Instagram for salons 101: Everything you need to know to set up and grow your account

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When I ask salon owners their favorite place to interact with potential clients and get bookings? Their answer is more often than not: Instagram.

But when I ask them what their biggest marketing challenge is? Also Instagram! Most of us know how important this social media platform is, and yet we struggle with how to use it effectively.

So many beauty businesses have built an an empire with social media. Just think of Glosser cosmetics, who sell 100% online (not in stores) and have found most their customers through Instagram:

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The founder, Emily Weiss, built a billion dollar brand centred around just one place: Instagram. She knew that her ideal customers were on there, and she knew that by creating the perfect Instagram feed, posting beautiful, educational content, and creating a community on the platform, Glossier would grow. And it definitely did!

So, we all know how powerful it can be, but why is it that such a seemingly simple app can be overwhelming?

Simply because there are so many options for how you can use it. Most of us have questions like:

  • What do you put in your bio?

  • What kinds of things do you post, and how often?

  • Which hashtags are right to use?

  • How do I get more followers?

  • Do people actually care what I’m posting?

And so many others.

Whether you’re a total beginner with Instagram, or you’ve been at it for a while, this article should help you to brush up your Instagram profile.

By creating a perfectly optimized profile with gorgeous posts, you’ll have more potential clients finding you, more of your followers interacting with your posts, and more appointments booked.

So let’s start at the beginning… completing your Instagram profile’s basic information.

Add your basic business info so you get found and encourage actions


The most basic things that every business owner needs to do on Instagram are simply to ensure that you get found and that it’s easy for your followers to book an appointment. Very simple, but so many businesses miss this step!

First thing’s first, you need to convert to a business account. Even if you operate as a person - such as Jessica Appleseed, Nail Tech - you’ll still want a business profile. That way you can run ads, add extra contact info, and more.

Click here to learn how to convert your personal Instagram into a business account

Next, make sure that your profile picture is doing a good job of describing and selling your business. The last thing you want is a blurry, irrelevant photo!

Instead, make sure that you use either your own personal image (of your face) or your logo. Save it as a .png file (instead of .jpg) to make sure it’s crisp and smooth.

Your next step is to make sure that you can get found with your username and profile name. Just to clarify, your username is in your actual Instagram URL (instagram.com/username) and your business name is what appears in your profile:

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You want to make sure that people can find your business on Instagram, so make sure they match your business name as someone would search it.

Next, you want to make sure that you include all of your contact information: your address, phone number, email address, and a link to book. Your address will appear on your bio (we’ll get to that in a minute), while the others will appear directly above your feed like this:

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The “Book” button is a recent addition to Instagram, but a super easy way to link to your booking app. All you have to do to enable it is edit your profile from the mobile app, select “Contact Options”, and then “Add an action button”. You can choose from several booking apps, like:

  • Square

  • Acuity

  • Styleseat

  • Vagaro

  • Genbook

  • Glossgenius and more

Finally, you have one more place to get your followers off of Instagram and into your chair: the link in your profile.

Since you can’t link to websites in the captions of your post, you’ll want to direct your followers to “Click the link in my bio” regularly. Usually, that link goes to the homepage of your salon website.

Otherwise, it could go to your booking page on your website, or a special webpage you set up for your current promotions.

Write a fun, irresistible Instagram bio


Your Instagram page needs to make a great first impression on anyone who lands on it - whether they’ve just discovered your post in their feed, or they’re searching for your salon on Google and find it that way.

One of the best ways of helping people to understand who you are and what you’re all about? Your bio, of course!

You only get 150 characters (about the length of a tweet) to share all of this goodness, so make it count!

The most important things to include in your bio are to explain what you specialize in as a salon and call out anything unique or special about your business. Here’s a good example:

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She’s said that she specializes in balayage, tagged where she works, called out some of the awards she’s won and where she’s located. You can also share some unique traits about your salon - such as the fact that you’re eco-friendly - and inject some of your personality into your bio with a fun quote or slogan.

Feel free to use emojis and put all of these points in a quick list like the bio above.

Also, you may want to promote the link in your bio by telling your followers what happens when they click it. For example: “Check out our new summer skincare package!” and an emoji pointing down.


