The Business Dept.

The 10 Commandments of Facebook Events

moses-10-commandments

When used correctly, Facebook event pages can help you fill your event and get the guests you want. Incorrectly used, you can find your invitations regularly ignored, or even blocked, by your intended guests.

Here are the ten rules of Facebook events we use to get the most out of the service.

1)Don’t ‘make’ it personally: Host a Public Facebook Event

It’s better to have an event hosted by a page, rather than your own personal account, as it allows more people to be able to engage with the event. Events hosted by personal accounts have additional restrictions on who can view and interact with them, which hamstrings your ability to reach the audience you want.

2) Ready, Set, Go: Creating a Facebook Event

It’s best to get your event online as soon as you have a photo, title, and description for it.   If you end up needing to change any details, you can always edit an event before it’s scheduled to end.  It’s best to get it up as soon as possible so your event can generate the social interest and organic reach it needs to attract guests. As a rule we recommend having the page up and active at least six weeks before the event is set to start.

3) What’s in a Name: Titling your Facebook Event

Keep your title simple, clean, and general. The more information included in the title, the more information people can use to exclude themselves from the event; we recommend just giving your invitees enough information for them to click on the event.    For example, rather than titling an event “7/15 @ 6pm The Streetcar Conductors play Happy Hour at The Golden Pickle”  simplify it to “Streetcar Conductors Happy Hour” and include the rest of the information in the event listing.  (BTW check out the Streetcar Conductors)

4)Just the Facts: Keep Descriptions Brief

Keep your description of the event concise—most people will not read past the first paragraph. Also, anything more than 10 lines (about 100 words) will be hidden behind a “See More” link on the Facebook Event Page,  so keep all necessary information at the top. Rather than copying and pasting the bio and press-kit of each artist or presenter, @tag them in the descriptions and tell your invitees why it’s important to come to this event.

5)Stay Grounded (No Flyers): Facebook Event Photo

Sometimes a good photo is hard to find or create, but it’s always worth the effort to have a compelling image rather than throwing up an event flyer or handbill as the Facebook event photo. While it may feel more efficient, using a flyer for your Facebook Event image is a bad idea. Images with text don’t fare well on Facebook, as people generally don’t engage with text images as much as they do with images of people, free of text or added styling (a cool filter is okay). We recommend using a photo of people smiling, connecting, and having fun. An image from a previous, similar, event is best. When in doubt, keep it real.

6) There Can Only Be One: Don’t Duplicate Facebook Events.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but seriously: only one Facebook event per event. We often see bands or speakers duplicate their own event on their page, thinking that it will be easier to promote, but that’s a mistake; having multiple people set up different event pages confuses the audience and wastes valuable social resources by diluting your audience across multiple events. It makes it difficult to organically reach the audience that would be interested in attending.  So if you’re having a show with multiple artists, we recommend making each artist’s page an event host or having them use the “Add to Page…” function.

7) Now that’s the ticket: Ticketing Links

Ticketing links are a must — Use it however you can. Facebook ticketing is on its way, but it will not likely debut for another year or so. Make sure you have a ticketing link on your event page. If it’s not a ticketed event, then it’s always a good idea to use a link to your webpage or blog post about the event.

8) With Friends Like That:  Don’t invite your entire friend list (or group)

We often feel that all of our friends should come to each of our events, but that’s rarely the case. Our rule is invite sparingly—rely on your fans and people you know to be interested and likely to attend. If you invite everyone you can, Facebook may eventually consider your invitations spam, and will curtail your ability to invite people.

Generally, you want at least 25% of those you invited to respond as “interested”. Your invitations in total should have at least a 10% response rate in order to avoid Facebook limiting your invite privileges.

etheopisaAlso, if you invite everyone to every one of your events, it will train them to ignore, or worse, block, your invitations.

If you’re someone whose event invites have already been blocked, we recommend only inviting people you know will definitely come to events or risk having your invite total reduced even further.

9) Trickle Down Invitations: Do Invites In Bursts

When you are inviting your friends, there is no need to do it all at once.  Start with the 10% you know for certain will attend, then a week later invite the next 10% who are likely, and so on. This will stagger your reach and allow people to continuously engage with your event. Each time someone replies “Going” or “Interested” it helps you to get into their friends feeds organically, saving you some work.  

