What the Pandemic Taught Us About Social Media for Beauty Schools

In mid-March, Google data shows us what most beauty schools felt acutely: no one was thinking about school.

This data is from Google. The chart shows the level of interest in the term “cosmetology school” from January 1,2020 to April 22, 2020. In early March, the chart peaks before tumbling and hopefully bottoming-out in April.

Screenshot of a Google Trends Graph from January to April.

From the time it became clear that schools were not going to be able to function as usual, social media became an important focus for schools, students, and potential students. Here are five things the outbreak showed us about the role social media plays for schools:

1. A Tool Is Only as Effective as the Person Wielding It

Social media can be a powerful tool. When states started closing down, nothing looked more useful than social media. It almost seemed custom designed for a time like this:

  • It is a place to disperse information real-time
  • It is a source people to turn to for updated information
  • It entertains via a mobile device
  • It connects us online

Some schools acted quickly to utilize this tool to continuously update potential and current students through every stage, from announcing deep cleaning and safety measures to full closures to the opportunity for distance learning. Other schools, never did.

Image that says keep calm and do good marketing.

One thing we know is true of consumer behavior today is that they will do very little heavy-lifting to find out information. If it wasn’t obvious the school was open online or still available to start the enrollment process, maybe even class, no one was going to make much effort to find out.

Factor in competitors who were using social media actively and the economics of market share. The pie got smaller, but some schools only saw 20% dips in lead count versus 70%. That’s because they were attracting leads that used to go to other schools.

2. We All Need Community

Once the majority of the country had to be home, we saw an immediate uptick in activity on social media. Google estimated a 60%+ uptick in streaming content from YouTube in parts of the world. By late March, Instagram was already saying they had seen a 30% increase in user activity.

When we can’t be with others, we still want to interact and engage. Social media provided the opportunity to do this and brands who built community into their culture thrived. On the Instagram account for @beautyasabiz, with no ad dollars whatsoever, reach increased by 204% in three weeks with almost 1,000 followers added in the same time.

Screenshot of Beauty as a Business Instagram analytics.

Another screenshot of BAAB IG stats.

Increase of follower growth for Beauty as a Business.

We did this by focusing on giving out highly-relevant and helpful information. We listened to what people were saying they were worried about. We heard they wanted ideas. We gave them some silver-linings to focus on, like having the time to work on things that never got time before: their personal branding as a stylist.

Beauty as a Business posts with the most reach

Schools had the same opportunity to be engaged, present, and rally their current community. We heard of schools:

  • Who had theme days for hair and makeup
  • Who shared what learning from home looked like for students
  • Who invited guest speakers via webinars
  • Who made this time as engaging as possible for current students then shared that into the world via social media

3. Stop, Start, Continue

March and April helped put into focus the things schools should stop, start, and continue doing on social media:

Stop: Putting off building a true, online community

Start: Moving faster, more nimbly and focusing on being present

Continue: Sharing the message of positivity and hope the industry brings

In times when people are craving as much information as possible, your social media becomes a second website for your school. Your social profiles are likely easier to update and get out in front of people as well. There is no doubt that schools who were investing in social media before the pandemic saw a return.

4. A Symbol of Hope

For many people this time of uncertainty brought self-reflection. Whether they were one of the millions laid off from their job or just thinking about life “before,” there were serious questions about what life would look like in the future.

Changing careers usually starts with skill-building and education. Schools rallied to show people in their areas that they were there to support with online and distance education, that people didn’t have to wait, they could take action to set themselves up for a different life. Schools used social media to share a message of hope:

“You can do this! And we can help!”

5. Social Media Is a Place To Build Real Business Skills

Knowing that schools would need online content for distance learning, Beauty As A Business partnered with ProsperU and MUD Makeup to offer 20 hours worth of free, online lessons during this time period.

Screenshot showing that Beauty as a Business was offering free courses.

Beauty As A Business (BAAB) is the first social media curriculum for schools to give to students. BAAB covers strategic marketing topics like personal branding and tactical social media topics like how to build a beautiful Instagram feed to attract new clients.

With videos, discussion points, activities and worksheets, the curriculum carves out a space within school for students to return to the place where they were inspired: the beauty community on social media.

Screenshot of what Beauty as a Business courses look like.

By April 20th, more than 2,000 students and beauty professionals had taken advantage of these lessons. The feedback was that using this time to work on your future business, not in your business, was inspiring, uplifting and productive. And it gave students the motivation to carry on through the uncertainty, with the belief they could be successful in the industry.

Example of a direct message to Beauty as a Business

Screenshot of an IG story from Beauty as a Business student

A screenshot of a story showing the BAAB certificateAnother screenshot of a DM from a happy BAAB student.

As we look forward to the future, and possibly a second wave of closures if we aren’t more prepared for the next flu season, take into account the role of social media at your school. Are you using the tool to its full potential? Are your students educated about social media marketing?

March and April proved to be a time of learning for something we’d never had to navigate before. Arm your school with these lessons to be better prepared for may lie ahead.

Get Your Demo

If you’re ready to start teaching your students how to harness the power of social media for their future career, get your demo of the Beauty As A Business social media curriculum.