In addition to having online portfolios, most salon professionals also have personal profiles on various social and professional networking sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. You probably enjoy adding people to your vast list of friends and colleagues. These sites make keeping in touch so much more efficient, after all.

But what do you do when your clients want to befriend you online?

In this article we’ll look at the benefits that social networking has to offer as well as some of the drawbacks. We’ll continue with a list of Dos and Don’ts, and conclude with some proposed solutions that will enable you to utilize social media to boost your business and increase client retention rates, without damaging your professional image.

What Social Networking Can Do For You

Social networking is a great business tool when used properly. Your status updates will keep you at the forefront of your client’s minds. You can add photos of your work for clients and friends to view and comment on. You can post information on sales and specials. Blogging gives you the ability to keep your clients updated on salon news and other important consumer information, and social media outlets are perfect for ensuring your blog posts get seen by as many people as possible.

  • Facebook encourages social interaction and helps to simplify other methods of communication. A lot of smartphones are integrated with Facebook so your contact information (if you have any listed) will be automatically added to your contact’s phones, enabling them to call you or email you from their device.
  • Facebook allows you to gain exposure to your clients’ friends.
  • You have the ability to organize events as well. Clients can view and RSVP with the click of a button.
  • Take advantage of the video features to upload advertisements for your business or live stream an announcement or client testimonial.

If managed well, Facebook can be a priceless asset.

The Issues

The same things that make Facebook a great asset also make it a potential liability.

The last thing you want is for your clients to be able to see images your best friend posted of your crazy night out a few weekends ago (you probably don’t remember much, but I’m talking about the images of you taking body shots off a male stripper’s washboard abs). You don’t want your clients reading inappropriate posts made by careless friends and family members. By carefully manipulating the privacy settings on Facebook, you can limit your clients’ exposure to your personal life, but the best way to handle Facebook when you’re mixing professional and personal is to not post anything that would get you in trouble at all.

If you integrate Facebook with your smartphone, keep in mind that uploads and status updates are instantaneous. Once they’re out there, they can (and will) be viewed.

Dos and Don’ts

1.) Don’t lie or compromise. There is no hiding on Facebook. If you use your real name, real workplace, real hometown, add real life relatives and friends and post to their walls, it is only a matter of time before clients find you, so don’t tell them you don’t have an account just because you don’t want to “friend” them.

If you want to keep your personal and your professional separate be honest about it.

If a client asks why you didn’t accept a friend request, tell them that you prefer to keep your Facebook activity private, which is why you limit access to your profile to close friends and family only. Consider creating a Facebook Group or Page as an alternative to adding clients to your personal profile.

Creating a Group allows you to manage your network without your clients in the same way that your personal profile does, but keeps them from potentially seeing any unflattering posts or images linked to your personal page.

2.) If you do connect with your clients, don’t trust anyone with your account. Keep your Facebook secure. Change your passwords frequently and make sure you log out after each session, especially when using a shared or public computer. If your Facebook is tied into your smartphone make sure that the phone itself is locked with a passcode. Never loan your phone out without first signing out of Facebook, otherwise someone will be capable of posting things on your account without your knowledge.

3.) Do keep your posts positive, upbeat, and professional. Don’t bitch about how tired you are, how much you hate work, or how sick you are of your career. Nobody wants to hear that. Never complain about clients. Never post anything controversial (like inflammatory political opinions).

4.) Do post images of your work regularly.

5.) Do be yourself. We’re stylists, nail techs, and estheticians; not doctors or lawyers. You can post personal photos, status updates, and videos–just don’t post anything too controversial or trashy.

Before Crossing The Line

Before you decide to start accepting your clients into your cybercircle, check yourself.

Analyze your profile carefully.

Make sure that none of your posts or images are offensive, unprofessional, or inappropriate. It wouldn’t hurt to give your friends the heads up before adding clients to your group of friends. If you have a few friends that are known for posting ridiculously inappropriate things on your wall, revoke wall posting privileges.

Is it Professional?

Whether or not connecting with clients on Facebook is professional is debatable since everyone manages their social presence differently, however, it is becoming expected. Like any other marketing tool, it’s all about how you use it and how you choose to represent yourself. Manage your profile carefully, think before you post, and you won’t go wrong.

Why I Don’t Have a Facebook Account

Personally, I choose not to participate in Facebook at all because of their shady privacy practices. I also find the whole concept really voyeuristic. I’m a private person, so the idea of people checking in on me is concerning. In addition, I find the majority of the posts to be frivolous at best. I have no problem gaining business through my own advertising, my blog, my portfolio, and client referrals, so I have no use for social networking.

2014 UPDATE: Sigh. I now have Facebook and participate regularly on it. I still believe it is like a cancer, eating away at our society’s ability to interface person-to-person and that it contributes greatly to the plague of cyberdisinhibition that threatens to eradicate human decency altogether, but it enables me to spread information like wildfire throughout our professional community. You can like this blog’s page by clicking here or join our group here. I still hate Facebook, but I love the fact that it lets me connect with all of you.

2017 UPDATE: Facebook is this blog’s strongest social platform. From a personal use perspective, I’m still not a fan of it. I use it almost exclusively for my work as a blogger and educator. (If you’ve attempted to “friend” me or message me on Facebook and haven’t been acknowledged, it’s because I don’t mix business and personal and never will. If we aren’t actually friends, we aren’t going to be “friends,” you feel me?)

As far as the salon is concerned, we still don’t have a need or a use for social media whatsoever. That’s not to say it isn’t a valuable, powerful platform for small businesses, just that I personally have no experience with it yet since our business is thriving without it. If you want to learn about how to leverage social media for your salon, you’ll want to read this post by my friend Ashley on The Nailscape. (You can also get a free social media mini workbook and conversion checklist!)

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