After our last video on Facebook Smartlists Dee Sewell from Greenside Up Veg asked if it was possible to create a list of her favourite pages. Like me she ‘Likes’ lots of pages on Facebook and sometimes misses out on updates from the ones she likes most.

Here’s how to create a list of your favourite pages, be sure to add Spiderworking.com to your list won’t you! http://www.facebook.com/spiderworking

This week I talked to Fiona from Dink Design about her experience selling on Facebook:

Tell me a bit about you and your business:

My background is in Graphic Design. I studied at NCAD and worked as a designer for about 10 years. When I had my two children I began thinking of setting up my own business, one which would allow me to work from home, but also felt I needed a change of career. I turned jewellery making, a life-long hobby, into a business and so started Dink Design. I decided early in the process that the main focus of the business would be an online shop as this would fit in perfectly with my home life and allow me to work my own hours. Setting up my business page on Facebook and then my Facebook store was a natural progression for me and thankfully it’s working very well!

Why did you decide to open a shop on Facebook?

I’ve had my Facebook business page for about 3 years but only really started utilising it to actively promote my business just over a year ago. I started by posting pictures of a new collection and then when I received positive feedback and queries about prices I began posting new items with prices and descriptions and they began to sell.

I had been using Facebook this way for quite a while when I read that there were a growing number of shopping apps available for business pages. A fellow Facebook business owner mentioned OWJO and after some research I decided to add it to my page. One of the main advantages is that it allows me to accept credit cards and laser, as well as paypal which is the only option I have on my website.

How do you get people to visit your Facebook shop?

I post about it on my business page as well as on twitter offering special ‘Facebook only’ prices… I also mention it whenever I send a customer newsletter.

How do Facebook sales compare to sales from your website?

At the moment sales through my Facebook shop and direct from the wall on my page are slightly higher than those on my website which is quite amazing. I think it shows how online shoppers are changing their habits. There is more trust involved when shopping on Facebook – the customer knows that they can leave a negative comment if they are not happy with the quality of their purchase and they know that the seller doesn’t want that. And from the seller’s point of view, the advantage of a Facebook page and shop is that they can bring products straight to their customer through the customer’s news feed.

Would you advise people to open a Facebook store instead of building a website? If so why if not why not? What are the advantages of having both?

At the moment I’d say yes – start with a Facebook page and store – it’s free after all. Of course a website is essential these days but for a start-up business a Facebook page allows you to have an online presence and retail facility but without the cost involved in creating, designing and then marketing an e-commerce site. With the various apps that are available to use on Facebook you can create a pretty complex and informative page.

I set up my Facebook shop with the intention of attracting new customers who would eventually shop on my website where there is a greater choice.

What are the disadvantages of having a Facebook store?

The main disadvantage for me are the relatively high fees charged by OWJO. I sell products at a reduced price on Facebook as an incentive and with the added fees my profit margin drops quite a bit. In many ways this balances out when I take into account being able to accept credit card and debit card sales.

How much does it cost you to sell on Facebook as opposed to selling via a website?

OWJO take 7% and then there are the usual credit card processing fees, roughly 3% plus a flat fee of €0.30. I find this normally work out at about 10-11% of the sale price.

Paypal which I use on my website is less expensive. They take 3.4% plus €0.35.

What made you choose OWJO as opposed to other Facebook shop solutions?

Firstly they’re an Irish company which is important to me. Their interface is very user-friendly and professional looking, much more so than lots of the other shop fronts I’ve seen. Another important factor is that they allow me to accept credit card, laser as well as paypal. Their website is very comprehensive with lots of information and it’s very easy and straight forward to add items to the shop. Their office is local and I can call them or email knowing that they’ll get back to me.

What advice do you have for people wanting to start selling on Facebook?

Hurry up and get going! As I read somewhere recently – you may not like Facebook or Twitter or social media in general but your customers do, that’s where they are so you need to be there too!

Fiona’s Facebook shop can be found on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/dinkdesign

And her website: www.dinkdesign.ie

 

This is a belated post for Blog Action Day that fell on a Sunday this year. I’m rarely online on a Sunday and even though I had a nagging feeling that I was missing something I couldn’t pinpoint it until today. So apologies for my tardiness, but this is what I would have said.

The economic slow down in Ireland has affected the food industry here in many ways. We’ve seen restaurants close down, a resurgence of nostalgia foods – most recently old-fashioned sweets – and a whole host of new artisan producers rise. Cooking has become a massive pass time. People may not be eating out as much but there is more cooking going on in the home. I’m not sure we can blame all of this on the re**ssion but maybe there are positives we can take away from it.

Social media and blogging have become a great cost effective way for food producers, venues and enthusiasts to communicate with their customers. Sites like Any Given Food and the Irish Food Bloggers Association have sprung up and events like Savour Kilkenny have become massive social media events as well as physical events.

So how can food businesses leverage social media?

Venues

Restaurants and cafes have the opportunity to engage customers on premises. Mobile applications like Foursquare and Foodspotting may not have a huge reach in Ireland, but the users they do have are pretty passionate about utilising them. Both of these applications can be linked to Twitter and Facebook so users have the opportunity of spreading the love beyond their fellow food geeks and into the Twittosphere. By offering deals for checking in or becoming a mayor of the venue you are encouraging more visits and more shares from these hardcore users.

Incentivise your customer to stay in touch. Have you dropped your business card into the bowl in Wagamama? I know I have and I’m always delighted to get the deals that arrive in my inbox because of it. But can you be more creative? I love this example from Jay Baur’s Convince And Convert blog of a sandwich bar that uses QR codes to get you signed up to Facebook whilst waiting in the queue.

