By now, nearly all bridal salons are on social media; many manage multiple accounts.
    At VOWS, we do our best to keep up with the constantly changing social-media landscape, updating you on the latest features sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are rolling out so you can keep your profiles up-to-date and in top-notch shape.
    This is important because as we all know today’s customers are tech and social media-savvy, and they expect you to be too.
    As such, this issue delves into Instagram, and the article presented on page 64 breaks down seven ways to make the most of the photo-sharing site’s latest features. As owner of a personal Instagram page and shared manager of the VOWS Instagram, I learned many new techniques that will likely come in handy in the future.
    One of my faves: Use the new slideshow feature to give customers a step-by-step demonstration of something. Instagram now allows you to include up to ten photos in a single slideshow, and this is a perfect way to create a mini “how-to” presentation of sorts, using simply a camera and some cleverly worded text.
    Another cool idea: Use the Repost for Instagram app (available for free in the App Store) to share brides’ photos and videos on your page. Sure, you could do this without an app by first asking their permission and then requesting they e-mail you the pic, but that approach is so last season. Today, the Repost App allows you to share other users’ content with the simple click of a button while giving proper credit to the original source. It’s an awesome time saver, and allows you to avoid potentially serious copyright issues.
    Practically every week it seems like there is some new social-media feature being tested or rolled out by one or more of these sites. It can definitely be overwhelming for a small business to try and keep up with them all. In my opinion, however, these features are nothing but icing on the cake. The real heart of a successful social-media presence, beyond the fancy bells and whistles, is this: simple engagement.
    Engagement is a topic we discuss in a different context on pg. 80. This issue’s Consultant’s Corner talks about keeping employees engaged on the job, which got me thinking about the importance of keeping customers engaged on social media.
    By that, I mean simply communicating with them!
    For example. . .
    When a customer asks you a question, answer it!
    When someone shares a photo taken at your store, compliments an employee, or takes the time to write a review, acknowledge them!
    Occasionally, dedicate some time to commenting, out of the blue, on your brides’ or prom girls’ posts.
    You’d be amazed at how important these simple efforts make customers feel. Research shows that businesses that interact with their customers on social media build deeper connections and awareness for the brand. It helps give your salon personality, and it reinforces the idea to brides and prom girls that you care about them as more than just a sale.
    It’s a very simple concept and yet it’s amazing how often it gets overlooked in favor of trying out the latest social-media app, emoji or feature.
    Yes, those things are important, too, but honestly they mean very little if you do not engage your followers. So as you continue adding to your social-media repertoire – something we actively encourage – please don’t lose sight of the fundamentals.
    It all begins with a conversation. Your customers are out there, they want to be acknowledged, and they love it when you communicate with them. This is a crucial step to building genuine relationships, and it doesn’t matter what version of software you’re running: everyone can do it!  
    After all, to quote the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt:
    “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”