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Sadly the lesson comes at the expense of some poor unfortunate women who bought into a franchise business in good faith and have now found themselves out of pocket at the hands of the business owner and without the ability to contact or market to the audience they had built.
The franchise, which we won’t name, but which sells kitsch kids items, targeted mainly Mums with the chance to buy a “business in a box” and start their own business, with everything they needed including a website and facebook pages, and a generous commission structure. Long story short, a year or so after launching the initiative, the business is now likely in dire straits with bad debts aplenty and commission owed to the distributors who signed up, after the owner’ alleged unscrupulous behaviour and customer service style including apparently changing the commission structure once people signed up, not delivering items within the time frame promised and treating her customers and distributors badly.
A couple of lessons can be taken face-value from this company. Firstly, research, research, research before buying into a business. Secondly, comments, even within a private Facebook group can get out into the public domain, so be careful what you write on Social Media! Don’t post anything which can damage your business or your brand! Screenshots of the business owner making derogatory remarks about customers who bought their product, and about their distributors originally made within a private group are now doing the rounds on Social Media & Forums, a good reminder that even in a private group, screenshots can be made.
Even more importantly to highlight, especially if sign up to a franchise business, the business owner (allegedly) revoked access to the distributors websites and facebook pages who had voiced their concerns about what was going on, meaning that they lost the ability to contact and communicate all of those who had liked their social media accounts, and all of those who had enquired about their products or bought from them in past meaning that they couldn’t get in contact with the people who they had spent time nurturing relationships with.
That’s why it’s so important to get people off of your facebook page and onto your mailing list. You have a call to action “sign-up” button on Facebook which can help with this. As an incentive to sign-up it’s also helpful to offer people a “freebie” of some description in return for their email address. For example. one of my clients who runs a sewing business recently offered a free downloadable pdf of how to make a tote-bag. The download was easy to produce, didn’t cost her anything, and it meant that when we advertised it via her facebook page, people were more likely to sign-up and hand over their email address. You can also do this via your website too.
So don’t assume that your facebook page or other social media accounts will be around forever. Facebook isn’t a domain that you own, so that’s why it’s so important to encourage people to sign-up to your email list, because if Facebook closed tomorrow, or your account is compromised and you can’t get access to your page, or like the business owners mentioned, some unscrupulous soul revokes your access to a Facebook Page then you may not be able to contact those who you have engaged previously. Therefore use social media as a stepping stone to encourage people to interact with you further in other ways.