Food producers

Recipes are hugely popular online. And what better way to promote your product than sharing recipes that require its use. Text recipes are great but putting a face on the brand by making a video could be even better. As often as possible include a photograph as this will get your followers tastebuds working.

Incentivise customers to Like your Facebook page by offering exclusive taster packs in a competition. Take a look at Keith Bohanna’s Irish Artisan Food Producers Facebook page for a collection of really good giveaways. (If a little out of date).

Feature the suppliers of your product and link to their Facebook pages, twitter accounts or blogs.

Tell the story of your product, what inspired you to create it, people love to hear stories and will feel more connected with you and your brand if you share.

Ask your fans to review the product – have a competition for the best review or recipe including it.  Again this gives your potential customers some ownership of what you do and they will be delighted to see their recipes featured on your Facebook page or blog.

Food writers

Recipes again! give a way a little bit of what you have to offer. Blogging and sharing recipes from other social media users is a great way to connect with people and give a taste of what you do. I’ve always loved Kieran Murphy’s Ice cream Ireland blog. The recipes are mouth watering and when I saw Murphy’s Ice Cream shops start to appear in Dublin I was straight in to try some of the flavours he’d been talking about.  Two food writers Mona Wise from Wise Words and Marian Hearne from Dairy Free & Spelt Living are launching cook books and their Facebook pages and blogs are great advertisements for what will be inside.

My Top tips

Connect with as many other Irish food businesses as you can; through Twitter, through Facebook business pages, through blog comments and anywhere else you find them online.

Tweet during as many food events and TV shows as possible. #rtemc (RTE Masterchef) for example was a great way to connect with other passionate foodies.

Share – don’t just post about yourself, share the love, link to other foodie Facebook pages, share their recipes and their blog posts. Interact and converse to become part of the community.

Recipes, recipes, recipes! People love recipes so whether they are your own or someone else’s you are sharing, make sure people know that your page or blog is the place to come for the best recipes within your category.

Do you have any tips to add? I know that I must have missed some. I’d love to hear what has worked or not worked for you.

 

 

I was reminded of a great Facebook tip for driving more fans and engagement whilst watching a video hosted by Mari Smith recently.  It was her final tip that reminded me that this was something that I really don’t do enough of.  The tip came up again at the KLCK Bloggers Meet-up on Monday.  So what was this top tip?  It’s a simple as sharing your Facebook Page posts directly to Twitter and asking for feedback.  But how do you do this?

You can automate this process but I’ve just disconnected this feature for Spiderworking.com.  Why?  Well when I looked through my newsfeed I found that the posts looked automated, they often clashed with similar posts I was making on Twitter and it prevented me from personalising these tweets.  So today I’m going to show you how to link to a specific Facebook post manually. It’s really easy, it will bring you more engagement and as people have to ‘Like’ your page before commenting or posting it will also bring you more Fans.

1. Click the timestamp underneath the post you want to share

2. Copy the complete link from the address bar of your browser

3. Shorten the link by pasting it into a service such as www.bitly.com

4. Paste the link into a tweet asking for feedback

You can use this same method for finding a direct link to a specific tweet or Google+ post too.

 

Yesterday was the first Wednesday for a long time that I’ve failed to blog. It’s been coming for a while, the posts seem to take longer and longer and there is something… stopping me from getting it done quickly. I’m suffering from that phenomenon known as Bloggers block.

So what is the problem? Why has my usually tight blog schedule taken a dip? Maybe if I can discover why I can also discover a cure. So here’s my thoughts.

1. I’ve changed my blogging style – long time readers of my blog will remember that it used to be full of tutorials. Whilst tutorials are good, and I still do the odd one I don’t want that to be all my blog offers. I’ve found that most tutorials are better demonstrated with video. That’s not to say I’ve abandoned them completely but I love the opportunity that writing gives me to look into social media in a more in-depth way. Why is this a problem? Because I’m writing more opinion now I want to make sure I’ve researched properly and this takes time. I may have already read the articles on the issue but rifling through them for the stats or case studies I need to prove my case proves time consuming… and this brings me on to my second issue.

2. The Wall – because it’s taking me longer to write my blog posts these days I tend to put them off. To me blogging looks like a big wall that is going to be hard to climb. So I do the little things, the small jobs or the bigger jobs that are easier to achieve first. This has resulted in me blogging late in the evening or even putting it off to the next day (as today). The strange thing is I know the cure for this one, I practice it all the time with other tasks and recommend it to clients. Break the job up into sections so it is easier to digest. So I should break down my blog perhaps into ‘research’ ‘outline structure’ ‘composition’.

3. Not knowing if I’m making sense. This is a big one for me. I often read my blog back and am completely unable to know if it makes sense. I sometimes ask friends to have a look at it for me but it’s unfair to expect them to read a post every week. I don’t’ really know the solution for this one, hire a proof reader? Find a circle of friends that will help me out so I’m only asking them once a month or every two months rather than every week?

4. Topics, in fairness there is more than enough happening in social media that I shouldn’t be short of topics to cover but somehow I still seem to be staring at a blank page every week. I’ve tried lists of topics and even mind-mapping but I don’t seem to be able to keep this up for longer than a few weeks.

So what is this post about? It’s slightly self indulgent, as someone who encourages others to blog I want you to know that sometimes I find it hard too. I’d love solutions, how do you combat bloggers block? What is stopping you blog, even writing these down has helped me move on.

All suggestions will be more than gratefully received and in the spirit of curing me I’m going to do a follow up post full of your best tips.