Engage Your Brides

Making your voice heard on social media is a no-brainer for businesses these days, but deciding what to say takes some thought. If you’re like most business owners, you’ve found that some social-media posts turn out to be more effective than others. One really racks up the likes, comments and retweets, while you can practically hear crickets chirping after posting another.
    Knowing which post will be a hit and which will be a miss is not an exact science, unfortunately. But it can be helpful to test out different types of posts, identify which ones result in the most engagement and repeat that recipe. As well, it can be beneficial to learn from what other bridal businesses with an active social-media following are doing.  
    To get you started, here are ten types of social-media posts proven to work well in bridal.

1. Showcase your product.
    The most obvious social-media post is one that showcases your products – and, luckily, it’s among the types of posts brides love most.
    Post pictures of new designs as they arrive in your salon. Some shops prefer to photograph gowns on mannequins staged in front of eye-catching backdrops, while others choose to photograph gowns modeled by their consultants. If done well, either approach will result in a more relatable image than a stock photo.
    Photos of staff members modeling gowns in the salon are some of the most successful social-media posts for Little White Dress Bridal Shop in Denver. Kelly Leggett, general manager and director of marketing, likes that the images show off the salon’s gowns, location and staff all in one picture. In addition to using a high-quality camera, Leggett suggests having good lighting and using the Instagram app to adjust exposure as needed – usually to brighten the photo and bring up shadows.

2. Celebrate your brides.
    Brides like seeing pictures of other brides, and they’ll be excited to see (and share) photos of themselves on your social-media pages. There are several opportunities to spotlight your brides on social media.
    If you don’t already have a cute “I said yes to the dress” sign of some sort, get one! (for ideas, see page 82). Then snap a picture of each bride with the sign after she purchases her dress and post it. The photo makes for a fun keepsake for the bride and a popular social-media post for you.
    Invite brides to send you a wedding photo that shows off their gown, and post it with a congratulatory message to the couple.
    Wish couples a happy anniversary one year after their wedding as a way to stay in touch and demonstrate your commitment to building long-term relationships with your customers.

3. Go behind the scenes.
    Moments that seem mundane to you can be surprisingly popular on social media. Give brides a glimpse into life at your salon by posting pictures of staff checking in new stock, preparing for a trunk show or setting up for a photo shoot. Or post a selfie of your bridal team at market or on your next staff outing. These types of behind-the-scenes photos give brides a look at who you are as a bridal team and make your business feel more personable.
    “Now more than ever, couples are evaluating their wedding day team based on personality,” says Meghan Ely, owner of wedding marketing and public relations firm OFD Consulting (www.ofdconsulting.com). “As a bridal shop, you’re in a great position to really showcase the fun ins and outs of your day-to-day, so leverage this by including followers in the conversation.”

4. Share wedding ideas.
    Brides turn to social media for wedding inspiration. So whether you’re posting an insightful article about things to consider when buying a wedding gown, passing along fun facts about the trendiest wedding colors, or sharing a local photographer’s blog post about your bride’s wedding, these posts provide value to your social-media following. And as a bonus, you can generate a lot of engagement from content you didn’t even have to create.
    Juhree Ross, store manager at Madeleine’s Daughter in Portsmouth, N.H., says blogs and articles about real weddings – especially themed weddings and the salon’s own brides’ weddings – collect the most likes and shares on the store’s Facebook page. An article she posted about a Harry Potter wedding “got tons of interaction.” She and her staff find this type of content through Facebook friends in the industry, the Hootsuite Suggestions app, and local photographers and magazines.

5. Invite a response.
    If you want engagement, try asking for it. Asking questions that allow people to easily share their opinions is great for engagement, says Stephanie Padovani, a wedding business coach with marketing firm Book More Brides (www.bookmorebrides).
    In fact, the more provocative, the better, Padovani says, offering the examples of “Tattoos at weddings – yes or no?” or “What do you think of Mason jars at weddings? Are they done?”
    In addition to sparking a dialogue, asking a question or creating an opinion poll can help make your audience feel heard while giving you valuable insight into their opinions and preferences. Consider asking about favorite styles and designers before your next market trip, or ask what product or service they’d like to see added to your salon.  

6. Be predictable.
    Having a regular schedule of social-media posts each week can build anticipation with your followers and make planning easier for you.
    Every Monday, Nicole Gould, co-owner of Uptown Bridal & Boutique in Chandler, Ariz., introduces one of the salon’s couples as Uptown’s Wedding Crush of the Week. Each day that week, she shares a wedding photo with details about the gown or other wedding elements.
    “It becomes predictable in a good way to our readers,” Gould says. “They’re waiting to see the next Wedding Crush post and waiting to see their own photos.”
    In addition, Gould has coined Fridays as “Five-Star Friday.” This is her weekly chance to share a customer review, which she pairs with one of the store’s original images. On Saturday, she wishes that weekend’s brides love with a cute quote or image and wraps up the weekend with Sneak Peek Sunday when she reposts all the wedding photos Uptown is tagged in that week.

