Movers and Shakers: 6 Top Social Media Influencers

Note: 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. 

Movers and Shakers

The beauty professionals below have become rock stars in their own right when it comes to social media.

There was a time when you had to be a platform artist working on a big stage in order to become well-known in our industry. But with the advent of digital and social media platforms, we’ve seen a huge change in how stars are made. Today, celebrity is not so much a function of geography and budget as it is one of how effectively the artist uses the platforms and tools available to create a meaningful presence in front of the growing online audience—one that dwarfs that of real-time events.

Guy Tang

From: West Hollywood, California

Works At: Salon Republic, West Hollywood, California

Why He Matters: It all begins with talent, and Guy Tang has it in spades. The self-proclaimed “hair activist” is known for his expertise in balayage, ombré and fashion colors and attracts huge crowds whenever he appears onstage. No wonder his Instagram feed has so many followers or that his YouTube videos have been viewed millions of times. Because he isn’t affiliated with any company, hairdressers trust him to provide his honest opinion about a variety of products.

Guy Tang’s Top Social Media Tips:

❶ Be Original: Don’t be afraid to be yourself because your personality is what sets you apart.

❷ Be Unique: Do something that’s unique to you, whether it’s braids or updos, but don’t copy what others are doing.

❸ Ignore the Haters: When you do have some social media success, you will attract some haters. Just ignore them.

How to find him:

  •  Instagram @guy_tang
  •  Twitter @guy_tang

Photography: courtesy of Guy Tang

Sam Villa

Co-founder of the Sam Villa brand and Redken’s Education Artistic Director

From: New Mexico

Why He Matters: Sam Villa has been a hairdresser and educator for more than 30 years, so he knows a thing or two about this industry. He jumped on the digital bandwagon in 2010, first on Facebook and then on YouTube. His mission was simple: inspire hairdressers by offering them quick video tips, styling solutions and tricks they can use behind the chair. One of the biggest payoffs has been the success of his online education videos. “Through paying forward education to stylists everywhere, they support us as well by buying and using our tools,” says Villa. He’s a great example of one of the cardinal rules of online engagement: Be positive and support others. Through his free education videos and support of other stylists in the industry, Villa has become a powerful force online.

HIS ADVICE: “As stylists, we must embrace social media and the power that it has to grow our business behind the chair.”

Tracey Cuningham

From: Seattle

Works At: Co-owner of Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills, California

Why She Matters: Part of Tracey Cunningham’s success online comes from her success as a celebrity colorist offline, but she navigates both worlds exceptionally well. She noticed that more of her clients were coming to her with pictures of celebrities they’d seen on Instagram asking for that exact look. She soon realized that social media had the ability to create a huge impact among many people instantaneously and create awareness around the newest trends in haircolor. One of the platforms that she uses effectively is Instagram. “I post absolutely everything on it, from my travels to my client looks and the formulas I use for each,” says Cunningham, who has gained a large following in the process.

How to find her:

  •  Instagram: @traceycunningham1
  •  Twitter @traceycolorist

Guido Palau

Redken Celebrity Colorist

From: Dorset, England

Works At: Global Creative Director at Redken

Why He Matters: In the last decade, Guido Palau and Redken have worked hand-in-hand to create some of the most iconic hairstyles and influential trends that continue to shape the fashion and beauty industries, so it’s not a surprise that he’s attracted so many Instagram followers since the beginning of 2015. He launched his account at the start of the Fall/Winter 2015 Fashion Week as a way to showcase his portfolio. Within a few months his following grew to over 24K, partly because Fashion Week itself is such a highly anticipated and talked about event, but also because Guido consistently shares a variety of original and iconic looks inspired by current trends as well as content that reflects his creative inspirations. “I’m fortunate to have worked with those who already have huge social media followings such as Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs and Pat McGrath,” says Guido. Being able to reach designers' online fans through his original content has significantly grown his online audience.

How to find him:

  • Instagram @guidopalau
  •  Twitter @guidopalau

Photography: courtesy of Guido Palau

Jason Backe

Brand Ambassador and Artist for L’Oréal Professionnel

From: New York City

Works At: Co-owner of Ted Gibson Beauty

Why He Matters: He co-leads a class called Brand Yourself with Suzie Bond that’s geared toward salon owners, managers and stylists. How to navigate social media is a strong focus of the two-day workshop that helps beauty professionals to identify what makes them unique to the salon down the road or even to the hairdresser next to them in the salon, all of which is important to understand when building an online presence. Even though Backe has mastered several social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the one that he engages with the most is Instagram. “As an artist, Instagram is really the platform I can be the most expressive on,” says Backe. The posts his followers appreciate the most are before and afters and stories about professional relationships. “Reposting and sharing is how I feel like I’ve hit home,” says Backe. “That’s where the magic happens.” His online presence is also aspirational. “Everything we do at Ted Gibson Beauty has the intention of elevating our industry, so I want my online presence to reflect that,” he says. It would be difficult to find a picture of him holding a drink or posting something negative online.

How to find him:

  •  Twitter @jasonbacke
  •  Instagram @jasonbacke
His Advice:

❶ Set yourself apart online and develop a unique identity.

❷ Your social media platform should have some personality—don’t post the same hair pictures, and include a variety of content.

❸ If you teach a class, encourage the participants to post about the class on their social media pages. Remember to ask them to use appropriate hashtags and handles, so you can find and share on your own platforms.

❹ The number of followers you have is less important than the quality of your interaction.

Photography: courtesy of Jason Backe

Natasha Sunshine Antonioni

Founder of and Pureology Brand Ambassador

From: New York City

Works At: Beauty Snap in Austin, Texas

Why She Matters: She’s an expert in personal and business branding for salon professionals and recently launched a beauty blog for women called Beauty-Snap. The purpose of the blog is to offer quick hair, makeup and wellness tips for busy women. It started out as a passion project that’s turned into a business. “Having been a stylist and then a salon owner for the last two decades, this blogging world was all new to me,” says Sunshine-Antonioni. But she’s a quick study and learned that the best-performing posts were the ones that came from her heart. Being authentic, she says, is essential for attracting an online audience. As a brand ambassador for Pureology, a lot of stylists and salon owners followed her work. When she started her blog, she tailored some of her content to their interests. They, in turn, re-shared her posts on their social media platforms helping Sunshine-Antonioni to build her fan base. Her first blog post to go viral was 5 Haircuts that Work on All Face Shapes. And although her social following is in the early stages of growth, she has an authentic online presence that's on the rise.

How to find her:

  • Twitter @beautysnapblog
  •  Instagram @beautysnapnatasha
Her Advice

❶ Love what you’re writing about.

❷ Be consistent with your posts.

❸ Be as authentic as possible.

❹ Find your unique offering.

❺ Be willing to be vulnerable.

❻ Know your audience.

❼ Know your values.

Photography: courtesy of Natasha Sunshine-Antonioni