10) ‘Ad’ it all up together

Facebook event ads can work, if you know how to use them: around three to six weeks out from an event, run an Event Response Facebook ad targeting people in your city who are “friends of people attending the event”. This works by maximizing your reach among the most likely audience to engage with the event and encourages them to buy tickets (if there are ones available).

 

15-commandments2BONUS REMINDER:  Don’t ever use the Boost Post Button.  Just Don’t.  Check out our last post for why.

Facebook Reach and You

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How to expand your small business’ reach on Facebook 5886225374_c57c6c1966

As Facebook Strategy Experts, we often come across those frustrated with their current Facebook Reach. Despite rumors otherwise, reach is very strong on Facebook, but if you are only posting off-topic inspirational quotes or product asks every few days or so, you will be poorly served by Facebook’s algorithm.

That’s because Facebook is not a sales platform—it’s a tool for conversation, AKA, engagement. It’s important to go for this, not a hard sell. Most people are on Facebook to connect, not to see ads and clickbait. Even at a business dinner party you make conversation and work to make lasting connections, rather than trying to sell immediately. Treat Facebook the same.  

Facebook Post Dos & Don’ts

Again, reach is strong on Facebook. If you have less than a thousand followers, about one in four of them will see your posts. That’s great! Small businesses generally target about 15%. Here are a few Dos and Don’ts for small businesses, namely those with less than 5,000 followers. If you have more than that, you might want to reassess your base before you strategize further.

Do start a conversation

You don’t want clickbait on your Facebook page—you want to start a conversation with some new friends. Facebook is about interaction, which means original and relevant content on every post. You have to know what your story is and how to tell it. This is always challenging to start: even creatives have trouble with it, but the more you do it the better you’ll get at it. 1

Don’t ever hit “The Boost Button”

The Boost Button works well for large companies with carefully delineated demographics and a lot of followers. If you’re a smaller company, Facebook’s boost model does not have enough information about your audience to properly target those boosts, which means you wind up paying to engage a random, larger audience that is not necessarily your fan-base. Use Facebook Ad Manager or Power Editor if you want to promote your post. 

Do post consistently

It’s the same with any social interaction—Consistency is comforting. Make sure you’re posting roughly the same amount each week, about the same topics, and around the same times. Many clients successfully  post once a week. Once every three days is great. Try to keep it less than twice a day, but if you have to, spread them out. Early morning and before rush hour are the best. But do them regularly. Try not to post on weekends unless you’re promoting late night events. Again, treat it like real life. While it’s strange to hear a lot from an acquaintance in a week, it’s also strange to not hear from a good friend in a long while.  

Don’t ask questions

Despite claims otherwise, questions don’t work. Mostly, they go unanswered—there are currently over 12 million unanswered questions on Facebook, and that number is only growing. Asking your fans for advice seems engaging on the surface but it doesn’t project confidence, and people don’t give money to lack of confidence. Similarly, don’t crowdsource major business decisions. Your fans want to give money to someone who knows what they’re doing and who tells a captivating story. They want to hear about the past struggles that you’ve overcome, not that you’re struggling now.  2

Do test and retest

Try new things; you might find something surprising that works. If it doesn’t, readjust and try again. As everyone’s business and fan base is different, so should be their business strategy. We’ve had a client who posts a different picture of a peach each day as their entire social media strategy. It works, shockingly. That doesn’t mean you should run out and do the same; for one thing, it’s derivative, and it’s unlikely to work in most cases. Cater your strategy to your unique follower base, and do so by testing and retesting. If you want your audience to respond to you, you have to respond to your audience.

Don’t be afraid of ads

Ads do work when used as directed. If you want to try one, make sure you start by using Facebook Ads Manager, then dial in a specific audience you want to hit, and give it a try. You can always hire a specialist or ask Facebook to help you to carefully target your demographics if you’d like to squeeze every view out of it, but you can also make it work on your own. Use your targeting wisely: target by language, by business type, by region, or ZIP Code. Always be specific: if you have a consignment shop in Portland, no one needing an oil change in Indianapolis needs to hear about it.

If you follow some of these basic concepts, you’ll be well on your way to expanding your Facebook reach. If you need more help with the ever-changing face of social media, contact us here at the Business Dept. We’ll be glad to help.

