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Building your social media

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Over the years I have learned a thing or two… most of the time I learned things the hard way. I was working with very limited resources and knowledge. I would like to share with you what I have learned about social media marketing.

As we are all aware, technology has taken over the world, and more so, social media. If you’re not on a social media platform, you are missing out. There are a lot of different aspects to social media marketing, it can help you find clients, help clients find you, help you find employees, help employees find you, it builds your portfolio, it helps you network within the industry and much more. It can be overwhelming, it’s like a whole other world. Managing a social media page can also feel like a second full time job sometimes. But is it worth it? I’d say so.

PHOTOS

Let’s start by talking about photos. “How many of you take photos of your grooms?”

I have always been a picture taker. When I started out, I took pictures of every dog I groomed. My grooms were less than desirable, but I still used them for marketing. I put them on my website, on every ad I ran, and on the business social media pages. My clients began looking for their dogs on my website, and social media pages. They would share my photos of their dogs with their friends and family, which would usually end up with a referral to my business. I have clients who come to me BECAUSE of my photos. They see my instagram, see their friends’ dogs photos, and they want their dog to have photos taken and for their dog to have the “spotlight”.

Soon, I was really building a solid clientele. As my grooms got better, so did my picture taking skills. I started learning the value of having a clean table and background, good lighting, figuring out angles that are flattering to the dog, and I started getting creative with the content. After several years, I started building a signature look with my photos; crisp clean lines and lots of color. I still share all of my photos to my social media sites, along with my website. My clients still love them, even more now. I print some of my photos and display them in my lobby.

I started trying to think outside the box for the content on my social media pages. Instead of just taking photos of the dog after they were done, I stopped during the grooms to take progression photos. Progression photos are a great way to display before and after.

Speaking of progression, photos can help you track your progress. It can be very helpful to look back and see how far you’ve come. Many of us are our own worst critics, and it is nice to look back to where we started and see the skills developing. Seeing progression can help with motivation and prevent burnout. It will also show you areas that could use improvement.

Photos work as a portfolio for both clients and employers. There are many times when I am speaking to a client about the haircut they are desiring, and I can pull up photos to show them a variety of lengths and styles. “Do you ever have a client ask you to not give their doodle a poodle face?” Show them what a true poodle face looks like, and then show them a few different styles of faces you do on your doodle clients. Show them curly coated doodles, straight/wavy coated doodles, etc. “Have you ever had a client ask you if you’ve ever groomed a shih-tzu before? How about a westie?” Show them that you have, with your photos. It will help to build that clients trust and confidence in you as a groomer.

A strong portfolio is paramount for a groomer seeking employment. If a groomer applying for a position at my salon can show me examples of how diverse their skills are, I will give them greater consideration than those who do not. I like to see terriers, mixed breeds, small dogs, big dogs, handstrips, scissor cuts, shave downs, creative grooms, etc. Having a diverse portfolio is a great thing, but if you’re not that far along yet, simply having photos of what you have done will make a big difference.

You know what else you can do with your photos? Become an ambassador. When I started my instagram, I thought I would just be marketing myself to clients. I had no idea how big the grooming community was on instagram. As I was posting photos, I started getting alot of questions about what products and tools I use. I started taking photos with my favorite products and tools and sharing them with groomers. I also started tagging the companies in the photos so that groomers could contact them if they were interested in purchasing. I did this without being an ambassador, I just enjoyed sharing my favorites with other groomers. Eventually I caught the eye of some big companies such as Wahl, Groomers Choice and PawMat. I talked with them about becoming an ambassador and that was the start to my ambassador journey. I always stayed true to myself by only becoming an ambassador for companies that I truly supported and used their products and tools everyday. If you are interested in becoming an ambassador for a company, I would recommend contacting the company to see what their requirements are for their ambassadors, and showing your support whether you are one or not.

