Small business owners are at a disadvantage when it comes to advertising. Marketing materials are expensive. Copy space in newspapers, billboards and magazines is usually out of reach.
So, military spouses, stay-at-home moms and entrepreneurs who run their businesses out of their garage turn to Facebook to spread the word, often with a lot of success.
It’s a great place to tell friends about their new business. It’s a great place for their friends’ friends to spread the word.
It’s also a great place to kill your business if you are not careful with your posts.
Last week, the ugly American I profiled, who ranted on about how she felt she deserved access to the base and credit for living near a base as a civilian, posted her soliloquy on her personal Facebook. The right place for it, realistically.
The problem? She owns her own small business and peddles Thirty-One Gifts everywhere she goes. Between her angry rants she also posts upcoming sales and specials on the bags, luggage tags and lunchboxes.
The bigger problem? A huge percentage of her customer base are the very people she was insulting with her venom-filled posts.
And, she leaves her page open to the public so everyone can see her business advertisements. Now, everyone can also see her nasty, insulting comments as well.
And that, friends, is basic business 101. Don’t be a jerk to your customers. They will walk away. And experienced business owners know it.
I sent an email to the folks at Thirty-One Gifts about the consultant’s behavior and within a matter of minutes, received a heart-felt, deeply apologetic letter. Within hours, I received two more, from two more executives, and a phone call.
Robin Hager, Career and Guideline Support at Thirty-One Gifts, wrote in an email, “We try to remind our consultants that when they post something online, that while they are not employees of Thirty-One Gifts, they do represent us, even though it is not our views, it still impacts us as a company.”
Corporate headquarters immediately spun into damage control mode. The local rep? She continue to spit nails and hate at the very people whose backs she built her local business on.
So as a once loyal customer, I copy and pasted her comments and sent them with an apology letter to my friends who I had turned into her customers over the years. They were disgusted. And passed the information on to their friends.
And with one hate-filled post, this small business owner alienated about 100 potential customers. Did it kill her business overnight? No. But eventually, it might.
The National Federation of Independent Business offers a list of dos and don’ts for using a personal Facebook page to promote a small business.
Number four on the list: “There’s no one way to use Facebook. You could start by posting occasional business updates, in case someone ever needs your service, and gauge reactions to them. Personal interests are fine, but avoid posting anything that might turn readers off.”
And send customers away.
Own a small business? Either clean up your personal social media or do not include customers and business associates on your pages.
And if you think your personal opinions and beliefs are something that can’t close your doors, think again.
The families behind the television juggernauts Duck Dynasty, cancelled after the family’s rants on their personal views angered viewers, and 19 Kids and Counting, which is now facing the same fight, might tell you otherwise.