Friday, 22 July 2011

Facebook promotion for your small business

I'm not claiming to be an expert on this, but I posted a status about the following, and it seemed to be well received advice. It turns out Facebook have changed the way they'd like small businesses and companies to interact with their fans and customers, but haven't made this obvious.

There are three main ways to interact with customers on Facebook, and as I'm often asked which is the best way to go, here are the pros and cons of each. If there are terms you don't understand, I've explained them at the end in a glossary to avoid patronising those that know, and alienating those that don't.

N.B. I'm going to be using Joined at the Print, a pop-up shop in Leeds, as an example in this article. This is only because they have a group, a place and a profile, and as a pop-up shop they are no longer open, so it felt the fairest way to use examples without using someone who is currently still trading.

1.Having a 'business' profile

Making a profile for your business might seem like a good idea, and sometimes it certainly is. If you are a singular performer, e.g. a burlesque dancer, solo-ist, artist or similar, then it can certainly make sense to have profile similar to your personal profile, but just with your business name.

What isn't a good idea, in my opinion, is having a profile named after your business. For an example, there is a profile named Joinedattheprint Leeds.


People can easily 'tag' you, in both photos and updates – tagging in updates and comments is an interesting development on Facebook. If you tag someone, then anyone reading the comment can easily click the tag and see who or what you are talking about.

If someone interacts with you, you always get a notification of some kind.

You can easily get messages sent to you – there is a clear message button on the right hand side.

You appear in people's news feed.

It's easy for people to see where your photos are stored (on the left hand side, there is a link labelled 'Photos')


You can only tag people who you are friends with – if you want to tag someone who hasn't accepted your friend request, you can't tag them.

You need a different email address.

The profile might get deleted by Facebook when they realise you are not a real person.

You cannot advertise yourself on Facebook or update fans en mass.

Fans cannot come along and just casually 'like' you – they have to request friendship, which might take time for you to accept, and they may just get bored waiting.

Profiles have a cap – this means you can only be friends with a limited amount of people.


Don't have a business profile if you can help it - I do have a business profile, but I use it merely to interact with people I don't know very well. I don't use it to promote my business. It's also helpful as I can have both my personal profile and business profile as admins on pages, which is priceless when a fanpage is deleted (more on this later).

2. Having a group

Groups on Facebook have changed almost beyond recognition. They are, to be blunt, a pain in the backside. Old groups did not look much different to profiles, but now they have made it so you have little to no interaction with your fans and customers. For example of what the new group looks like, go to the Joined at the Print group.


I honestly couldn't find one


There is no 'like' button at the top of the page.

People have to request to join it, even if it's an 'open' group. This makes fans and customers feel uncomfortable. The only time this isn't an issue is if you're selling some sort of adult item, such as lingerie, sex toys, fetish wear, in which case people will be glad of the perceived anonymity.

When you set a group it, it asks who you would like to add to the group. You might think this will email a recommendation to your friends – it doesn't, it adds them to the group immediately, without asking them if they want to be a member. On my business profile, I keep getting added to groups, and even when it's something I'm interested in, it really annoys me! I like to choose what I want to be a part of.

You won't appear in people's news feeds.

You won't always receive an email notification. The only notification you'll get is either at the top of Facebook, where you can see in the picture it says '6', or on the left hand side, where you can see next to 'Birds Yard – Sho...' it says '3'. You can change this setting so you receive an email when someone posts in the group, but as it seems the default setting is for not to receive an email, and you want customers to see what YOU are writing, not the other way round, this doesn't really help.

You cannot 'tag' a group – this is probably the biggest issue. There are a few people inside Bird's Yard, and we have a combination of groups, pages and profiles between us. If I want to tag someone's business, and they only have a group, I can't, meaning I can't advertise for them. If I take a photo, and they only have a group, I can't tag their business in the photo, and if someone was looking and thought they liked that item, they would have to ask where it was from, instead of just following the 'tag'.

You cannot connect a group to a place, so people cannot 'check into' your business.


Use groups merely for talking to friends and colleagues. We have a Bird's Yard group where all the shop owners can chat about stuff, and this is what groups are tailor made for, in my opinion. I also have one for research (in the picture you can see it – 'LBC Research Group').

3.Having a 'page'

These used to be 'fanpages' but now are so much more. They're like a profile, as they have photos, status updates, and can be tagged, but have the added advantage of having 'fans' rather than friends.

For an example, here once again is Joined at the Print. This page has not had much done to it, as it was set-up almost by accident by myself just as the shop was closing!

If you want to see a page which is more active, then mine is here.


As you can see above, a page looks a lot like a profile. To see it like this, you have to click on 'like'. It's quick and easy to interact with the page, but also quick and easy to stop interacting (you can simply click on 'unlike' at the bottom left. It's definitely more of a choice whether you want to 'like' the page, and 'liking' something is a lot more customer friendly than requesting friendship, or asking to join.

You should get email notifications – at first I didn't, but then realised this was because they were all in my spam folder. If you don't get email notifications, you can click on 'notifications' on the right hand side, and easily see who has interacted with your page.

