I never thought I would ever be writing a blog about getting the best out of Facebook. I’m the girl who at 36 has only just discovered excel spread sheets and still can’t fix the printer when it’s broken. I was from the generation that ‘nearly’ got taught how to work a computer, we had ICT lessons first using BBC computers and then we used the acorn ones. Though I was a teenager and it was far cooler to sit in with the girls with the old computers where no one bothered you, or taught you much. SO here I go, I’m diving right in…
You have a fab idea that’s going to take over the world. You can’t sleep because you’re so darn excited you just want to get making and get selling. Well most people have a Facebook business page (I say most as I am still meeting businesses doing just fine without them) that is dedicated to promoting and selling their wares. What’s the first thing you need to do after setting up the page?
Your business name is all important. It’s something your customers need to remember and relate to. I did hear on radio 4 that the best business names tell you what they do so they don’t have to spend £1000’s in marketing telling you what they do. Isobella’s Tutu’s is a fab example, so is ‘Kids’s Art’ and ‘I Love Hearts’; they all exactly do what it says on the tin. I chose ‘Little White Cottage’ as I had the picture of one in my head. I’m a very visual person and although this doesn’t tell you what I make for me it encompasses everything I do – Make, sell, teach and write. Once you’ve got your name test it out on friends, ask another page (if you know any) to ask their likers. Page owners like this as they are engaging their likers but also helping someone starting out. You get feedback and they get engagement.
The next thing you need to think about is your logo
This is the picture that your customers will see even before they click on your page. I asked my likers once how they choose which pages to click on and they virtually all said they choose if there is an eye-catching logo/picture of a product. Now you’re not going to get everyone’s attention as we all have different tastes but the picture is the first point of contact and gives your customers the feel of your page before they see it. Also don’t forget that people share on Facebook so they themselves may not want to visit but they may have a friend who does…
You’ve got your picture? Now make sure it still looks great when it’s small.
People forget this/don’t realise it that that fantastic picture that shows that amazing product may look fabulous when it’s full sized but when it’s reduced to a small icon the detailing you want them to see disappears. Test out several pictures, again ask opinion and take the feedback. They are the ones looking at your page, they are important. A very good example of this is one page I know whose icon looks like a toilet seat when small but when you click on it it’s clearly a gorgeous wooden hoop and the rest of the page is gorgeous too but how many people have been put off by the strange toilet seat looking thing? Also make sure you have re-sized your profile picture/logo so it actually fits the small icon –you’ll be amazed at how many people don’t!
Make sure your name is visible.
This is very like the point about the picture. If you’re using a logo make sure that it’s readable when small. Mixing font colours and backgrounds will help you decide. I have my logo (designed by my lovely sister-in-law) on a white background purposely because it looks clean, stands out and is instantly recognisable. It also looks great on my crisp white packaging meaning my brand is carried through the whole of my business.
How to get likers (or how to loose friends easily)
This is the bit that shows what type of business you are. There is a sort of Facebook etiquette where page owners expect certain things. Don’t dump and run –this is where you put your link on someone else’s page but you make no reference to their page, products or even say hello. This is considered very rude and very bad form. Page owners often delete these sorts of posts and you’ve left a negative impact rather than a positive one and you might not get a second chance. There are lots of linking pages where you can advertise your page/new products where it is okay to dump and run. You can join in silent tagging (be careful you don’t get blocked though as Facebook is very against what they call spamming) or go on ‘marches’ (a bit like the silent tagging but you visit the page, leave your link liking them and they like your page in return) but these might get you likers but do they get you customers? You want a business not to win a popularity contest so try to remain focussed on that at all times.
…so how do you get your link on other people’s pages?
Go through the page you like (yes I know it will happen to have a lot of likers) find some products you like (I now only link to pages/products I genuinely like so my likers know what my taste is and what is little white cottage) copy the link to this product and put it on your page telling people why you like it. This is reciprocal linking; you get your link on their page and their likers get to see you –but remember they only see the small icon so that’s why it’s important to have an eye-catching picture/logo. It’s a win win situation as your page has someone elses gorgeous things on too so there is something else for your likers to see. You can choose a business that compliments you but don’t overlap you so this does work well. Doing this you also build up relationships with other businesses which is good as you never know when you may need advice, help on a product or they may want input to. Building up a network of Facebook business ‘friends’ is fabulous just the same way businesses do in the real world. But make sure you are someone they want to know don’t take, take, take all the time.
Are the number of likers important?
