February 26, 2014
I love connecting with fans of Happy Cactus Designs across different social media platforms. You'll often find me tweeting small business articles, sharing sneak peeks of new products on Instagram, pinning inspirational images from the world of fashion and design on Pinterest, and offering exclusive promotions just for my Facebook fans.
January 30, 2014
I've blogged here before about experimenting with Facebook ads, also known as "boosted" or promoted posts, where you pay a little bit of money to ensure your Facebook posts are seen by more of your followers and their friends.
Recently I've been reading about more and more small businesses who have grown aggravated with Facebook's "pay to be seen" strategy, and I've joined those ranks.
I understand Facebook's desire to make money, but their constant tweaking to the feed algorithm, coupled with the newfound inability to get a post seen by more than a small portion of people who have already chosen to like and follow your business page, has made me grown tired and weary of using Facebook as a way to promote my business.
Another troubling problem is Facebook's system for approving ads. I sell stationery and greeting cards. Many of my cards have a text-based greeting on the front. Yet every now and then when I "boost" a post, the ad immediately gets rejected. Why? Per Facebook's terms, "Ads that show in the Feed are not allowed to include more than 20% text." I end up having to fill out forms and go back and forth with Facebook staff to explain that the text is part of my product, not promotional text, and request that the ad be re-approved. There seems to be no way to get around this issue.
Below is an example of the most recent of my ad that was rejected for this reason.
As I plan marketing strategies for Valentine's Day and upcoming promotions, it's hard to figure out how I want to incorporate Facebook into this strategy. Part of me is considering leaning more heavily on Pinterest and Instagram to share what's going on, but it is hard to ignore my Facebook fanbase.
What do you think? Have you struggled with getting your posts seen on Facebook?
January 24, 2014
As a small business owner invested in using social media platforms to share news about my company, I'm always trying to figure out the best way to share my content across the various channels.
It seems that many businesses lump all "social media" together and think that as long as you cross-post your blog post to your Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram feed, you've covered your bases. While this is one strategy, it ignores the fact that to be a more effective marketer and better engage followers, you need to tailor your content to each specific channel and its set of users. The way your followers use and interact with Twitter is probably different from how they use Instagram. And these days, users are savvy enough to tell when you've just hit the "Share to Facebook" button rather than taking a few moments to reconfigure the content for that particular audience.
Here's an example of how I might share a new Valentine's Day product:
On Pinterest: The image is king on Pinterest, so I make sure to pin the most compelling and vibrant image I have of the product on my site. I then craft a strong description using keywords so it's more likely to be discovered and re-pinned.
On Instagram: Again, the image is king. For product photos, I've found that having a vibrant background (a bright color or a texture) often helps a product stand out in the stream of photos. Hashtags are also helpful for guiding people to your content. You cannot hyperlink to URLs within an Instagram description, so I recommend adding "see link in profile" to direct followers to a particular site.
On Facebook: I make sure to upload an image that is the optimal size for Facebook. I can tweak the description I used on Pinterest and adapt it for my Facebook crowds by asking a question, asking followers to "like" or share the image, or including a link to my site where they can shop the product.
On Twitter: I try to provide the appropriate context, use a link shortener to maximize the number of characters I have available, and occasionally use hashtags to make my tweet more discoverable.
One final tip: Review your settings on each of your social media channels to see if you are auto-Tweeting when you Pin or automatically updating Facebook when you post a photo on Instagram. Nothing will drive your followers crazier than when you go on a Pinning spree and their Twitter stream is overloaded with tweets about your pins, so be careful about your settings.
October 24, 2013
Posting photographs on your business' Facebook page is a great way to attract customers and share products. The tricky part is knowing what size photos work best on the site. I've pulled together a quick list of all of the various photo sizes for posting and sharing images on Facebook. Here's a cheat sheet to help you out!
