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What is the difference between Paid & Unpaid Social Media? My July 2023 Nail Pro Inc. Article

Aug 10, 2023

Ah, Social Media. Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. These often despised yet extremely addictive media platforms have changed how society functions. Social media is in almost every aspect of our lives, from personal to professional lives, small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. You cannot escape the powerful reach of social media.


 If you want a successful nail business, you should be on social media. It doesn't matter if your clientele is older (hello, Facebook) or younger (TikTok, please). The good thing is social media is PERFECT for beauty businesses, especially Nail Salons. 


If you aren't already familiar with or follow nail techs or salons on social media, I want you to go on whatever platform your clientele uses and take a look. You need to understand the landscape before you dive in head first.


As someone who spends HOURS watching nail videos on TikTok and Instagram, I am telling you they can be pretty addictive. Add some music and change the speed over the dull parts, and you have me for hours. 


Paid vs. Unpaid Social Media - What You Need To Know


In this article, we will cover two forms of social media you can use for growing your nail business - paid and unpaid. 


Here are the very basic definitions:


Unpaid Social Media: Things you can do to reach our ideal clients without paying a dime.


Paid Social Media - Various ways you can pay to promote your business on social media. For instance, boosting posts on Instagram and TikTok, Facebook Ads, and running ads are examples of paid social media. There are other forms of paid social media, such as influencers and paid promotions.


The Pros & Cons Of Each


Most nail businesses automatically focus on unpaid social media tactics because they are free. Some examples of unpaid social media techniques you can use to promote your business are:


  1. Posting Content Your Audience Finds Interesting
  2. Posting & Engaging With Followers Consistently 
  3. Using Multiple Platforms
  4. Being Strategic About What You Post & When You Post
  5. Using Hashtags
  6. Using Video & Images
  7. Speaking on Video & Showing Your Face In Videos & Images 


One of the benefits of non-paid social media is that it allows nail salons and techs to build a loyal fan base with individuals genuinely interested in their nail business.


The main plus side of unpaid social media is that it is FREE. All that is required is your time, and lots of it to maximize the benefits. There is a trade-off of how much is your time worth? This isn't to say you shouldn't use these techniques. The results take longer, and you have to remain consistent. If you want to save time, you can always pay someone like myself to tell you what to post and when to post. Or you can even hire someone to manage all your social media, leaving you free to do other things.


Paid Social Media


Paid social media come in many formats, from boosting posts to paying influencers. For most nail salons and techs, promoting posts and running ads are the most common forms of paid advertising. Boosting is a quick and easy way to get a good-performing post or a specific promotion in front of people who don't typically follow you. Using Meta Ads and TikTok ads increase your reach to people who wouldn't usually see your posts.


If you need experience or want more training in social media ads, there are courses that teach you how to create and run Meta Ads (Facebook & Instagram). Also, each platform has free training on using their systems. Just google "Facebook ad training" or "Tiktok ad training."


Determining Who Sees Your Paid Social Media


Boosting posts and using Meta Ads (Facebook & Instagram) require more knowledge of your audience and a general understanding of how to set up ads. 


A quick way to determine your target market is to create a list describing your ideal client. For example:


Their location

Their interests

Their age

Their income


When defining your audience for boosting a post or promoting an ad, you are asked similar questions, so knowing this information is essential. 


What location do you want to see your ad or post? What age? What are their interests? Hint: The location is the area you serve, the age is the age of your clients, and their interests are nails and beauty. 


Paid social media is just one part of your paid advertising strategy, as not all people are on social media, especially the older baby boomer generation. This is why when looking to pay for advertising, it is important to look at other avenues like print and online (website and search engine.)


The extra time upfront to define and create your ads is made up by reaching a larger audience quicker. 


What Do I Suggest You Do?


Both. A combination of both paid and unpaid social media is the best. As little as $5 a day can make a difference, especially if your audience is local. Keep current on non-paid (otherwise known as organic) techniques and paid social media skills and trends.


The most important thing I want you to remember is to be consistent. Post even if you don't think anyone is out there watching. Many people, especially the older generation, are Gawkers or Scrollers. They never engage or like any posts. They look or scroll by. 


Things To Remember:


Local Always:


One of the most important things to remember when posting on unpaid social media (and even in your promoted posts) is to use local hashtags, locations, and language. Your clientele is almost 100% local, so you will show up in local searches by using local hashtags (#AtlantaNails, #UpperWestSideHardGel). 


Also, post about local events, do videos at local landmarks, or anything to say, "Hey, I am near you, so come get your nails done." Use local themes in our posts, such as Georgia is known as the Peach State, so show some peach-colored nails with the hashtag #GeorgiaPeachNails.


The TikTok Question:


As of the writing of this article, the usage or access to TikTok by Americans is in question. I have yet to gain insight into how those situations will turn out, but until then, I suggest you include TikTok in your social media strategy. Do make sure to include other platforms because, remember, you don't own your followers. If TikTok is gone, so are your TikTok followers. 



Both Paid and non-paid social media strategies have pros and cons. Paid social media reaches a larger audience, while non-paid social media is more cost-effective, fosters a community, and builds a loyal following. 


Ultimately, choosing between paid and non-paid social media depends on your goals and budget.

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