sites

Sites like Yelp, City Search and Google, as well as industry-specific sites like StyleSeat and Bangstyle, are where clients go to sing your praises (or warn others away). Although it may seem like client-posted reviews are outside of the salon’s control, there are ways to maximize the benefits and minimize the damage on these very important sites. Read how in “Reach for the Stars” on page 48.

Photo and Video Sharing

When clients post selfies of their new cut or color to Instagram or Pinterest it’s the same as good old-fashioned word of mouth, just on a larger scale. Video sharing sites are ideal for salon education, and most professional brands have their own YouTube channels. Salons can offer clients demonstrations of at-home styling tips or extend the life of a live event by posting videos online.


A blog is an online publishing platform. Blogs can help flesh out the story of your salon in a fuller way, as well as provide the added value of education or advice for customers. Sites like Blogger and Wordpress offer tools—many times at no cost—for writing and editing blog posts as well as functionality to incorporate them into the salon’s website. Premium memberships provide tools to add both reach and power. Tumblr has many of the attributes of a social media site plus functions that make it easy to share art of all types, including photos and videos.


In his book The Art of Social Media, Guy Kawasaki says, "If I had a choice of someone either following me on a social media platform or subscribing to my email list, I'd pick email any day. This is because I'm more confident that a person will read an email than see a post." Email has the obvious advantages of being targeted, inexpensive and highly trackable. Read more about the do’s and don’ts of effective inbox marketing in “You’ve Got Mail” on page 52.

Digital Productivity Tools and Apps

From online booking to e-commerce, there’s almost no end to the tools available to beauty professionals. Website/apps like StyleSeat are designed specifically for this industry, while general market productivity tools like Evernote help with tasks like maintaining to-do lists or note taking. Choosing and using them effectively is discussed in greater detail in “The Toolbox” on page 36


A salon website should be the most direct, specific and succinct representation of its business. Read more about building effective websites in “Anatomy of a Website” on page 42.


Where the Toys Are

If platforms are online destinations, devices are the vehicles that get you there. Knowing whether your clients are looking for you on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone is key, but realize that these days the answer is probably “all of the above.” Americans own an average of four Internet-enabled devices, according to a Nielsen report out last year. The best advice: Watch your clients and ask them what they use. And offer a variety of content that works well on all of your online platforms.

Stand Out in the Crowd

Few brands have conquered the world of Internet marketing like Sam Villa. By focusing on education, delivered mostly via videos posted to YouTube and a blog at samvilla.com, the brand has provided something of value that keeps stylists coming back.

“Take advantage of the fact that social media is visual," says Sam Villa Brand Manager Dan Polhamus. "If people see you doing great work and they see you getting attention for it, they’ll come see you, and they’ll pay you for it.”

Polhamus tells stylists to remember that they’re building a personal brand. For that reason, everything you post should be top-notch examples of your artistry. “Make sure it’s the best of your best work. Just because you’ve taken a picture of every single client you worked on today doesn’t mean they should all go up online,” he cautions.

Engaging with brands online is something that helps elevate reputations and can bring new opportunities. “Something as simple as tagging Sam Villa in your posts can help, because you become associated with someone who’s respected,” he says. But Polhamus also encourages stylists to take that interaction a step further, contacting the brands for further opportunities. The Sam Villa blog now features videos by several artists who came to their attention in this way, including Nick Roberson, Heather Chapman and Cameron LeSiege. “It gives them an outlet with greater reach than they can achieve on their own,” says Polhamus. “It gives them a voice, and credibility.”