Thursday, February 10, 2011

Handmade Overhaul: Facebook!

Since opening my Etsy shop in 2009, I’ve seen a pattern of lots of sales in November and early December, and trickling sales the rest of the year. Most people associate my cup cozies with cold weather, but they can be very useful on cold drinks as well. They soak up condensation, keep your hands warm, and come on – CUTENESS lasts 365 days a year. Still – they just don’t sell that well during the rest of the year.

I would like for my shop to be more of a year-round business, so I’ve put together a plan of things I want to do to make this happen. Time will only tell if it’s successful! Fortunately, I am open to changing my mind in the middle of my plan and trying new approaches.

I’ve already written about introducing new products, improving my photography, expanding shop promotions and discounts and updating my shop banner. I’ve also written about updating the look and use of my blog, Twitter account and business cards. AND, I’ve written about joining the communities offered through blogging, Twitter, my local area and my local Etsy team.

Today, I’m going to write about using my Facebook more effectively t promote my shop and other handmade artists/crafters, and to bring deals to my “fans”.

First, a word from the wise, to anyone who hasn’t yet created their Facebook fan page!

EDITED TO ADD: Though I still advise to not set up your fan page on your personal account, I've just been pointed to steps you can take, if you've already done so. These steps will allow you to "like" things in Facebook - as your SHOP FAN PAGE - comment on other pages - AS YOUR SHOP FAN PAGE - and who knows what else. Here is how you do it: When in Facebook, go up to Account, then select Use Facebook As Page, and select what page you want to use. It will then switch your settings so you're doing everything AS YOUR SHOP FAN PAGE. You can switch back and forth as much as you want! I am so excited about this feature!!!!

· Log out of your personal account before creating your fan page! If you’re logged into your personal page when creating your fan page, the world won’t end, but you will lose certain functionality. For example, because my fan page is linked to my personal page, I can’t “like” things and have those “likes” show up on my fan page. Instead, those “likes” are applied to my personal page. I am also unable to ever comment on my fan page as my personal self – i.e. there can never be a comment from Ashley, there can only ever be a comment from One In The Hand. Seems minor but there are occasionally times when you might want that option.

· If you are creating a fan page for something that could EVER be maintained by someone other than yourself, and you don’t want to to give them your personal account’s password, you’ll want to create your fan page while you’re logged OUT of your personal account.

· There are certain Facebook apps that don’t allow you to go to your fan page, if it was created when logged in to your personal account.

· Use a separate email account or your fan page, don’t use the same email you used for your personal account. Facebook will either not let you create a separate account with the same email, or it will try to link them. Which I have hopefully been clear about: BAD, BAD IDEA.

· There are probably other things you’ll want to consider or avoid when creating your Facebook fan page, but this is all I’ve run into so far. I suggest you do a bit of Googling and find out.

· Think about the way you want your fan page to be named, because you can’t change your name after creating it! I also learned this the hard way. My fanpage is called “One In The Hand – Handmade Items” and oh, how I wish I had instead named it “One In The Hand”. It would make it easier for linking and is just cleaner. I don’t want my shop or brand to be known as OITH – Handmade Items, I want it to be known as OITH. Period.

· Now that my Facebook fan page has been around a while, has a number of fans – I would so love to be able to have a big DO-OVER. I wish I could start a new fan page and have everything magically transferred over. But I can’t. I can create a new one, possibly lose many of my current fans and definitely lose ALL the posts I’ve created over the last couple of years . . . or I can continue with my imperfect, less-functional current page.

Using Facebook to promote your shop

· First, I’m going to link you to a great article by ModPodgeRocks, featured on the Crafterminds website. It includes awesome ideas for using your Facebook page more effectively. Some of what I note below is how I’m going to use the ideas from the article.

· The main point of my Facebook fan page is to have another way to get people interested in my shop. Not everyone has a Facebook/blog/Twitter/Tumblr/Flickr and so on. Some people just have a Facebook. If you aren’t a big Facebook fan and hesitate to open up a fan page there, that’s cool, I understand. Just know that you’re missing an opportunity to reach a lot of people. I listed my first item in November, 2009, and created a fan page soon after. A good friend of mine “suggested” my fan page to “500 of her closest friends” and to this day, there are probably more fans of my page that reside in Memphis, TN, than anywhere else! :) Thanks, Robin!

· So far, I’ve used Facebook to tell my fans about new items in my shop (though I don’t update EVERY time I list an item), to alert them to sales, promotions and discounts in my shop. I’ve updated about plans for new items, I’ve asked questions about what they prefer and what they’d like to see more of. I occasionally share a story about something interesting that happened in relation to my shop. I’ve promoted other people’s shops and deals, and I’ve alerted fans to when a giveaway for my item or someone else’s item is going on.

Room for improvement

· Not everything I’ve tried has been successful. I would love to have more fans, and to have more interaction with the fans I do have. Right now, I tend to get a “like” or maybe a comment or two from the same people, over and over again.

· I’ve advertised on the Facebook page and on my Etsy shop info section (the one right under the banner) that I’d love for people to post photos of their cozy in use. A few people did that way back in the beginning, but not much since then. I thought that would be a cute way for people to get involved, so why didn’t it take off? Here are some ideas I have that might promote this more:

~~~ Right now, my desire for this to happen isn’t out there, front and center. It’s WAY down at the very bottom of my Etsy info section, and it’s not very visible on my Facebook page.

~~~ In my packaging, I include information about the charity 10% will go to. Maybe on the other side of that could be information about the fan page, and an appeal for them to post a photo? I could also include that request on my blog, on my Etsy profile, and maybe I could include it further up in the Etsy info. I could also include it in the individual item info on the listing.

~~~ I could ask friends (the really supportive ones) to take a photo and post it, and I could take a photo of people I’ve given cozies to as gifts.

~~~ I could ask past giveaway winners to become a fan and to post a photo and maybe a comment about whether they enjoy their cozy.

~~~ I could offer a discount to people who post a photo of them using their cozy.

· In general, I’d love for more people to comment all on their own about my cozies, what they received in their order. I get great feedback in my Etsy ratings, but most of the time, I’m the only one ever posting anything on my fan page. Maybe a discount offer to anyone who comments would work?

· I would like to do a lot more promotion not just of other shops, but other deals, promotions and giveaways. The article on the Crafterminds blog had one point that really opened my eyes. I’ve done a fair amount of promotion for other shops on my fan page, but my intent was ALWAYS to bring more exposure to those shops, or because my joint venture with that shop would bring me more exposure. The Crafterminds/Modpodrocks article suggested promoting other shops, but with the purpose of bringing great content and deals to your fans! What a difference – considering what my fans might want instead of just trying to hype up my friend’s shops. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t completely ignore my fans when selecting shops to promote – but they were honestly not my main focus. In the future, that will change. I’m very excited to keep an eye out for things to share with my fans that they will enjoy and get something out of – and not just deals and giveaways. Articles, photos, videos and more will begin showing up on my fan page very soon. I can’t wait!

Do you have a Facebook fan page? What’s working for you? What are your areas for improvement?

Thank you, friends for going through this shop improvement series with me! I hope you got something useful out of it, even if only knowing that someone else out there is also trying to figure it all out. :)

Don't forget to enter Annie's giveaway, you could win 4 cozies from my shop! Head to the Wattlebird blog and read about it!

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