It’s easy to *talk* about taking pictures and how important pictures are…. But what about actually *taking* them?? Here are some tips for taking photos. I get asked alot about what sort of camera I use and recommend. I use what it is most likely in all of your pockets right now. A cell phone. I use my IPhone 12 pro. I used to use the 11 pro and before that I was using the 10. You don’t need the newest IPhone to take good pictures, but anything 10 or newer would be preferred. The IPhone has a portrait feature in the camera settings. It is as close to professional grade quality as cell phones can do. I highly recommend investing in a good camera, whether it be a good quality cell phone or an actual professional grade camera. Lighting is also extremely important. I am extremely lucky to have really good natural lighting in my salon, the entire front of my salon is windows, but for the salons that are limited as far as lighting, I recommend investing in a ring light. Another consideration for lighting is the colors inside your salon. Keep in mind that if you pick dark colors that absorb light, it will be harder to get nice pictures. Try and pick out colors that reflect light and brighten the space. It can be extremley hard and sometimes impossible to get a dog to look at you and pose for a picture. I have a few tricks. I use replacement squeakers for toys, you can buy packs of them at the pet store. You can also look up videos on youtube or download apps that have animals noises to get their attention. I sometimes will pick up hair clumps off the floor and pretend they are very interesting. I will shake treat bags, make various noises with my mouth, and say the trigger words “walk, outside treat and go home”. Don’t be afraid to get weird.




FACEBOOK

It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to marketing yourself on facebook. Start off by getting a facebook business page. You need to make sure you are making regular posts and staying engaged with your audience. Making cute little sayings to go along with your photos for your posts will help people stay engaged. I also share the haircut details in each of my posts. This informs other groomers which length of haircut the dog in the photos received and it helps clients become familiar with different lengths so when they come in for an appointment they can have an idea of what they are looking for.

If you’re anything like me, I tend to check Instagram a lot more than I check Facebook. Sometimes my facebook page gets a bit neglected. Having multiple forms of communication can get overwhelming and hard to handle. You can simplify your life by activating the automated response feature on Facebook. In this automated response you can direct clients to your preferred method of communication. For me, I prefer phone calls. In my automated response I ask anyone who hasn’t received a message back, to just call the salon and leave a message.

In the past I have paid for Facebook ads, which was beneficial for getting attention as far as likes and shares but it didn’t generate a lot of business. I found that this was not a great technique. I had new clients coming in and telling me that they heard about my salon through various facebook groups. I started doing some research. I found that there are quite a few local breed specific groups on facebook. I started to join them. After I got accepted into a few, I started seeing a lot of people making posts asking about groomer recommendations. A lot of my clients would go on there and post about how much they loved their experiences at my salon.

Being a part of these groups has many benefits:

  • I am able to see which clients are referring people to my salon

  • I am able to see which clients are making posts about their experiences at my salon (both positive and negative)

  • I am able to search for posts specifically about my salon and anything grooming related

  • I am able to drop cute pictures every now and then to promote my salon

These breed specific groups can be found in your local area too, just try searching for your state and the desired breed, for example in Minnesota we have a Minnesota Doodles page and a MN Welsh terriers page just to name a couple.

These groups aren’t just limited to client connections. There are also a lot of groomer specific groups that can be found on facebook. These groups can be an awesome resource for you to find information about other groomers’ policies, new tools and products, how to handle certain situations, continued education opportunities, and just fun lighthearted content. I use these groups to promote my instagram, share my favorite tools and products, share new Youtube videos I have published, share information about upcoming webinars/seminars, and much more.

INSTAGRAM

When it comes to instagram, it is most convenient to link your facebook and instagram account together. That way, when you make a post on instagram it will automatically post to your facebook and you can kill two birds with one stone so to speak, and save yourself lots of precious time. When gathering content for instagram throughout my work day, I take on average 15 photos of each dog I groom, in hopes that maybe 2-4 of them will turn out. I only post about half of the dogs I’ve groomed even though I took photos of nearly all of them. The reason for that is I try to be selective about what gets posted on my Instagram. I want to ensure that all of the photos I post meet my standards and the standards of the companies I am representing.


This means there are thousands and thousands of photos in my phone that never even get posted (40,000 to be exact). But they are still useful because if I ever need to look back at a groom, I have it. Sometimes Wahl will ask if I still have the original photos from posts from months or years ago, and I still have them. That’s why I keep so many of the photos I take. This also helps ensure that you will always have content to post (even on your days off).



With the way Instagram is designed and used; people typically only scroll through the first 20 or so posts before moving on.

Here is how I have found you can build a following on Instagram quickly and effectively:

Posting frequently, 6 or more times per day spread out throughout the day with at least two hours between each post, is a great way to ensure you are always near the top of the feed.


It is always important to have content available and ready to post because you are busy working during the day and don’t always have time to sit and create Instagram posts. Using the draft feature on Instagram allows you to create many posts during your downtime and keep them ready to go so you can post whenever you want.


