Point #60: Making Safe Piercing Viral – Part One

By Julie Taylor and April Berardi, with support from the Outreach Committee

Most piercers spend at least a portion of their day monitoring and updating their social media accounts. In issue #58 of The Point Bethra Szumski mused on the power of social media, mentioning the case of the explosively popular triple forward helix piercing from exposure on Pinterest. Next thing we know, the “iDermal” video is blowing up our Facebook pages!

There are hundreds of qualified, talented, and safe piercers using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other websites. We don’t have to sit back and wait to see what the next piercing trend will be to take social media by storm. Instead, we can work together to use social media to steer people toward safe piercing practices, specifically those that define us as APP members.

To find out how piercers can use social media effectively, we interviewed several social media savvy piercers: April Berardi from Born This Way Body Arts, AJ Goldman from 12 Ounce Studios, Derek Lowe from Saint Sabrina’s, Courtney Jane (CJ) from TRX, Christina Shull from High Priestess, and Crystal Sims from Evolution.

In this, our first article based on those interviews, we will look at what we can hope to accomplish by making safe piercing “viral.” Our goals are popularity, reach, share of voice, engagement, customer support, brand advocacy, brand trust, sales, product development, marketing insights, and brand loyalty.

Popularity

We want safe piercing to be popular! We want comments and “likes,” and we want our content to be reblogged, retweeted, and shared. When people interact with our pages in these ways, their friends can see it, and that increases our reach. Each interaction on Facebook is even more important in light of changes that may have decreased the portion of your network (that is, members of your social media circle) that sees your posts.

  • Without exception, the piercers we interviewed said photos were the most popular content they posted to their social media pages. Unique piercings and fancy jewelry generate a great deal of attention. Other popular posts are those asking people to talk about themselves and/or voice their opinions.
  • Suggestions: Post photos with captions that ask your audience to comment on which piercing or piece of jewelry is their favorite. Assemble a team of clients and friends that will work with you, expanding your reach by sharing your content with their own networks.

Share of Voice

We want safe piercing posts to be sought out by the greatest share of social media users.

  • Familiarity draws people into our networks. As CJ told us, “I intentionally post some things about my private life, because I know my clients like to feel like they ‘know’ me. It makes them more comfortable with me, and certainly more loyal.”
  • Being seen as a source of information is crucial to this loyalty. Each of our interviewees answers questions via social media, and recommend that this is done promptly and in detail. Christina and CJ mention they specifically tell their clients to contact them on Facebook. April also keeps her “network abreast of local, national, and international trends, events, current legislation changes, and news that pertain to the piercing and tattoo community, as well as other trends in health and fashion, which are both closely related to our business.” April also posts “tips on caring for body art and a variety of other related topics.” Derek and Crystal mention that their websites have long been sources of piercing-related education.
  • Suggestions: Put links to your social media sites everywhere and tell your clients to contact you this way. Organize your day to spend time answering clients’ questions via social media. Keep your network in the loop by posting news of interest. And don’t be afraid to share the real you! Although, as April points out, you should “use discretion while promoting transparency.”(See the article, “Internet Posting Etiquette” on page 6 and look for “Dos and Don’ts of Posting” in a future issue.)

Engagement

We don’t want to spam our network with ads for piercings. We want the average person to be able to have a real conversation with a safe piercer. We don’t just want to push; we also want to give.

  • CJ advises “connecting with people in a casual, friendly, but direct way online makes them feel like they ‘have a friend who is a piercer.’ Once your clients feel that way about you, they will spread the word, and send so many people your way for piercings, or for information in general.”
  • In addition to photos of piercings and jewelry, April says that “pictures of anything funny get feedback and build hype, and make people smile and like you.” A.J. has engaged hundreds of piercees in his “Ask A Professional Piercer” Facebook forum, and also with his photo collages showing a good piercing beside a bad piercing.
  • Derek warns, “you have to put out content regularly to keep people engaged and interested. Simply having the page isn’t enough. It’s also critical that you pay attention to the sites and answer the questions people post and address comments in a timely fashion. Even if it’s not your intent to engage your clients that way, they are going to expect it. If you don’t respond, you’re blowing them off, which is not good, obviously.”
  • Suggestions: Don’t be aloof! Talk to your network, and be a friend. Share the work of colleagues, such as A.J.’s photo collages, as well as contribute to “Ask a Professional Piercer” and other forums. Provide customer support by answering questions and checking up on healing.

Brand Advocates

We also want to mobilize others to be ambassadors of safe piercing on our behalf. 

  • Find people who are already engaged with your business and who will use social media to advocate for you. You probably already know who they are! These advocates influence the opinions and purchases of those in their networks more than your average audience member.
  • Suggestions: When you identify a potential brand advocate, interact with them. Comment, like, or retweet their posts. Thank these advocates when you see them in action on your behalf. They become, in a sense, employees-at-large, creating their own media campaigns for your business.

Brand Trust

We want people to see that safe piercers operate in a transparent manner. 

