The Highs and Lows of Using Facebook as a Small Business

Oh Facebook you fickle friend! You really have incensed me this week. It is not often I have a rant, and I do try to keep everything as positive as possible, but when I spend the best part of a day photographing, editting and listing a new product which I’m really excited about, and then the algorithm by which Facebook decides what should appear in your newsfeed deduces that my woolly wraps are only to be seen by handful of people, I’m left feeling utterly frustrated.

WWR4.3

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook can be tremendous, and I would recommend that anyone who has a visual product to show the world uses Facebook and other social media to their full advantage. Why wouldn’t you use a global platform to show the world what you have been making?

Facebook-for-Business

I first set up my Facebook business page, The Woolly Pedlar, back in 2012 when I left teaching and my little one woman upcycling business was launched.  I had watched with interest how Katwise used Facebook with Etsy and had what could only be described as a cult following. She only had to post an album of her latest creations and they would be seen and shared by thousands which led to a stampede when her sale started, with her sweaters selling faster than Glastonbury tickets.

happy-customer

Facebook has allowed me to engage with so many wonderful people. Do date I have 1,852 followers, and I have been sold many of my upcycled woolly goodies through the power of Facebook alone. I have an album which continues to grow, of photos sent by happy customers. In fact Phillippa who sent in the photo above, has just sent me another, this time of her daughter in one of my upcycled ponchos.

Gill

I have built relationships with my followers, some of them remaining virtual friends, and some of them becoming real life friends and colleagues, with us meeting at events and shows, and keeping in touch with each other via the Facebook page.

lucy

One piece of advice I would give anyone who has a Facebook business page, is to build up a picture of yourself, what makes you tick, your personality and anything that supports your brand. Some of you will know my story, and that The Woolly Pedlar came about through my love of recycling, and living sustainably and through the writing I did of The Bridge Cottage Way. I try, therefore, to show folk more about me that simply what I make. After all. no one wants to engage with a page that simply bombards you with ‘buy this’ posts. Whilst there is a fine line to be drawn between exposing the ins and outs of one’s family life, I do think followers like to get a feel of you as a whole person, and of the lifestyle you have, as well as seeing what you’ve been making. The Woolly Pedlar is about so much more than just jumpers.

garden

I try to have time out every day for a mindful wander round the garden both for relaxation, and to get a photo ready for my daily ‘Good Morning’ posts which I’m told by my followers are greatly enjoyed. (or perhaps they’re just being polite)

I use Facebook to share my blogposts, newsletter updates, event news as well as showing how and why I make what I do.
Little and often has to be they key. I often get told ‘I don’t have the time for social media’ but if used little and often I feel it isn’t too time consuming. It’s a question of getting into the habit, but also of not letting it take over your life!

So why, if I find Facebook such a great marketing tool, am I so cross with it? A year or so ago Facebook decided that it wanted small businesses to pay to boost posts. I guess Facebook does need to earn its money somehow, and we had had a free run for sometime, but it seems to be doing pretty ok from advertising. So now, I find that any post with a link to my website, a £ sign, a size or anything that includes the words ‘website, for sale,’ or a price or size is guaranteed to be only seen by a few. So how the dickens do I get folk to see what is for sale?

I find when I ask my followers to comment on a post, as soon as the commnets come in, then the views start to soar. I don’t want to always be asking for favours to comment or share, and although subtle questions are asked to prompt comments, if not careful, these can sound contrived.

snowdrops

Just this week, one of my ‘Good Morning’ posts with a picture of my snowdrops was seen by getting on for a thousand folk, whereas my poor old woolly wraps were only seen by a handful. Yes, I had put the prices on my woolly wraps, with links to the website, but how else was I going to show folk what I had made, how much it cost and where it could be bought? Yes, I could put links to the website in the comments below, but not everything is as savvy as each other about navigating Facebook.

WWR3.3

I know other artists are feeling the same as me, and their frustraion about the way Facebook is operating is palatable. So please, I implore you, if you like what I make, and see one of my posts with new makes on do leave a comment!! It makes all the difference.
Of course there are other social media platforms, and I have a Twitter account, Pinterest boards, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, but honestly, there are only so many minutes in a day, and I do need to get on and make things!

Rant over! Promise next week’s blog with be without moans. Thanks for reading 🙂

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