She’d built a reputation for producing beautiful, hand crafted gifts. It was something she loved to do. Encouraged by the kind words of her Facebook friends, she created a Facebook page and what started as a small hobby, morphed into a viable business overnight.
Sure, she had to work late into the nights once she got her 7 month old daughter down for the night, or as much as the night as you get with a typical 7 month old, but it was worth it. From being a ‘stay at home mum’, she was now a ‘stay at home entrepreneur’.
Fast forward just over a year and she’s closed down her social business. Why? Facebook moved the goalposts. There was a time when most of the people that liked her Facebook page would see everything that she posted. Almost overnight, her organic (free) reach fell below 50%. She’d lost the ability to reach half her audience. OK, not quite. She could boost her post or take on some form of paid advertising on Facebook, but she didn’t want to. If I’d met her. I would have recommended a $5 (£3.33 ish) boost on all her sale posts, but I didn’t, as this tale was shared with me by her dad.
There was so much she could have done, but it was all too much and while she still creates crafty gifts for friends and family, the scale of her operation is considerably smaller than what it once was. There are two lessons to be learned from this short tale.
Lesson One – Don’t Give Up
Firstly, don’t give up. There were, after all, some really low cost ways she could have reached out to her audience within Facebook. Being creative with tagging people into your Facebook posts is a legitimate way of boosting your free Facebook reach, and a simple, small ‘boosted post’ could have made a dramatic difference to the audience she reached.
One of my own clients has a little over 100 likes on his relatively new Facebook page. But through a combination of post sharing and post tagging, he regularly gets 4 times that in organic reach. Which is quite good for free. He now regularly, for the majority of posts adds a $5 boost. The result – he can reach 10 times the number of ‘likers’ that his page has.
Let’s break that example down. It cost him £3.33 to reach an additional 1,161 people. Or put another way – it cost him £0.00286822 for each additional person he reached. To make it even simpler – it cost him less than 3 pence to reach 10 people. This is great but it only represents real value for money if some of that traffic takes, be that paid for or free, engages and connects with you, your Facebook page and of course your business. It’s not a quick hit, but over time, if you share good, valuable content, you can build strong, profitable relationships.
Lesson Two – Don’t Build on Leased Land
The second point, is probably the most important. As good as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram all the other social media platforms are, they shouldn’t be viewed as the final destination for your marketing efforts. Instead, you should be using these incredibly powerful platforms to drive people to a place where you have ultimate control – your own website. It’s a bit like building a luxury villa on leased land. You might have the fanciest, most impressive villa that anyone has ever seen, but guess what, if the landlord sells the land, your investment could be bulldozed.
If you overly rely on any one social platform, you will always be at risk. If they switch off a particular feature or decide to charge for an aspect that is currently free, you will find yourself potentially in the situation of losing revenue, through no fault of your own. You will have lost a key element of control. Now don’t for one minute think that this is an ‘anti – social media’ post, because it’s not. I believe in the power of social media, I just think that the power needs to be redirected in the right way.
The Hub and Spoke Model
As well as engaging with your followers, friends and ‘likers’ within the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, a key goal should be to direct them to a place you have ultimate control – your own website.
Your own website needs to be the central hub to your business. It has to become the place where those that have been treated to a tasty, social starter, end up going to enjoy a full, rich and satisfying main course. That means your job is to serve up compelling content. Content that is even better than what you share on social media. Your websites content has to be the home for your showpiece content.
If you have your own site. Great, but be honest – is the content as good as it could be? If it isn’t that needs to be your focus. There is little to be gained by driving people from a highly entertaining Facebook post to an uninspiring webpage on your own site. It sounds like hard work, but it really isn’t. Be yourself, write in a natural, personable way and let the stories that make your business shine through.
If you don’t have a site, then you absolutely need to get one. No excuses. Here are my quicks tips to getting a website up and running on a budget.
- Spend a bit of time thinking of the best possible domain name.
- Make sure you host your own site. This can cost between £50 and £200 a year.
- I recommend you use the WordPress content management system.
- Use a free template, or better still spend £25-£75 on a ‘Premium Template’. (the design of your site)
- Add the recommended plugins. (tools to help your site run.)
- Create the content. Mix up text, images and video to make the most dynamic experience for your visitors.
- Add Google Analytics to your site. (Free tool to show how many people are visiting your site.)
- Update the content at least once a week by adding a ‘blog post’.
- Add a newsletter sign-up form, to capture the email addresses of interested visitors.
I’m in the process of writing a guide to creating your own website, but in the meantime, if anyone wants any advice or support please let me know.
Use social media in the right way – to engage people, show your businesses personality and drive them to an even richer experience on your own website – the central hub for your business.
There is a great article written by Sonia Simone at Copyblogger that says it far better than I. It’s called Digital Sharecropping – The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Online Marketing and is worth a read.