Join our Bay Area Facebook Networking List

Clint Sharp


We are a group of likeminded solopreneurs and small businesses/organizations in the Bay Area who are committed to sharing quality content on our Facebook pages, in an effort to build stronger relationships and increase overall awareness in our local communities.

If you're in the Bay Area (Northern California) and you have your own Facebook business page where you post fabulous content on a regular basis (or want to!)... click here to join our networking list.

We champion each other’s business growth by liking and sharing each other’s Facebook page posts. It means spending just a few minutes each week engaging with fellow members’ content on their pages. You’ll get back as much as you give, if not more.

Engagement on our posts is what drives our collective ability to reach more people. A rising tide lifts all boats!

Just three rules for participation:


We are on the honor system. You’re free to leave the group at any time if your needs change – no pressure - just sharing and caring. Just put a weekly reminder in your calendar and have fun with it!


1.  SET-UP YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE

Your page should be complete with your business description, contact info, and quality photos. It can be brand new, well-established, or even ready for resurrection after a period of neglect – as long as you are ready to commit to using your Facebook page as the valuable marketing and self-promotion tool it can be.
 
Nitish Meena at unsplash.com

2.  POST QUALITY CONTENT ON A REGULAR BASIS

We are each committed to posting quality content (see below for examples) on our pages at least twice per week. Content which inspires, informs, educates, and/or elicits emotion is king! We value the 80/20 rule when it comes to authentic conversation versus commercial sales messages. We enjoy creating our own content, as well as celebrating or curating other people’s content that aligns with our values and our customers' interests. 

Phil Coffman at unsplash.com

3.  ENGAGE WITH 3+ OTHER PAGES ONCE A WEEK

By joining this group, we each promise to visit at least 3 other pages from our Facebook list each week and engage with at least 1 recent post on each page. Ideally we should mix it up and visit different pages every so often, depending on which businesses resonate the most with each of us. Keep your own followers' interests and lifestyles in mind – look to share posts that you think they will enjoy as much as you do.

Engaging with a post means a minimum of hitting the "like" button. But if you really like it, feel free to leave a comment. If you love it, share it to your own page and add your two cents.

facebook newsfeed settings for business pages

HANDY NEWSFEED TIP: 
Change the newsfeed settings for the pages you plan to visit so it’s easier for you to spot new posts each week. Under the main “like” button at the top of any page, there is a drop-down menu – choose “See First” for your newsfeed. And if you really want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, set Notifications for the page to “On” and you’ll get an alert whenever there’s a new post.

ABOUT COMPETING BUSINESSES: 
There is no limit or exclusivity in this group, so we may have a few businesses who compete directly with each other. There’s room for everyone to benefit from this group, so with the honor system in place, we all promise to be respectful competitors and play nice in the sandbox.

PLEASE NOTE - the group moderators reserve the right to remove anyone who’s not contributing or not respecting the honor system.

Examples of quality content: 

  • Personal observations, humor, curious trivia
  • Business news, industry expertise, topical facts, current trends
  • Helpful tips, hacks, recommendations
  • Motivational quotes and images
  • Celebrating your colleagues, customers, community
  • Photos of interesting or inspiring things in your life (pets, vistas, parties)
Good grammar, proper spelling, positivity, and clear, well-lit photos are desirable. Try to appeal to your target audience in a variety of ways – talk about their lifestyles and personal interests as well as your own. Focus on real thoughts, useful Q&A, organic conversation starters, value, integrity, transparency and fun. Remember that even though we’re using it to develop our business relationships, social media is still “social” at its core.

Don't be afraid - dive in! Call me if you need help - I want to see you succeed.


How to get more spark from your Facebook business page

Alondra Olivas at Unsplash.com

So you already know the value that a presence on Facebook can bring your business. Now, these are the key words to remember when you're planning content for your business page:

  • Relevance
  • Value
  • Authenticity
  • Humanity
  • Relationships
  • Community
  • Frequency
  • Engagement

These words reflect (what should be) the core components of the messages you write, the content you share, the schedules you keep for any of your social media platforms, especially Facebook.