The best way to grow your Instagram: hashtags (the right ones)


Hashtags are probably one of the most misunderstood parts of Instagram. They’re the tags that you see at the bottom of most posts which are clickable:

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Hashtags tell Instagram what the post is about, and helps it get found by people outside of your own followers.

When you publish something on your Facebook page, it typically will only get seen by your followers. On Instagram, however, your post could potentially get seen by hundreds of new people who have yet to discover your salon.

Each of your posts can have 30 hashtags, and the more of the right kinds you use, the more people will see your post, interact with it, and your following will grow.

When you use the right hashtags, for example #lashes, on your post about lash extensions, your post might get found by someone who loves looking at pictures of lashes and makeup.

When you tag a photo with #balayage, your post could get seen by someone who has been recently searching for balayage pics on Instagram.

Make sense?

The most important thing for you to know about hashtags is this: you need to research the right LOCAL hashtags for your city. You want to build up your following with potential clients, right? Then make sure that the hashtags you’re using are specifically targeting things like:

#torontolashes

#chicagomua

#nychair

Obviously, you want to choose the right hashtags for your beauty niche and your city. So how do you do that?

Here’s how to research at least 20 hashtags that are relevant to your target audience in your city:

Step 1: Search #toronto (replace with your city name) to see some of the most popular hashtags in your city. Write down the ones that seem the most relevant to your business. These could be #torontobeauty, #torontohair etc.

Step 2: Search the top local businesses in your area - restaurants, bars, shops, salons, gyms, spas, etc - and see which hashtags they’re using on Instagram. Write them down if they’re relevant.

Step 3: Do a Google search for bloggers or influencers in your city. They’ll definitely have an Instagram account. See which hashtags they’re using and write them down if they’re relevant to your beauty business.

Your hashtags should be used in every post, and if possible you should switch them out so you’re not always using the same hashtags.

And remember, you can insert them into the caption of the photo or in the comments - either way is fine.

Click here to learn all about Instagram hashtags for your salon


Decide on your Instagram’s visual theme


What’s the difference between a “meh” profile and a really professional looking one?

Having posts that stick with a color and design theme, and all look harmonious together!

If you’re intentional about your Instagram posts and keep them all looking similar, your feed will look beautiful, and that in turn will attract more engagement and more followers.

Here are some examples of Instagram “themes” from some top beauty businesses:

Tarte Cosmetics: Bright, fun, and girly:

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R+co: Modern, grungy, glamour:

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Too Faced: Feminine, bare, neutral

Although you don’t have to be super strict about your visual theme, it does help to have some colors and ideas in mind for how you want it to look. That way, you’ll know which colors to incorporate into your photos, which filters to use (if any), and you’ll be able to keep your feed looking professional and polished.

Click here to learn more about creating a visual theme for your feed

Come up with 4-7 different “topics” to post about


Your Instagram definitely needs to be used as a place to post photos of your client work.

You definitely want to use it as a portfolio to showcase the nails, hair, skin, lashes, brows that you do.

But that is only one ingredient in an awesome Instagram feed. You need to post a variety of different types of photos. We truly do want to see all sides of your business, especially more personal photos of you and your team.

The best way to get that variety is to make a list (actually write it down) of the different things you could post. It could look something like this:

  • Client photos (close ups, far away shots, etc)

  • Photos of you and your team

  • Photos of retail products you sell

  • Photos of salon details inside and out

  • Photos from around your city

  • Photos that clients have tagged you in

This list could look different depending on what kind of vibe you have and what kind of beauty business you have.

Here’s an example - HeyDay facial spa keeps a consistent minimal and white “theme” to their posts while also maintaining a lot of variety:

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Meanwhile, Her Majesty’s Pleasure nail and cocktail bar keeps a luxurious, retro look to their photos, while also posting a wide range of things - from cocktails, to celebrities, to nails, to interior design and more:

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For more ideas for what to post on your Instagram, read my blog post here.


Take high quality photos for your posts


I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to take great photos and use them on your Instagram.

