There has been a huge shift over the last six months in how much small businesses are getting seen on social media. Whether you have a business page, or just love to follow pages, you will have noticed a seismic change in what you are seeing now.
We have to face the fact that social media isn’t the same place as it used to be a few years ago. Unfortunately, the days of reaching the same vast audience with your posts seem to be over. Organic reach was down 52% for business pages during 2016.
Scrolling through my own Facebook feed now all I see are Buzzfeed articles, Tasty videos and shared news reports from friends. No longer is it a visual inspirational feast for my eyes. Those creative pages that I used to spend hours drooling over no longer appear. My online shopping is no longer prompted on a daily basis. I am stumped when it comes to gift lists – Facebook used to be my go-to when it was a friend's birthday.
Instagram, therefore, is where businesses are heading, and there has been an enormous rise in business use over the last year. But Instagram is owned by Facebook and now with the introduction of ‘pages’, sponsored posts and the changes in algorithms, although better than Facebook, there is still a lack of reach for those pages not favourited by the platform.
For small business owners and creative makers, this is a real kick in the teeth. More and more of you are pulling back on your businesses and getting part time jobs to fill the financial void. The audience that you had worked so hard to build up have now vanished and you are starting from scratch again. This makes you feel disheartened, frustrated and pretty damn fed up.
So how can you turn this around?
What you can do is start thinking about number one. Regain control again. No longer must you rely solely on external platforms that can change at any moment. Speak direct to your customer and own your digital marketing.
There is no doubt that social media has changed the shape of marketing for businesses – but there are other options open to you. Other options that could give you a much more successful return on investment. Stop tearing your hair out trying to get seen only on social and bring it back to you.
So, let’s go back, right back to the beginning.
What made you start your business? Where did the idea come from? What did you start with? What was your business plan say? What were your goals?
It is likely that you didn’t start with Facebook, that will have come at some point down the line. So what did you do before you were on Facebook? Let’s think old school…
Do you have an online shop?
Whether you sell through your own website or another external site such as Etsy or Not On The High Street, you will have an online shop window of sorts. This is your most valuable asset, and this is where you should be drawing people. This is representative of you, your brand, your products and your passion.
Getting your shop in order, whether that is tidying up your product photos (including alt tags), working on your product descriptions to suit Google’s SEO, or cleaning up your branding – these are all aspects of your site that will help you get found.
Once your customers have found your shop, you’ve struck gold – this is where you want them to be, because once they have found your shop the only choice you should be giving them is what to buy, and how much of it!
What about a website?
Yes, we said above that wherever you have your online shop that is where you need to draw your customers. But the best place to bring them is your website. If they find your website shop you can keep them there by showing them all the other pages you have on your site.
Pages such as Blog, Q&A, About, Useful links, Product Information, History of your business etc – these can hold so much content within your website.
What this content does is give your visitors & customers more information about the products they are buying. And if they weren’t convinced to start with (from your wonderful photos & product descriptions) then they will be once they’ve read where you source your materials, or watched videos on how you make your work.
Learning more about you and your story builds their trust in you and convinces them that you are worth investing in.
A blog is the foundation of all of your content marketing, and helps you focus on all that content you are distributing.
By writing regular blog posts that you publish on your site, you can then also use that information within the above pages.
What are the most frequently asked questions that you get? You can write about them in detail as a blog post and then keep that page formatted on your website under Q&A so that customers can use it as a reference point. By answering their questions before they have asked them makes their time on your site more enjoyable and allows them to make a decision on their purchase easier.
Write about your products, your events, inspirations, your successes & failures, your journey, your favourite artists. If you get stuck then this is a great post from Designer Blogs Studio with some brilliant prompting questions to help you.
Sending newsletters is one of the best ways to promote your business. Having a sign up button on your website allows your customer to get regular updates or offers.
You’ve already hooked them, they’ve made the effort to type in their name and email address – they are openly asking to know more – so give it to them!
Weekly, fortnightly or monthly, it’s your choice, but just make sure they are regular. You can give updates as to where you are exhibiting, what new products you are designing, new ranges, special offers, discounts, linking to your blog post, top tips, how to’s – you name it, if you have interesting content then share it!
This is such a powerful way of reaching your audience and should not be underestimated.
Linking with other businesses
Do you know of other businesses that you could link up with? Anyone you would love to collaborate with?
For example - if you are a florist and need a photographer to take some professional photos of your flowers, you could come to an arrangement that you can both get some promotion out of it. Your photographer can build up their portfolio and be able to recommend you to any wedding enquiries they may have, and you can promote your photographer and credit them every time you share their photos online.
By linking up together you double your audience – and this is a potential audience that you have in common. Try to think of the bigger picture and how a mutual collaboration can help you both.
There are also other ways of promoting your work – press & PR, online campaigns, networking opportunities, exhibitions and events, word of mouth, competitions and so much more. The message is that by focusing on just one aspect of marketing, you won’t get the reach that is possible for you.
We certainly don’t recommend giving up on social media – it can work very well when done right, and there are still billions of people globally using the different platforms. Even promoting your posts on Facebook can be very effective, if done with a specific strategy in mind.
The main thing to remember is to bring it back to you. What do you need and how can you maximise that?
Don’t rely on others to market your business for you.
Take control, and take charge.
We can be right by your side should you need us.
The CBN Team x
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4 New Buildings,
01884 266045 / 07969 044006