Welcome to Curious Business
Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Like It Or Lose It
Is it time to abandon Facebook? This video blog post (on the bottom of that page) recently accused Facebook of suppressing unpaid posts. Only 10% of the author’s 118,000 followers ever see his stuff. Unless you actively engage with my content by liking or sharing it, Curio City will quickly disappear from your news feed -- unless, that is, I bribe Facebook to promote my posts.
The accusation and Facebook’s dissembling isn’t new, but my numbers back it up. If you’re reading my blog after clicking a Facebook link, you’re among the 15 of Curio City’s 196 subscribers who will see this post. My wife won’t see it because she doesn’t visit Facebook very often and she’s stingy with the Like button. Even I have to scroll way to the bottom of my personal news feed to see my Curio City posts. If I want my other 181 followers to see my posts –people who clicked Like for that reason – I have to pay the Facebook.
Facebook is a terrible advertising platform with only a 0.5% click rate. Nobody goes there to shop. They hold our posts hostage because they can’t sell advertising. Sites like Cracked.com and I Fucking Love Science stay in people’s news feeds by adding tons of unique and interesting content every day to get clicks to their own sites, where they’re selling advertising. That would be pointless for me since my store is a store, not a humor or news site, and I don’t sell ads.
I used to ponder killing my email newsletter because it’s no sparkplug, either. Email looks a lot better now that Facebook is suppressing posts. Last week I sent out 402 emails. Eighty-five unique opens gave me a 22% success rate, ahead of the 18% industry average but below my own 26% history. The 12 resulting clicks (14%) matched the industry-wide benchmark but fell behind my own 21% track record – granted, it wasn’t my best newsletter ever; I cranked it out in one morning and made the mistake of putting Valentines Day in the subject line, which automatically turns a lot of people off. The two sales that I got from those 12 clicks is a great conversion rate. Constant Contact costs me $16/month and I don’t use it every month, so it’s not exactly cost-effective. On top of that, I lost money to coupon redemption. But there is value in merely appearing in people’s inboxes every now and then…and I’d need something like 1,200 followers to reach 85 people on Facebook.
Back to my original question: Is it time to abandon Facebook? No, since it costs me no money and very little time. Reaching 15 people for free is better than nothing. My occasional “likes” and very rare “shares” can put a post in front of 30 or 40 people. And every business needs a Facebook page for credibility, even if nobody ever visits it. It’s time to stop thinking that Facebook = marketing, but not time to abandon it completely.
With Facebook constantly getting worse, I decided to see if the Pinterest page that I made two years ago is still there. Lo and behold, people have pinned nearly 100 of my products with absolutely no encouragement from me. The value of that is questionable; the four different people who pinned the Peace Sign Veggie Peeler generated exactly zero sales. I don’t think I can delete or hide pins by other people, and I get lost trying to navigate my own page(s). But I have a feeling that investing time in this will pay off a lot better than Facebook if I can hold my nose long enough to figure it out. Maybe next week I’ll put some hours into Pinterest.
The post office denied my $8.99 claim against a “2-Day” Priority Mail package that took 16 days to reach its destination. As far as they’re concerned, they met their obligation by delivering it at all…and that’s technically true, since Priority times aren’t guaranteed. (I’ve already written about my opinion of the USPS’s estimated delivery times.) I appealed with documentation showing that the replacement shipment cost me a $14.50 loss.
Their verdict on my e-filed claim came in a paper snail-mail letter. They will undoubtedly deny my appeal the same way. The USPS hates email.
This week I sold my 500th Create-a-Bird kite. Some people buy them to fly as-is; more buy them as a craft project for children; but with Easter looming, most will be stage props in church plays. At half the size of the Dove kite (135 sold, btw), Create-a-Bird is best for small indoor stages.
And finally, I sold four more Tunes for Two splitters, doubling my sales to $82.89 -- still a loser, but not as big a loser.