Sramana: The surface Facebook advertising does not seem all that complicated. A lot of people also believe that fans don’t turn into leads. You are getting leads and transactions out of Facebook. What have you learned that is worth sharing?
Amy Laws: Once that fan likes your page, you have to put your best food forward every single day. We can tell very quickly if the new fans are helping us grow or not. Being on social media and understanding the importance of the ‘Like’ has forced us to have the best services possible. A like on our page is not just a number. A like that does not equal a sell for us means nothing.
I think if we had completely figured out Facebook, that would be amazing and we would be shouting from the rooftops. I know that a lot of businesses advertise in a lot of different places. This is our only advertising expense. Keeping it fresh and trying different things is very important. The market of companies actually doing transactional business on Facebook is a small fraction of what people use Facebook for. If they are trying to get people to physically visit a store, it is a lot different than getting people to visit our page. Our call to action is still based in social media and we bring them what we are selling.
Sramana: You are actually making people comment on your Facebook page. That is the indication from the customer to you that the customer wants to transact. They are putting down their email addresses, right?
Nicole Brewer: Yes, they write the email address and the size that they want.
Sramana: I imagine for every auction, you are getting a large stream of comments. The algorithm Facebook has relies on the number of likes and comments. That gets Facebook to show your picture more. That is not necessarily the case with other businesses. You have created the structure where you are leveraging Facebook to show your product more.
Amy Laws: Facebook does perceive our page as being interesting because customers have to interact with our page to get what they want. That is inherent in our business model.
Sramana: That is very smart. Is anyone else doing that?
Nicole Brewer: Yes, we have competitors. There are other people who do comment-selling. When we started, there were very few. Interestingly enough, children’s clothing was one of the first industries that started selling this way. It is a very visual purchase. Jewelry is another interesting model. There are things that are not going to be successful being sold this way. We have a great price point and we make it easy for people to buy from us.
Sramana: You two started working from your home. How did the team evolve?
Amy Laws: We have always looked for good people who complement our skills. We have 10 people working with us today. They work in customer service and fulfillment. We also have someone who helps with photography and someone who runs the auctions. Everything else is contracted.
Sramana: How did you choose your partner for software development?
Amy Laws: Our most recent contractor has been here in the United States. Working with American developers, we have found a much more interactive feedback. When we worked offshore, everything was delivered very literally.
Sramana: Are there any lessons learned that you would like to pass on to other entrepreneurs?
Amy Laws: Social media is extremely public, but it is the only business method we know. We operate completely open to all of our fans. We have never deleted a negative comment. Everyone sees how we work through our customer engagements. If someone is not happy, they will let 400,000 people on our page know it. Anyone who wants to do business on social media needs to be hyper sensitive to social media.
Sramana: Congratulations. Good luck as you continue to build your business. It’s a fascinating story.