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Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Facebook Business Page will Increase your Customer Base but First it Might Drive you Crazy!

It is time to add something else to your To Do List.  I know, I know...you are already on overload and one more thing will push you over the edge....but you still have to do it!  Facebook has revolutionized low cost marketing for the small business owner.  Although a Facebook Business page is one of the most important tools in the marketing arsenal, many Crafty Retailers are reluctant to jump on the bandwagon.  Ignoring Facebook is not going to make it go away.  Nope, ignoring it may just help your business go away!  Don't be hatin' on the messenger...it is what it is...so you might as well deal with it.

845 million users are spending an average of 55 minutes PER DAY on Facebook.  57% of Facebook users are female.  Most of YOUR customers are female.  Ergo, most of your customers are probably on Facebook.  Here are some other things to consider:

1.  Facebook provides a FREE opportunity to engage your customers on a personal level.  You are working with a very targeted audience that already likes you so give them a reason to remember that you are there.  You can  learn a great deal about your customers by paying attention to which posts grab their interest, what they are commenting on, etc.

2.  Every time that somebody "likes" your business page, a notification appears as a post on that person's personal page.  Each of her friends will read that she "likes" your business.  They will automatically tend to Know, Like, and Trust you even if they have never done business with you before.  They will be curious as to why their friend "likes" you and with humans being the funny creatures that humans are, they will want in on the action and check you out.  ....and so on and so on.  This is what is meant by "going viral" and it really works.

3.  Search Engines like activity.  They pay attention to the traffic that you are getting on your links and posts. Accordingly, your search engine rankings will improve as you become more adept at social media marketing.

Even though you know you should get on the bandwagon, I can hear many of you groaning.  Resistance is futile, earthling.  Here are some common objections and the logic that destroys them:


 "I already have a personal Facebook page, so I don't need a business Facebook page."
Sometimes, silence is the best option!
WRONG!  You definitely need to separate your personal life from your business life.  My personal page is for people who really have an interest in what is going on in my life, and my business page is for people who have an interest in Swarovski Crystal, Fibers, and booking me for Fun and Exciting Felting Workshops.  Of course, any Crafty Retailer worth her salt will engage her clientele so effectively that they will become "friends" in life and on Facebook.  Since there is opportunity for crossover,  I have become fairly careful not to post anything on my personal page that could come back to bite me in the ass  unduly offend anyone.  The times being what they are, and my politics being what they are, this has been a bit of a challenge for me.  Frankly,  it has taken great self control to keep my itchy fingers away from the keyboard when faced with some particularly offensive something or other, but it is important to exercise restraint. Do not assume that people share your views.    I have fallen off the Publicly Politically Neutral Wagon before, and have lost a customer or two along the way.  Sometimes the words must be spoken, but the speech comes with a consequence.  

On another note, I  try not to upload the same post on both pages as the news will be repetitive ---and therefore BORING--- to anyone who is a fan of my business page AND a friend on my personal page. I want people to be willing to engage in both pages so I try to be the perfect hostess on each.

"My life is boring!  No one needs to hear about what I ate for lunch!"

Every life is interesting, it just depends upon where you look. The food you ate for lunch would not be the place to look for an inspiring business post, unless you happen to be dining with the Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Food.  A photo of you eating a worm would make for a good post, while a photo of you eating a baloney sandwich....not so much.  Of course, if you want to post a picture of a beautiful meal that you were just served at a new  restaurant in your area, rave on.  It is always nice to give another small business a boost.

The posts that get the most feedback for me are those that feature pictures of my work,free  tutorials, or my pets.  One of my most "commented on" posts was nothing more than a photo of my hand next to a HUGE lemon from my yard.  It was so bizarre that it evoked interest.


This silly picture of my dog, Beamer, was on my personal page, but garnered responses from just as many of my business acquaintance buddies who have "friended" me as from my  "real life" friends.  Pets are always a safe bet for a post, provided the photos are funny or heavy on the "Awwwww" factor.

This photo of a ginormous Ponderosa Lemon from a tree in my yard was a very popular post on my business Facebook page.  It was just odd/unusual enough to garner attention. (The lemon weighed over 2 pounds!  Yowza!)    

 Life is bizarre.  Life is glorious.  Life is poignant.  Draw on those moments and your posts will be interesting!


"I don't have the time!"   
You are preaching to the choir on this one, sister!  Time is ALWAYS the challenge, but the payoff  is big enough that you should absolutely, positively, no matter what...MAKE the time.   It is like everything else, you must make it a priority for it to happen.  Don't assume that you will "get to it."  There is always a squeaky wheel that will steal your time.  It is kind of like cleaning the baseboards.  I swear that I am gonna do it....but I don't.  Fortunately, I can still function at a high level with dirty baseboards.  Your business WILL NOT function at a high level without social media.  Set aside an hour twice a week that will be devoted to Facebook.

