As someone who comes from a marketing/public relations background, I have learned this over several trainings and my own experience over the years. I've also been known to go against my own advice from time to time. You have to follow what rings true to your heart and when you start compromising who you are just to be a face of a business, your integrity will eventually be compromised and I guarantee, weeks/months/years down the line, it will be very visible for all the world to see. Truth be told, depending on the content of your business, some rules are hard or impossible to follow. For example, I run a spiritually based business. It is impossible for me not to talk about religion. What I do try to do however, is make sure that I am coming mostly from a non-denominational viewpoint. It’s definitely a slippery slope, because you still want to be able to express yourself and it’s okay to have your own beliefs, but at what cost? You have to be willing to lose certain followers if your beliefs do not match and align.
In hindsight, that might be okay, because as you build your tribe, you want to create an atmosphere of same-energy and like minded individuals who are on the same path as you. This doesn’t mean that you should ONLY accept individuals who are exactly like you. You need different viewpoints in order to grow. But you certainly don’t need people following you who are only there to give you the virtual evil eye every time you post.
Over the years, I am sure we have all come across what works for us and what doesn’t. I am sure we have also come across what turns us on to a business and what turns us off. I can think of one woman who was absolutely genius in her methods, but her business approach was demanding and obtrusive. It turned me off and I ended up unfollowing her shortly after my first session with her. The same could be said for me, I suppose. I share openly on my pages. Sometimes I rant ... something I am working on. For me, it is about sharing vulnerability. Many do not agree with my methods and many have left me. And you know what? That’s okay. Those who see what we are trying to do and are a match to our energy and personalities will stay. Those people are your tribe and we all have different tribes.
Here are some tips I have saved over the years in regards to advertising your business online. In all actuality, there could be double the amount of tips on this list, but I consider those tips to be basic for every-day use as these pertain more to businesses.
1. Don’t cut yourself short by only selling to your market or your people. I see this all the time. In the spiritual community, we advertise within our own people. Very little is getting out to the general public and so we keep ourselves in tight-knit communities. This is okay, but this is also why a lot of us only have between 5 to 20 people show up to our events. We are thinking small and limited.
2. Do NOT blatantly promote yourself or your business on other pages’ posts or blogs using the Facebook comment section. This is the Facebook equivalent to the sleazy car salesman. It’s side-handed and it makes you look desperate and pushy. Only comment your business if you have been given permission to do so. Otherwise, keep it on your own page.
3. Do NOT send a friend request to a stranger and then follow up with sending them your business page immediately thereafter. This is the equivalent of the cold call in the real world. No one likes them and it is also obtrusive. One minute you think you are gaining a new friend and then you start getting bombarded with sales-y type information. This makes people feel like they have been misled and it is not a good start to your image.
4. Create UNIQUE content. If everyone and their mother is selling an online chakra class, the last thing you want to do is sell another chakra class ... especially if you are stuck in the rut of having similar friends and communities that all share information. Stand out and offer something that no one else has or create it from a different viewpoint.
5. Avoid sending mass messages. Mass Messenger messages generate a notification for every recipient when any one of them replies. I know that it is so much easier (and faster) to do this given time constraints, but avoiding it will also help you avoid annoying others in the process. Group chats should only be created when given permission by all involved.
6. Be sure to have a profile picture and a cover photo. Otherwise, many will think you are a spam account and disregard any notifications or invites. Keep your account up to date as well. If it appears you haven’t posted since 2018, your profile will not be taken seriously.
7. When you copy someone else’s status verbatim, be sure to quote them or link back to their page. This is the equivalent of handing in a paper that someone else wrote. You don’t want to get expelled! It wasn’t cool then and it’s not cool now.
8. Maintain a higher standard of content than other networks. Try to deliver authentic content instead of just posting quotes or memes. Did you know that 1 out of 4 people on FB find inspirational quotes annoying? Sad because I like them so much, but true. Also, if you post an article or video, make sure that it is legit and does not come from a biased source.This will help you lose your credibility quickly. For example, if you post an anti-vaxxing article on your holistic page, but sure that it is not coming from a well-known anti-vaxx website. Of course, they will post anything that supports their viewpoint. Post something that is neutral or at least a little more reputable for both sides to make an educated decision.
9. If you DO send your business page to a stranger that did not request it, at least FOLLOW UP with an introduction of yourself and what you do. Not doing so adds to the “cold call” feeling of it being impersonal and that you only wanted them to boost your numbers and page likes. You want to make sure that you are adding people that actually WANT to be active participants on your page and share the same passions. Make sure you are sending invites to people who at least have something in common with you. Open the dialogue, but don’t be pushy. In the online world, it is much easier to say no when it comes to sales and you can find yourself being deleted in two seconds flat if you push too hard, too fast.
10. Tell them how long to expect a reply. If you are away from your page during certain hours, be sure to create an away message, telling them when they can expect to hear from you. Whether that be a few hours or a few days, knowing up front creates less confusion and expectations are clear.