Jason Rosewell on Unsplash.com

Find your best voice


It's important that you set the right tone with what you post on your Facebook page:

  • Be real, not fake. Tell the truth. Be authentic.
  • Speak like a friend. Know what your followers care about. 
  • Show compassion. Celebrate others. Be of service.  
  • Take pride in what you do. Share your vision. Be ethical.
  • Talk with people, not at them. Make conversation.
  • Keep your sense of humor and promote positivity.
  • Remain calm and objective in the face of complaints.
  • Inspire and educate people. Build community.
  • Speak your mind, but go easy on the "buy me, buy me!"

Social media is still exactly that - social. While it certainly does cater to plenty of commercial messaging, news broadcasts and mindless entertainment, social media still lives and breathes for the immediate connectivity it provides people. Businesses and solopreneurs who nurture and cherish that space of connectivity are more likely to see results.

Alex Jones at Unsplash.com

Learn what people like


So what are those results, exactly? For Facebook business pages, it's all about the almighty "like." Do they like your page, do they like your posts, do they like it all enough to want to comment and share?

All that liking gives you engagement measurements, allows you to answer questions, get feedback, and it helps to expand your reach. Facebook's mysterious algorithms reward engagement and frequency by delivering your posts to more of your followers in their news feeds. Plus your followers' friends see what they're liking, so those friends might have a look, too.

The most important thing to do is test and measure how people respond to different kinds of content, as well as how Facebook delivers it. Photos and videos (uploaded directly) generally get the most traction, then plain text posts do fairly well after that. Instant sharing of other pages' viral posts can do pretty well. Posts with outside links are important for occasionally driving followers to your website or another reputable source, but they tend to get less attention - primarily because Facebook doesn't deliver them as widely. No doubt the bots are geared to keep people hanging out on Facebook, rather than leaving to visit another site.

Kats Weil at Unsplash.com

Gather your champions


Despite the constant battle with Facebook's algorithms, engagement always begets more engagement. If you're having trouble getting those first few likes that start the ball rolling, enlist a team of champions among your friends, family and colleagues who will regularly hit the like button. Educate your followers to update their page settings to see your posts first, or they can even get an alert whenever you post. Make sure your content is so awesome that they don't want to miss a thing.

There are several more ways to improve how you use your Facebook page to garner more engagement, from making it easier for people to find and connect with you, to creating more awesome content, to spending a few bucks on ads, to mapping out your editorial calendar and posting schedule. I like this helpful post from the Hootsuite blog, which goes into more detail about good Facebook page strategies.

Good luck and try to have fun with it!

Facebook user statistics that every small business needs to know

facebook is the new yellow pages for business

There's no getting around it anymore - having an active Facebook business page today is what being listed in the Yellow Pages used to be before the internet. It's a given, a no-brainer, a MUST.

Whether you just need a free one-liner to verify your existence or you want to blast your competition with a full-page ad and fold-out coupons, your business will benefit from a Facebook presence, one way or another.

Facebook continues to dominate social media with more users than any other platform, which means it's a wonderfully giant public park where you can engage with your colleagues and customers, no matter what type of business you have.

Portland State University Flickr

How many people use Facebook?

There are more than 190 million Facebook users in the US - that's 60% of the people in our country, and it's projected to get incredibly close to 100% in the next 5 years.

William Iven Unsplash.com

How old are Facebook users and where do they live?

While the majority of users are between the ages of 25 to 54, there are still a significant number of younger and older users, too. So whatever age range holds your target audience, you'll find plenty of them hanging out on Facebook for an average of 40 minutes per day.

Of course, if you do business in states like California, New York, Florida or Texas, you're lucky to have local access to higher concentrations of Facebook users. Not quite so many users in places like Wyoming, New Mexico, Alaska or Montana. But that's all the more reason to consider expanding your business to serve people nationwide - whether you ship products, provide service via phone or email, or offer digital downloads.

Seth Doyle Unsplash.com

What do Facebook users care about?

There are more than 280,000 interests that Facebook says its users have. Some are fairly vague (laughter, wonder) and others are fairly odd (shut-up, narcissistic parents), but there's sure to be an audience for whoever you want to reach with whatever you want to sell. Even the unusual interests say something about the people's lifestyle, values and/or humor - any of which could reveal your perfect buyers. Check out this list of the top 2000 interests - it's really quite interesting (pun intended)!

