I started my small business from an enjoyable hobby, organically growing at a steady rate over a few years. Like many other small home-based businesses I then decided to create a Facebook page. Afterall it was 2011 and Facebook was the main source of free social media and great for marketing. Everyone had the Facebook app on their phone or tablet.
Fast forward a few years and there are now a number of other popular social media networks such as Twitter, Google+, Pintrest and Instagram. I have over 2600 ‘likes’ and 600 ‘followers’ fantastic, you’d think? The problem with this expansion and the evolution of Facebook is that small businesses have forgotten that these social media tools are also a business similar to our own… wanting to make a profit.
We Don’t Own Facebook
The consequences of this are that Facebook is no longer the free marketing tool for small businesses that it once was. Unless you are willing and able to spend money each month on a marketing campaign, you will have found recently that the overall ‘reach’ of your posts to your ‘assumed audience’ (fans/likes) has fallen dramatically. This has a negative impact on most small businesses who, like myself, had solely relied upon growing my business by increasing the number of likes and my ‘assumed audience/customer base’. Would your business survive if Facebook didn’t exist?
It’s time that small businesses changed their views of social media from something we assume we have the rights too, believing that we are being wronged by Mr Zukerberg. Like our very own businesses, he too is trying to expand and make a profit, it’s not a charity I’m afraid.
As harsh as this may sound the future with Facebook and other social media networks are set to change for the worse for businesses such as ours if we continue to rely on them as a free marketing tool.
Tips To Stay Ahead In Business
Here are a few options that businesses can consider to stay ahead and grow their business:
- Have a small marketing budget each month. You can then set a limit each month for your page. Promote certain offers, or target specific customer in the extensive listing.
- Get a website – this has by far been my saving grace over the past year. My website is not only beautiful, it is also user friendly (you don’t have to click through too many pages to find what you want) and works on all devices, which is really important.
- Ensure that your website is ‘search engine optimised’. This basically means that you don’t just have a website that sits on the internet somewhere never to be seen. Your website needs to be optimised so that you can be easily found on Google and other search engines. My website is currently on page 1 for a number of key search terms. Check out these blogs for some useful tips and tricks.
- Use free email marketing tools – gather customer email addresses at fairs, events, via your page etc and create a Mail Chimp account. You can then send customers deals/offers and keep them up to date with your business via email. Not everyone uses Facebook (it just appears that way).
- Enter competitions, get involved in local events where possible, display your work on other useful online forums such as Cakes Decor, give something back via charity donations/events. All of which will increase your exposure as a brand and business thus expanding in a positive all around approach.
- Business cards and flyers – might sound obvious but if you have a pretty business card or a promotional flyer a number of customers will retain them and come back to you for business. Place them in local places, carry them around with you and hand out during conversations with people. Personally I use traditional business cards but also have some personalised luggage labels which I have received positive feedback from at wedding fairs. They are quirky and vintage to compliment my business brand. Find your style… it’s fun!
For further reading from a professional web developer with a few more technical words and better explanation than mine no doubt visit – http://www.gnarlydigital.com/blog/facebook-shut/ and also http://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-adapt-your-facebook-strategy-to-the-coming-news-feed-changes/
Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences, I would love to hear them…