Don’t just be a digital sharecropper: Tips to own your online identity and market your salon

Are you a digital sharecropper? If Facebook is the place where potential clients can find your best photos, your hottest videos and most helpful hair care advice then you are a digital sharecropper. As you work to publish great new content that your clients love, Facebook (or Master) reaps most of the financial rewards.

The term digital sharecropper was coined back in 2006. Back then, most businesses (small or large) did not know that social media would soon become such a cost-effective way for businesses to connect with clients online.

Why is it called digital sharecropping? Think about it. Facebook does not charge you directly for all the great tools that make it so easy to share your information.  Facebook brings you “free” traffic with its over 500 million members.

However, you don’t really own anything that you post. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t own your Facebook page. Facebook owns your page and all the content posted. When you rent an apartment, you have to follow the rules of the landlord. When you own your own house, you can do what you want. The same with Facebook.

That is why Facebook can change the rules about how to use those tools without any notice. For instance as of September 30, 2011, you can no longer send out updates to the members of your page.

Does that mean Facebook is bad? Of course not. I have been jumping up and down waving the flag for Facebook for a while. Along with Twitter and YouTube, your business presence on these digital communities adds value to your business. However, Facebook and Twitter should be the start of your online marketing efforts NOT your whole effort.

Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of only being a digital sharecropper:

1) Invest in your own website. Your best work should be posted on your own website. If it is “too hard” to make changes to your website, you need to get a new website. With website tools like WordPress (this website is built on WordPress), it is very affordable to maintain a website. Here is a list of stylish and professional WordPress themes for small business.

2) Publish your best stuff on your website. For example, if you have a bunch of photos from a professional photo shoot, you want to create that portfolio on YOUR website. Then SHARE the link to the photos on your website on Facebook. By adding the content to your website first, your website gets part of the credit for great content. If you have a lot of Facebook fans but no website, you are missing an opportunity to benefit from your own search engine rankings.

3)Keep your eye open for rule changes. I admit that this is hard even for the experts. I recommend that you Like the All Facebook page. It is a great source for announcements on new changes (and of course, read my blog-shameless plug)

4) Prioritize directing traffic to your own website. If you are filling out a form that asks for your website address, the answer should not be your Facebook page. Of course, there are times when it makes the most sense to direct visitors to your Facebook page, like a Facebook exclusive salon promotion. The more links to your website that you post across the Internet, including within online directories, the more Google Love you get.

The final scoop:

You need to build and nurture your own website (or online farm). Although Facebook is a very effective marketing tool for personal care businesses like hair salons, you have to invest in online footprints where you have complete control.

  1. Julia Jones says:

    I see your point on being a digital sharecropper, and it made a LOT of sense!! Now I REALLY see the need for my own website for my business! I’m getting back into the business, and I need to nurture my OWN business and create something for my family as well.

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