In the 90s, and for the early part of the noughties, the email newsletter was king. I can well remember receiving these long long missives complete with red borders, yellow highlighting and (if you were lucky) animated flashing text and pictures that essentially went on and on about the same thing in different ways. They were awful and boring. Not to mention impossible to unsubscribe from.
I think we all collectively breathed a sigh of relief with the advent of Facebook and then Twitter and Pinterest. How much more fun to share things in a graphic and visually appealing way. What a great way to pick up loads of fans or followers with the simple click of a button. How easy to have your message seen by people straight away and shared in an instant.
But now the circle has turned again it seems. I noticed a while ago that some of my friends never seemed to appear in my newsfeed (this in on Facebook for those of you who may not know what I am referring to). Wondering if they were still active, or worse had un-friended me, I would click over to their page only to discover that they were just as active as before. I just wasn’t seeing their activity. After that came a period where you had to subscribe to your friends feed. Which made no sense to me, but still there would be those that would never pop up. Next the “share” function disappeared from posts in the groups I administer, really annoying when you are trying to share a picture of a child that is missing, or a cat that is looking for a new home. Worse when people in the group thought that I had disabled the feature on purpose. Lately however it is all starting to make sense with Facebook’s introduction of their promote* feature and other targeted advertising options. Facebook has had to change the way their ads are displayed as more and more of us access the site via a mobile device and the old style ads weren’t showing. And this has impacted their revenue of course.
One of the new options is this “promote” feature. So how does it work? Essentially you pay to have a post shown or highlighted to all your friends or fans. Because only 12 or so percent of your subscribers or fans ever see your updates by default. So there you are sharing away to hardly anyone it seems.
Ok but what does this matter? Well for a small business owner you may not have the resources to pay x number of dollars per post per share. The problem is multiplied for people and businesses who, at this moment, ONLY have a Facebook page as a way of connecting with their customers (and there are people out there whose domains merely redirect to their Facebook pages). This is not an ideal setup guys. Of course I’m not saying you shouldn’t bother with Facebook – but it’s only one of many tools you should use. First and foremost you need your own website and you also need to start collecting your own list of people who like what you have to say or what you have to sell, and have given you PERMISSION to talk to them. Facebook and other social media are a mechanism to get people to visit your website, they shouldn’t be your only channel to your customers and fans. Ultimately you want people to visit your site so that you can interest them in buying something, or share your knowledge, whatever it is you are trying to do.
When people are visiting your website you should give them the ability to signup or subscribe to your (anticipated, personal and relevant**) updates. Start your own database of folks who have given you permission to talk to them because they like what you have to say. Prove you are worthy of this trust by never selling or sharing their details, and always let them opt-out when they no longer find value in your communications. Personally I recommend Mailchimp for this purpose – it’s easy to use and integrate with your site, it’s free for the first 2,000 subscribers, the support is good and you get detailed reports of how people are responding to each and every campaign or mailshot. This is how you build a tribe**. And because your content is relevant and respected your tribe will then go on to share your products / insights / knowledge with others, and this is how you grow your business.
Well, what are you waiting for? As part of my service I will not only help you improve or setup your website, but configure your newsletter templates and integrate both with your social media accounts.
* to use the promote feature your page must have at least 400 fans, and the campaign must run for a minimum of 3 days
** Seth Godin reckons if you have something to say or want to make a difference in the world you need a tribe – namely 1,000 people committed to what you have to say who will go on to share this with others. Remember if you care about something you CAN lead others