Blogging and Social Media Success

vintage facebook ad{image by moma via design mom}

by April MacKinnon, Anointment Natural Skin Care

Full Disclosure: Nurtured is a company I founded in 2006 as an online cloth diapering shop.  It grew to a full-fledged natural parenting shop in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2009 and continues to win awards.  I have recently sold Nurtured to focus on the impending arrival of my third child, take advantage of a transfer opportunity for my husband’s career, and grow Anointment Natural Skin Care.

In 2007, when Nurtured was still in its infancy, as was my son, blog content came easily: the adventures of cloth diapering, babywearing, breastfeeding, outings as a family; there seemed no end to the possibilities.  These posts were personal and truthful, interspersed with product information and ideas.  I received a lot of personal comments from people reading the posts, but there was very little online interaction.

In 2008 I decided a try a new tactic: I offered a monthly giveaway incentive.  For anyone who commented on any blog post during a particular month, they would be entered in a draw for an item.  These were items that I would take from Nurtured inventory to ‘raffle’ off.  The comments all of a sudden skyrocketed; it was amazing, encouraging, and exciting.  This went on for a number of months until life got busy and I simply forgot to post a giveaway, while still blogging regularly.  A few of my good friends and loyal customers continued to comment, but the volume decreased significantly.  Without the dangling carrot, our customers and readers were not remaining engaged, which led me to wonder whether it was worth the cost and effort of providing giveaways – an engaged community is a vital marketing tool, but the blogging strategy did not seem to be working very well.

By 2009, Nurtured had become a retail store and I was given some very good advice by my friend Alex, a Marketing Director: start a Facebook page.  What seemed so simple had eluded us for a long time.  Between Gillian, then Assistant Manager at Nurtured, and myself, we advertised our new Facebook page on the Nurtured blog and invited our community to join.

using facebook to promote your small business, small business marketing, nurtured products for parenting
On the Facebook page we posted anecdotes, new stock arrivals, restock notices, and general thoughts.   Our fan based grew exponentially.  One day Gillian had a fantastic idea to post a “Parenting Question of the Day”, a spinoff of questions we were being asked by customers in the shop.  If parents were asking about this topic in the shop, we reasoned, there are hundreds more who are thinking about it.  This particular strategy worked beautifully to engage our customers and has taken on a momentum of its own.   Each day we receive dozens of comments on the parenting questions, which then allows us to promote the workshops and products sold in the store and online.  The Facebook page has even all but replaced customer service emails and troubleshooting requests.  Gillian, now Manager, checks the Facebook page frequently (and each night before she goes to bed) to make sure there are no unanswered questions or to determine if there is research to be done by our staff the next day to prepare a response.  Nurtured is moving rapidly toward a day where there is a job description for a Social Media Manager.

It is perhaps the short, snappy, “in your face” approach of social media that has spawned this success – you don’t have to subscribe or check a blog daily for updates, they land in your news feed and you can comment on the fly.  It has cost Nurtured nothing, and in fact, just this month I was given a most unusual, yet useful baby shower gift from the lovely couple who run Eye Candy Signs, where I had all of the Nurtured signage produced: a vinyl Facebook ‘f’ for our shop to direct in store shoppers to our Facebook page.  Throughout the community, there is recognition for the success that the Nurtured Facebook page has become.

In keeping with this idea, Anointment Natural Skin Care also has a Facebook page, and while the strategy used at Nurtured is not applicable to every type of business, including Anointment, there is always something that can be used to engage your readership: online articles or editorials of interest, customer feedback on a new product (should the label be red or blue, for example, or “help us name our new fabulous product to be released soon”).  Customize it for your own industry and market.

Like blogging, maintaining a successful social media page does take daily effort, but unlike blogging, your effort is minimized by the limited text required, allowing you to engage your audience much faster and without such a time and resource commitment – something that all women running businesses and raising families can certainly appreciate.