aaron grote

Aaron Grote’s career at Great Clips started with a South African charity.

People are going to talk to us where they’re most comfortable, and we’re going to be there.

He was volunteering for the Phakamani Foundation — a charity that provides business training and mentorship for impoverished women — when he met Rhoda Olsen, Great Clips CEO. At that time, he was working in social media and web development as a consultant.

Now, as Great Clips’ Digital Strategist, his experience in small businesses marketing has become useful for his role with the brand. “I learned that there’s no easy button,” says Aaron who joined SocialMedia.org in 2016. “You have to be gritty and resourceful, work harder, and be more thoughtful. If it sounds easy, it’s probably not worth your time.”

Aaron joined the company during a pivotal shift in how people use social media.

He explains that before 2014, social media wasn’t as prevalent and readily accessible anywhere and everywhere. Now, everyone is connected, all the time, everywhere.

“Now, people are on their phones while they’re in the waiting area of the salon. That line between what’s happening in the real world and what’s happening on social media had disappeared when I started at Great Clips.”

Customer service is a large part of Aaron’s job.

Broadcasting everything to everybody is not a culturally sustainable level of publicity for everyday people.

As the Digital Strategist, he completely owns incoming customer feedback from the call center, to Facebook, Twitter, and Google reviews. He says his team has a functional, 100-percent response rate.

“People are going to talk to us where they’re most comfortable, and we’re going to be there,” he says.

Aaron’s team manages customer service across different platforms, with a few people specializing in social media responses. He says they’ve been eager to adapt and take on new responsibilities. And as a part of the company’s Crisis Team, Aaron helps with a coordinated PR response when particularly sensitive topics come across his desk.

Aaron led the launch of their first large-scale influencer program.

Through an agency partner, they reached out to YouTube influencers to create a series of videos for “Hair Hacks” sponsored by Great Clips. Aaron says, “It was a high-anxiety time for us because we were spending more money than we ever had before, and at the same time, giving up a lot of control to the influencer. But we knew this was only going to work if we let the influencer make their content in the style they were good at and that their audience was expecting.”

For example, Aaron was surprised when their agency pitched lifestyle blogger Richie Le, an influencer most known for his love of sneakers and pho. Turns out, in almost every video posted by Richie, fans asked about his hair routine.

“The video we sponsored became his second-most viewed video in his extensive library. He must have seen a lot of organic success too, because since then, Richie has made three more videos about his hair.”

Next year, Aaron’s team is using social to get the most out of their TV buys.

With a bigger focus on sports-based marketing, they’re targeting younger audiences who may not watch the game on cable. Aaron has prioritized Snapchat as a platform where they’ll reach those younger sports fans. After seeing ESPN double-down on their coverage in Snapchat Discover, he sees Snap Ads as a safe bet for finding their target audience.

“What I see with the rise of messaging apps is a return to the baseline of social media. Broadcasting everything to everybody is not a culturally sustainable level of publicity for everyday people. That move from Facebook back to messaging is reflective of people sensing that.”

Aaron has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2016. Follow him on Twitter here.


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