So with all these different people, all across the country, with all these varied interests, all spending time together in one place - can you really afford NOT to have a presence for your business on Facebook? Especially since it's free to set up and maintain a business page?

crowded beach facebook users

Don't get me wrong, you do need to spend a little money (and a fair amount of time) building a quality following in order to reap any benefits.

Once you're set up, the most important piece of the pie is content - as in information (well, as in happy, too!). In order to build great relationships with a growing legion of followers, you must post fabulous things on a regular basis that inspire, inform, educate and/or elicit emotion. I can help you with that - send me a message and let's chat.

PS - if you really want to geek out, click here for another 20 valuable Facebook stats.

Great reasons to celebrate your business

celebrate your business

As we begin the fourth quarter of the year, now is a great time to take stock of how your business has been going so far and make some plans for next year.

Think about which marketing efforts worked...and which didn't. What you were able to sell...and what you are still sitting on. Who gave you great feedback...and who complained.

What are you going to do differently next year to grow or at least sustain your business? How will you keep people interested and how will you keep yourself motivated?

One way to approach these questions is to consider some of the many great reasons there are to celebrate yourself, your business, your customers and your market at large - any of which can translate into marketing efforts:
  • New product or service - addition to a line, new innovation, improvements, ideas coming soon
  • Hitting a big milestone - number of social media followers, number of sales, bringing an idea to fruition
  • Holiday - real ones like Halloween, industry celebrations like American Craft Week, or silly ones like National Hot Dog Day
  • Seasonal - summer, spring, fall or winter, tax time, back to school, vacation
  • Anniversary or birthday - for yourself, your customers, your staff, your business
  • Teachable moment - witty observations, life lessons, zen quotes, kidspeak
  • Public mentions - article in a local paper or trade magazine, getting noticed online, customer success stories
  • Inspiration - local culture, nature, colors, animals, positive imagery
  • New event - teaching a class, hosting a reception, attending a show
  • General news - staff changes/additions, new location, awards, community or customer activities
How many of these ideas resonate with you? Pick and choose from this list to plot out your plans on next year's calendar for designing, producing and marketing. Remember to celebrate your customers and colleagues, too - not just yourself. Call me if you need help!


7 steps for writing effective sales copy

Morgan Weistling

You might already be familiar with something called "tripwire" marketing - maybe not because you learned about it in a business course, but rather you experienced it as a consumer.

You've probably seen a website or received an email that went on and on for a really long time (it felt like you were scrolling down forever!), filled with lots of headlines and overflowing with exclamation points and boldface type. It talks rather repetitively about a common complaint, how you're undoubtedly feeling about it, and then...wait for it...there's an amazing, super cheap product that will magically solve your problem.

Then right after you buy it, you start getting more emails or more webpages, promising more satisfaction if you spend more money. The copy for all these messages was most likely written using a tripwire template.

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with tripwire marketing as a sales tactic. First of all, the name itself has a pretty negative connotation: 
tripwire (noun) - a wire stretched close to the ground that works a trap, explosion or alarm when disturbed, serving to detect or prevent people from entering an area.
Sounds manipulative, like we're supposed to trip people up and force them to fall into a trap. But tripwire marketing tactics are pretty common and have been around for a long time - we see them every day at our supermarkets and department stores, not just online or in emails.


via GIPHY

It's really just about using a free or cheap products to bring people in, so that we can then encourage them to buy additional or more expensive products. It can be effective because most people are willing to accept something free or cheap with little or no hesitation, whereas a more expensive product usually gives us pause.

To me, many of the emails and webpages I've seen that were written with tripwire templates feel fake and unnecessarily long-winded, like the crazy carnival guy trying to sell snake oil. But I will say that the basic, boiled-down structure of a tripwire template can actually be a helpful reference for writing concise copy that flows smoothly for the reader.

