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Hail Halo for Men Chicago (Social Networking Best in Class)

. wandereye

I'll start with a shameless plug: my friend Deanna is the best stylist in the city. You can see my review on Yelp. I wouldn't normally have taken the time to do this if she wasn't my friend in addition to the fact that Halo for Men openly promotes their rewards points system for doing so in ways that I can understand. If I "check in", if I post a review on Yelp, if I sign up to be a part of their Facebook page, if I twitter about my experience, I get points. When I rack up 450 points, I get a free haircut, a free hand wax (which I decline, yuck!) and a free scalp massage. For posting a review on Yelp, for example, I got 150 points. Sign up for their Facebook page and you get another 150 points. That's 300 right there! 450 points is worth around or more than $50 of personal beauty care and worth many referrals and awareness in channels for them (can you say "free advertising and PR" any louder? Can you say "return and repeat and adopted customer" any louder?). 

When you visit their salons in person or walk by them, adjacent to their logo and signage are the Facebook and Twitter logos, Yelp and other social streams through which to find, get information, and participate in your own "brand butlering". Before they jumped on the "bandwagon", they had a website that answered to the real needs of someone interested in getting a haircut via a "book online" feature that would offer opt-ins for notifications and calendar synchronization after a one-time registration (along with the option to do it as a "guest", complete with SMS and email notifications, as well as a way to have them actually call you to remind you beforehand). The receptionist is actively involved in "triggering" and "informing" their customers to participate in social networks and very clearly lets a customer know that participation produces award points towards free stuff or discounts. The incentives are endless - refer friends and get points, share your stuff with Halo for Men and get points... Not only can you go to their website to get information but you may see them syndicated in other places while doing other things in the periphery. 

I think I may be getting points for posting this blog. If I don't, I have a strange feeling I could simply mention it and get points. Or at least a mention and a link somewhere, which provides me with as much "social capital" as them because I look like a hip and stylish metrosexual who patronizes "hot" establishments in the name of great style. So if you go to Halo for Men (men only, sorry ladies - this is chock full of pool tables, beer, sports, and video games, comfortable leather recliners, very friendly and stylish hostesses, the ability to have your eyebrows and nose hairs trimmed...) please mention Mike sent you. For your mentioning of my name, I get points. For showing up for your first appointment, you'll get points. Virtually anything you "give" them gets you points, including giving them your birthday. Everyone gets points and everyone is happy in the end. 

The only place I don't see awareness of these social channels and incentives is on their website itself. There is a "press" section, and I like the way they show the sources as opposed to a dense table of article threads or links as an entry point, but there is no mention or linking to their Yelp reviews, Facebook or Twitter updates, FourSquare or Groupon or any of the other places they have strategically partnered with. It's hard to account for everything when the ecosystem is so diverse and extensive. However, missing the most simple of inclusions (like their own site) is something to learn from. 

Some people may say that it is somewhat unethical to "trigger" a review when clearly the motivation is payment (points) but, other than getting the haircut experience of the century from my old friend Deanna, what incentives would I have to take my time to write a review, friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter? They never told me the review had to be positive. In fact, I was told to be honest because they need honest feedback. In this case my rewards are points and the warm fuzzy that comes from promoting a good friend towards her success in a service industry. Hair care is a referral business offering an experience good or service and is perfect for this kind of "social networking" as more and more people use reviews and ratings and other websites when they are researching considerations for providers of a need. By leveraging this insight, Halo for Men responds to and facilitates active streams of "social activity". And I would venture to guess that asking the owner of the salons about the "success" of this effort would produce a response like "invaluable to the growth and retention of customers for our business." 

What I learned:

If you offer "points" let me know clearly what their value is towards tangible products or services.

Provide me a clear understanding of how many points each action I could take will net me.

On the Halo for Men side, have a system or platform that will "know" when a customer posts a review, friends Halo for Men on Facebook. They require me to send them a "reminder email" to let them know I posted a review on Yelp for example. From this email, they can assign points to my account.

Again, please book an appointment with Deanna K at the Wicker Park Chicago Halo for Men and tell her or the receptionist that Mike sent you. If you read this post, send them an email telling them this post made you want to check them out. I can't give you some of my points as a gift but can assure you the experience of getting your hair done by Deanna will be a worthwhile expenditure; not to mention a really fun time.


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