Social media is one of those things us bakers and decorators love to do, because it’s fun, you get immediate feedback, and you can pretend to yourself that what you’re doing on there is real work. While it is definitely fun, most of us don’t fully appreciate how powerful of a tool social media is and how to best use it for maximum marketing effect. In a nutshell, here’s what’s boring but important to know about it: posting on social media should be part of your overall marketing plan – meaning it needs to have a defined purpose, follow a plan (at least a little bit!), be consistently done and it has to be measurable. Wow, way to take the fun out of it, right?! I promise you that social media can be both fun AND effective – and I’ll post more about this in future. For today I’m going to cover the 5 most frequently asked questions I get about social media.
“Social media” just means posting on Facebook, right?
Nope. “Social media” as a whole really refers to all of those online platforms where people are creating and sharing content – in other words, think of it like the different digital places you might hang out with your friends. There are lots of social media platforms but they include places like: Facebook, Google+, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, reddit, YouTube, ello, Cakes Decor …and so on (there are WAY more, but you get the idea…did you know there is one called Cucumbertown?!)
Do I need to have my business on all of those platforms? That seems like a lot of work!
No, you don’t. You really should only be on those platforms that a) your clients are likely to use and b) you enjoy using. It IS a lot of work being across all of those places so here’s my advice on how to control it all:
- Reserve your company name/place on every social media site you can even if you don’t intend to use that platform (to protect you from others getting it.)
- Pick 2-3 platforms that you know your clients are likely to use. This is based on who they are – for example, you hardly find teenagers under 18 on FB these days but you DO find mothers of small children. Also make sure those platforms are ones you enjoy posting to or are good at using (for example, I suck at twitter and my customers aren’t there, so that’s not one I’d pick right now.)
- Set up a plan to consistently create and share high-quality content on those platforms. Seriously. KILL IT on there for a set period of time, I usually recommend 1-3 months for real results and that’s ongoing, good quality content (more on that coming soon.)
- Once you’re up and running on those platforms – and they are consistently doing well for you (the numbers are going up, potential clients talk about your pages and so on) then think about adding in another platform.
Should I pay for ads? Why should I have to? Facebook is KILLING small business with this whole “pay to be seen” stuff. It’s not fair!
First, stop whining. Facebook is a business. Businesses are there to make money. Mark Zuckerberg and his college buddies have absolutely ZERO interest in spending millions on running a business just so you can have a free and easy way to talk to your clients. Like ALL forms of advertising and media, if you want to be seen – you’ll need to pay a bit extra for that service. Want a bigger ad in the local paper, a colourful and glossy business card, a TV ad on prime time? You’re going to pay more for it. EXACTLY like we expect clients to pay a bit more in order to get a bit more quality, social media platforms are no different. If you want it for free or cheap, you’re going to get what they offer at the free or cheap end and often what you get isn’t all that fabulous. (Do I need to say it? Good cake isn’t cheap…)
Do I think you HAVE to pay for ads on social media? No. I think if you’ve got a budget for advertising, then YES some of it should probably be spent there – but you’re not going to want to just boost some random post and hope for the best. You’re going to need to get a bit of education about how those ads work so that you’re investing your money wisely. Do I think you need a budget for marketing and advertising in the first place? Of course I do – but you knew that.
Should I allow customers to communicate with me through FB messages or Instagram messages? What about things like What’s App or BBM?
Personally, I don’t think you should allow this – but I do know that in some Asian countries, it’s very normal to conduct business via Whats App and BBM. I’m still not a huge fan of it, because to me there is nothing about FB Messenger which says, “good customer service,” to me. I can’t imagine a high-end car company or luxury handbag company conducting transactions through Facebook. Also, I’ve noticed that people tend to forget about those messages really quickly and easily. They miss the notification that you replied or it goes into their “others” folder and so on … and the conversation just sorta dies. I recommend turning that function off entirely and making sure that it’s VERY obvious on your page how people can find you. Your profile on ALL platforms should have a web address and a phone number, plus email if it fits.
Why do I need a website? I get all my orders from Facebook anyway, isn’t that good enough? Web pages seem like an unnecessary expense and also, I’m not that great at technology so honestly it just seems really daunting to do it.
I can’t stress this one enough: YOU NEED A WEBSITE because YOU DO NOT OWN FACEBOOK. Someone else owns it, someone else controls it, someone else makes the rules, someone else can TURN IT OFF and delete everything you’ve got on there right this very second if they feel like it. Do you really want to have your entire business platform in the hands of someone else? All that work and effort …and you have no say in what happens to it (ask any of the people whose pages recently got deleted what this feels like). Me, I want control over my own business online and while I love and adore social media, there’s no way I’d put all my eggs in that one basket. As for websites being expensive and hard to do (etc etc) – you can either do it yourself with very user friendly platforms like Wix, or you can be a grown up and outsource this to someone else. A website is a legitimate business expense and should be included as part of your start up costs. You can get a pretty decent website these days for under $1000. The key is to GET ONE started and not worry too much about it being sparkly and perfect. Lastly, the last time you went and shopped for something, I’m guessing you started your search at Google – not at Facebook. So unless someone remembers you and types in your exact business name, they aren’t going to find you easily. If however they go to Google and put in “wedding cakes Pittsburgh” – you’ll come up because you’ve got a website all about the amazing wedding cakes you’re making in Pittsburgh. If that in itself isn’t a good enough reason to have a website of some kind, I don’t know what is.
I’m going to chat more about social media in more detail in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, please comment on this post and tell me what you love (or hate!) about social media. I’d love to hear about your experiences.