"I cannot  build my fan base so I am not seeing any results."
This was a tough one for me until I finally cracked the code.  Mind you, it was not a difficult code to crack once I tried to figure it out.  Facebook is like anything else....there is a learning curve.  What seems impossible at first will soon be second nature.  Here are some relatively painless ways to increase your "Likes":

1.  Invite your friends.  There is an Admin Section at the top of the page.  Click it and you will see your administrative dashboard.  There is a Tab at the top right of the page called "Build Audience."  The drop down bar offers a number of ways to increase your fan base.  

I periodically "invite friends" which results in sending a message to those friends who have not yet "Liked" my business page.  There is an option to Share your Page and an option to Invite Email Contacts, which I have not yet explored.    The new baby goats have been taking up a whole lot of my spare moments.    I will need to schedule some learning curve time in between bottle feedings!

2.  Create an Ad.  Facebook Ads are WONDERFUL!  My business page is part of a new branding program as I promote my workshops and pursue teaching opportunities.  The page was created in July 2011 and by mid January 2012, had only 123 fans, most of whom were Pity Likes from those who love me....very frustrating!  Accordingly,   I was delighted to have a chance to pick the brain of Paula Rosenberg, a Crafty Retail Rock Star and Marketing Genius while in Columbus, Georgia for a family visit.  Paula told me that it was all about Facebook Ads and she was absolutely correct.  I spent a pittance and immediately saw results.  In two short months I went from 123 to 749 fans....not as many as I hope to get, but better than a poke in the eye!  In addition to the increased fan base, I am filling more workshops, which is gratifying.  The cool thing about the ads is that you are able to drill down to define your ideal customer so that you have a highly targeted ad campaign.  
 
Business Facebook pages are effective and easy, once you master the mechanics.  Here are a few other things to consider:

1.  The new Facebook Timeline will become mandatory at the end of the month.   Thank you to Crafty Retail Rock Star Carol Garfield for giving me the push I needed to get on the Timeline bandwagon.  I was just understanding the whole Facebook thing and was none to pleased to see that I would have to learn the new system.  Fortunately, I read a post Carol  had written about attending a Timeline Webinar so that she could learn the ins and outs.  BINGO!  I did a quick Google search and found lots of online tutorials to cut my learning curve in half.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel...you can watch it yourself HERE.  

2.  Beware of which pages YOU choose to "Like."   One of the ways that Facebook Ads are effective is that when an ad appears on a page, it will list the names of YOUR friends who have "Liked" the page in an effort to get you on the Liking Bandwagon.  This is all well and good if the page is relatively innocuous.  However, you might want to think twice about Liking a Vendor's Facebook page unless you want that Vendor's name to be visible on the Facebook pages of your customers.   Moreover, there are some Likes that just don't need to be all that public....after all, Preparation H has a Facebook page but that doesn't mean you have to Like it! 

3.Go through your Customer List and search for them on Facebook.  If you don't know them well enough to outright "Friend" them, you can send them a message asking them to Like you site.  Offer an incentive such as a free gift or a coupon for a percentage off the next sale.  Ideally, you will establish enough of a connection to "Friend"them at some point, providing a wonderful opportunity to engage them on a more personal level.  You can congratulate a customer on the birth of a new grandchild that you might never have heard about otherwise, simply because you saw pictures of the baby on her Facebook page.  It is a quick and painless way to learn about your customer base.

4.  Use your Facebook page to announce last minute sales and special events.  One post I saw recently touted a "Rainy Day Discount" in an effort to get customers to brave the bad weather.  You want your posts to have value so that your audience will come back for more.  If you find a great free tutorial on another site, post the link.  If you cooked a delicious meal last night, share the recipe.  Write the stuff that you would like to read.

5.  Join some of  the Facebook Crafting Groups that have sprung up.  These groups are a valuable resource for you!  You will learn what the craft world is excited about and what your customers will likely want to find on the sales floor.  A great wool group can be found here, a fiber group here and a nice group of beaders can be found over here.  Craft magazine pages are another goldmine of inspiration...one of my favorites is the Bead Design Studio page.

6.  Facebook provides the ability for you to assign your friends to different lists, which makes Facebook Life much more manageable.  I press the link for my Beady Friends and I catch up on all that sparkles.  I press the link for my Tampa Friends and I get the local news.  Easy Peasy.

7.  Spread the love.  Spend some time commenting on the posts of others.  Visit relevant pages and engage in dialogue where possible.  You will increase the Facebook presence --and SEO ranking---of that user's page.  She will likely return the favor by posting on your page.  Moreover, when you post something interesting on another page, you will attract attention from that user's group of friends.  They will click onto your page, become captivated by your wit, and decide to be a Fan....BINGO!  Yup, Facebook Business Pages are a boon to the small business owner.   The juice is definitely worth the squeeze. Now go and Like my page....and I will be sure to Like yours, too!