Every day, there seems to be a new trend, app or website that gets touted as the “next big thing.” Honestly, it’s exhausting to spend a full day grooming only to come home and navigate multiple platforms, responding to messages and figuring out how to get your perfectly fluffed grooming pictures seen by the masses.
Do you have time to have a website and Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Nextdoor and YouTube and TikTok? Probably not! But that doesn’t mean that social media is a lost cause—even for those of us that are less tech savvy!
Culling the Herd
Before picking a platform, let’s address whether you should be on social media at all. If you are winding down your business, have stopped taking new clients for some time (with no plans for expansion) and haven’t already used social media actively up until this point, then it’s most likely not necessary to start. However, groomers looking to grow a following, businesses wanting to attract new clients and those that want to encourage a more robust relationship with current pet owners should absolutely look into creating a social media plan that fits their needs.
According to the Pew Research Center, a staggering 72% of Americans say they’ve used social media in 2021. So, most likely, your potential clients are lurking behind a screen of at least one of the bigger social media sites.
Luckily, juggling multiple social media platforms isn’t necessary for the average groomer to reach their goals. Demographics of who is using what should greatly influence which platforms make the most sense for you and your business. While this can be studied in great depth, I’ve broken down the most popular platforms and some key things to remember about each.
Statistically speaking, this is the most-used social media site by far, being used by 81% of U.S. adults, and it is the second-most-visited website in the world behind Google. While the potential reach is massive, the time commitment is too. It is much more time consuming to film, edit and create both short and longer videos as opposed to a picture and caption.
While slowing down in recent years, Facebook is still the biggest of the short-form social media platforms. However, your target demographic may change depending on where you set your focus. The under-30 crowd is moving away from Facebook, but it is still very heavily used by those aged 30-64. If your goal is for your posts, pictures and business to be seen by new, potential clients that don’t already follow you, then Facebook doesn’t fare as well on this aspect.
Recently, Facebook confirmed that only 15% of the content shown in a user’s feed falls into the “suggested” category, meaning not from friends, family or pages the person already follows. This doesn’t bode well for trying to attract new clients organically (aka without paying to boost posts or for running ads).
Very popular with the youngest adult demographic (18-29), Instagram has the potential to be an excellent platform for creating a grooming portfolio that shows off your best work. Unlike Facebook, hashtags can play a big factor, but eye-catching pictures are what seals the deal.
A downside to Instagram is being limited with URLs not being functional if you add them to captions or comments. Locations can sometimes be hit or miss unless you’re in an area where location hashtags are popular. If this platform interests you, then make sure to brush the hair off the table, set up some additional lighting and snap away on a good-quality camera (like your smartphone).
While remaining an active and popular site, the demographics are pretty interesting with over 60% of users being male. One-third are college educated and making over $75k annually, which many groomers may find an attractive demographic to target, as they may be more likely to have the disposable income to afford higher grooming prices. However, Twitter tends to primarily be a place to discuss current events, politics and breaking news, with photos being much less important. A definite negative for a visual industry like pet grooming.
If the demographics of Twitter are a good fit for your business, then LinkedIn may be a better platform if you are a strong writer. Posting blog-style posts and articles keeps your page active and connecting with other users, not just pet professionals, which is a good way to network.
This is one of the newest platforms, but is steadily growing. The demographics tend to skew to a lower age bracket, but users seem very interested in what happens “behind the scenes” in the pet grooming sphere. My own TikTok account has attracted several hundred new grooming inquiries in just a few months’ time, and has built a tremendous amount of trust with my existing clientele. While not every video or account goes “viral,” a small following of viewers-turned-customers is incredibly valuable.
What to Post
The beauty of social media is that almost everything is fair game when it comes to what can be posted. However, eye-catching photos and video clips that keep the viewer’s attention are what drive engagement. The “life expectancy” of a post on any social media platform is very short, and not all of your followers will see them pop up in their feeds.
This type of revolving-door content means it is not ideal for important announcements you want all your clients to see. However, it is perfect for showcasing your grooms, sharing tips and education your clients may be interested in, and even time-sensitive posts, like for filling last-minute appointment openings.
If you get stumped on what caption to write or photo to share, always keep conversations you have with your great clients in mind. What questions do they ask? What information have you shared that they found interesting? Keep a notepad near your phone or front desk to jot down ideas for content based on your interactions over the week.
I try to keep the overall tone of my TikTok content upbeat and non-judgmental. Besides upsetting the client who owns the cat I’m posting about (who all have given me permission beforehand), it can turn off a lot of viewers that don’t know you very well yet. On the flip side, controversial topics can lead to a lot more comments, shares and engagement; however, it may not be the kind of interaction you want on your business page.
Goals for Social Media
Before diving into one or more social media platforms, it is important to have a clear idea of what the accounts are for. Growing a large following may not necessarily translate to more appointments with clients that you actually want.
To have your posts be seen by existing clients, you’ll need to make sure that you are creating posts and material that encourage them to engage with your business account. Think of each social media platform like a credit score; followers, views, likes, comments and/or shares are the engagement that you want. A higher score means more people see your post because the algorithm wants to show users content they are interested in.
Unfortunately though, each social media platform has its own way of evaluating accounts and posts, and it changes regularly. The details of algorithms remain a closely guarded secret of the individual platforms. In some instances, boosting a post or paying for an ad can help your overall account be seen by individuals that don’t already follow you (which is what you’ll need if your goal is to attract new clients).
The newer platforms, including Instagram and TikTok, put a large emphasis on showing users content from accounts they don’t follow. For example, when logging into TikTok, the default view is the “For You” tab instead of the “Following” tab. Facebook has also recently announced in a 2022 shareholders call that they will be implementing a similar tactic in their feeds.
This shift towards showing new content is great for trying to attract new clients, but it will depend more heavily on making sure that the content you create is interesting and visually appealing to your targeted audience.
Don’t Get Discouraged!
It sounds like a lot of work, and in some ways it is. While social media is notoriously known as “free advertising,” there is time and effort that need to be put forth if you want it to pay off. However, there is absolutely room in the sea of posts and content for everyone. With a short life expectancy of posts, an ever-changing algorithm wanting new content to push to users and a variety of platforms to choose from, there is a space for every type of business and individual to take advantage of it.
To get started, use your smartphone to take photos and some short video clips throughout the day. I typically set aside a few days a month as “content gathering” days. This means I make an effort to snap pictures, video clips, film full grooms, etc. on those days. Don’t worry about taking the perfect picture or thinking of what caption you need to write. Just take a bunch! Then, at the end of the day, go through and pick out your favorites and set them aside in a separate folder. Over time, you’ll grow your library of raw materials that you can pull from when you have an idea for a post.
Many of the platforms let you schedule posts ahead of time. This allows you to schedule a few posts at a time instead of stressing about what to post every day while you’re in the middle of a busy workload.
Lastly, whichever platform you decide to use, make sure to spend time on that platform as a user first. This will help you see what others are posting, and you’ll learn how to best use the platform itself. Make sure to follow accounts that are not just other groomers. I constantly get inspiration from all different fields and interests.
Take advantage of fun enhancements like filters, stickers, music, etc., but don’t worry about going overboard. Try out different trends, links, types of photos, hashtags and captions. Share things you are proud of—beautiful grooms, happy clients and reviews, new information you’ve learned, resources for clients or success stories from your business.
With each post you make, you’ll learn more and more, which will only add to your credibility online and help you grow the following you want. ✂️