As the director of technical and business development for Zano Salons, Sara Aikens’ biggest challenge is communicating a consistent message to employees at the salon’s four locations surrounding Naperville, Illinois. With 150 employees to motivate, manage and support, Aikens knows the best way to communicate with each one is through the communication vehicle each individual interacts with best.
“I’ve learned to communicate four times in four different ways—so in addition to any group meeting or face-to-face conversation, I also use email, text message, private professional Facebook pages, and Snapchat,” says Aikens. “It pays off quicker for me to embrace different communication vehicles than it does if I were trying to get everyone to bend to one way of communication.”
Of these, Snapchat is probably the most novel for use in communicating to employees. But Aikens feels the photo messaging application which allows users to send photos, videos, messages and drawings which disappear after a few seconds, is most similar to an actual face-to-face conversation.
“If you put something on Facebook, it’s there forever,” she says. “But Snaps disappear, so it seems much more authentic.”
About 40 of the Zano employees prefer the Snapchat communications from Aikens, and she says this group also tends to be the less-seasoned stylists who benefit from more encouragement. Aikens, who believes she has a mentor-based personality, says using Snapchat makes her very relatable for these newer team members, even though she’s been with Zano’s for more than 15 years.
“This group also is the most comfortable with the selfie, and I’ve found sending a selfie with a quick message to be a very encouraging,” says Aikens. “In the salon, it’s fostered a conversation of ‘Did you get Sara’s Selfie today?’”
Aikens uses Snapchat to motivate, celebrate and encourage her team.
Because Snapchat limits the number of characters in a message, Aikens uses Snaps as quick messages of reinforcement, celebration or encouragement. Here’s some examples of how she’s used Snapchat:
- At a recent staff meeting, Aikens made it a requirement that all female employees wear lipstick at all times. “We are in a beauty business, and the typical Zano woman definitely wears lipstick,” she stresses. “It’s important to play the part.” So Aikens shot a selfie of herself putting on lipstick and sent if with the friendly message, “Get Your Lips On.” Her team quickly responded with a fun-filled video with all the stylists in the breakroom putting on their lipstick.
- The salon recently launched Olaplex and took a ‘groupie’—a selfie of a group of people as a Snapchat—of the team. Through social media, the salon reposted the picture hashtagging the company, and Olaplex responded with a message that reads, “Thanks for your support, your hair looks great!”
- In addition to using Snapchat to reinforce management messages, Aikens also uses it to send a special message of congratulations to a single individual when she hits her numbers or shares the news of a stylist’s promotion with the entire team.
- Since Aikens divides her time among all four locations, she’ll use Snapchat as a virtual morning huddle to the employees at the salon where she’ll be each day. “For example, I’ll send a Snap that reads, “I’m coming for you today, get ready to pre-schedule,” she says. “It’s an innovative way to get in their heads at the start of the day—once they start meeting with clients, often they’re too busy for you.”
Very timely article. I posted last week on Facebook about my skepticism toward Snapchat. Why would anyone want to waste their time creating content that is just going to disappear? I compared it to SNL commercial teasers. They’re funny and entertaining, but they don’t hang around in SNL’s formal archive. So why anyone would want to subscribe to channels of teasers is beyond me…or WAS beyond me. I kept an open mind and a conversation ensued. Most agreed with my skepticism, but a couple shared a few business cases where it made sense.
Now, with this article, I’m opening up more and more with regards to how it can be used effectively. I particularly liked the explanation that because the content DOES disappear, it “is most similar to an actual face-to-face conversation”. So if I stop looking at it like a TV channel and more like a conversation, then it starts to make more sense.