It's easy to see where photos and information are – they are all on the left hand side underneath the profile picture.

As well as the usual photos, you can also add many other Facebook apps. If you sell stuff, there are links to add your ebay, etsy and folksy shops, which means you can direct customers easily so they can make purchases.

You can create events – and then update all your fans about it at once. Much better than inviting all your friends individually!

One of my favourite things is 'Use Facebook as page' – on my page you can see it there on the right hand side below 'admins'. Clicking on this means you become your business – it's hard to describe what I mean without you doing it, but it basically means your business page becomes like a business profile. Anything you 'like' or comment on, you do so as your business. This is fantastic if you don't want people to know about your profile, as you don't need to disclose who you really are.

You can connect your page to a place – then when people check-in, they do so at your business, and everything is easily together in one place.

You appear in news feeds, can be tagged in comments, updates and (usually) photos.

There is no 'cap' on how many people can like you.


If your profile is deleted, and you only have one admin, then your page is also deleted. Harsh isn't it? This is why it's a good idea to have two admins (as you can see on my page).

It's hard to get messages sent to you without disclosing who you really are. There is an app to create a 'contact form' on your page, but as there are only so many apps visible (you can see the others by clicking 'more', but customers tend to be lazy!) I like to have the most important ones at the top.


Get a page. Seriously. In my opinion, it's the only way that makes sense.



'App' - (in this case) small piece of programming that Facebook allows you to add to your page which gives little links for customers to follow.

'Check-in' – a new feature available on Smartphones. Basically, opening Facebook on a Smartphone utilises the GPS, and allows you to say where you are. It's quite a good way of getting new customers, as when people go to 'check-in' they can see what's nearby, so if you have a 'place' on Facebook, you might just find people pop-in after seeing they are near you.

'Friends' – you can request friendship with other profiles on Facebook. If they do not accept your friendship, it just means you can't really interact with them.

'Group' – old style groups looked very similar to pages, new style groups appear on the left of your homepage. They are either 'open', 'closed', or 'secret' and are really best used as a way to communicate with colleagues and friends.

'Like' – A small link underneath comments and updates. Clicking on this link does a few things. It means you will received notifications of all comments which appear, but it also means that you have 'interacted; with this, and boosts it up the news feed.
This can also refer to a box at the top of a Facebook 'page'. Clicking like on a page means you get to see all content on that page, as well as being able to tag the page in comments and status updates.

'News feed' – clicking on 'home' shows your news feed, which has various settings. The best setting to have is 'Most recent' or 'Top news'. Most recent literally shows them in chronological order, and Top news shows the updates which have been most interacted with.

'Notification' – this is an email sent to tell you someone has interacted with you on Facebook. It could be that someone has commented after you or on an update you 'liked', they have posted in a group you are a member of, or they have sent a message, etc.
This could also refer to the notifications link on the right hand side of a 'page' belonging to you.

'Page' – these used to be called 'Fanpages' and are what people 'Like' on Facebook. It looks almost exactly like a personal profile.

'Place' – these are what people use to 'check-in' at on Smartphones. They are basically a 'page' with an address.

'Profile' – this is probably what you already have on Facebook – a page named after you, with photos of you, where you interact with friends.

'Tag' – if you type @ on Facebook in a status update or comment, you can then choose to 'tag' people on your friend list. For example, if someone wanted to tag me, they'd type '@p', and all their friends whose names being with P would then appear. Simply clicking on the correct name inserts the 'tag' into whatever you're writing.
It can also refer to tagging someone in a photograph.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Meet the artist - Carla De Azevedo

I'm characteristically bad at interviews, so you'll have to excuse me. Carla and I interviewed each other at work; whilst she had prepared questions and seemed to have thought a lot about interviewing me, I got a copy of Fab annual 1976, and used some questions out of it, as well as having a little chat, and randomly making notes. It's an interview technique I like to call 'crap'.

Carla is 22, and I first came across her brand Maus Haus when she moved onto a shelf at Bird's Yard. I was taken with the neatness of her sewn badges and purses, particularly the ones printed with photographs. As she came in the shop more, I found out she was a photographer, and the photographs printed onto the material were her own. We talked about her doing a photo shoot for me, and in doing so, I was really fascinated by the ideas she came up with. Carla seems quiet and shy when you first meet her, but underneath her tiny frame are layers upon layers of talents and experiences. After doing a couple of fairs with her, she's obviously perfectly suited to retail; as she says herself 'I like being helpful, and sending customers away happy.'

I talked to Carla about how she had started her business. She'd worked for a debt collection agency previously, and had found it too stressful being mean to people on the phone. She had to make the decision, as she says, 'whether to be nice and jobless, or a horrible person'. She quit, and began to 'make stuff'. The first thing she was commissioned to make was a purple furry bag at the age of 14, with linked kilt pins for a handle, so she started to make accessories. Her first stall was in Bradford, and it led to her meeting people who gave her opportunities to sell her items in shops.

