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How this business went from (nearly) zero to 450,000 Facebook likes in a year

No, it didn’t involve pledging their souls to Mark Zuckerberg or posting lots of selfies.

MyKidsTime co-founder Jill Holtz
MyKidsTime co-founder Jill Holtz
Image: MyKidsTime

MOST SMALL BUSINESSES know they can use social media to grow their customer base and spread their message, but few have a firm plan for how they will do it.

About six years after it went live, Galway-based parenting and event-listing website MyKidsTime was in that familiar position as its Facebook page languished with 11,000 fans.

Fast forward one more year and today its following is bearing down on 500,000 likes with the business swelling from just its two founders to a team of seven.

And all without spending a cent on ads, the brains behind the rapid rise say.

A little background

Co-founders Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt started the site in 2007 as a simple free-listing page for kids’ activities in Galway, although it has since gone nationwide, added blog-style content and branched out into an online store.

Holtz told TheJournal.ie the idea first took shape when she was finishing her postgraduate business studies at NUI Galway as a result of her own frustration at the mish-mash of information available about local events for children.

“Parents like content that is relevant to them, content that is localised,” she said.

Despite its recent diversification, Holtz said the site remained true to the concept of free event listings – although they have added paid-for advertising and the online-shopping component for revenue streams.

“Our directory is open to anybody in the world to list – we are definitely an Irish company, but there is also an opportunity here to be global,” she said.

About those half-a-million-odd Facebook followers

Holtz admitted there were multiple missteps in her company’s path to its burgeoning Facebook following – the first trap being to try and cover too many social media bases at once.

“I think unless you have a very big social media team you can have too many channels to maintain,” she said.

Holtz said the next mistake was throwing themselves into social media without a clear plan for who they wanted to target and what they wanted to achieve, an oversight she realised was widespread when she hosted a recent web-based seminar on how to build a strong Facebook following.

“You need to ask yourself – ‘what do our customers like and what are their needs?’,” she said.

We changed the mix of what we were posting – we analysed what we were putting out before and what worked. Facebook’s changing all the time anyway, so you have to change as well.”

Getting the mix right

Holtz said once MyKidsTime struck the right balance in what it was posting both its Facebook following and website “really just took off”.

“Building a following is about the mix of content – you have to have the funny stuff, but you have to have useful content for you to target customers with,” she said.

Holtz said she and her team also learned the importance of using social media to have a conversation with clients.

“Listening to them and replying to them is really important,” she said.

So how you can get to 500,000 Facebook likes?

DO

  • Plan. Develop a social media strategy that sets out what you want to achieve, then match your posts to that – for example, are you looking for a sales boost or just to build your brand’s profile?
  • Measure everything. Use all the tools available to gauge what does and doesn’t work, then concentrate on posting only the things your followers want to share and comment on
  • Think about what makes you click on something then try to apply the same tactics to what you post
  • Mix it up. Images work well on social media, but don’t post pictures all the time or they will lose their impact on your site

DON’T

  • Try and cover everything, at least to begin with. There are lots of social media platforms out there, but focus on the key sites that suit your business and the people you’re targeting

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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