How-To: Create Images to be a Social Media Standout
Kroninger, an Ohio-based photographer and photo industry educator, was hired by Zylstra to take staff photos for the website. When he learned of the retreat, he thought he had something else to offer in addition to the photo shoot.
“I told Wade I could photograph the retreat, do team photos, and then speak to his group about the imagery side of social media,” Kroninger says.
“I do a lot of education for photographers, but understand the importance of quality imagery in the beauty industry—it’s a very visual-based profession.”
IMAGES AND VIDEO MAKE YOUR MESSAGE
Kroninger’s message isn’t just about why stylists and salons need to have great imagery, but also why they need to be on social media and understand the challenges that exist.
“There is so much information out there that if your image isn’t relevant or doesn’t have a story to capture the attention of an audience, it’s just white noise,” he says.
In the past ten years, social media has shifted from a text-driven system to one that’s image-driven, to the point where Facebook now auto-plays video.
“That was unheard of a decade ago,” Kroninger says. “Today, 70 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram daily. If you’re not producing quality images that speak to viewers, you are literally just a speck of pixel in a static screen.”
With 63 percent of social media made of images and 77 percent of post engagement being image driven, Kroninger says you must show what you’re doing—not just say it.
But words are still necessary to engage readers with your photos.
“For example, a stylist might post a photo of an amazing hair cut and post it with the caption: ‘Sally came into the salon having a really bad day, and here’s how we made it better,’” Kroninger says.
“You need to give your audience something to relate to—captions exist in magazines and newspapers for a reason. They offer context.”
But even the greatest caption in the world isn’t going to get anybody’s attention if it’s paired with a bad photo.
PHOTOGRAPHY DOS AND DON’TS
Achieving a great shot doesn’t mean investing in expensive equipment. Kroninger says it usually comes down to one thing—lighting.
“If you’re trying to show hair, you can’t be in bad light because you can’t see the highlights,” he says. “I recommend the salon creates an area with great lighting that stylists can take clients to for a good before-and-after shot.”
If the salon doesn’t have a well-lit area, he recommends walking clients to stand near a big window or even just going outside. But whatever you do, don’t take the photo from the chair.
“If you take it from the salon chair, the lighting isn’t the best and there’s a lot going on in the background,” Kroninger says. “With professional cameras, we can knock the background out of focus. You can’t do that with your phone without using apps. Getting clients in front of a plain wall that’s not competing for attention is better.”
Kroninger also recommends giving video a try in front of a simple background with good lighting.
“Video is a great opportunity to really show the client smiling, moving her hair and living in it,” he says.
“When an image starts moving, people pay more attention to it.”
However, avoid shooting video vertical. Kroninger says horizontal is the only way video should ever be taken.
KNOW YOUR PLATFORM
So you’ve got a great image or video, and the perfect caption to go with it. Now what? Which platform best suits your content?
Kroninger says you must first consider your audience. Knowing your salon’s client demographics will help guide you to the right platform.
“On Facebook, you can get interaction and conversation going,” he says. “Maybe you even post a video how-to of flat-ironing a client’s hair. People will be more likely to watch on Facebook.”
Kroninger has found people like to be helpful to others, so if you share something that’s helpful to them, they’re more likely to share it with friends. “If shareable matters to you, give a how-to. If you’re in the market of selling products, how-to videos of using products properly are perfect.”
He says Instagram is the go-to spot for shareable content that people can look at quickly, like, and share.
“Instagram is a great space for inspirational stories.”
“You might post a before-and-after with a quick three-sentence story about client. The audience can see the image, like the story and share.”
Kroninger also says to save the super technical posts for an industry audience—not your clientele.
“How you mixed color and other technical information is irrelevant to customers,” he says. “That would be like me posting a cool picture and explaining how I took it.”
While technical information is overwhelming, Kroninger says details like “Suzy came in and wanted to blow them away at her high school reunion, so we did this cut,” will get your audience to bite.
Clients aren’t in the salon every day, but Kroninger says you can still interact with them on a regular basis.
“Hairstylists want their clients to look good every day,” he says.
“Showing them how to style and take care of their hair via social media is telling them you care.”
But to be effective, you must remain consistent. “You have to post enough, but not too much, and never poor quality,” he says. Editor’s note- Facebook is a pay-to-play platform for businesses now. For your posts to be seen, they MUST be boosted. $5-10 each is a good budget. Read more on boosting here.
“Keep your brand identity and imagery, too. You must have separate personal and business accounts,” he adds.
He warns particularly against political posts on a business account. “You must be Switzerland—your business is neutral,” he says. “You can’t alienate your customers, regardless of your stance.”
Know what your audience is looking for and send out quality images and messages—no blurry photos or shaky videos allowed.
“Shaky video is impossible to watch,” he says. “Use a tripod if you want to do a video and can’t keep the phone steady.”
Finally, to make sure all your hard work translates into salon revenue—always post a link directly to where you want clients to go.
“If there’s a link to schedule a service immediately, you’ve just gotten your audience there with a click,” Kroninger says. “If you can’t easily direct people where to go monetize your post, it’s no good. You’re not on seven social media platforms just for fun.”