I ask myself that a lot, actually. Shiloh’s Dog Boutique is an online retail site which offers a lot of pet apparel, beds and so on, and while we do donate a good chunk of all proceeds to rescues, to see our Facebook page, you’d think that’s ALL we were!
But, is that a bad thing? I lean toward no. As a small business owner, I suppose I view tax season as the unofficial ‘end’ of a year, so I find myself reflecting on the gains and losses we’ve had since the last time I went to sit down with my accountant with a huge box of stuff.
We’re currently not doing any big-budget advertising as we felt it would be wiser to invest in our own product line which we are trying so hard to get off the ground. We had a huge setback my lawyer reminds me not to talk about until the litigation gobbly gook is complete, but I am happy to report we have found one,and perhaps even two very local manufacturers, and are in the process of all that.
But, back to Facebook. Obviously, every business with a page wants to promote themselves, reach an ever-widening audience, and perhaps even sell their product or service. I won’t lie, that really WAS the initial goal, and still is A goal, but things are happening. You start out focusing on how many likes your page has, and if you’re like me, you paid for Facebook ads for a long time trying to build that audience. Then you’re thinking “Hm, we have over two thousand likes, but no one is talking! Why aren’t they talking?”
I won’t go into the complicated evaluations of the Facebook ad results that others have written, but it’s enough to say we no longer pay for Facebook ads at all. As a result, I’ve lost about 4 page likes, but..my audience is actually engaged! Is it because the likes I’ve retained are more genuine than the ‘robot’ or drive-by likes you’re getting through paid ads? I don’t know, I just know something is changing!
They’re discussing things I post, messaging me, and just WAY more active overall. So, it’s not about the numbers anymore, and it’s even become less about “Okay but does this page lead to sales?” because what we seem to have built is a small, but loyal and close community of pet owners and animal lovers who share in the discussion of things we care about.
That may or may not lead to more success in business, but I’m damn grateful to have them! I love sharing posts with our friends and reading their comments and opinions. The more regular posters, I’ve even come to feel like I know a bit, and we’ve networked a lot more this past year with the very rescues our pledges are meant to support.
So, nope. My Facebook page has not led to any dazzling numbers on the accounting ledger, it’s actually resulted in something of far greater value to me.
When I look at any Facebook page, I ask myself “What do you promote?” and on some (many with WAY more fans than my page) I see a person or company promoting themselves, their products, and occasionally tossing a cute photo or meme on there for some laughs. Nothing wrong with that, and I’m sure they make more sales than I do, too.
When I look at our page, I feel like I should be reminding people more often that, you know..we’re a store and stuff, because I can see how they’d forget!
We promote DOGS! We promote rescue. We share wonderful (and sometimes tragic) stories of animals, and the people who love and save them. We promote heroic soldiers and their dogs, and likewise with police officers and the K9 officers who help them in their work.
And you know what? That’s our business model, so I’m going to view this as success.
I started Shiloh’s because I wanted a way to help animals that didn’t involve actually bringing more of them into my home. I had rescued and volunteered and fostered, and here’s how my two foster attempts ended:
Jax, and Pippi. The best failures I’ve ever had.
So, clearly, I needed a different way to support the amazing work of animal rescue groups, and Shiloh’s was born.
Social media professionals and salespersons would probably tell me I’m doing it all wrong, and that if it’s not ending in sales, my content is all kinds of messed up. They’d point out lots of things I’ve done wrong, I’m sure.
But where Facebook is concerned, I have no regrets. I’ve met some great people, networked with amazing rescues, and shared a whole lot of their adoptable dogs, events, happy endings, and urgent needs on my page. Together, we have cheered on the recovery of police dog Bruno recently, and have cried happy tears together over the rescue miracle videos we’ve posted, which were made possible by the very groups I created Shiloh’s to help support.
Our Shiloh is a puppy mill survivor, and all of our other dogs are rescues, after all. This is the very stuff we’re made of!
We offer custom coupon codes. If a purchase is made using those custom codes for a certain rescue, then those pledges go to them. If purchases are made with no code used, I choose a good and worthy group, and a donation is then made. I like this system, because it allows groups to share codes with their friends, and fans, which then means consumers have an absolute say in where their donation percentage will go.
Moving forward, I think the wonderful community we seem to have joined on Facebook will be wonderful to share our progress with. When a style of ours is actually completed, I will immediately want to share it with them. When we do our first big trade show as a vendor, I’ll want to tell them all about it. The moment our products are being carried by retailers, I will be so thrilled, I won’t be able to help but let everyone know.
We stand for several things, from making our products in America, to supporting other companies and products who make their things in America. Supporting small business in general, promoting and supporting animal rescue..sharing the joys and sorrows of animals and those who love them, etc.
Most of all, we support each other as friends and fellow animal lovers, and that is the foundation I hope to build upon.
So, that’s what we’re promoting. Love, rescue, community..and some dog products. 😉
At the end of the day, those are the things I feel good about, and take pride in.
Sales are necessary to generate those donations, but we’ll get there, and we will do it because of the community we build. They will make it possible,and hopefully take as much pride in it as we do.
A business consultant asked me what my goals are. I told him “To get enough donations generated through sales one day that I can show people a before and after photo of a dog who was saved, and tell them “You did this.”.
He just stared at me a moment, and asked me if I could be more financially specific..
It all seems clear to me, but I suppose there is no space on a ledger marked “Love and Rescue”.
Guess we’ll make our own, then!
“Where Fashion Meets Compassion”