Brandon Rice, of Dallas, learned a valuable lesson about self-promotion on Instagram recently. The 27-year-old stylist at Style Tee Salon in Wilkes-Barre realized social media is more powerful than he thought when he scored a celebrity client — WWE wrestler and star of “Total Divas” on the E! network, Paige — after she started following his work on Instagram.
“I’ve always been one of those people that said it wasn’t important to use social media,” Rice said. “I kind of was pushed into putting my work on social media. Colleagues and friends were telling me that’s the best way to push your product. It’s free advertisement. It’s a great way to get your work out there and your art out there — whatever your canvas may be. It can instantly be seen by potentially millions of people.”
Rice said Paige offered to fly him anywhere she was in order for him to style her hair with “full extensions and an ombré” — a fade from one color to another color.
“To do that, I needed to be at Style Tee, so I asked her to come in. She said she had three days open at the end of July, so we set it up for her to come here,” Rice said. She agreed.
During Paige’s stay in Wilkes-Barre — July 29 and July 30 — Rice said he and his new celebrity client hung out at Franklin’s in Wilkes-Barre and Canteen 900 in Kingston. “I think it’s cool that someone of that scale has come to our hometown and not only come to one of our small businesses, but ate at our restaurants and gone to our bars.”
All this happened because Rice promoted his work on Instagram.
Rice is sharing five tips to be successful at branding what you’re selling on Instagram — exclusively to Weekender readers. So listen up.
1. HASHTAG! HASHTAG! HASHTAG!
Hashtags are paramount to the success of attracting followers to your brand, Rice said. “Hashtags are the perfect way to have your work seen by people other than your followers. It’s a good way for people to find you.”
2. DON’T OVER-FILTER YOUR PHOTOS
Make sure your picture looks good before posting it to Instagram.
“I don’t filter,” he said. “I’ll sharpen them a little bit.” But he’ll never over-filter his photos. He wants them to look realistic.
Lighting is very, very important, Rice said. “Natural lighting is key. Focus on good lighting for whatever you’re taking a picture of.”
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO POST
Rice admits he used to be hesitant when it came to posting his work on Instagram. “I was afraid of how my pictures would be accepted, or not accepted,” he said.
5. BE REGIMENTED
“You have to figure out when the best time to post for your audience is,” Rice said. “For me, I don’t post too early in the morning, but it all depends on your audience and when they’re checking their Instagram.”
Aside from a new celebrity client, the salon Rice works at reported an increase in interest since Paige’s visit.
“The phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Style Tee Salon co-owner Emil Feist. “And our Facebook page is getting messages from people who want to get their hair done that aren’t even from the area.”
Reach Justin Adam Brown at 570-991-6652 or on Twitter @wkdr