March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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30 | PRINTWEAR M A RC H 20 1 5 Internet Strategies BY KELLY "RAGS" RAGLAND Kelly "Rags" Ragland is owner and operator of Rags to Stitches Productions, a holistic advertising specialty company that provides a range of services, from Web design and development to custom- ized apparel. Read his blog at | | | | I f you've noticed that the outreach and exposure from your business page on Facebook have started to deteri- orate, I commend you for paying attention. Facebook changed its business account algorithm in January, and we must now alter our strategies to maintain good exposure and communication with our hard-earned followers. Specifically, Facebook reduced the number of posts that promote products and services, offer entry to promotions and sweepstakes, and recycle the same content from previ- ous advertisements in users' news feeds. In simple terms, if a post feels like an advertise- ment, it won't appear in the social stream. This means you should pay to boost the post or buy an ad to reach customers with a promotional message. THE BASICS Most readers know that I'm far from opposed to buying Facebook ads. In fact, I recommend them first as a pay-per-click advertising strategy. You can target your audience so precisely that your return on investment is far better than with a pay-per-click program that simply launches your company's ad into cyberspace, hoping for the best. Using Facebook advertise- ments, you can design a message to appear only to the desired target market––other pay-per- click programs lack Facebook's vast database of user interests and demographics that allow the fine tuning of advertising goals. On the other hand, I am highly fond of free, which is what we appear to be losing here. Many of us don't have the advertising budget for a pay-per-click campaign, much less the time to maintain one adamantly. Facebook cited a survey that concluded users don't want: • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app • Posts that push people to enter promo- tions and sweepstakes with no real context • Posts that reuse the same content from ads Having that basic knowledge, let's take the United States Marine Corps mantra and "im- provise, adapt, and overcome." Considering the social media site's algorithm is essentially a robot, avoid using terms such as "Buy Now," "Sale," and "Order Today." It's al- ways recommended that you use an image to accompany your post, regardless of the content, in order to improve chances of visibility, so consider using those terms within the image rather than in the context of the message. The algorithm can't read images. Next, post interesting, engaging, conversation-generating content. At graduation time: "What was your favorite graduation gift?" Back to school: "Wouldn't you rather wear some- thing with school spirit this year?" When winter approaches: "A warm jacket sure sounds like a good idea right now." Encourage your followers to comment, post, like, and share while avoiding the in-your-face promotional approach. Use hashtags and when a hashtag is trending, jump on that opportunity to create an en- gaging post: "Did you see the great embroidery on the red carpet this awards season? #Gold- enGlobes #Oscars." When people follow a trending hashtag, you reach far more Face- book users as well as generate comments, likes, and shares. Cross-post these to Twitter for maximum return. Maintain a calendar to organize your posts and consider putting them on timers. Seasonal posts, holiday greetings, and more can be organized and put into the system well before the date arrives, keeping your posts within followers' news feeds should any promotional posts be set aside by the new algorithm. It's good practice to post nonpromotional content regularly, and it's become even more essential. Finally––if you have yet to do so–– join the mobile crowd. Throughout the business day, take a moment to show off your work and talent. Pull out your mobile device and snap a pic- ture of that stellar shirt coming off the press or that perfectly embroidered cap ready for delivery. Post it with a sim- ple comment to keep your page busy. Users may not receive all of your pro- motions in their news feed, but they wouldn't have liked your page had they not wanted to stay in touch. A buzzing Facebook page offers more opportunities for those coveted likes and shares, and sim- ple hits like this take mere seconds. Again: improvise, adapt, and overcome. By watching the statistics and monitoring fan engagement, you will soon nail a fresh strategy that beats this new algorithm and keeps your Facebook page in relevant cus- tomer news feeds. #Oorah Stay Ahead of the Social Media Curve: Facebook Changes pw

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