7. Talk about trending topics.
    Staying relevant is key to engaging your social-media following. Keep up with current events and pop culture, and keep tabs on trending topics with a tool such as Google Trends. Then look for a thread between these hot topics and your business. For example, if the latest celebrity wedding is trending, discuss the bride’s style and spotlight similar gowns in your inventory.
    Of course, some trending topics are easier to connect to bridal than others. But be creative and when you find an opportunity, join in the conversation quickly to maximize exposure. Also, trending topic posts tend to get the most engagement when they’re relevant and add value (for a more serious topic) or add humor and fun (for a lighter topic).
    You can also plan ahead for topics that you know will create some buzz (think holidays or sporting events) and trending topics that are popular every week (time to dig out a picture from the early days of your business for Throwback Thursday!)

8. Incorporate video.
    As you’ve probably noticed, the use of video on social media is exploding in popularity. There are more than eight billion videos watched on Facebook daily, with other social-media platforms posting similar stats.
    If you’ve uploaded promotional videos to YouTube or your website, be sure to also share those on social media. Or consider creating short clips especially for social media. Videos can be a highly effective way to engage your audience.
    Kayla Heiser, co-owner and marketing director at Raffiné Bridal and Formal Wear in Woodbury, Minn., sees a positive response when posting videos of new gowns to Instagram and Facebook.
    “These posts show our product in action; brides can see gowns in real lighting and in real movement,” Heiser says.

9. Hold a contest.
    Used occasionally, contests can be a fun way to engage fans and followers. Their willingness to share your post in hopes of winning a prize makes contests a good way to both deepen relationships with your fans and build awareness with others.
    However, Padovani cautions that “contests only work well if you have an audience of thousands, if you have guaranteed promotion by someone who does, or if you’re buying the traffic.” Before you hold a contest, make sure you have enough people seeing it to make it worth your while.
    It also needs to be extremely simple to enter, she adds. The more difficult it is to enter your contest, the fewer entries you’ll get. The closer you can get to “just click to enter,” the better response you’ll see.

10. Inspire and entertain.
    Lastly, add a little fun and personality to your social-media pages by sharing something lighthearted such as:

•    Inspirational quotes: Quotes, verses and sayings about love or marriage make brides feel happy – and they often get shared, increasing the reach of your page.

•    Viral videos: Find a funny video to share with your followers so they can laugh with you. A viral video of a groom and his groomsmen performing a dance montage recently generated a lot of activity on The Dresser’s Facebook page.

•    Memes: These images of people or animals with funny or witty captions are very popular on social media right now. Search for one related to bridal or just one that gives you a chuckle.

    Of course, be sure to steer clear of anything controversial or in bad taste. Always play it safe and be sure your posts align with your brand and the reputation you want to maintain for your bridal salon.


Social-Media Update: What’s Trending?

To ensure you’re posting the best content possible, be sure to keep tabs on the steady stream of new features and options being rolled out on each social-media platform. Here are some of the latest changes and what they mean to you.

Instagram and Twitter Extend Video Length
    Instagram users can now post videos 60 seconds in length, up from an earlier cap of 15 seconds. Twitter is now allowing users to post video Tweets up to 140 seconds long.
    The ability to upload longer videos means you can showcase more products and share more information in a single video. However, just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Focus not on making the video as long as possible but rather as engaging as possible. Only present visually compelling video that keeps your viewers’ attention. You don’t want them to lose interest before the call to action is delivered.
    Also, keep in mind that some social-media sites auto-play videos without sound, and many videos are viewed with the sound left off. So make sure your visuals are just as captivating as your audio and that the message of your video comes across without sound. Consider using an interesting title frame and captions throughout to help tell the story.

New Facebook Algorithm Puts Friends First
    The newest Facebook algorithm makes posts from friends appear higher in one’s newsfeed. Facebook says it anticipates “this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages.”
    With organic reach on Facebook shrinking, it’s even more important to post content that your fans will choose to share with their friends. And if you’re not already investing in paid advertising on Facebook, this new algorithm may be reason to start. Lastly, be sure Facebook is only one part of a broader social-media marketing strategy.

Twitter Introduces Dashboard App
    Twitter has launched Twitter Dashboard, a free tool to help businesses better connect with users. You can use Twitter Dashboard to create a custom feed to find out what’s being said about your business, schedule Tweets and receive customized tips on what to Tweet.  

Facebook Enhances Advertising Options
    Facebook has announced several additions to its menu of advertising options including updates to its Canvas full-screen immersive ad product, improvements to its Slideshow ad product and the upcoming launch of the Facebook Creative Hub. The Creative Hub, coming “in the next few months,” is billed as an online platform for businesses to create, test, share and review ads on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.


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