The goal of Beauty as a Business is to help beauty schools teach students the skills they need to grow their own book of business and online portfolio while they’re in school.
By teaching students the digital marketing skills they need to be successful beauty professionals, it helps increase your school’s reputation and brand.
If you haven’t seen it, make sure to catch our presentation from The Beauty School Summit, where we talk more in depth on the benefits of a strong social media strategy built on student-generated content. We cover:
Watch the replay of our Summit presentation and schedule a free demo of BaaB today to build your school’s brand, without spending additional marketing dollars.
I am so excited to talk to you guys today about your students’ social media content and why it matters for your school.
Now this isn’t the social media content that you’re making about your school. This is the content that your students make and post to social media that is related to your school. So, this could be something like their student work, what their day at school is like, and we call this user-generated content.
I’ve got some stats here that show how influential this content is. Now, we all know reviews matter. I mean, in this day and age, we’re not buying anything before we look at some reviews and you’d think that the endorsements from our friends and our family would be the best and the most trusted endorsement, but look at some of these stats:
51% of millennials say that user-generated content from complete strangers is more likely to influence their purchase decision.
Why? Well, it’s because these folks don’t have any skin in the game. We feel like if somebody loves a brand or a business enough to just be posting about it on social media, it’s got to be the real deal. Now, of course, there is influencer marketing and that’s definitely still a thing, but we know how to spot that these days. And also some rules changed so that if it’s paid or sponsored content, it has to be clearly labeled.
So, when those rules happen, the value of somebody just posting completely on their own because they love a company, because they love a brand, because they love that experience so much that they just want to talk about it, the value of that content just skyrocketed.
So user-generated content, student generated content, is really something that can pay off big for your school. Picking a school is a really big decision and potential students, they’re out there, they’re researching, they’re not just taking somebody’s word for it. Especially in this age of digital marketing, people want content that’s real and authentic. User-generated content is, again, that powerful endorsement of “I love this so much that I’m going to talk about it.”
The most popular forms of user-generated content come on social media platforms, which means that people can interact with it. They can ask questions.
They can say, “Hey, I just saw that you did a post about beauty school. I’m thinking about going to beauty school. Tell me what it’s like, tell me about your school. Do you love it?” And you can create real community around it.
And then some of this user-generated content… I mean, that makes it fantastic marketing material. It’s something that you can reshare to your school’s social accounts. And usually when somebody is tagging you in a post, they want you to see it and they’re flattered when you reshare it and you acknowledge it and you engage with it.
So, this is great if all the user-generated, all the student-generated content around your school is positive.
This could also be bad though. This is a double-edged sword. If everything around it is negative, the impact is probably even larger than just the positive.
So, at Beauty as a Business, we love to teach that a good social media strategy is when you show up and you promote yourself and you talk about yourself, but a great social media strategy is when others talk about you. And I think some of the reasons for that, it’s obvious when something is genuinely good, you just can’t help but talk about it.
You want to share it with other people because you want them to have that goodness in their life. And like Chris mentioned, I’ve been around beauty school marketing long enough to know that it doesn’t matter how much polish you put on certain things or how much money you throw at paid ads, you cannot trump a bad reputation.
You can say that you’re good all that you want but if other people are saying you’re good, especially your students, that’s when people believe it and they choose to invest money with you rather than your competitors.
So, this is where I’m going to do some technology trickery. And I hope that things go smoothly. We practiced this a couple of times, but let’s see the power of student generated content in action. And I’m going to introduce you to a real student. Her name is Samantha, and she decided to document her journey of how she chose a school, becoming a licensed cosmetologist. And her story is one that we’re all probably pretty familiar with.
She had known that she loved beauty since she was a child, she kind of went the traditional path, went to college, just didn’t jive with her. She knew, “Okay, here’s what I got to do. I’ve got to quit my job. I’ve got to move back home with mom and dad. I’ve got to get serious about this.” So, she starts researching schools and she goes and tours them and there are two schools that she has to choose from.
