Do you know what social proof is? The two words together can be pretty self-explanatory: When something is proven as high-quality because of social signals. You must have seen this in action hundreds of times in your salon. You get new clients come in because they were referred by a family member or friend or colleague.
Social proof is actually one of the most important forms of marketing that exists for businesses. But times have changed, it’s no longer just about getting personal recommendations from people you know. Consumers are web-savvy and they do extensive research before they decide to book an appointment at your salon. They don’t just ask for recommendations from people they know; they ask the internet.
Studies show that 67% of consumers will read up to 6 reviews before deciding whether they want to visit your salon or not (source). Don’t you want to make sure that their research leads them to your front door?
This guide will help you get a grasp on your salon’s social ratings on Google, Facebook and Yelp. You know these are important platforms but might not know the best ways to improve your ratings and to get even more positive reviews. Here are our top 10 most important pieces of wisdom to improve your salon’s online ratings.
Your first question might be: “there are so many places for my clients to review me online – which ones should we use?!” Actually, giving reviewers a choice of where to write about their experience means they’ll be able to write their review on the website that they feel most comfortable in. It means they’re even more likely to give you a review. So our first golden rule is to diversify.
Plus, in terms of search engine optimization, positive reviews in several places can lead to your website appearing higher up in the search results on Google (source). From Google you can also see how people rated your site on Google, Facebook and more.
You may or may not know this, but Yelp absolutely doesn’t want you to ask your clients for reviews, and it has a pretty good algorithm that will figure out if you’re doing exactly this (source). Instead, it’s recommended that you put a badge on your website that says “People love us on Yelp” or “Find us on Yelp”with a link to your Yelp profile.
Related: 7 ideas to get more reviews on Yelp without violating its policies
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask you clients for reviews on Facebook and Google! Both of these platforms allow you to ask for reviews, and we’ll go further into detail about exactly how to do this further down in this guide.
It’s extremely important that you know the terms and conditions of the major review platforms so you don’t violate their rules for reviews:
“Social proof” means showing potential clients how much your current clients love you. And it’s hands down the most powerful form of marketing. That’s why social review sites are so important.
When you get a positive review on Yelp, Google, or Facebook, share it loud and proud! Here are some ideas of places to share your top reviews every month:
Make sure that every single part of your pages is completed at 100%. For Facebook this is simple, as you pretty much just need to have an active page that accepts reviews (go to Settings > Edit Page > Tabs > Reviews on your Facebook Page).
For Google My Business and Yelp, make sure that you follow these standards to make sure your profile is at 100%
How to make a great Google My Business profile for your salon
How to make a great Yelp profile for your salon:
The best way to ask for reviews from clients is to insert a request in your regular communications with them. One good way to do this is through followup emails with clients. If your booking software allows for you to do this, you can most certainly ask for feedback (in the form of a survey) and also links to your social profiles and ask for a review there (link to Google and Facebook, not Yelp!)
Unfortunately you will get some negative reviews, it’s just part of the process of getting social engagement. But bad reviews left unchecked can do serious damage to your business.
Use the CARP model to deal with customer complaints (source)
Control the situation by using language that says you’re taking responsibility
Acknowledge the issue and clarify that you understand it
Refocus on turning the negative complaint into something can be solved
Problem solve and make sure that the solution is explained and followed through with
Using this model can lead to “service recovery paradox”, which means that you can turn a negative experience into an even better experience if you can fix the problem:
“The service recovery paradox is the result of a very positive service recovery, causing a level of customer satisfaction and/or customer loyalty even greater than that expected if no service failure had happened.” (source)
Making Facebook engagement a priority (meaning that you’ve got an active page, you link to your page and other places) means that you’ll have more activity on your page, which will naturally lead to more reviews. Put links in your emails, on your website (all pages), and even within your salon physically.
Involving salon staff members in the reviews process makes sense of course, but often times it’s not seen as a priority. How to make it a priority? That’s the problem that many salon owners face.
Probably the best way is to show hard numbers and facts about how much actual revenue, bookings, and sales result from online reviews. Make sure to keep in a habit of asking new clients how they found you (this is not just about reviews, but in general one needs to know this) and track what % come from reviews. The number might surprise you, plus it will motivate your staff members to put it in emails, to remind clients in person, or to respond promptly to reviews.
As we said in the first rule, you should try to spread out your reviews among different platforms so that you give your clients options and in the end they’re more likely to leave you a review. Also, having reviews on multiple places will reinforce your presence when people see you on Google, too (show screenshot of Google).
That said, it’s important to know which site is the most important to your business – which one leads to more rebooking, new clients and sales. Measuring where sales and clients come from is the first step, the second step is prioritizing which platform to push first. Where should you focus more effort and time? Once you know the platform, you can find new and creative ways of getting reviews on this website.
These golden rules are made to make your salon show the world its best side. But that’s of course assuming that you already shine. The most important caveat is that if your customer service and your services in general are terrible, no matter how much time you put into online reviews, you’re not going to be able to make up for it. So make sure that before you start this process you take a good look at your own business and fix holes in your customer service or your business. Otherwise those holes will show up and be brought to light when you’re getting reviews.
Also, when clients leave your place excited and overjoyed about their new style, they are more likely to gush about your business online. So get them into a place of bliss and they’ll do the rest.
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