Yes and no really. If you haven’t any likers it’s hard to sell but if you have too many through marching and tagging you may not have likers that actually engage with you or buy your products. Getting to 500 was difficult for me and it was quite a lonely process too but I would say 500 is the magic number. When you get to 500 you will find that more people post, more orders start coming in and it’s really 500-1500 where I saw my business really start to take off. Don’t panic about not having customers at first -Rome was not built in a day and neither will your Facebook business. A key success criterion is when you’re not just selling to people you know but also people you don’t…
What does ‘are talking about…’ mean (on the page under likers)
This is an indication of how ‘busy’ or engaged with their customers a page is. You’re supposed to divide the number of likers by the number of ‘talking about’ and you should have a figure. The lower the figure the better the engagement. This shows that people actually use the page on a daily basis so it shows there might be something worth sticking around for. Mine (taken 06/01/2012) is 5.4 and I got that by dividing 3081 by 570. You can use this formula to have a look at how successful other pages are and this is irrespective of how many likers they have.
How do I get people engaged in my page (I’m really not that interesting!)
I am one of those annoying people who don’t stop talking so this isn’t really an issue for me! But, having said that there are some simple things you can do to get your page buzzing. Give a little to get a little. I have tutorials that my likers can access for free and these are based on what people want. Occasionally I am asked for a specific ‘how do you..?’ (E.g. the blanket stitch tutorial) and this is how they come about. Yes I’m giving skills away for free but part of my mission is to get people sewing and I don’t think that necessarily stops people buying. Look at this analogy you can have piano lessons but this doesn’t instantly make you into a concert pianist so people will still come to buy don’t worry. Write a blog. I love writing and write once a week (published on a Sunday) about anything and everything that takes my fancy. People have different uses for blogs, to ponder about the world, to show how they make and to ‘sell sell sell!’ Personally I like my blog to be part of Little White Cottage but not connected with the products I design and make, I have a separate page to deal with that. You may want your linked and that’s absolutely fine just be careful about the ‘sell, sell, sell!’ Join in! There are always discussions going on on people’s pages so comment away and get your icon/name out there. There are pages that regularly discuss relevant topics be they business, politics or how to make. Leave a lovely comment under a picture of someone’s new product. Be friendly and fun and you’ll have fun along the way.
What else do you offer people? What incentive do they have to keep coming back to visit you?
I talked of ‘SELL,SELL SELL!’ and this is a really important issue. Yes you’re running a business and you need people to buy but if all you do is show products and ask people to buy them they will pretty soon get bored. Facebook is a social media website and this is a big clue –people want to chat, get more of you that perhaps you would give in a shop but your Facebook page is your shop front and you have to work harder to get people to click on that small icon as you don’t have an attractive frontage to catch your customer’s eye. I talk about my home, my family, and my hopes for my business and I ask lots of advice. I have had many posts especially around New Year where people were saying that they felt they’d really got to know me through my page and they liked that. I like it too I can now post something like ‘…the apple is still hanging on!’ and my likers know exactly what I’m talking about. Seeing what people make, hearing how they’re getting on with the new machines and giving advice really does make me happy and if I won the lottery I’d probably still do what I do.
Use your likers to shape your business
When I first started I hadn’t really shaped what products I would sell. I must admit to a rather scattergun approach to making in that I would make lots of things that weren’t really connected. Nothing really said ‘Little White Cottage’. I asked my likers what they thought about certain products, fabrics I used and I asked a few to actually test my products (for free) and then evaluate how they found them. They posted photos showing what they’d done with them and I believe this was the start of the community feeling that is LWC. BUT -If you ask opinions you must be prepared to listen. This is important as no one likes to be asked and then nothing ever seems to change. I made a large gingerbread girl with clothes to dress up and I thought this was great. I asked for opinions and was told gently, that it wasn’t great. I could have taken this personally (and I did for about 5 mins!) but they are my customers and they know what they want to buy. We worked together and the gingerbread girl was changed into a pirate boy/girl with stitched on clothes and completely different eyes and after the positive comments I sold 6 in the first day. This feedback has to be harnessed by a small (I’m a micro business!) business.
Above all be honest with your customers when you interact with them. Don’t try to be someone you’re not as you’ll be found out pretty soon as don’t forget you’ll have your friends and family, colleagues, old school friends all watching what you’re doing and they will jump on you if you tell a porkie or 2. I know this for a fact when I wished Hubbie a happy anniversary last year and 2 of my loveliest friends posted ‘that’s lovely but it was yesterday!’ After much debate amongst Hubbie and I (who said ‘H and V are so organised I’m know they’re right!) realised they were right. If you’re finding getting orders out a bit tough for whatever reason let your customer’s know. You’ll be surprised how supportive they are and how they want you to succeed (I have found this anyway) be honest when the machine breaks or you’ve made 100 of something and you just can’t face making another 1. They really are on your side; just make sure you don’t do it too often!
Be passionate about what you do and have fun!
You started your page because you wanted to create/change direction/show people what you can do/run a business so be passionate about it as passion is infectious. I LOVE what I do and I hope this comes across on my page. I believe in what I’m doing and where I’m taking LWC. I have long term goals and short term financial aspirations but I believe I will get there but I know I’m looking at 3-5 years.
…I think I’ve finally finished! 2,411 words, see I told you I could talk!