One is 10 minutes away from her house. And the other one is an hour away. I mean, in her video, she talks about like, “Oh my gosh, an hour away, do you know how much gas money that is going to be for me? I live in Pennsylvania. Do you know what winters are like here? I don’t want to drive an hour in the snow,” but I think it’s really interesting to hear her experience and how she decided to choose which school she went to.
So I am going to, again, flip my screen over. Can you guys see the YouTube? Okay. All right. So let’s listen to Samantha and how she picked a school.
… Sealed the deal for me though, was I looked on social media. So go on Facebook, Instagram, whatever, and look up the location of the school, look up hashtags of the school and see the students work.
So the first school, first of all, there were barely any pictures to begin with. And then the ones that I did see, the work itself didn’t look that great. And the pictures are just very unprofessional. I specifically remember there was one picture this girl posted of braids, I think, that she did on a mannequin and there was another student in the background flipping up the middle finger in her picture.
This is supposed to be professional, this is your portfolio, you’re trying to show off your work. But then, the second school, the pictures were amazing, just looked so professional, looked like work that was done in a high-end salon.
You would’ve never guessed that it was worked on by a student. And I saw pictures of students on field trips at the Wella Studio in New York, I saw guest speakers that were at the school. It just seemed totally more professional and I was going to get a higher quality education.
So, the school I ended up going to is Metro Beauty Academy. It is just a privately owned school. It’s not a chain or anything. So, it’s in Allentown, Pennsylvania. So if you guys live in Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley area, I highly recommend Metro.
Okay. Let me just see if I can get back over to my slides really quick. Give me just a second. Okay. I’m getting the thumbs up that you all can see my slides now. Perfect. Okay.
So, again, what sealed the deal for Samantha was getting on to social media and looking at the student-generated content surrounding the school. Now that video has more than 100,000 views, and there are tons of comments on this video saying, “I relate to this. I did the exact same thing. This is my story as well.”
It’s a common way that people are thinking about choosing a school. And frankly, this is not a secret, people know that you should be checking out the student-generated content around a school to evaluate it.
So, here’s the question, do you know how your school is being represented? Not how you are representing your school. I hope that you know what you’re posting on your social media, but do you know what other stories, narratives, representations of your brand or your school are being created by students?
We monitor a lot of students’ social media and a lot of social media around school. And there is some really bad stuff out there, not just bad lighting or not following best practices, but there’s obscenity, there’s aggression, there are things that feel really questionable or even just mannequin headshots, or nails that look straight out of a horror film. That cheapens the brand. That hurts your reputation.
But there’s also great stuff. What Samantha referenced in her video was high quality, professional looking videos. Everything on this slide is from the hashtag “cosmetologyschool”. And I can’t tell you how many times, here’s the downside though, how many times I see amazing content like this, and there is zero mention of the school.
It’s not in the location tag, there’s no hashtag, it’s not in the caption. What a missed opportunity for the school who’s got students that have some really awesome content coming out around this.
So, let’s talk about how you can increase your student-generated content. I definitely think that you need to repost and engage with your student content. You’ve got to look at what you guys are being tagged in. You’ve got to like it, you’ve got to comment it.
You’ve got to take the best stuff, stick it back on your Instagram feed and really encourage them, “Hey, if you make awesome stuff, I’m going to promote it. I’m going to promote you as a future stylist. I’m going to put your Instagram handle on my account and we’re going to support you in building your brand in awareness of the awesome work that you’re doing.”
And that’s going to make students want to create more of it because they see that there’s a positive reaction happening to it.
Another way that you can increase student content is to run contests and giveaways. Halloween is always a very popular one where students love making photos of a particular outfit, getting votes, you know, celebrate that. Again, let them flex their skills, show it off.
And before I get into the third tactic, I do want to say this because we did talk about this being a double-edged sword. It’s great if student-generated content is all positive and awesome about your school. It is not fun when it’s negative. In fact, it can turn into a PR nightmare and I’ve actually seen the backlash of that and the potential of that, the fear of that, stop schools from really tackling social media head on with their students.
And here’s what I say,
The best defense is a good offense.
