I am not sure if my absence from social media recently has been noticed or not. I have been struggling with it for the last month or so and decided to take a break. A break is as good as a change or something like that!?
I have been struggling for a few reasons, one of which is really messing with my head. I run a business. We sell a product. We market that product using social media. My business wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for social media. I have met some amazing ladies who run some exceptional businesses through Instagram. I have formed friendships with people who I don’t imagine our paths would’ve crossed in life if it weren’t for the internet. We have found all our wholesalers through social media. Or rather they have found us. Our business has grown exponentially in the last year and I give a lot of the credit for the growth to social media.
And then there is the support. The people who like every photo we post. Who are constantly offering us positive reinforcement. Who interact with us and give positive words of encouragement when needed. The ones who love our products as much as we do and continue to support our business as we grow. The ones who tag us in photos to show their followers that they love and support our brand. They tell their friends about us and they buy the new babes in their lives gifts from our range. They thank us when we go out of our way to find a size that’s sold out, or fix an issue that even we aren’t immune to having. They understand that we are human beings behind the business and that we are just like every other human being. We have feelings.
Which brings me to the thing I have been struggling with. People seem to forget that behind these businesses we are just ordinary people. We have our daily struggles with life. We are all doing our best as humans and none of us are perfect. We make mistakes. The ladies who sew our garments make mistakes. The courier companies make mistakes. The fabric manufacturers make mistakes.
I make mistakes. I stay up till after midnight most nights working. Up until recently I was still cutting out every single garment that was made. This was a huge and often overwhelming task. During which I probably made mistakes and cut the odd thing out wrong. Put the wrong size label on it or put the wrong size sleeves with the wrong size body. So then it was sewn up wrong. And we didn’t notice.
I want to know when did we lose our empathy and understanding when people make mistakes? When did it become ok to send a rude email to someone because they made a mistake? To swear at them and tell them they are useless? And their products are shit. When did we forget that the person at the end of the email we have sent is a person?
And on the other hand, why do we not pass on feedback to the brands whose clothes or accessories we buy. If the snap falls off after the second wear, instead of bitching about the quality of the garments in a Facebook group, why not pass on your feedback in a constructive and gentle way to the maker? If people do not know about problems how do they know they need to fix them? New Zealand is a very small place. And you would be surprised how often someone you know, knows someone they know, who passes on the mean words you’ve spoken behind their back onto the person you have been bitching about.
I put certain parts of my life out there on the internet. It is part of running a business through social media. But that doesn’t mean that I am putting all of myself out there. That doesn’t mean that people can make assumptions about me or my family and speak ill-truths about us. Again, those things tend to make it back to the person and it is not a nice feeling. Knowing people have made assumptions about you that are incorrect. And you can’t defend yourself. Because they lack the integrity to say those things to you. Not behind your back.
Social media is an amazing tool. Who would have thought just 2 or 3 years ago that social media influencers would be having such an impact on our advertising? That businesses would be creating budgets within their advertising budget to spend on people posting photos on Instagram? We don’t watch ads on TV anymore, because we are scrolling social media in the ad breaks. If we even watch TV at all to see the ads. So that is where we are seeing the ads now. Some are blatant with their advertising. Others try and make it blend in with their feeds. Every post I put up on my business page is advertising. I am advertising a product in the hope that someone will buy it. As do many others.
And because there are so many others, there is more competition than ever before. More and more business popping up every week. More and more closing every week. We live in a culture where we always are looking for a bargain. I call it the Briscoes mentality. For those non-kiwis reading, Briscoes is a chain store that sell homewares and they are forever having sales. It’s a running joke here that their 1 day Boxing Day sale lasts 5 days. They help to create the mentality that we would never buy anything full price. I am guilty of this myself. I see something I like and want to buy so I search the internet looking for the ‘cheapest’ way to buy it. Whether that is by getting free shipping, a discount off the product or a loyalty program. And until recently I hadn’t thought what this meant for the businesses selling the products.
I hadn’t thought that my behavior as a consumer was the exact thing that I didn’t like about other consumers. I have tried hard to create a brand where people aren’t always waiting for a sale. We only have 2 or 3 a year max because I hate that feeling myself when you buy something then a week later it is on sale. So, I am going to change my way of buying. I have a clothing budget for Thomas, some of which comes from me selling his clothes to buy new ones. I have always been about quality over quantity with his wardrobe. And I am slowly headed that way with my own. I will no longer trawl the internet looking for the cheapest option. I will support the business who put the product in to my radar in the first place. I will support the local. The small. The indie. Whoever it may have been that successfully caught my attention.
And I would like you to do the same. Instagram is not a tool to window shop then buy from elsewhere. Hours of time and so many resources are put into a post. To catch your attention and to inspire you. Whether that is inspiration to try a new recipe, go on holiday to a new location or try out a new clothing brand. Independent retailers exist to offer an alternative to the fast fashion culture we have become accustomed too.
Try and remember that products cannot improve without your feedback. That the makers welcome your feedback. If you are a business owner, please welcome that feedback in a positive way. Don’t make people question whether they should do it. And please stop having sales every second week. Have faith that your product is what the consumer wants to buy and will buy it. Otherwise they won’t buy from you unless it is on sale.
Remind yourself that when you are buying from the indie retailers, you are supporting a family. You are saying that you care about the person behind the screen. That you understand that they are in fact a person and they deserve your respect and your kindness.
Kindness. Doesn’t cost a damn thing. Throw it around like confetti!