This post is inspired by Facebook. It took me a while to write this post because I don't want to talk about anyone personally. I've just noticed several people, and one in particular, who seem to post very melancholy status updates on Facebook, many times complaining about not being successful in business. Every so often I think, "wow I wouldn't hire you because you sound like a real downer." It got me thinking about the voice we present to our potential customers.
I want to be authentic. If I'm having a bad day I don't want to say "every thing's peachy!" because it makes me feel dishonest. But what happens if I'm going through more than a rough day? Maybe I'm having a bad year. My advice, tell your friends and family offline. Customers don't want to hear about how horrible your personal life is, and I doubt most of your Facebook friends want to hear it either unless they are a close friend in real life. In that case they probably already know what's happening in your life. Constantly whining, particularly about your business, is much much worse. I realize it takes self control and I've been guilty of it myself, but it really solves nothing, and can potentially alienate your customers.
Turn it Around
For example, when I feel like the activity on my Facebook or in my Etsy shop is waning I offer a giveaway or a fun challenge for my fans. It's a way to engage your customers in a positive way and help you work on building more likes, views and hopefully sales. There are many other things you can do too. Instead of spending your time complaining, do research. Read the Etsy blog, search for articles on running a small business, or ask other successful artists you admire how they do it. Other people have a wealth of advice and experience and most are more than willing to share.
If you must post about a personal problem it is much better to ask a question. For example, you hate your dead-end job. Instead of complaining about it maybe you can ask your Facebook network if they know of any jobs in your industry, or if anyone has experienced a similar problem as yours. Start a conversation that has the potential to lead you to a solution, not just a bitch fest. We all need to bitch sometimes, but the venue for that is much better with some beers at a friend's house or a comfortable bar.
One thing to consider when you have your own small business is what type of voice you want to represent your business. This article points out that people who post very negative comments have low-self esteem in general. This article was slightly disturbing although I do believe the research concluded something very valuable. I find the article disturbing because it doesn't make me feel good to know that Facebook is conducting research that can potentially effect our emotional lives without our consent. However the results showed that constantly seeing negative posts will actually make you feel more negative. Just like in real life when you surround yourself with negative people you find yourself being more negative. That is certainly not something you want to pass on to your customers.
People shop for many different reasons. It's very important to know who your customer is and why they buy your product. I make dolls for collectors and children. In general I am marketing to the indulgence crowd (buying a doll is purely for fun or a gift). When people are shopping for a gift for themselves or someone else, they want the experience to be easy, convenient, and fun. Therefore I want my posts to always convey this attitude. Be sure to analyze your product and target market in the same way. You don't have to not be genuine in an attempt to connect with your customers, but you must find your own unique voice which will be in line with what your customers expect to hear when they buy your product or hire your services.