So, give your students guidelines from day one, on the tour tell them, “We know that social media is a tool in this industry. We know that it’s important. We care about it. Therefore, when you come to our school, you have to understand that you’re representing our brand and we will be looking at your social media. We want to help you create a professional portfolio, something that’s going to win you credibility, going to win you clients.”
Give them a one-sheet that they have to sign, that they acknowledge the rules that you lay out, no bullying, no nudity, whatever it is that you feel are the boundaries your students should live in.
And then give them some content ideas. Samantha talked about, in the video, she saw pictures of students on field trips, going to the Wella Academy. She saw guest speakers at the school. She saw student life at the school that she was like, “Hey, that’s the one I want to go to. That’s the one where the students are posting pictures of how awesome it is to be here.”
So, give them guidelines, give them ideas and, I mean, I think you should teach your students social media. I think you should actually teach them how to do this correctly.
Because if you don’t offer the fundamentals of social media, the best practices to all of your students, you are risking that their lack of knowledge is reflecting badly on your school.
Remember Samantha said that she specifically equated the quality of education to the student content that she was viewing. This was after she had read reviews, toured both schools. She met awesome admissions people at both schools. In fact, if you go to one of her other videos, when she tours the first school, the one that she doesn’t end up going to, she’s all but sold on it.
She’s like, “It’s 10 minutes away from my house. I love the admissions person. It was freaking awesome. The only reason why I’m going to tour this other school is because I just feel like it would be silly if I only toured one school.”
And the thing that swayed her was like, “I looked at the student content and the other school that was an hour away, had students who were clearly acting like professionals. They had beautiful photos. They were using social media well.”
And I just don’t think you should risk that for the reputation of your school. So here’s what we’re doing at BaaB. We are giving you a way to teach social media basics, fundamentals to all of your students online.
We have created videos, discussions, activities, worksheets, quizzes. This is bite-size learning, things like how to take great photos, how to take videos on your phone, best practices, setting up your bio on Instagram. And, your school benefits from teaching these skills to your students, because your students are now creating more content while they’re learning and practicing how to do this.
They’re having a great experience because you’re the one who taught them this, which is a very positive thing, it’s rewarding, it’s fun, it builds their confidence.
And you know that they’re going to need this when they graduate. We want them to be booking clients. We want them to feel like we set them up for success after graduation and tons of stylists are using social media to find and book new clients.
So, I mean, it’s setting students up for success after graduation and by teaching them to use social media as a marketing tool to get new clients, again, we’re just saying we care that you have this skill set. We know how important it is in this day and age. Plus, here’s the thing, students want to learn about this.
We did a survey last year with a thousand beauty school students around the country and
98.2% said that they believe it was very important that their school taught them about social media.
And I thought the topics that they were interested in were really interesting. So many of them want to know about websites, and I love this because we know that a lot of students want to start their own business after school, and they know that they can’t have a salon or a spa or a shop without a website. So, we made sure that in Beauty as a Business there is a course that teaches them about websites and some good fundamentals to help them understand what it really takes to make a website as a small business.
And then, again, when you’re giving them this social media curriculum and they’re practicing, and they’re creating this content, you have the opportunity to put this back into your marketing.
These are not stock photos. These are real photos. These are real stories. And that is going to resonate deeply with other students who are checking out your school.
You can jump out and say, “You don’t have to go hunt for this. I’m putting it in front of you because I know that this is the thing that you’re really looking for and what you really want to hear.”
So, thank you so much Oozle for inviting me to be a part of The Beauty Summit. I was definitely not going to let this go down without being a part of it. I’m so stoked that we got to be here and present. Go to beautyasabusiness.com and fill out our demo form. We want to show you this curriculum. We want to show you the thing that we’ve heard students raving about. Let’s get them these skills. Let’s get you guys some user-generated content.
If you want to start encouraging your students to create amazing content that builds your school’s brand while they’re learning valuable skills they need to be successful, schedule a free, no-obligation demo of Beauty as a Business. A member of our team will reach out and walk you through how Beauty as a Business fits perfectly into your current program’s curriculum.