1. [FB:Page posting tips and best practices]
2. [Quintly:60% Of Questions Stay Unanswered]

Quite Simple Hosting: A New Model for Website Hosting

Quite Simple Hosting

One of the big expenses for small businesses and artists is a website. In 2015 and beyond, it’s absurd to not have some digital representation. While a WordPress or other blog can be helpful, it’s not viable for everyone. Many need an actual website, and with that comes the added costs of being hosted, on top of maintenance and design costs.

That’s where Quite Simple Hosting comes in—free hosting for sites.

Hosting itself doesn’t actually cost all that much, webspace and bandwidth is only getting cheaper. Most services make their profits by overcharging for it. Quite Simple will be able to host around 150 or more sites, depending on the bandwidth they use. And all of it will be free—Complimentary web-hosting for life, with no hidden charges or fees, the only times we’ll ever ask anyone to chip in would be for staff time or when we need server upgrades .

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Technical Support on a Personal Level

If something goes wrong, and a user needs technical assistance, only then will they be charged, paying only for the service they use. All the costs associated with Quite Simple Hosting will be 100% transparent. What’s more, it will be on a one-on-one, personal level. No sending emails into a void hoping for a response, or a ten minute phone-call with an automated assistant. Quite Simple’s in-house tech support is made up of the same sort of people who will be using the hosting: local, community minded folk. After all…

It’s About the Community

Quite Simple wants to promote small and local businesses and artists, rather than profit off of them. It’s about building a new model for web-hosting, putting the people first, and supporting the community. Portland has such an amazing art scene, but many artists struggle, balancing the needs and expenses of marketing, production, and website development. Quite Simple works to alleviate some of those costs in order to better support the community of PDX. It’s a “people first” model, one that could inspire other like-minded sites in other cities.

Eventually, there’s a chance that Quite Simple could have in-house website developers, to help  clients with their sites. For now, the team will mostly consist of technical support for the hosting itself.

Join the party! 

If you’re interested in helping get this off the ground, or even if you’re just interested in having your website hosted and want to be bookmarked, head on over to Quite Simple’s Indie GoGo page.

 

Ann Sanderson: Making Connections Work in Portland

Ann Sanderson is a Busy Person… 

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I met Ann Sanderson at Ford Food & Drink last week, the same place where I spoke with Jeremy Wilson

As the owner and operator of a salon that was a set piece in Portlandia, founder of a new company specializing in high quality photos for social media (FotoSnap), President of the Woodstock Community Business Association, a member of a woman founders group, and a podcaster, Ann is a busy person. 

Ann moved to Portland around the same time my parents did, which means that though I’m a native and she is not, she’s lived here longer than I. She lives in a house she bought decades ago in the Woodstock area. When she moved in, she took the bars off the windows. Now, there’s a New Seasons that just opened, and a Dick’s Kitchen is on the way. She gets to watch the neighborhood change from the relative safety of her home she owns; that doesn’t mean she doesn’t care how the city is changing.

Tuesday Memo Podcast

“Keeping up with Portland politics and its cavalcade of stakeholders and interests groups is difficult to say the least.  Luckily, Tuesday Memo not only gives you the updates around town, but also clues you in to the origin story and provides insightful analysis on the players at the table.” – Will Fries 

With her podcast Tuesday Memo, Ann and local economist Eric Fruits assist the public in knowing what City Hall is discussing each week, which is a much more difficult process than it should be.  Ann had to discover that City Hall sends out its often updated and changing itinerary every Tuesday to those on an email list, though it refrains from publicizing this too much.  

When she was fighting a battle against the infamous Street Tax (a battle which she and her compatriots ended up winning), Ann showed up to a publicized meeting to discuss it, only to discover that the agenda and location had been changed at the last minute. A reporter asked her, “Didn’t you get the Tuesday Memo?” Ann didn’t care for this, and was determined to keep the same fate from happening to other concerned citizens. She created the podcast that makes it possible for anyone to check in with the issues being discussed at and around City Hall.

Connection, Communication, and Moving Forward… 

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Tuesday Memo is emblematic of her beliefs, that connection and communication is what matters today. Her new business, FotoSnap, connects photographers to clients,  so they can provide professional photography, something a person can use for social media, dating, LinkedIn,  or whatever their needs are. The photographers benefit by being able to shoot multiple people throughout the day, giving them a stable, reliable schedule while being able to charge less per shoot. Her leadership of the Woodstock Community Business Association helps business and property owners to promote community and collaboration in the neighborhood, something critically important in today’s rapidly changing and growing city. 