Whether you're writing an email, an article, a blog post or text for a website page - the words, phrasing, format and length you choose should flow naturally and guide your readers such that they genuinely want to keep reading what you've written from beginning to end. I'm not talking about manipulation, I'm talking about sincere engagement. Hopefully I'm doing that for you right now...  :-)

Here are 7 steps for writing effective sales copy:

  1. Write a headline that speaks directly to a perceived problem or need
  2. Feature engaging or aspirational images
  3. Define your customer's perceived problem or need clearly
  4. Support your statements with facts and testimonials to establish authority and credibility
  5. Offer your product/service as a solution with easy "click here" purchasing access
  6. Include simple, bulleted details about the features and benefits of your product/service
  7. Anticipate potential objections and provide answers to frequently asked questions
Whenever you need to write specifically about what you sell, and you want to see click-throughs that convert to sales, I believe that following these steps will give you the best chance of success.

Just remember to balance your sales messages with non-commercial content. Too much "buy me, buy me" without enough useful information, inspiration and/or education makes for very unhappy readers who will not likely become loyal customers or ambassadors.

Crafting your intent

In my Creative Solopreneurs column for the latest issue of Bella Crafts Magazine, I write about the importance of crafting your intent.

When you are completely clear on your own intent for your business, you can develop more effective messages to attract the kind of customers you want, get them to feel something, and then guide them toward making a purchase – or at least inspire them to share your message.

Click here to purchase this digital issue and read my full article.

Why creative solopreneurs should care about marketing


As a columnist for Bella Crafts magazine last year, I wrote about our creative space - organizing tips, motivational prompts and storage ideas.

This year, I'm writing about marketing for creative solopreneurs. Here's an excerpt from my current column:

Creative solopreneurs are those of us who have taken (or are considering taking) our beloved craft hobbies to the next level. I will attempt to provide insights and answers to that proverbial question - can we quit the day job and make money doing what we love the most?
A few years ago, I took the plunge myself...and lived to tell about it. As a designer in the craft industry, I’ve made a nice transition from hobby to job. And as a marketing consultant, I enjoy helping solopreneurs in many different industries to take their self-promotion more seriously.
So let’s talk a bit about marketing and why creative solopreneurs should care about it. First of all, you must think of yourself as a small business from the get-go. Marketing strategies are, at their core, the same for any size business, whether you run a global company with thousands of employees or you run a dining room table operation with thousands of buttons. It’s just a matter of being realistic about your goals and resources.

Click here to download your free copy of the Spring 2016 issue of Bella Crafts and read the rest of my column. You'll enjoy several other columnists and plenty of inspiring craft project tutorials, too!

How does your home page measure up?

This is a great infographic from HubSpot that outlines twelve important elements that should be on the home page of your website. I just had to share it, because I still see so many sites that miss the mark. You only have a second or two to make a good first impression when people land on your site. Make sure your home page gives visitors plenty of good reasons to click around and learn more about what you offer.

The value of video

value of video lisa fulmer


Check out the article I wrote (pages 14-16) for Craft Industry Today, a monthly magazine for members of the Craft & Hobby Association.

I talk about how to use video, in your shop and on your website, to engage with more people and help them make informed purchasing decisions. Quality engagement means happier and more loyal customers!

Setting SMART goals

Albert Einstein
No, I'm not talking about being smart like Einstein. Back in the 80s, management and marketing experts developed the SMART acronym as a guideline for setting more effective business goals. 

It’s still a viable tool today - use this acronym for every goal you set for yourself and your business – from sales and marketing to production and expenses. Learn more about it in this post I wrote for the Creative Income blog.

Why a marketing plan is so important for solopreneurs

message in a bottle
Wikimedia Commons
As solopreneurs, are you taking your marketing seriously enough? Have you written a marketing plan for your business, or do you think that's something only larger companies need to worry about?

The crux of marketing is the same for everyone, no matter what size or type of business you're in. Marketing is about getting the right message to the right people at the right time.

The real challenge of marketing for solopreneurs isn’t so much about finding enough time and money to buy advertising, engage on social media, design a nice website or print some postcards. Yes, those are all marketing issues you'll surely have to deal with, but the real challenge of successful marketing is figuring out what the right message is, who the right people are, and when the right time is.

That's where a marketing plan comes in. I recently wrote about why solopreneurs should care about it for the Creative Income blog. Click here to read the full post.