Ellen Whyte speaks to two women who share how social media has helped them build their small businesses
By The Weekly | April 2, 2015
“MY WEBSITE BRINGS IN 80 PERCENT OF MY BUSINESS”
“In 2006, I decided to start a small business. I knew at the time that online marketing was the thing to do, but I didn’t have the right skills,” says Amy. “So I attended an online marketing workshop. Shortly after, my mum and I launched our own cake shop.”
A blog, website and a Facebook page then followed. “My website brings in about 80 percent of our business. It’s a plain overview of what we do. To display the cakes we make, I added a photo album with the help of Flickr.”
As Amy is a self-taught baker, she updates her skills by learning from other bakers online. “I use Flickr for networking with other cake makers. Pictures help me get ideas for new creations, and emails or blog posts help me communicate with fellow bakers around the world.”
“Facebook is useful for customer networking. I post short updates on what I’m doing and add pictures to each post as these catch the eye.” Amy bought her own domain name for US$9 (RM27) a year but hosts it for free via Blogger. She spends up to three hours a week updating her blog and Facebook page.
Her best marketing strategy? “I use keywords for every blog post that I know will work well for Google. For example, people will search for ‘Angry Birds cakes in Penang’ so I create a cake that fits, and then use that sentence as the title for my blog post.”
Her worst mistake? “People sometimes order online but don’t collect, so it’s important that your down payment covers most if not all of your costs.”
Her top tip “Everything online is constantly changing which means you don’t have to start off perfect. Just get your business up and running, then improve as you learn and go on.”
“ONLINE PROMOTIONS BRING IN 50 PERCENT OF CUSTOMERS “
“Facebook has really been my best avenue for business,” says Jacqueline Chang, artistic director and owner of Essensuals Hairdressing in Kuching, Sarawak. “I update it daily with notes on the latest hair styles and fashion news. It’s also the best place to offer promotions as word of mouth spreads like wildfire online!”
“I’ve found that Facebook works best for short updates, and blogs are good for bigger projects. So I’ll keep on updating the blog and link new posts to my Facebook page so that people can visit.”
Jacqueline’s average workday runs from 10 in the morning to 10 at night every day. When the salon is busy, she may not be online for up to three days at a time. Her online promotions bring in roughly 50 percent of the salon’s income.
Her best marketing strategy? “I encourage people to talk about us on Facebook. Sometimes, if one person says she loves her makeover, I get calls within the hour.”
Her worst mistake? “Once, our promotion said hair colouring ‘RM100’ instead of ‘from RM100’. I meant RM100 for short hair only. Now I know to double check everything before hitting send!”
Her top tip? “You have to be online all the time because people like to see constant updates. However, as a general rule, you have to wait about six months until you start seeing results. So hang in there!”
Visit Essensuals Hairdressing Kuching at www.jacstylist.blogspot.com.
This story first appeared in The Malaysian Women’s Weekly’s January 2013 issue. Photos by Song/Picture This and Weng/M8 Studio.
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