BehindTheChair.com’s New Virtual Community for Salon Professionals

btclogoBehindthechair.com (BTC) is an online-based company that provides education, retail and industry-related information to salon professionals. With over 600,000 members world-wide, behindthechair.com has built a strong reputation withing the salon industry. About a month and a half ago, BTC launched its own virtual community on behindthechair.com. This community is open only to salon professionals (stylists, make-up artists, estheticians, owners, etc.). It is a place where stylists can create a profile, upload and share their professional work and interact with each other.

Other websites have attempted to create virtual communities in which stylists can create and share their work, but have not been successful in doing so. The initial concept behind these sites is genius, but they all seem to fail when it comes to gaining awareness and engaging social media, making it impossible to achieve success. This is where I think that BTC stands out and why it will become the go-to community for salon professionals to interact and upload their portfolios.

First of all, behindthechair.com already has a name for itself and a large following, which gives this new community a great platform right off the bat. On top of that though, BTC does a phenomenal job of engaging their audience, especially via social media (i.e. competitions, personal responses, etc.). Upon launching the new community, BTC sent out one email promoting a hair color competition in which stylist could have their work published in BTC’s book or magazine to encourage stylists to join the community and upload images of their work. According to Mary Rector-Gable, founder and President of behindthechair.com, within 5 days there were 8,000 pictures uploaded from over 4,000 people to the site (Stylist Choice Awards, 2013). There are currently over 5,500 members registered on the BTC community.

btcpromo

Successful email promotion from BehindTheChair.com

This community does more than just allow stylists to interact and share work though. Making this new community available through BTC’s website will also encourage salon professionals (BTC’s primary audience), to engage with the rest of the site more regularly, which I would imagine, will result in a positive correlation to increased sales.

My only suggestion for the BTC community would be to integrate a component that would allow clients and potential clientele to browse stylists’ work. For example, someone looking for a new stylist might be able to search and view the images of stylists in their area. If said potential client likes the work of a specific stylist, they could call the salon and schedule an appointment or consultation. Stylists would just need to provide their salon name, number and location. While something like this could be done as a separate site that links to uploaded images, I think that it would be more effective as a part of the existing salon community; however non-professionals should still not be able to attain membership and access features such as industry education.  This would encourage stylist to post more images and it would draw a larger audience to the site. While salon clients may not be interested in salon education, they could be interested in making a purchase from BTC’s retail store either themselves or when looking for a gift for their stylist.

 Stylist Choice Awards. Mary Rector-Gable. (2013, March 10). McCormick Place, Chicago, Il. (Can be viewed online at http://www.avideolink.com/btc/player.php)

http://community.behindthechair.com/

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NickMom uses Social Toaster to create a Semi-User-Generated Content Buzz

social toaster logoSocial Toaster works to help companies increase presence in social media through encouraging a company’s current audience to share content via social media. Social Toaster then tracks activity to help assess effectiveness. I am going to discuss how NickMom.com is using this program and why I think that it is successful.  

 NickMom.com is a parenting website that accompanies the adult-centered television program, NickMom, which targets women with children, and airs on the Nick Jr. network after 10pm. The program just launched in the fall of 2012, and has already created quite a buzz in online communities.

NickMom.com recently launched NickMom Clique via Social Toaster. On NickMom Clique, people can earn points and win prizes by sharing specific content with their Facebook friends and/or Twitter followers. NickMom Clique seems to be successfully engaging current and potential viewers.

NickMom Welcome Email

The content that members share is not entirely user generated, but, as I am calling it, semi-user-generated, because the actual message is pushed by the company. Status updates can include a link to content from an email newsletter and/or have a specific keyword or hashtag that users must include (ex: #motherfunny) to earn points towards prizes or other incentives. In other words, NickMom tells users what to post about, and users get points for social media shares that include the recommended content.

This gives NickMom some control or influence over what content they want out there, but the statuses themselves are still being shared by the public. This is a great way for a company to gain stronger presence in the world of social media (or at least on Facebook and Twitter) for many reasons.

People are already engaging in social media and sharing recommendations. Offering incentives for the current audience to engage with NickMom and share via their social media networks does more than help to expand online presence. It also strengthens the existing audience by bringing them together in an online community and further exposing that audience to the company’s message.  Edelman’s 2013 Trust Barometer shows that people trust people like themselves over a company’s employees or CEO. Based on this, a company’s message will likely have more influence if it comes from someone’s peers than if it comes directly from the company.

This model for social media engagement and expansion seems like the best of both worlds. On the one hand, the company is able to steer the direction of the message that is being shared on social media, but the actual sharing is generated by the public. According to Social Toaster, when a company encourages a message to be shared, users are choosing to share the content 42% of the time and reaching 313 people on average. I expect that we will continue to see more companies implementing social media campaigns like this.

NickMom Clique Cheers

http://www.edelman.com/news/2013-edelman-trust-barometer-finds-a-crisis-in-leadership/

http://www.socialtoaster.com/

clique.nickmom.com

Corporate Sponsorship: Advertising & Ethics in Relation to Academia

Purdue is contracted with various brands whose products and promotions can be found around campus and at various events. This is a topic that was brought up for discussion in one of my advertising classes recently. The question was brought up in one of my classes regarding whether or not corporations could/should begin to dictate activities and/or curriculum within a school. This was my response:

Companies have been sponsoring sporting and other events for a while now. I see no problem with corporate sponsorship; however I do not think that a company should be able to dictate activities within a school. I think that it is probably effective and beneficial for a company to sponsor, advertise, or promote itself at a football game for instance; and I see no problem with this at any academic level.

On the other hand, if a company takes their marketing plan beyond sponsorship and promotion at events (where this sort of thing is culturally accepted/expected), I think that it could be a problem. For example if Nike’s promotional agenda was woven into a physical education program at a school, this could be perceived as deceptive advertising. If an education professional is “teaching” children about the benefits of Nike over other sporting brands, there is research to support that students would naturally take the teachers word for it and mold their opinions based on that education. While that would likely be an effective tactic, I do not feel that it would be an ethical one. Under this scenario students would not have received an unbiased or comprehensive education about all available sporting brands. I also feel that such “education” would detract from the class and lessen the educational experience for students.

Outside of the classroom is, in my opinion, the best place for advertising. I see no problem with a school contracting with certain brands for vending machines or promoting a sponsor brand at an event. But taking advertising messages into the classroom or altering curriculum around an advertising agenda does not seem ethical to me. I believe that advertising should never be deceptive and that education should be anchored in academia and not in corporate promotion.