Having finally braved the world of blogs I was wracking my fluff-filled brain to think of something useful for a first post (harder than you might think!), until I had a sudden wave of inspiration the other day! One of my very lovely exhibitors at our Ladies’ Shopping fairs, Karen from Angel Heights, had linked her friend to my wall with the comment “…this is THE lady in marketing” Firstly, how very kind, and secondly, probably quite a bit of an overstatement – I’m no expert that’s for sure! But a massive part of my job with running fairs and events does involve me making sure that they are well-attended and that lots of people know about them, and I suppose I do usually do that quite well
The comment came on the back of a phonecall I’d had from another lady who was starting up a small business making wedding jewellery. She was inquiring about exhibiting at our upcoming Wedding Showcase, but we had somehow got sidetracked on the subject of setting up a first website, and this got me to thinking…
Our Glitzy Girls’ Night Out ladies’ shopping fairs attract mostly local independent retailers and service providers so I have the pleasure of encountering lots and lots of ladies’ and Mums (and Nans!) who are just getting their fabby new business ideas off the ground!
It kind of goes without saying these days that one of the first and most important steps in starting up your small business is getting a facebook page going, so that people can get to hear about your awesome products or services with pictures, regular updates and of course your contact details. For most, a business facebook page substitutes a website for the first few weeks and months of the life of your baby biz!
But with such a wealth of information around about the importance of social marketing and media, looking into the first steps of getting your business online can become a confusing furore of phrases and terms that, for those of us with a little experience have become part of our vocabulary, but for many are just simply a jumble of jargon!
It was when I asked the lady to send me a ‘PM’ and she replied “What’s that?” that I realised not everyone is fluent in ‘facebook’, and that if I wanted to help my customers, I would need to get back to basics!
So, if you already have a lovely sparkly facebook page for your business with lots of people interacting with your posts, then I will post some more useful tips later on. But if you know you SHOULD have a facebook page haven’t the first clue where to start; or the one you’ve set up is floating around in the midst of all the pretty pages: grey; picturless and sad – and STILL stuck on 13 likes – then this article is definitely for you…
1. Setting up your page
Setting up your facebook page is relatively simple once you know how. The first thing you will need is a facebook account. If you don’t already have one, you can set one up with your email address here. Remember, this should be your personal account in your own real name, not your busines name (that bit comes later!). Facebook has strict rules about setting up duplicate accounts or accounts that don’t appear to be a real person. Once you’ve set up your account, search for your friends and family and have a play about with posting statuses and upload a (superstar!) picture of yourself so everyone knows who you are! Once your account is up and running, it’s time to create your business page! Exciting!!!
Nicole Steele Received the 2012 Business Superstar Award…Aim High!
2. The Important Bits
Once you have gone through the simple set up wizard, you’ll want to add a couple of important bits. During the set-up you will have an option to allocate your page a URL, this is your unique page address that people will use to find your page. TIP: Try and make it short and sweet, easy to remember and without any fussy underscores or dashes. Ours looks like this: www.facebook.com/PinkFirePromotions or www.facebook.com/GlitzyGirlsNightOut (go ahead and click them – they work!!!)
Make sure that all your contact details are added to the relevant sections (remember that your page will be public and, eventually, seen by bazillions, so you might want to consider opting for a seperate business mobile and, if you work from home, leaving out your address!).
You’ll need a picture for your your page – don’t worry if you don’t have a snazzy biz logo just yet – you can use a picture of yourself; your store; or your favourite product that you make or sell!. And you’ll also need a cover picture. Many businesses use professional designers to create facebook covers which you might want to consider later on, but again for now you could use a picture of your products or your shop.
If you think your own photos won’t look very professional, another good option that will cost some money, but not as much as a designer, is purchasing a stock image. Beware of searching and pulling images off google: many people do this but it may violate copyright rules.
Finally, post a status! How about “Hey! This is our brand new business page! What do you think???”
3. Your first few likes!
There you go! Looking pretty? Great! Now you need some folks to become fans of your page, and start telling all their friends about the awesomeness that is your new little biz! Firstly, you should invite all your contacts! You can do this via email and inviting your facebook friends directly from your facebook account click here to find out how.
Next, you should share your page on your main profile, and shamelessly plug it to all your connections…
“To all my lovely facebook friends, here’s a link to my brand spanking sparkly new business page! Please lease help me out by popping over to ‘like’ it, and share it on your walls for me. Thanks millions xxx”
4. Achieving the magic number! (That’s 100, if you weren’t sure)
100 likers is your facebook page’s first milestone: it doesn’t do anything magical and it won’t mean you’re about to become an overnight billionaire. What it does do is show that people are actively interested in, and talking about your page; and people tend to be interested by what other people are interested in! It’s a small step into the realms of social networking for your business, but an important one nonetheless
But it’s no good setting up your page and leaving it there in the hope people will randomly find it. You have to put the effort into regularly updating and sharing your page – you should try and set aside time to do this every day. It can be difficult when you’re already running your business and/or taking care of kids, and a house or working another job full time. But trust me, the investment will pay off! Despite the money I spend on local ads in newspapers, the majority of the attendence I get for my events comes through facebook! TIP: If you’re stuck for ideas about the most enaging way to post on your facebook page, check out other people’s pages first and see what makes YOU feel most engaged A picture? A status? A question? All are good ways to keep your new-found fans and followers interested in your biz!
There’s a reason why Sloths don’t social network!