Short video clips are useful because they showcase your skills to your clients as well as share your techniques with other groomers and help promote the products and/or tools you are using. These video clips can just be short demonstrations. For example; I have a few demonstrations on how I do faces, scissor legs, and hand strips.


Hashtag use is very important because Instagram’s algorithms use them to determine who will see your post. For example; I use #dogsOfMinneapolis in my posts which helps dog lovers in my area see my content. I also have many grooming related hashtags so that groomers can find my page and hopefully follow me. I also include hashtags for many of the companies whose products I am using. Last but certainly not least, be sure to hashtag the breed of dog. This is one of the easiest ways to get your post seen because there are so many people who follow the hashtag for their pets' breed.


It’s super important that you support other groomers on Instagram. It opens the door for them to support you as well. Everybody needs support, so if you are looking for it, then you should be giving it too.


It is possible to use the instagram live feature to your advantage, but it can be difficult to do when you are working. Some groomers utilize lives to demonstrate grooms or even just to vent. As for me, I have found that lives are useful for announcements, unboxings, or sharing news, but I haven’t found it to be necessary in order to build a following.



Safety on-line

How many of you post your grooming stuff on your personal page?

How many of you post personal stuff on your grooming page?

My suggestion would be to create a separate account for your grooming, and another for your personal life. Try to keep a focused and professional feel to your grooming page. On my grooming page, I try to keep it mostly grooming related but do sometimes share personal posts to connect further with my audience. I have a separate personal page where I can post about non-grooming related things. Keep in mind that employers, clients, and companies looking for representatives DO look at your social media pages so having a separate professional grooming account from your personal account is important.


Be extremely careful about what you put anywhere online. I have seen many instances where groomers will post on a “private” group (or even on their public pages) bashing clients or other groomers, employers, or products and/or tools. Nothing is really “private” on the internet. You should assume that anything you say online could be seen by everyone.

Keep in mind that you are your only representative on the internet. You are not only representing yourself and your employer, but you are representing the dog grooming industry as a whole. We all need to hold ourselves to a higher standard when using online tools.



YOUTUBE

Put SOMETHING out there. That’s the best advice I have when it comes to YouTube. I only have like four or five videos on YouTube but I tried really hard to come up with content that is educational for both groomers AND pet owners. I cannot tell you how many clients I have gotten from YouTube just because they looked up how to groom their own dog and saw my videos. If you decide you want to try your hand at creating content for YouTube, really put some effort into it (and please god film in LANDSCAPE) If you don’t have access to someone to film your while you groom; buying a cheap tripod for your phone is a good alternative. Even after only doing a few YouTube videos I have learned so much about filming and editing and just how to be comfortable in front of a camera. Don’t be intimidated, everyone has to start somewhere.



Cross Pollenation

It is very important that you try to cross-pollenate your social media pages. This makes it easy for those who really enjoy your content to be able to find you elsewhere. For example: Always include your Instagram handle in your posts on facebook or in the description of your YouTube videos. I also have my YouTube channel name in my Instagram bio. Often times when people take an interest in what you are doing/posting, they will want to follow you on all of your different social media pages.




Social media marketing is for everyone

How many of you own your own salon? How many of you are employees at a salon? Of those who are employees, how many of you have your own social media pages for grooming?

Well, social media marketing isn’t only for salon owners, it is important for employee groomers as well. Here’s why:

1) Creating your own social media pages allows you to build a portfolio which can help you get hired in the future and shows clients that you know what you are doing.

2) It allows you to network with other groomers (and potential employers).

3) Posting your work means you will force yourself to meet (or at least try to meet) higher quality standards than you would if you weren’t sharing your work.

4) Having a following of your own can be seen as a benefit by potential employers because it means you will be able to bring business to their salon.

5) Having your own page helps your clients connect with you and get to know you better

6) Enables you to find continuing education opportunities.

7) Allows you to share your creativity and create your own brand

Motivation (don’t compare yourself)

Social media can be a great tool to help you build your business and showcase your skills, but it can also be a toxic space if used incorrectly. We are all human, and it is natural for us to see other peoples’ work and compare it to our own. That can be a damaging frame of mind, but it can also push you to become better. It is important to remember that everyone is in a different place in their grooming journey, everyone is overcoming different obstacles, and everyone has different goals. Be kind to yourself. You are unique, you have something to offer that no one else has, and you contribute to the industry in your own way. Just because someone is an amazing groomer doesn’t mean that you can’t be one too. It all comes down to the amount of work you want to put into getting better.





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