11. Do not insert yourself too much. When on other pages, it’s okay to respond to questions if you have the answer, but, do NOT pitch your own offers as a solution. Also be sure to not comment TOO much. It is not your job to respond to every single comment that is made - especially if it is not even your page. That is the page owner’s job, if they choose to do so. This appears that you are trying to counsel their clients and take over and quite frankly, that should remain on your own page. Which leads me to ...
12. Do NOT farm your friends’ friends lists for new clients. This is really quick way to upset a lot of business owners - especially if you happen to intertwine like services. There really is no explanation for this one other than it crosses boundaries beyond measure. It’s sales-y and sleazy and we can do better than that.
13. DO feel free to be open and honest. Sometimes it is okay to show vulnerability to our clients. It makes you relatable. Did you know that studies have shown that business owners who show who they really are have more and better interactions with their clients than those who “keep it absolutely professional at all times?” It makes people COMFORTABLE. Be aware however, sometimes this can backfire on you because clients want to become friends and that can put you into very compromising positions.
14. Follow the 80/20 rule. You should engage your audience before you sell anything. 80% of your posts should be about engagement, while only 20% should be actual selling. If you are one of those people that is trying to plug yourself and your business in almost everything you post (even on other’s walls), it is a surefire way to turn people off.
15. Brand yourself. You don’t necessarily need a graphic designer or marketing team to do this. Choose colors, images, fonts and an “ambiance” that speaks about you and your business. Someone should be able to look at a post from you and automatically know it came from you without even knowing it. One woman I know uses a mandala overlay on all of her photos. It has become her defining design and it is consistent. Her colors remain copper and black in almost all of her posts. That is true online presence.
16. Choose clear images. There is nothing worse than blurry images ... or images that have been stolen and not paid for. If you are stealing images from other artists without their permission, it is telling the world that you don’t support artists and don’t support copyright laws. If you choose images that still have a watermark on them, it tells the world that you are too cheap to buy the image from the original artist, and you are still violating copyright laws. This is a big one for artists and an instant turn-off. If you have a lot of artists in your tribe, this is one thing you will want to stop immediately. It irks them to no end.
17. Ask before you assume, teach or preach. Have you ever had someone you barely know give you a lecture on something you’ve been studying or have known for years? It’s awkward. You want to interrupt and say that they don’t need to explain, but you want to be nice, so you simply smile and nod, letting them finish. When they are finally done, you simply say, “I know, I have read that before, I too have experienced that five years ago or my best friend sells what you are selling." Before you teach or preach anything, please understand that if you don’t know much about someone and you are new on their wall, they may already know the knowledge or business your are offering. It is important to ASK before spilling your sales pitch or knowledge on something when first meeting new customers online. The equivalent to this would be a salesperson calling you on the phone and not allowing you to speak after the initial hello. That’s annoying, right? The online world works the same way. Next time, ask first. "Have you ever read this book?" "Have you ever experienced this?" or "Do you currently have any friends or family selling this product?"
18. Communicate with fellow business owners. Ask for permission from each other. Who knows, you may be able to help each other. Assuming and doing things without permission however, never ends well. If you have to, think about putting yourself in their shoes before doing anything. This is called empathy. Would you like someone else posting their business all over your page? Without your permission, probably not -- especially if you are selling the same idea. Just be mindful. If someone upsets you, let them know, but be calm and let them know WHY. Many times, we just don’t see beyond our noses and how our actions can potentially hurt other’s feelings or how they conduct their businesses. Some people have a very regimented structure to how they conduct things online. Just be conscious and mindful when you are not in your own space/page.
19. Mediate negativity with humor. If you have negative comments appearing in your feed, you have the option to delete them, or you could simply offer respectful humor in return. Never engage with anger. If it’s a troll, they WANT you to engage. Don’t feed the trolls. If it is an upset customer, make a public comment that says, “I am sorry you feel that way and I’d like to make it up to you. I am sending you a PM.” This gets the negativity off of your page, but it also shows other potential clients that you DO CARE and that you are willing to take the time to make things right. If there seems to be the same people who are negative constantly, I would consider deleting their comments until they get the hint. Otherwise, it’s okay to block if it will keep the peace you are seeking. You can’t win them all!
20. DO run specials and advertise with other local businesses. Studies have shown that businesses who collaborate together end up being the most successful. There is more than enough to go around, so why not share your passions with someone else in the community? This allows you to exchange client bases and both of you get to expand yourselves beyond your typical scope. Be sure your ideals and personalities match so that this is a peaceful union. I suggest developing some form of a mutually written contract of your “rules” before starting. This does not even need to be something drawn up by a lawyer, but an energetic/verbal agreement that you can go back and refer to if needed in the future.
**Photo comes from www.goodhousekeeping.com. If you like this blog post and want to follow me, please go to www.AngieWhitsel.com. Thank you!