She came across Bird's Yard through Factory 4, a screen printing workshop in Leeds, who also had a pop-up shop inside the Yard. She loved the shop, and began renting a shelf, but would also often pop in to see what else was going on, and got involved in lots of side events (such as the West Yorkshire Playhouse Vintage Fair, where I first got to know her properly) and photo shoots using clothing and props from the shop.

After finishing her university degree, she didn't relish the idea of getting another office job, and decided that she'd go self-employed. Knowing there were shops to rent inside Bird's Yard, she took the plunge, and expanded from one shelf into her own shop, 'Nouveau' on the top floor. As well as Maus Haus, she would be bringing in other designers she had met and worked with, and had grand designs on having photography exhibitions in the corridor. Even though it's only just been open a month, she sees it as an 'exciting and creative space', and I can already see it evolving every week.

As well as this potted history, I also asked a few questions. Take from them what you can.

Where have all the flowers gone?

Holmfirth Art Market. I tried to build a garden on my stall, as there was a prize for the best stall, and the theme was the garden. It went wrong because I didn't have room for the flowers, and then the train station was evacuated (NB I've written evaporated, but I'm assuming this is what you meant). I lost anyway, the winner brought a real tree with her!

Is handwriting a key to character?

If it is I'm a really messy person. But it's not really my fault as I'm left handed.

Your wardrobe includes?

Giant black fairy wings, hooded cloak, tutu, ladybird deely boppers and a black corset from Grin I bought myself as a treat after working all Christmas as Merrie England Cafe.

What's the first thing you remember making?

I started by cutting up doll clothes, and then made stuff with textiles. I thought it was cheaper than buying them, cause I didn't price my time. Even now the balance between covering costs and not ripping customers off is hard to hit.

Who do you admire?

Leigh Shepherd - she makes my stuff look amateurish

Nicky Dilaston - I met her at an artist book fair, and it made me think I'd like to also do a fair. Eventually things came full circle as I did a fair with her!

Wychbury - everything is so nicely packaged, with great attention to detail. Her sewing themed display was amazing.

Peas or cheese?

Always cheese. I love cheese and hate peas, especially the idea of pease porridge. Maybe that's split peas...I'm just put off the whole pea family.

What's your best seller?

My grey and black stripy purses. They're more 'me' so I'm probably more enthusiastic about them.

Well, I'd better get one of those then...

I asked Carla to make me a bag, as I'm sick of having to dig through a massive canvas bag just because it has a good strap. The bag she made me is so soft, but as it's lined it's also really strong. The strap is exactly the length I wanted, and despite her saying how it wasn't right, it's perfectly finished, like everything she makes. I just had to buy the matching purse to go with it! This purse is like a tardis - it looks very small, but fits absolutely tons inside it. Just like Carla herself.

This bag is just the right size for my iPad, and has a front pocket for my stylus.

Beautiful turquoise lining and matching zip - this is what she thought wasn't neat enough! Look at it! It's beautiful.

The purse has matching lining.

Deceptively small - this purse shape was invented by Carla herself, and is perfect for using as a purse or make-up bag.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Nearly a year of Bird's Yard!

It's our birthday party soon, and everyone in the shop was asked to write something about our experiences in the shop. Here is what I wrote, just thought you might be interested.

I'm Chloe, often known as Pesky, and the following is a short bit about myself, and my involvement with Bird's Yard.

I'm the offspring of a mother who would often say 'we could make that,' and a father who hoarded second hand stuff in his garage (a sort of charitable Delboy). I began my creative life as a teenager, making my own clothes out of duvet covers and writing fanzines about imaginary bands I created with my brothers. This led to eventually producing my own 'zine, Pocket, in which I interviewed and reviewed real bands, asking them inciteful questions such as 'Peas or cheese?'.

After brief stints as a bingo caller, behavioural therapist, dental receptionist and one of those people who put stickers on oranges, I found my true calling as an artist. I started by selling animal paintings, and then progressed to greeting cards, toys and finally one-off wearable art creations (or jewellery as some people might prefer it).

A chance encounter with Michelle Walton gave me the opportunity to stock my art inside Bird's Yard. I first saw the shop when it was a shell, and watched as it grew into an amazing creative hub. The way the shop works is unique; I rented a small cabinet downstairs, and worked one day a week. Lots of similar places don't allow you to work inside them, and without this experience, I would not have gained any of the wonderful advice and mentoring that Michelle gave me.

My jewellery sold very well, and I eventually made the decision to expand into a half shop on the first floor. The arrangement allows me to work half a week, which is perfect as I have a husband at home who I am a carer for. It's a very flexible, community driven shop, and we all help one another.

After 9 months, I have a regular customer base, and as I use the shop as a studio, visitors get the chance to have any jewellery modified, repaired or custom-made. Socialising with customers, showing them the love we all have for our products, whether we've made them ourselves or sourced them, is the most rewarding thing in the world, and without Bird's Yard, I would not be as fulfilled as I am.