Ann and I are both shocked by the unfettered, unmanaged growth in the city.  We agree that today, what matters is connection, and how as we move forward, we cannot abandon the Portland we both know.

We need leaders who lead, who are invested in our past and educated in our future. Leaders who understand the new paradigm and how it works with what we had before. Leaders who bring everyone together, both the new folk and old Portlanders.  Ann understands what Portlanders need from their city, and is working hard through whatever mechanisms she can to help all of us Portlanders take whatever the next step will be in our story together. 

-Alex Frane

 

Uncensoring Evil Dead The Musical in PDX

Evil Dead: The Musical Portland

I spoke to Kelly Green at an appropriate time last week—our conversation was on the subject of The Evil Dead The Musical, and the tv program Ash vs The Evil Dead came out on Halloween, a few days after we talked. When I started working with Will Fries & The Business Dept, I never imagined I would be writing a blog post that involves my favorite horror-comedy franchise.
Evil Dead: The Musical PDX

Kelly is a mother to two high-school aged daughters.
They both attend the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy, or ACMA. The school is in Beaverton, and is the only stand-alone arts magnet school in Oregon. It’s small, about 800 students, and each senior works on a capstone project—this culmination of their studies involves research, applied art, and a presentation. For some students, it’s a play.

Evil Dead: The Musical Vs. The Man…

Katie M. is a model student, a sweet, responsible young woman and  the last person one would expect to produce a musical like the Evil Dead. So when she approached the principal about staging the show for her capstone, she got the thumbs up after only a cursory look at the content. Kelly’s daughters were both cast in the play. When production went forward and rehearsals began, the staff volunteer supervisors barely took notice of the material.

Eventually, some two weeks out from opening night, one of the supervisors really paid attention, and realized that not only was the show hyper-violent and gory, it was also laced with profanity. They were informed that the play needed to lose the “F-Bombs” and dial back on the gore, a compromise the students were reticent to make after months of hard work. They had poured themselves into the show, eschewing traditional winter break activities and travels to rehearse. They didn’t want to compromise what they felt was the spirit of the play, a joyously deranged, violent romp involving evil spirits, a book made from human flesh, and plenty of blood.

Evil Dead The Musical Uncensored in Portland
For Kelly’s daughters, it was the tragic end of art as they knew it. Censorship had struck its fatal blow. Luckily, Kelly was determined. She started searching for a possible production space, but with little avail. Most spaces could not make room for the Evil Dead The Musical. However, she reached out to the community via email, and Will Fries, responded, saying he was 100% on-board without even having seen the play.

“Hail to the Will, Baby…”

“We were not afraid to take a stand for those we could help, and we weren’t going to shy from an opportunity to provide these students with a real world example of how supporting and involving the community, benefits everyone involved.” – Will Fries

Will Fries talked a local comedy space into cancelling their own production the first weekend in February to make room for Evil Dead The Musical, even offering to absorb some of the defrayed cost himself to make it happen. The community gave the students three nights, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as well as tech rehearsal days leading up to it. Supporters from all over the theater community even helped the students with their set, and bought pizza for long rehearsal stretches. All the while, Will and The Business Dept. were working through their channels to promote the show, getting volunteer bloggers and members of the media and press involved marketing the show on their own dime. Furthermore, The Business Dept talked TicketFly into donating their customary fees, on behalf of the students, to the Valentine Fund, a part of the Portland Area Theater Alliance that provides to members of the theater community in times of medical crises (not unlike The Jeremy Wilson Foundation). The Business Dept. even managed to get one of the original writers of the musical on board, George Reinblatt, who sent the students an encouraging letter.

Keeping things Groovy…

In the end, the students were able to perform for a much larger audience than they had originally anticipated, and were able to perform the uncensored play as they wanted. They agreed it was the best play of the year, and many comment that it was one of the more professional productions they’ve seen put on in the space. Recently, The Business Dept partnered with Evil Dead The Musical to purchase the students’ tickets for the professional touring production of the musical; the students of course decided their own staging was superior.

According to Kelly, The Business Dept has her, her daughters, and all of the students’ undying gratitude for his help with their production. This year, the student capstone projects are Macbeth and Next to Normal. Make sure you buy tickets online immediately. .

-Alex Frane

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