  • Being connected with other safe piercers builds trust. CJ uses Facebook to get to know her industry peers and says, “When my clients are looking for ideas for piercing projects, or want to see photos of what different styles of jewelry look like, I always go to Facebook. I start with my own photos, but I often show people photos from my friends’ portfolios. Remembering who has good pictures of very specific things has helped me many times, because I can look it up at the drop of a hat. I will often tell clients little anecdotes about the person whose portfolio we are looking at. My clients always really enjoy hearing about my industry friends, and they also like having insight into what is popular in different parts of the country.”
  • We’re used to seeing the worst of the worst online. Sharing our own safe procedures is a way to build trust.
  • Suggestions: To the uninitiated, the piercing studio may seem mysterious. When you unshroud that mystery, perhaps with videos of your studio or photos of jewelry options, you build trust. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other piercers and industry experts online. As a group, we’re stronger and are seen as more trustworthy.

Sales

Surprise; we all want to increase our sales! Social media is a great way to increase awareness of your products and services, which will result in increased sales. 

  • Building a great social media presence will go a long way. While some studios find posting discounts to be unhelpful, Derek finds unplanned, short-term specials are really well received. CJ has had good luck with “getting clients to get the piercings that I want to do. I have posted on Facebook plenty of times that I was ‘in the mood’ to do something specific, and had plenty of people show up at the shop to get that piercing. I think it’s just one of the many ways clients enjoy that ‘I have a friend who is a piercer’ dynamic.” A.J. has had similar experiences, “A couple of months ago, Anatometal came out with their industrial barbells with the threads in the middle, I posted one photo of the jewelry online and the next day I put in three of them! A lot of times people don’t know about the cool stuff that is out there, so you need to show them.”
  • A.J.’s experience also shows how social media can help with product development. You can use your network to figure out which jewelry will be popular in your studio as well as poll people to find out how you can improve your services.
  • Suggestions: From spur-of-the-moment promotions, outright suggestions, and fancy photos, opportunities abound for increasing sales via social media. Poll your network to determine the next jewelry line you will introduce in your studio. For example, if you use Facebook to post photos of a wood jewelry line beside a glass jewelry line, simply ask your followers for their opinions. You could also do something similar when determining which stone colors to bring in for a new line of navel curves.

Marketing Insights

We want to know our core demographic: what their needs are, but most importantly, what they are into, what they are doing, and what they care about.

  • April monitors her Google Analytics weekly. Anyone with a gmail account can sign up for the free (yet priceless) infographics data that lets you learn about the traffic to your website. Specifics include how long people stay, what pages they visit the most, how they found your site, and where they are from. “I watch trends [in visitors] and adjust my behavior to that. When my reach is up (i.e. I’ve posted a bunch of useless posts to get peoples’ attention/likes/comments) I then post announcements. For example, I’ll mention sales we’re having, events, guests, upload new jewelry pics, etc. and that gets far more response than simply posting the things that are most relevant…. Consistency and planning are more important than people think. If I want to post about a guest to get more bookings, I might spend the few days prior asking ‘what piercings are you getting before summer?’ It gets people thinking, produces more recent interactions with our page, and puts us higher on the news feed…then once the stats have peaked and interest is highest, I announce the guest.”
  • Suggestions: Use Google Analytics as well as your Facebook Insights to truly get to know your network. Watch your numbers and learn what is working and what isn’t. Use your statistics to time your important announcements.

Brand Loyalty

We want our network members to be loyal to safe piercers.

  • “Likes” are not loyalty. Our ability to engage with our network builds loyalty, as does using social media to provide customer support (see both above). Reward programs can also be built into your social media strategy.
  • Suggestion: Reward those in your networks with special updates, the first shot at appointments with guest artists, small discounts, or anything to make them feel special. Social media is a constantly changing beast none of us can tame, though hopefully we have outlined some strategies that you can use in your own studio to make safe piercing more viral. In the end, that will benefit our clients and the APP, as well as ourselves.

Stay tuned for the next article in this series, when we make specific suggestions for how to best utilize each of the popular social media sites.

Editor’s note: Due to the time sensitive nature of the information provided—and the constantly changing state of the internet itself—some the content and/or screencaps in these articles may become outdated very quickly. For up-to-date information on each of these sites, please view their individual FAQs, tutorial or training pages.

About the author

Kimberly Zapata holds an AA in Liberal Arts and Certificate in Creative Writing, and is currently an English major at Temple University. She has been a contributing editor for The Point since issue #49 and is the founder and editor-in-chief of Transient Publishing, an online literary magazine and writing community. She has authored several press releases, travel and tourism articles, and nonfiction works (most recently “Waterproof,” which was selected to be featured in APIARY Magazine online); was a freelance writer for Examiner.com for three years, and wrote a short film, Number 148, which was produced in 2010 and screened at the International House in Philadelphia in 2011. As a member of the piercing community, Kimberly still feels very much in her infancy. While she was the Operations Manager at Infinite Body Piercing, Inc. (from 2009–2012), she knows she still has a great deal to learn, and she looks forward to learning it alongside the rest of her piercing friends and family.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. Point #60 From the Editor: Elayne Angel | The Point
  2. Point #62: Making Safe Piercing Viral — Part Three | The Point

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