COVER PHOTO: Displayed at 815 pixels by 315 pixels. You can upload a photo double that size (1702 pixels by 630 pixels) for better quality and Facebook will resize it. Facebook lets you have up to 20% of the photo have text in it. Read more about the do's and don'ts of cover photos here.
PROFILE PHOTO: Displayed at 180 pixels by 180 pixels. If you upload a rectangular image, it will be cropped on the sides so it fits to the square shape. It's important to remember that your profile image will be seen around Facebook - on pages you like or common on and in your fans' newsfeeds, so make it eye-catching!
PHOTO ALBUMS: Displayed at 960 pixels by 720 pixels up to the maximum upload size of 2048 pixels by 2048 pixels. When you upload photos to an album, check the "high quality" photos box so you are posting the highest resolution photos to your page.
TIMELINE PHOTOS: Displayed at 403 pixels by 403 pixels. Keep in mind that if you have rectangular images, it will only display the center of the image, so keep the most important content of the photo in the center.
APP ICONS: Displayed at 111 pixels by 74 pixels. I recently designed custom icons for the Twitter, Newsletter, and Shopping apps on my Facebook page which makes my page more cohesive and pleasing to the eye. Here's an easy tutorial for creating your own icons.
Read more small business posts about using Facebook here.
March 04, 2013
If you are a Facebook user, you may know that Facebook is always changing the way the site operates and how users interact with one another. One more recent change that direct affects how any small business owner uses Facebook is the introduction of the promoted post.
Now when you create a post through your business page, you have the option to select "Promote" at the bottom of the post and, for a certain dollar amount, Facebook will promote your post in others' news feeds. What exactly does this mean? According to Facebook: "Every day, News Feed delivers the stories you post to your friends and followers. Promote important posts to help people notice them. Promoted posts appear higher in News Feed, so there's a better chance your audience will see them."
So what's the deal? Why choose to promote a post? If you share a regular post, due to Facebook's algorithm that decides who sees what, people who like your page still may not see your post as it may fleetingly appear buried in your followers' news feeds. Pay to promote your post and the number of people who see your post will grow exponentially - not just your current page followers (people who have "liked" your page, but their friends who have no connection to your page.
This is somewhat of a game changer for small businesses who use Facebook as one of their main sources of free advertising and promotion. I have experimented a few times with promoted posts to see what happens when Facebook prioritizes my posts over others.
The post below is an example from the Happy Cactus Designs' Facebook page of a non-promoted post. I shared a photo of my cards on display at one of the retailers I work with in Dallas. According to Facebook Insights, 98 people saw this post.
Because I paid to promote it, 1,295 people saw the post. That is hundreds of more people than I actually have following my page, so clearly it was hitting the feeds of friends of my page's followers. I saw a slight uptick in new likes and visits to the site after this promoted post, but nothing truly significant. That said, it did seem slightly exciting that over a thousand people were seeing an image of my cards on Facebook.
This change by Facebook certainly causes dilemmas for small business. How do you decide what to promote? Is it annoying to your non-followers to see a sponsored post by your company appearing in their news feeds? Does it make a significant difference - in terms of number of likes, visits to your site, purchases made, etc. - when you promote a post?
It's not surprising to me that Facebook is making new attempts to monetize the news feed and generate revenue from small businesses like my own wanting to get my name out there. At the same time, it's irritating that for my posts to be seen I need to pay to promote them. While $1 to $10 per post may not seem like a lot, it adds up over time! What are your thoughts on promoted posts?
December 20, 2012
As we wind down 2012, I thought I'd share a compilation of the small business related blog posts I shared on this blog over the year. I hope other small business owners have found these posts to be helpful. I'm planning even more small business related content for 2013!
Making Things Official
Making Things Work
Making Things Look Good
Making Things Social
August 23, 2012
In this edition of my Small Business Resources series, I want to briefly look at how to use Facebook to promote your business and build brand awareness (check out last week's post for a general overview of the social media tools I use). These days, having a presence on Facebook is as important as having your own website. In fact, many companies are opting to eliminate the company website altogether and only have a Facebook page.
