How Social Media Could Transform Your Barbering Business – Part 1
HJ Men spoke to key barbers in the social sphere to find out what social media channels they’re using, the tricks for building online engagement and how often to post. In the first of a two part series, we discuss how Instagram can transform careers and businesses.
Instagram is not just for posting pics from your holiday, it’s a savvy tool that can elevate your career to the next level. After all, mens’ hairdressing is big business on Instagram with over 3.7 million posts (and counting!) for #menshair.
Instagram is a useful tool for collating your work and being part of an online community. Most importantly however, the barbers we spoke to used social media early on in their careers to learn more about the industry. “I owe a lot of my knowledge to Instagram,” explained Jarred Liddington (@jarredsbarbers), owner of Jarreds in the Forest of Dean. “I started my career in women’s hairdressing, so Instagram was invaluable for immersing myself in the barbering world.” Instagram was also a vital learning tool for Cal Newsome (@cal_newsome), a barber at Bull & Co in Shropshire. “When I was starting out I used it to learn new techniques and to follow names in the industry such as Kevin Luchmun and Alan Beak.” Instagram is also used a consultation tool: “I show images to clients to inspire them or to work out what they do and don’t want,” explained Jarred.
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Instagram can also be used to boost your business. “When I started using Instagram my main focus was to get engagement from my local area. I tagged my town, surrounding areas and existing clients to show off what I could do to tempt new clients. My next step was to get nationwide engagement and attention from big companies and I’ve just turned my Instagram page into a business page so I can see the analytics,” explained Jarred.
Award winning barber and founder of The Lions Barber Collective Tom Chapman (@tomchapman_tcxhd) says he views Instagram as a modern day business card and he is receiving more bookings through this channel than ever before. “Word of mouth was key in the early days of my career, but social media has boosted my platform in a way that allows my reputation to spread faster and wider,” said Mark Maciver also known as Slidercuts (@slidercuts), who is a barber at D&L’s barbershop in London. “Now, I have customers from all over the world. They come to get their hair cut because of the reputation I have built both online and offline.”
Creating a strong visual style is key. A word of warning – don’t flood your feed with identical fades or side-parted crops. Create a signature style, but keep some variation on your grid. “For me bright hair colours are my trademark,” explained Jarred. “There aren’t many barbers using colour. Any images that polarise opinion get the best engagement for me. It means you have to be prepared for negative or positive comments. But in my view, even if I’m getting negative comments I’m still getting noticed.” if you are lucky enough to get famous clients in your chair like SliderCuts you can easily generate thousands of likes. He received 1,500 likes and counting for his recent image of Stormzy.
If you’re feeling nervous about posting more regularly, remember that everyone has to start somewhere. “There was a recent social media trend in the barbering community where everyone uploaded the first image they ever posted on Instagram. Mine was a skin fade. It wasn’t the most ground-breaking image to be honest – it probably had about 12 likes in all,” pointed out Jarred.
The social science
One of the easiest ways to cut through social media noise is to use relevant hashtags and tag key brands. “In terms of hashtags #barber and #ukbarber are the basics. I also tag pages like @barbershopconnect and @ukmasterbarbers that re-gram posts to get my work seen by more people,” said Jarred. There’s a reason it’s called social media, it’s all about making connections. Follow and engage with people you respect and tag brands that you have used to create your looks. As Jarred said: “There’s nothing like getting a follow or positive feedback from the people and brands you admire most in the industry.”
Jarred recommends posting once a day on Instagram, but he added: “I would focus on quality over quantity. The beauty of social media is you’ve got a scale right in front of you of how good your post is by how many likes you get, so use that to plan your content and when to post.”
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In the ever-changing landscape of social media there are always updates to get to grips with. “The algorithms of Instagram have changed so posts don’t automatically show to all of your followers,” explained Jarred. “Sometimes I will post the content again later in the day if it didn’t do well the first time. Don’t worry about being a social media expert, to be honest I don’t fully understand it all myself. Trial and error is key.”
Barbers can stay informed by reading about updates on the social media sites themselves – on Instagram you can find a roundel in the Insta-Stories section that says ‘New’ and demonstrates the updates. You can read up on updates on all major news websites and website Refinery29 gives an easy to read account. Tom pointed out that the new algorithms on Instagram mean it’s better to use only five or six appropriate hashtags.
If you are struggling to regularly update your social media channels, why not ask your clients to do some of the work for you. After all what could be more suited to our ‘selfie culture’ than asking clients to take a picture of their new look? Don’t forget to ask clients to tag you and your shop in the post – why not design posters with your social media handles and place them around your shop as a gentle reminder? It is time consuming to engage with online followers but Tom believes it’s worth it: “I always make sure I spend some time interacting with my followers – personally I like to spend 30 minutes each day commenting, liking and messaging.”
All of the barbers agree it’s crucial to create a balance. “Social media can become a job in itself,” Cal cautioned. “The most important people are the clients who sit in your chair. It’s easy to get carried away with the whole social media whirlwind but it is your day to day customers that pay the bills so it’s fundamentally important not to forget them.”
This article is an excerpt from Social Media: Are you Doing it Enough? from the Summer issue of HJ Men.