Any business can benefit from social media
By Alyssa Lajoie and Shay Sweet
Sole Tan, a local tanning salon just minutes away from Lasell College campus, is a thriving and booming company. Being such a prime company for the young adult and teenage community, social media is a vital way for this organization to reach their key audience. For the two of us, being tanners ourselves, this company caught our interest because we are included as key customers to this business. After learning more about social media in our class and looking at the way that Sole Tan handled their social media, we thought this would be a company we could help improve. Before talking to the owner, Andrea Mancini, we did a little background research on what kind of social media they did have.
We found that Sole Tan did have a Facebook page as well as their own website. We also found that their website was lacking in energy, as well as updates. Looking further we saw that the specials that they offered hadn’t been updated since early 2011. After contacting Sole Tan we gathered more information about the company itself and how it began.
Sole Tan was established in 2005 and has been growing since then. Current owner, Andrea, bought the business in April of 2010. Since she’s taken over the company, she has made many changes which have resulted in an increase in customer traffic, as well as a monthly pick up. Andrea credits the expansion to the variety of their product lines and the new friendly staff, making customers eager to come back. Knowing that she is so close to Lasell and many other schools like Brandeis, Regis, BC, and Mount Ida, Andrea can see an increase in her business when school is in session. Different promotions that Sole Tan offers are also accredited to the increase in customers.
We then asked a little bit about the difficulties a company like a tanning salon comes into contact with. After stating that going tanning is a luxury, Andrea talked about the fact that being in the tanning business is very challenging with the economy the way it is. When Andrea took over the company, she stated that she immediately lowered the prices. She talked about how she would much rather see her business busy than slow because of prices being too high for people. Another difficulty that Andrea and the staff of Sole Tan came into contact with was the 10% tan tax on all services, which started in July of 2010 shortly after Andrea had taken over. This not only upset Sole Tan as a business but also upset its customers. Andrea, however, was very happy to say that it didn’t slow down their business all too much. The final difficulty that Andrea mentioned was that Sole Tan did not have their own parking lot, just street metered parking.
There were some benefits for the company, however. Sole Tan offers events such as “free tan day” or “$5 tan day.” Andrea said that both of these events are very successful for the company and bring in a lot of new customers, as well as returning clients. Two other offers that they have are for new customers to tan free on their first visit and if an existing customer refers a friend, they get a free upgrade to stronger equipment. Andrea stated that they get the word out about these types of events by passing out flyers and using their Facebook page. After mentioning Facebook, we took the time to jump on social media in general and ask Andrea more about how it works for the company.
After taking over the company, there was already a Facebook profile established for Sole Tan. Andrea then went in and made a business page for customers to like, but she has said that the personal page has gotten more feedback and has seen more grown than the business page. The Sole Tan Facebook profile is used to update customers on upcoming promotions and deals that the salon is offering. Andrea was very happy with having Facebook since she knows that her key customers are within the ages of 18 and 30. And by association, they use Facebook a lot. While she has paid for creative marketing, nothing has worked as well as in-person promoting, word-of-mouth, and posting on Facebook. Andrea’s goals are to get customers excited about events and upcoming specials. Bringing in as many new members as possible as well is always a goal for Sole Tan.
Andrea is the social media “expert” for Sole, although she says that it would definitely be helpful if they had someone other than herself or an actual expert to help with the social media of her company. She updates the Facebook herself and also uses the help of her current employees to promote on their two pages. Andrea admits she has had some problems with social media because she doesn’t know the ins-and-outs of each outlet, but she is very confident in the way social media works. She says that social media has been a great tool for her small business because it is free, but reaches a bigger market.
After having our interview with Andrea we got a better grasp of knowledge on what exactly Sole Tan is doing with the social media technologies and how they are contacting their key audience. There were some great things that Sole Tan is doing and then there were many others that we found they could do a lot better. One of the first things that we wanted to recommend to the company was to keep on track with their website. We found that it hadn’t been updated in over a year and that was something we definitely wanted to see change. Another thing that we wanted to change was the Facebook page, but only a little. The first thing that we saw was that the pictures on the Facebook did not pertain to the company at all. We would recommend that the company put pictures of the actual tanning salon itself, the products that they sell and even pictures of the employees to show the friendly staff.
The next thing that we would want to see happen is have Sole create a Twitter page. They could use the page the same way that they use their Facebook page; to promote offers and specials that the tanning salon is offering. We thought that this would be a great idea for them because of the target audience that they are aimed at. Not only could they use the Twitter to reach current consumers, those consumers could help open new doors for Sole by retweeting them and getting the word out about them with just an easy click.
Another form of social media that we would recommend for Sole is to create a Pinterest. With Pinterest becoming such a popular social media we feel that Sole could benefit from having a page on this website. We could picture the company having multiple themed boards with pictures of products they sell, spray tans, or sun-friendly destinations. We could also see the employees having their own boards to help contribute towards the overall Pinterest.
Lastly, we would recommend that Sole create a FourSquare account. FourSquare is a social media where people can check into the places that they go to. By creating this account, again this is a great way for customers to promote for the company, but it could also open doors for other offers that Sole could give. If a customer checks in a certain number of times, Sole could reward them with a free tan, etc.
We were very happy to work with Sole Tan and are looking forward to seeing them grow in the social media world.