They're My Fans, Right?

They're My Fans, Right?
by Donald Clark

Courtesy of The Crafts Report
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I can't seem to make much sense out of my Facebook Fan Page for my business. It has taken me over three years to build my page to just over 2,000 fans. However, my average post is only reaching about 120 of those fans (according to Facebook's analytics). What am I doing wrong? Shouldn't my posts be reaching all of the people who have chosen to follow my page?
- Lynn Page
At any given moment there are 1,500 stories competing to appear in a user's News Feed, and only about 300 get seen by the user.

Times are changing at Facebook, and unfortunately your fans simply are not seeing your posts. According to Facebook, "Post reach is the number of people who have seen your post. Your post counts as reaching someone when it's shown in their News Feed." There are two kinds of reach: organic reach, which includes the folks who see your unpaid post, and then there's paid reach--which is just what its name implies. Initially, all Facebook posts were organic. Facebook, however, is a corporation with a mission to make a profit. An obvious way for them to do this is to sell ads. It is, after all, a business just like yours. Gradually, Facebook intends to eliminate all organic posts--forcing businesses to pay for each reach they achieve.

As of now, you still have the ability to post items that will reach your fans through organic reach. I found quite a bit of information at http://bit.ly/HB-FBReach in a piece by Shannon Johnson posted on June 23, 2014. One tip she shared suggests you alert your fans to click on the page's feed on the left of their News Feed. This will show the pages they've liked--that's yours.

Here's an interesting fact from Facebook about Facebook: at any given moment there are 1,500 stories competing to appear in a user's News Feed, and only about 300 get seen by the user. Incoming posts are evaluated by the Facebook algorithms, and the only posts that appear are the ones judged to be the most relevant, interesting, and with the most original content.

It's time to take a careful look at the posts you've made, and evaluate them based upon their relevance to your fans, how interesting the content is, and their originality--and of course consider whether they were effective. This is the same objectivity you would apply to any material that promotes your brand, whether it's print or digital. It's important to get your message out with the fewest possible words. This is where a picture really is worth a thousand words. I'd suggest you work on this project with a designer who is familiar with print and digital design.

Here's another idea: I always want to be in control of my brand, and I want the time and money I invest in presenting and promoting it to pay off. The user was never in control of their content on Facebook, and it appears going forward that the control we have had will be greatly diminished. Do you have a website? If not, it's time to have one built. Do you blog? It's a great way of reaching a larger inbound audience. Time and money spent in this way will continue to reward long after it's created. Put your energy where you control the outcomes.
At Any Given Moment There Are 1,500 Stories Competing To Appear In A User

Donald, I am frustrated. Recently, a "copycat" has arisen that is creating almost identical glassworks as what I've been making for years. However, this "artist" is undercutting me and selling for almost half of what my pieces go for. It is hurting my sales and I don't know what recourse I have to stop this from happening! Help!
- Anonymous
In 1976, Congress reaffirmed that the maker, just by making something, had all the rights of protection of the federal copyright laws. Further, these laws were amended to last for the maker's lifetime plus 75 years. So in theory you and your heirs have protection for your glass pieces. In practice, however, that doesn't mean too much. Unfortunately "almost identical" is not identical enough to give you strong legal grounds to stop this person. A minor change in a design is enough to get around any intellectual property rights you may have.

Several years ago, a piece of my work was published in Leslie Ferrin's book, Teapots Transformed . Within a year, a number of the pieces shown there, including mine, turned up as resin miniatures made in India. I called a highly respected intellectual property rights attorney for advice. He was clear I had been had. The reproductions were not exact, and even if they were, his sense of the situation wasn't in my favor. I could have sued the maker at considerable expense. The outcome in the best-case scenario? Production would have to stop and the remaining inventory would have to be destroyed. That wasn't enough to get me to spend money with the attorney.

Take a look at the 2006 lawsuit Dale Chihuly brought against two former employees. Just when it was coming to a close, Chihuly settled out of court. Unfortunately, we lost the opportunity to learn from a ruling based on current copyright law.

Be assured you're not the only maker in this situation. The explosion of Internet use (and particularly of social media use) has resulted in an increasing number of infringement situations. Remember, when you or anyone else posts your work online, it is instantly available to the world--the good guys and the bad guys. You could expose the copier, but very carefully. Perhaps you could purchase several pieces, of their work and display it next to yours with simple signage indicating theirs/mine. No judgment made--you are just presenting two options. However, that's not going to strengthen your bottom line as well as some other actions might. Let's look for ways for you to prosper in spite of this situation.

An obvious solution would be to keep your work out of digital media. Not smart in the long run, and not practical since we really don't have total control over what gets seen via social media. So if you can't stop the copycat or control their prices what can you do? You must be a better designer/glass artist or you wouldn't be copied. One approach would be to keep changing your work. This, by the way, is a good idea whether you're being copied or not. The shopper likes to have new choices. I'm also aware that collectors want to see an artist's work evolve--often purchasing pieces that reflect the changes. Also, can you design glass pieces that require a higher level of skill? This might discourage the copycat, or at least make him work harder. At the same time, perhaps this would allow you to raise your prices to reflect the added complexity of the pieces.

If it were me, I would chose to get back to my work and move on. I think that's the best route for you too.


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