So many small independent businesses are looking to build their page audiences that there are an abundance of starting points to get your page noticed. TIP: There are also some unspoken but friendly reciprocal ‘rules’ in the small biz facebook community the primary one being that if someone visits your page; likes it and leaves a comment they will usually also leave an URL or ‘link’ to their own page too…you should always take the time to visit their page and return the favour! That’s how free social networking works!
And don’t worry, there are plenty of facebook pages and groups already set up solely for helping starters get lots of new followers for free: we’ve all been there! The main thing you will need to get going is to be able to copy/paste and post! Here’s a little checklist to get you started:
- From your main profile (not your biz page!) start by joining the following groups: Share your facebook page and ~Promote and Share your business~
- Once your request to join as been accepted, you will be able to post a link to your page: when you set up your page, you would have been allocated your own unique URL or page address. In order to let people know about your page when you’re posting on groups or other pages you will need to type this information in your post. This then magically transforms into a clickable link which takes people straight to your page! YAY! TIP: To make things quicker, you can also copy/paste your link into a post
- As well as sharing your own page, you can also browse other posts to find useful pages to connect with. Click on a page link you like the look of, hit the ‘like’ button on the page itself and then post a comment introducing yourself, telling the page owner why you liked their page and posting a link to your own: “Hey there! Just popping over from the group ~Promote and share your biz~ Love your page, especially the bead jewellery! I make jewellery too! Feel free to stop by and have a looksee at: http://www.facebook.com/MyLittleBizPage (don’t click this link, it’s all made up)
- Using the same process, visit, like and post on these suggested pages for lots of opportunities to share your page with others and connect with people; products and services that are useful to you: I Run A Small Business and Self Employed Working Moms are great! Also, for a guaranteed ‘like and share’ remember to visit our pages too! PinkFire Promotions and A Glitzy Girls’ Night Out We’d love to see your finished pages!!!
TIP: Remember that facebook is about social interaction, not advertising! Strike up conversations with interesting people, share your passions and your page will soon be buzzing with new followers who are genuinely interested in what you do!
5. Tadaaa! So you have your first 100 likes, what’s next?
Well, this is where the hard work starts! Now that you’ve got the basics down, you’ll want to attract even more followers. Be under no illusion, without investing about £900 in a facebook start-up plan for your business page, getting a good following is going to be hard work! Once you’ve figured out the technical bit, you will need to invest lots and lots of time if you can’t afford to invest the money. And it can be tricky! Striking a balance between ‘sharing’ and ‘spamming‘ is a bit of a minefield, and the last thing you want is to have your account restricted, so you have to be careful to abide by facebook rules.
The next stage is looking for other interesting and, importantly, relevant groups to share your page on. These could be specific to your industry i.e. Wedding or Craft related; or perhaps local community forums: loads of people now use local groups as ‘swap shop’ pages for their unwanted items, and some of these can have 1000s of members!
You can find useful facebook groups by searching in the facebook search bar for things like “Wedding items for sale in Cardiff”, “Craft Fairs in South Wales” of “For Sale or Swap In Swansea” TIP: The more groups you join, the more relevant recommended groups you will see on your facebook profile homepage!
These groups act like a giant billboard in your local community! But be careful! Most of these groups are administrated by local members who quite rightly like to keep business advertising to a minimum or restrict how many times a member can post in a period of time. That said, they are usually not adverse to allowing smaller businesses to post about their page in an engaging way if they are relevant or useful to the local community and economy, so be creative about how you post about your biz page! And remember to keep in mind facebook’s code of community standards!
TIP: When joing a new group always refer to the ‘pinned posts’ or group rules when posting about your page to avoid having it maked as ‘spam’ and reported to facebook! If in doubt, contact an admin or post to the group and ask first.
You might also find useful local business forums where other small biz owners in your community share tips and ideas; and you may even want to start up a group like this yourself Cardiff and South Wales Stallholder and Small Biz Network
7. Patience and persistance is the key!
Don’t expect a thousand likes overnight! Even with hard work and determination, without paid advertising it can take a good amount of time to get your page off the ground. During your networking journey you will come across pages that have gained thousands of likes without any form of paid advertising, but this is a rariety. To achieve this the page owners will have undoubtedly spent many months pretty much doing nothing but networking on facebook!
Many of us simply don’t have the time to build a following this way; but as your customer base grows, your page will also begin to grow more organically TIP: always add your facebook URL to anything you have printed such as business cards or flyers, and keep your page name simple and succinct so that people can find your page when they search for it
Remember too that not all likes are useful ones! It’s easy as a small biz owner as you watch your page grow and flourish to become pre-occupied with the amount of followers you have; but it’s also worth thinking about the type of followers you are gaining, and how useful they really are to your business. All those lovely crafters over in Australia who’ve visited your page are never likely to actually buy one of your made-to-measure hand-knitted scarf and hat sets (although, you never know!)
6. And finally…Congratulations!!!
You’re a fully-fledged social networking pro (well, at least you’ve have made a good start!) Now you can begin looking at other ways of attracting new followers, and, more importantly, customers to your facebook page
Growing your page will be a continuing process, and on behalf on PinkFire Promotions I wish you the very best of luck! Facebook pages are important and a great way of growing your business, but you will always need to back it up by getting out there and selling your products and services to your local target market! Nothing beats getting face-to-face with your potential customers: this is why here at PinkFire we offer small biz owners just like you the opportunity to trade at local fairs events from as little as £25. To see what we’ve got going on near you, visit our website at www.pinkfire.com