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In today’s fast moving technological market, having a strong online presence is an absolutely essential part of any business. Small business owners in particular can expand their earning potential by engaging in online communities. As stylists, a day in the salon can generate plenty of postable content which if managed wisely, can make great strides in supporting and growing your business. Alison Groves, of Raven Internet Marketing, shares some advice for how to best represent your business online.

1. Set up business accounts on social media platforms.

Set up business accounts separate from your personal social media accounts with your business name, logo and contact information. Start with the most popular like Twitter and Facebook but don’t forget the platforms quickly gaining speed including Google Plus and Instagram. As Groves believes, “the most important thing you could ever do in regards to social media, whether you are an army of one or a business of a thousand, is be present. It’s understandable as a small business owner you are pulled in a hundred different directions and the internet might not be high on your list of priorities, but every person you don’t engage with is probably one who doesn’t walk through your door.”

2. Find people and other businesses geared towards your services to “friend” or follow.

Do you have a favorite styling product? A favorite flat iron? All of these styling companies likely have Twitter accounts your business can follow. Find stylists in other cities to connect with. A general search with keywords like “salon” or “stylist” on Twitter and Facebook is a great way to start finding people to friend and follow. The idea is to begin building relationships with people and other companies, not simply using the accounts to pitch your salon services.

3. Create short videos which highlight your services.

There are multiple social media sites which support video content these days including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Vine. iPhones and other smart phones have also made creating short videos a breeze. With your client’s permission, of course, posting a short before and after video of a haircut you’re particularly proud of would be a fantastic showcase for your styling skills. “How To” videos are also very popular and a great way to generate traffic.

4. Hold giveaway contests.

Who doesn’t like free products? Host a product giveaway on your Facebook business page as a thank you to your clients and followers. Sola stylist Julie Carmouche of Studio Elan found during this past holiday season, a giveaway was an excellent way to promote her salon; “I bought a Keratin travel bag filled with products and brushes, then posted on Facebook all clients had been entered to win the bag at Christmas. I received tons of likes and comments but also lots of emails from people asking for my prices and location.”

5. Engage your Followers.

Set up a poll on Facebook comparing favorite styling tools. Make sure to always do a “Follow Friday” and “Throwback Thursday” on Twitter. Respond to all @ replies and comments directed towards your business. Push app notifications on your phone are an easy and effective way to keep up with your accounts. As Groves believes, “apps are essential. If you own a business and you’re responsible for engaging with your community in social media, you should have Twitter and Facebook apps installed on your phone. You should have push notifications turned on to alert you any time you get a mention or a comment.”

6. Don’t think local, think global.

Begin to think of your salon business as your brand. Even if you’re gaining friends and followers from many places outside your city’s location, you never know when one of your long distance followers will think to recommend your services to someone local. Groves elaborates, “If you’re just thinking about your local area, you aren’t thinking big enough. The best thing you could ever do for yourself is to become a thought leader in your space. If you share enough and people think it’s good, they’ll share with their circles. What if someone new moves to town and they stumble across knowledge you’ve shared online? You’re seen as trustworthy and someone new could walk through your door. Your brand builds as you share. The more your brand builds, the more business you’ll receive, and the cycle snowballs bigger and bigger and bigger.”

7. Show your personality.

It’s definitely possible to have fun with your business accounts while also remaining professional. Sharing your humor and opinions makes your business accounts more personal and relatable. This in turn can produce a sense of trust and authenticity to your business. Did you just get frustrated tripping over your hair dryer cord? Tweet that small anecdote! Always use your best judgement but don’t be afraid to bring your own life and emotions into your business accounts just a bit. Above all, on all social media platforms, Groves believes the most effective method is “just being mindful and present. Answer questions as they arise. Share your knowledge. Respond to criticism and issues swiftly and with humility. Tell the story of who you truly are.”

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