The last thing you want are dark, blurry photos. They tend to give off a negative impression of your business, especially since standard of quality (what we expect from businesses) on Instagram has gone up so much. If you want to get great engagement and grow your following, you need to take photography seriously.

When you take photos that are bright, clear, and artistically styled, you’re telling the world that details matter to you, that your salon in itself is high quality, and that you’re a professional.

There are huge books and courses all about taking great photos, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But, to summarize, taking good pictures often comes down to good lighting.

Make sure that you have lots of natural light coming in for your pictures, or alternatively you can invest in a ring light or large lamps.

Take lots of photos from different angles so that you can choose between pictures. And don’t forget the power of slight photo editing to get that light and bright shine. I recommend Snapseed or Adobe Lightroom on your phone for editing.

So before posting anything, make sure that you ask yourself “Is this photo bright, beautiful, and professional?”

If not, skip it and post something else.

If you want advice for taking high quality photos in your salon, read my blog post here.


Write captivating captions


The first thing your followers will see and care about are your photos. The next thing they’ll do if you catch their eye?

They’ll read your caption.

I know most people think that the caption doesn’t matter and that it’s an afterthought. But that’s so far from the truth.

Your caption provides detail, color and personality about your post. It’s where you can explain what’s going on in the photo and educate your followers in your beauty niche.

View this post on Instagram

Who went to Flo ‘n Po with these beauties on Saturday? How much did you love it? I’ve heard and seen nothing but amazing things! • If you know us, you know one of our company’s most important values is supporting other women. We believe in collaboration over competition...always. When new spray tanning businesses enter the market we are happy to welcome them and to help in any way that we can. That seems counterintuitive to a lot of people and trust...it was to us initially as well. But over the last eight years we’ve learned that we are ALL so much stronger when we work together and there is more than enough to go around. • These babes right here are such a great example of that, as well. They all serve the same market here on the Gram and look what they accomplished when they joined forces and created an event for their followers. They raised over $1000 for charity and created a safe space for women to be and grow together. They recognize the power of joining forces with like-minded women and the beauty that can come from it. We have so much admiration for them and can’t wait to see how this initial event changes their lives and also the lives of their followers. • So, shoutout to @kalekouture @nomastayinkc and @wellnessforthewin (who is sporting her RR glow and mani, of course) for being the epitome of BABES SUPPORT BABES. You have some big time cheerleaders in the RR Glow Gang and we can’t wait to see what you do next! XOXO

A post shared by Recreating Rays (@recreatingrays) on

Try not to make your captions too boring, too short, or too lazy. Take some actual time to make sure that they enhance your photo. People do read them, believe it or not!

Don’t just dryly explain what’s in the photo. Share the story behind it, share your feelings about it, educate about it, abd more.

The caption is so overlooked but so important for your Instagram posts. If you make sure it stands out, you are sure to get much better engagement in your posts.

Schedule your posts


If you loath the thought of posting to Instagram all the time, because you’re always in a hurry, you’re too much of a perfectionist, and you never know what to post, do not worry. I have you covered!

My favourite social media tool of all time is called Later. It allows you to batch schedule your posts several months in advance, so you can just get them done and not have to worry about them.

I use Later for my Instagram account and it is such a blessing. It allows me to work on more important things and also to be more intentional and take more time to think about my posts instead of just posting spur of the moment.

Here’s exactly how to use it to schedule your Instagram posts:

  • Upload all the photos that you’ve taken in the past month.

  • Schedule them depending on how often you want to post - if you want to publish 3 times a week, schedule 3 posts in one week. You should schedule based on when your followers are most active (you can find that info in your Instagram analytics)

  • Write your captions

  • Insert your hashtags

  • Go to preview and move around the posts until they’re beautiful and in a pretty patchwork pattern

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In conclusion


Your salon’s Instagram feed will be a constant work in progress. All of those beautiful feeds with millions of followers that you’ve been obsessing over? If you scroll back far enough, you’ll uncover their early posts that will probably make you laugh.

Don’t worry too much about getting it “perfect” right away. Just get started on crafting your bio, posting and scheduling great content, and using the right hashtags.

I hope this guide has been useful for you in understanding the most important parts of Instagram that will help to build your beauty business!