Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grow Your Business With Social Media: Marketing with Facebook

I first connected with our next blogger, Melissa Lopez, via Twitter, but we've really developed a friendship through our Facebook fan pages. I look forward to her almost daily morning greetings (and when she'll be gone for awhile, she always lets her fans know!); chatting about our work or family and pictures of her latest one-of-a-kind, gorgeous creations. She graciously agreed to share what she's learned about marketing her Etsy shop, WhimsyPics, on Facebook:

Most of us are familiar with Facebook. It has been steadily gaining momentum since its inception in 2004, and in 2010 surpassed Google as the most visited website. Given those statistics, it’s no wonder Facebook has become an essential tool for any business.If you’ve ever visited the Etsy forums, you know they can be a fountain of very useful information. It was there that I first read about Facebook fan pages and decided to give it a try. It was FREE, what could it hurt to try, right? So I set up my page sometime in mid-2008. And there it sat. For a long time. Unloved, Untended and Completely Stagnant. The only fans (they weren’t ‘likers’ back then) were my family and a handful of friends. So, I joined in on every ‘link love’ Etsy thread I could find and gained a few more followers that way. Essentially, you ‘like’ someone’s page and they’ll ‘like’ you back. And it works! Once I built up a few fans (300 or so), I scaled back on the ‘link love’. I currently have 670ish followers on my fan page and here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

Keep your business page separate from your personal page. I know a lot of people use their personal page for their business – I just don’t think that’s a good idea. Yes, your business page is reflective of you and your personality but there should be a more professional tone to it. Your customer’s don’t really need to know that you were up all night cleaning your kid’s puke off the bathroom floor. Or that you’re fighting with your spouse. Or how much you hate xyz. How uncomfortable is it when you walk into a store and the sales person is making completely inappropriate conversation? Exactly. So, leave the drama for your friends and family who love you and will put up with it and understand the tone in which it was intended, and keep your business page professional.

Promote your business page. Every time you send out an email or post in a forum (with a signature), or even in your profile pages on Etsy and on Facebook, you have a unique opportunity to tell someone about your business page. A simple signature with a link to your page will put your business in front of someone - a potential new fan. Every time that email gets forwarded or your comment is read or your profile is visited, someone is seeing your business page link. And when they become a fan all of their friends see it. And they become fans. Because you rock. Super easy and FREE. You can also link your fan page to your twitter account. I’m not a big twitter user. I only have so much time to spend on social media. But if you link your accounts, your updates will automatically post to your twitter account. Don’t forget to post links to your Flickr, blog and Etsy shop, too!

Read and learn. I’m not computer savvy. And, while I love to read, I’m more of a hands-on learner. There’s a lot of info to be garnered from the help pages on Facebook and the Etsy forums on how to use your business page to its full potential. Take a look at other business pages and see how they run theirs. I’ve modeled my updates and discussions after pages I enjoy reading – always making them my own. I’ve found the best way to learn something is to try it. Don’t be afraid to play around with your settings and statuses to find out what works best for YOU and your business.

Limit your time on Facebook. Don’t laugh. It can be done (though I’m still working on it). Facebook can be a timesuck. I know. And it’s so easy to start browsing and reading and playing games and catching up with friends when, really, we should be creating, listing and promoting. Set a schedule for yourself and TRY to stick to it. We’re moms with kids & homes & spouses/SOs to take care of; I get it. Mornings in my house are a little chaotic until my big boy gets dropped off at school. Then I come home, settle the little one down with her toys or on her easel and sit at the computer. I try to spend a total of 30 minutes catching up, commenting on other pages and updating my page status. Usually it’s a quick good morning, sometimes a question to get a discussion started and sometimes it’s just letting my ‘likers’ know what I’m working on. If I happen to complete a project or get something listed, I may post again throughout the day. I try not to inundate my page with new listings or strictly promotional updates; just enough so that my page pops up every now and then and they don’t forget about me.

Rules of Etiquette/Dos & Don’ts. There are no hard & fast rules for your fan page; it’s mostly a matter of opinion and a little common sense. Don’t flood your fans with pages of ‘just listed’s. Don’t neglect your page. Don’t be controversial (unless that’s the essence of your business). Your goal is to appeal to the most people. Don’t be rude. Don’t spam other people’s pages. If you have a relevant comment or link to share, by all means do so. But don’t just comment with a link to your shop/page on some random/unrelated discussion. Do update daily. Being consistent will help build your following. Do encourage discussions/chats. Do ask questions about safe subjects (weather, projects, ideas, etc.). Do post things you’re working on. Do post things you love. Do post things you think your fans might like. Do listen. Your customers might be saying something you need to hear – an idea for a product, or something they really didn’t like. I’m a fan of over 1000 pages, though most of them are not active. The Pine Cone Tea Cup, Glue Dots, Paper Crafts Magazine are a few of my ‘inspirations’ as far as discussions go. I love how friendly they are, how they always ask questions to engage and interact with their fans. Facebook has brought me business I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise from people who are unfamiliar (or uncomfortable) with Etsy. It’s connected me with customers, potential customers and fans in a way that no other outlet can and for that I am grateful. I find myself always looking for businesses I’ve visited or heard of on Facebook and I’m always disappointed when there isn’t a fan page. Don’t be that business. With a little planning and very little effort, Facebook can help your business grow and introduce you to a whole world of new potential customers. If you have any specific questions or would like to discuss anything further, you can find me on my fan page (See how I did that? Linked my page and you saw it!) Or just write me

Ready to start your own fanpage? You might find the tutorial in our first team newsletter helpful:

Melissa is a SAHM to her son Ethan and daughter Ava. She's married to a wonderfully supportive man who encourages her daily to do what she loves. She started scrapbooking in 2004 when my son was born prematurely. During his 2-months hospital stay, she started making little books to send friends and family announcing his arrival. She had no idea she was scrapbooking!

Fast forward 6 years and this hobby-turned-passion has evolved from scrapbooking to include altered art and other forms of paper crafting. She absolutely LOVEs what she does and she hopes it shows.
Join us next week for the "Ins and Outs of Twitter" with Plats from Platipuses.