Sunday, 18 September 2011

Using Facebook to promote your business

We are starting a series of articles over on our site about running your own craft business one of which is below.  If you'd like to view the others please click here.

Promoting Your Business

Self Promotion


Nowadays self promotion is important for 2 reasons, firstly there is an increasing amount of competition out there so you have to keep reminding people you exist, and why you are different/better than your competitors. Secondly, it is so much easier to promote yourself since the advent of social networking, forums and e-mail.  You now have the option to promote your business for free, rather than paid advertising, all it costs is time.
Personally I’ve found a mix of paid advertising & social networking works well, but not every business can afford paid advertising so social network is ideal as it is available to everyone, free of charge.

I have to start by saying don’t try to do everything at once, many businesses set up accounts on several social networking sites, a blog, a Flickr account etc go overboard for the first few weeks and then realise they can’t keep it up and end up pretty much giving up on it all.

Start with one thing at a time and get yourself into a routine that you are comfortable with and can keep up with, consistancy is the aim.  For people who are new to social networking I would suggest aiming for 2-3 social networking updates a week or 1 blog post.   Once you have got the hang of that then you can try to increase it, or add another platform.  If for any reason you don’t get around to updating for a while, don’t give up on it you can easily start posting again and things will pick up again in time.

Facebook


For most people, especially if you already have a personal Facebook page, Facebook is a fairly easy place to start.  It’s very simple to set up a Facebook page, just visit an existing page (mine is here) and on the bottom left is an option that says ‘create page’.   If you don’t already have a personal Facebook account you will need to set one up first from the sign up option on the front page.  Don’t worry fans of your business page will not have access to your personal profile.

The harder thing is to decide what to put on your page and how to get (and keep) fans!  Firstly, content wise please remember than constantly posting links to your site/shop and nothing else will put people off (same applies to other social networking platforms).  You are best off viewing social networking as a way of engaging your customers, dealing with queries/complaints and getting feedback, any sales you get from it are a bonus.  People can tell when you are just using it to get sales and will stop following.

I try to use what I call the rule of three; I aim to make 1/3 of my updates on Facebook & Twitter about my website, 1/3 about things that are related to my area (sewing) but not on my site (ie. Free projects, interesting interviews, sales/offers & newspaper articles) and 1/3 about my customers.  You may choose to go 50/50 and make half about you and your business, and the other half about other things that would interest your fans.  The main thing is you need to find a balance between promoting your business and keeping your fans interested.  As to what would interest your fans, that is for you to work out through trial and error, see which posts get lots of likes and comments and which don’t.   Think about which products/services/lifestyles are complimentary to your product or services.  For instance if you sell felt why not share links to felt projects, reviews of felt craft books etc.

Another thing to consider is timing and frequency of posts.  Are you target audience likely to be home during the day or checking Facebook in the evening.  Do you want to post at a set time each day, or several times to reach different audiences different times of the day.  Frequency wise it is best not to stick lots of posts on at once, you need to give people time to read and digest each post.  I try to leave 2-4 hours between my posts, but even leaving 10-15 minutes mean people have time to read & respond to your first post (or click on the link you've posted and visit your site/another site) before seeing your next post.  If you post several updates at once it spams people's news feed and they will quite likely unlike your page.

Another great thing about Facebook & Twitter is that it’s an ideal chance to conduct market research; you have many people interested in your products/service there ready to interact so make the most of it!  If you are thinking of new product ideas, ask their opinion, if you want to know how to improve your service ask them!   There is a useful option just above the text box on your page to ask a question, this is essentially a chance to conduct a poll, a great way to get input from your fans.

Facebook is also a good for connecting with other similar businesses, it is very easy to share posts from their wall.  To do this on your page select the option on the right that says ‘use Facebook as [company name]’ and then go to the page that has something you want to share.  Under the post or image you will see a share option, select this and it will bring up an option for you to add your own description to what you are sharing and then press the share button at the bottom to post it onto your page.

WARNING

Please do not use Facebook to spam other people’s pages, whether it is a blatant ‘come visit my website’ type post, or a supposedly more subtle ‘I just wanted to say hello from.... with a link to your business page’.  It is annoying and quite frankly rude.  That person has taken the time and effort to build up their own fan base so what right do you have to try and hijack that?

Doing things like that will only put people off and is not going to make you friends or get you business.  Build a natural relationship with people (by commenting on their posts where you have something to contribute, dropping them an e-mail if you have an idea of a way you can work together etc) and if they think your page is something that will interest their fans they will post a link themselves.  That kind of post is a lot more likely to send fans your way than spamming.  Also I understand that Facebook is getting very strict on spam nowadays and if they see you putting the same type of post on several pages (such as the ‘come visit my page’ post) they will block your access for your account for a while.

One new company to Facebook recently (who sell fabrics – I expect many of you know who I mean), spent their first few weeks posting on every single sewing/handmade related page they could find telling everyone about their great new site & fabrics and several of their posts were on the walls of companies who sold fabrics themselves.  That is incredibly rude, trying to steal your competitors’ customers right in front of them, in fact through their own business page! 

Also another big Facebook no-no is the tagging games, where you tag lots of other pages and they pass it on by tagging more pages.  It has no business benefit as people just find it annoying, also it looks very unprofessional.  If you want to tag someone for a genuine reason you can do so by typing @ followed by their name.  It’s useful when recommending someone, telling people the source of a project or link you have just posted or when talking about someone.

I found this blog post a great round up of what to do and not to do on Facebook:
http://contemporaryhandmadealliance.blogspot.com/2011/07/facebook-etiquette.html

Nifty Knits have also just pointed me in the direction of a great post on the Build a Little Biz about using Facebook for business: http://www.buildalittlebiz.com/blog/category/facebook

4 comments:

Caroline Lovis (Redneedle) said...

Found this so useful thank you. Have set up a facebook page and then wasn't really sure what I was supposed to be doing with it.

mytapworld said...
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niaziakmal khan said...
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laila stephin said...
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