Here are some key tips when it comes to managing your business' Facebook page:
- Interact with your fans and be authentic. Technology has given us the opportunity to get to know our customer base better and learn more about what draws them to a particular brand. It's important to view your Facebook posts as conversations with potential and existing customers. Don't be afraid to ask questions or elicit feedback on new products or events. Think about what types of posts you would like to read. Also, make sure you respond to what fans post on your page. I've definitely come across companies' pages where customers post questions, praise, or complaints and the page moderator never takes the time to respond to them. No one likes being ignored!
- Make your status updates interesting. I've found my most successful posts have been when I share sneak peeks of new products, invite fans to upcoming events, or ask questions. Photos tend to elicit the highest response rate.
- Don't over-post. No one wants their Facebook news feed to be bombarded with posts from one company or person. The quickest way to lose Facebook followers is to overtake their feeds and annoy them. I prefer to post just once a day.
- Timing is important. There has been endless analysis about the best time of day to share updates on Facebook. Consensus seems to be that lunchtime (around noon) and early evening on weekdays tend to be optimal times for capturing the most views.
- Take advantage of Facebook Insights. What's the point of using Facebook to promote your business if you don't know how people are engaging with your page? Use Insights, Facebook's analytics tool, to see if all of your hard work is paying off.
- Pay attention to Facebook's changes. Facebook is always changing its policies and updating its tools, and it's important to stay on top of the news so you can keep your page looking its best. For example, when Facebook changed to the timeline layout, I knew I needed to add an eye-catching cover photo. I also learned how to highlight important posts so they appear more prominently on my page. Mashable is a great source for keeping up to speed with social media news.
- Make sure you have a Facebook widget on your company's website. One of the best ways to promote your Facebook page is to feature a link to that page on your company's website. Promote your Facebook page on email newsletters and add a link to your page in your email signature.
Do you have any tips for using Facebook to promote your business?
August 16, 2012
The first post in my small business series was all about doing your research and the first steps I took to launch my stationery company. I have many different topics in mind for future posts, but wanted to focus first on how you can strategically use social media tools to grow your small business. Prior to launching Happy Cactus Designs, I spent a number of years studying social media platforms in graduate school and implementing strategic plans using social media tools with a number of non-profits and foundations, so I hope I can share some of my wisdom.
These days, it's next to impossible to run a business without some sort of social media presence. With Happy Cactus Designs, I have found that using social media tools is an excellent way to build awareness about my brand, interact with potential and existing customers, and network with colleagues. Here's some of the social media tools/sites I can't live without.
Icons designed by carrieloves
- Facebook: With over 900 million active users, Facebook is obviously the dominant social media platform. The day I launched my company's website, I also launched a Facebook page and have watched the number of fans who "like" my page grow over the past eleven months.
- Twitter: Who knew 140-character messages could be so vital to effectively marketing a company? I've been using the @hapcactus Twitter handle since the day my company launched. I check in with my Twitter stream throughout the day and tweet about my work, communicate with others in the industry, catch up on news (...and the occasional celebrity gossip), and to track trends.
- Pinterest: While much younger than Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has been growing by leaps and bounds since it launched a little over two years ago. Pinterest lets you create virtual pinboards for anything you come across on the web. It can be a great place to share your work and find inspiration.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is considered by many to be Facebook's boring little brother. The professional social networking site helps you connect with former and current colleagues and learn more about companies. LinkedIn hosts professional "groups" you can join on different topics related to your industry. These are great forums for asking questions and learning from key influencers in relevant industries.
I end up using each of these platforms at least once a day (and usually multiple times in any given day) to connect with others, share news, and learn. In the coming weeks, I'm going to focus on each platform in separate posts and share my tips for effectively using each to build your business. What social media tools do you use? Which tools are you curious about learning more about?