As part of the CFA’s desire to help its members, we put on a social media meeting in early May with the intention of educating and assisting with the wide array of social media tools available to help grow stallholders’ (SH) businesses and increase attendance at fairs.
Nine of us with varying degrees of social media experience met and began with general introductions of our social media skills and expectations for the day. The meeting was split into the three main topics of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all helpful for SHs and fair organisers (FO)
The adage “a picture paints a thousand words” seems very appropriate in this age of image and social media, especially “Instagram” which focuses almost entirely on images. As a result everyone agreed that social media does make a difference and can be a powerful tool, but the most important factor is turning “followers” and “likes” on social media into buyers.
Firstly Facebook: in order to have a business page on Facebook, you need to have a personal page. Once this has been set up, Facebook can be a very useful tool. You can post items about your sales, new products, feedback from customers and anything that is connected to your business. A very good option for targeting customers is to use “boosts”. These can be tailored to suit your location, customer demographic, specific interest groups etc. and for a small cost can generate positive traffic to your page/business/fair. However you must choose a good photo to show off your products, stall, fair flyer, fair preparations, venue, fair day etc. and be as precise in the wording as possible (less is more). You can also target specific Facebook groups that meet your customer criteria by using the search box (eg working women over 50). You may have to request to join the group initially but, once approved, this could be another way of reaching a wider audience. The timing of posts can be important: one attendee suggested around 9am or 5pm as good times, but trial and error may give you a better idea of the times that work for you and your customers.
Another important factor is to make it as easy as possible for anyone visiting your Facebook page, or indeed Instagram, to buy your products. If you have a website, consider using a link to it or the product featured, this might persuade a prospective customer to have a further look. This might lead to sales, which is after all the whole object of the exercise.
So, how do you maximise your “likes” and “shares”? Finding out who has interacted with your page can be tricky due to the privacy settings some users have, but you can offer followers incentives if they “like” your page, “tag” a friend and “share” your post. These incentives can be in the form of prize draws such as offering discounts on products or fair tickets, a free glass of wine or cup of coffee at the fair etc. The winner is picked from those who have complied with the actions.
It is also very important for both FOs and SHs to actively participate in promoting their events; perhaps offering a discount at the fair will encourage attendance. Some FOs ask for social media activity/ follower numbers on the application forms, so it pays for SHs to have a positive and active profile on social media.
We need to be aware that GDPR is an issue, however the details given by customers online can be retained if they are of “legitimate interest”, this had been checked by one of our attendees with her solicitor. The use of customer’s email addresses for mailing is allowed, if the customer has given permission, and can be a good way of maintaining interest in your business and essential for informing people about a fair.
Sites like Shopify, Mailchimp and Hootsuite are useful tools for all social media platforms; they give access to online marketing, mailshots and in the case of Hootsuite, allow you to pre plan your weekly posts on all your social media.
Secondly Instagram: being a visual medium it is a very useful marketing tool and is now considered more popular than Facebook. Be sure to choose the best pictures you can to show off your product/event and post still photos to your “feed”. Videos will go on your “story”. Instagram has an editing capacity and there are plenty of picture editing apps available in the App Store (eg Layout), so have a look and try some out. Using hashtags (#) are also key to attracting followers, for inspiration why not look at the pages of others who have similar products to you and see what #s they use and how they style their images. Pick as many #s as you can using as many relevant words and connected ideas. For honey you could use #honey, #healthyliving, #bees, #beekeeping, #natural etc. Always try to pick the most popular # wording from the drop-down list suggested by Instagram. Use the CFA #shoptogive and where possible “tag” products/organisations in your posts starting with @; if you are at a fair, “tag” the fair, the charity, the location, the CFA and your fellow stall holders.
With regard to maximising followers, you need to follow other Instagram users, follow back people who have followed you. See if any of their followers meet your criteria and if so, try to connect with them. You can share posts and it is nice to acknowledge new followers with a personal message and as with Facebook you can always offer them an incentive to shop with you. Start by following and liking the CFA and your fellow CFA members.
It is good to use words when commenting on a post rather than an emoji (J) or a like. If you can, post something that is “trending” (eg #mothersday, #rhschelsea, #throbackthursday, etc) and by using as many of the associated #s you may attract new followers. You can also post fun or unusual photos to raise your profile. People love quirky or personal stories; and why not share pics from your customers with their purchases (obviously with their permission in writing).
Thirdly Twitter: This was not seen as being as popular as Facebook & Instagram, but certainly worth using as it reaches a different audience and is more immediate. All the same principles apply as with Facebook & Instagram – use good photos, be succinct and include a link to your website.
The overall lesson from the day was to TRY EVERYTHING! Above all use great pictures, keep wording to a minimum and use lots of #s. Post regularly, use the boosts and importantly like and follow your fellow CFA members and fairs. REMEMBER #shoptogive.
By Katherine Wilford – Assistant Administrator
Nothing is more important than your mailing list. If you do not have a good mailing list, the chances are that you won’t have a good fair. What’s more, if you do not regularly update and add to your list, your numbers through the door are likely to fall. Your committee’s most important task throughout the year is to collect names and addresses of likely supporters and add them to your list. Whilst it is tempting to just use email for invitations to avoid costs, posting a nicely printed invite on decent card speaks volumes and is very effective. Especially if it is on people’s mantelpieces and friends see it. The best invitations are attractive, coloured, folded and clearly stating the charity, date and time of the fair, venue and its postcode, a list of stallholders. BUT BEWARE GDPR RULES!