What to do when social media is no longer bringing you sales

It's been a tricky time for small businesses in social media land lately. A lot of people like to blame the algorithm, but I think there are a number of factors at play.


We got used to the levels of engagement we had when people were stuck in their homes. Social media use was at such a high throughout 2020 and 2021, I'm sure I don't need to explain why, and over the past few months as we've slowly adapted back into "normal", that engagement has dropped off.


People being back out and about again, enjoying being out more than ever before, has meant that they are spending a lot less time on their phones. We are exhausted from the past two years. We are tired of staring at screens and continually scrolling.


I've spent a lot of time and energy on social media over the past couple of years. It really did pay off to begin with, and I think I got used to that level of growth, the engagement, the number of sales. But over the past few months things have definitely changed.


I think it's important to mention that I am mostly talking about instagram, as this was always my primary platform, where I spent a lot of my time, and where my customers were coming from.


I was very invested. I took courses in content strategy and instagram growth, watched hours and hours of youtube, and have notebooks filled with notes and plans. This isn't to say that all of that was useless, I learned a lot and it is all still relevant and correct for the most part. And it did benefit me a lot throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021. I guess I'm just trying to make the point that I was never half arsing it. I've always had a content plan, batch created content, posted at the optimum times, used a hashtag strategy and so on. When I say that social media took up a lot of my time and energy, I really do mean it.


Towards the end of 2021 I started booking events and going to markets and fairs. This was a totally new experience for me, and something I knew would really help to grow my business. Aside from the obvious point of generating sales, there is the opportunity to make yourself known to more customers, network with other business owners, and gain lots of experience.


Whilst my business is still running alongside my part time "day job", I thought it sensible to book one event per month. That way I'd have time to still create new collections, launch new products online, keep up with my content creation etc.


But here's the thing. In January I launched the Talking to the Moon collection, which had around 27 pieces in it. In that collection launch, which I slaved over for weeks and weeks, and thoroughly planned and advertised, I had about 5 sales. Don't get me wrong, I was and am still so grateful for those, I always tell myself one is better than none, but it was not what I hoped for. It certainly wasn't enough to make the time and energy and love I'd poured into it worth it.


In February I did a story sale on instagram. This sale was full of items that were not available to purchase online, either because they were pieces I'd made just for markets or I'd not got round to listing them yet. I made 0 sales.


Then came my birthday collection. If I thought I'd poured a whole lot of myself into the Talking to the Moon collection then I wasn't ready for this, because it took my creativity to the next level. I created a collection of sterling silver hoop earrings, featuring high quality, beautiful crystals, and focused on their properties. Hoops have been so popular for me in the past, and chatting with people gave me the impression that these would be hugely sought after.


When I launched that collection, of 7 different styles but with multiples of each available, I made 1 sale.


I'm not saying this for any sort of sympathy or to be discouraging to anyone who is thinking about starting their own business, I just feel it's important to share my experience with you. We're all so quick to share the good, happy and exciting things that are happening for us, but less so when it comes to the harsh realities.


So in addition to very low sales, my engagement was on the floor. I currently have around 3600 followers, a number that hasn't changed in months, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have less engagement on my posts now than I did when I had a third of the number of followers. If we apply the 10% rule, my stories should be seen by around 300 people, but at the moment I'm lucky to get 50 views.


I know I'm not the only person feeling this. And I know that there is more than likely things I could be doing to really push my content and grow my accounts. But my favourite phrase, "time and energy", really comes into play. I was barely finding the time to do what I already was doing, let alone really amp it up and push things more.


And whilst there is always going to be a large portion of this that is within my control, I know that instagram is favouring paid for posts. You can't scroll down your feed or through stories now without seeing ads between every two or three posts. We know they are making things harder for us small business so that we give in and pay for promotion. But I have never been one to do what someone wants me to do. In fact it pushes me in the opposite direction. And if we start buying into their little game (literally) then what does that tell them? That their plan worked and they can squeeze us for every penny that they can because they know they have the control over our businesses? Absolutely not.


I digress.


A couple of weeks ago, I went to an event at Bosworth Battlefield. If you don't know, this was where the Battle of Bosworth took place, in which King Richard III was killed. It is now a heritage centre and home to a museum, and is a popular place for visitors to the area. This isn't particularly relevant to my experience at this event, but it gives a little insight into the fact that it was a popular location.


In the six hours I was at this event, I made more sales and much more money than I had in my last three online launches/sales combined. I had an amazing day; there were so many lovely customers, a whole range of people were interested in my items, and I sold the biggest range of items I ever have. (To explain this last point, usually one type of item is far more popular than an other depending on the event. At one fair I pretty much only sold keyrings, and at others I've sold lots of rings, or lots of small crystals. There doesn't seem to be a way of predicting how it will go, but I'm happiest when people are interested in jewellery I've made, and when a variety of different items have sold).


I came away from that event feeling so relieved. I was starting to think that I was doing something wrong and that people just weren't interetesed in my products anymore. But I know that really isn't the case and there is space for me to keep creating and keep sharing my love of crystals.


This led to a big realisation. I've been pouring my heart and soul into something that is only bringing me frustration and disappointment, when there is a whole world out there of real life human people who are really excited about what I do.


And so I've decided to take that pressure off of myself. I am no longer going to create content because I feel like I have to. I will still batch create content when I feel motivated to do so and I will post it when I feel like I want to, but I am no longer interested in feeling that frustration when a post I spent ages on only gets 10 likes. I am taking the pressure off entirely and creating content because I like it.


Honestly? The relief I felt when I came to this decision was crazy. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I now have so much more capactiy to focus on other things.


So moving forward, my focus is shifting entirely. My priorities are markets and events, and getting my products stocked in appropriate locations such as independent shops. I'll also be focusing on some other bits behind the scenes such as creating more blog content and improving my SEO. Things I never "had time for" because I forced myself to be stuck in the endless cycle of social media disappointment.


If you've read all of this and feel like you can relate, I hope that I've provided a little bit of insight and hope for you. We don't have to stay stuck in any sort of cycle if it's not making us happy.



Now seems like a pointless time to plug my socials like I normally would, so instead I'll point you to my mailing list. If you'd like to stay up to date with new products as they are launched and find out what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list here .


Thanks for reading.


Love,


Cara x





1 view0 comments

FREE STANDARD SHIPPING on all orders over £50