Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: Make 'Em Put A Ring On It

Winter art and craft festival time is FAST approaching, so this little tip is for those of you gearing up for the crazy weekends to come.

You've probably been there - you're at a festival or art/craft fair and a customer asks you to hold an item, ostensibly to find their husband/wife/holder of money.  You want to make the sale, but you know there's a very good chance of them never returning. Festival-induced ADD is the main reasons I would never hold items for people.  There's nothing more frustrating than turning down the next customer who wants that item - except maybe being the next customer who is turned away! Chances are you won't be seeing them again, either.  

My new-found collague, Kattaztrophe Arts' has a simple, but brilliant solution:  include a small deposit in your hold policy.   Base it on a small percentage of the price of the item, which is refunded/applied toward the final cost.  With a deposit in your coffers, you don't completely lose out if the person doesn't return.  I think you'll find that anyone who refuses to pay a deposit wasn't really interested and those who do will come back more times than not.  If they don't have cash on them and they really want the item, they'll move pretty quickly to find their other half!

Here are some extra Krissi-tips on the side:
  • post your hold policy and deposit requirement (with amount or %) - never make people ask
  • remove any item on hold from public display immediately (don't tease customers with what they can't have) 
  • keep order forms on hand and have a proper system for accepting customer orders (with payment or a deposit, of course)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: BE THE PARTY, Don't Just Wait For An Invitation

It's pretty well universally understood that sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring isn't going to get you any dates, and that if you want a social life, you need to go make one.  You know, meet people, talk, invite people over, stuff like that.  Likewise, if you don't send out invitations, it's a good bet nobody is going to show up for your parties.

So why, when it comes to business, do people forget everything they know?

Several people have told me over the last few weeks that they "don't get enough sales/walk-ins [in their online shop]" so they don't bother to put any time into it or refer customers there.  Seriously, how can anyone call/show up to your party if they don't have the number or know there's a shindig going down at your crib?

Here's the breakdown of one of these very candid back and forths (I've had about five in the last month, but this one was the easiest to find and copy/paste):
[SCENE: a group discussion about glitchiness of Facebook notifications]
Artist:  Most of the people who buy from me do so through Facebook, and it was getting very frustrating and stressful.

Krissi: Why don't you send them over to ArtFire? [note: ArtFire was suggested in this case since this artist has both ArtFire and Etsy shops and using ArtFire would save on fees.]
Artist: I have a hard time diving in completely on ArtFire because I've never gotten a "walk-in" sale from that site. I can send artists there like crazy to set up shops, but I don't spend a lot of time on the site because even when I post new links to items in that shop, I still don't get sales there.
Krissi:  The more people I send over to purchase through ArtFire, the more drop ins I get. People go there, look through the shop and tell their friends about it. So even if I have a 'sale' on facebook, I set the listing up on ArtFire and have the person purchase through there. Then they know the shop is there and they go back and browse.
Artist: I get walk-ins from time to time on Etsy, most especially because of [a collaboration shop] and [a popular blog]. Because of those two things, most of my fans are just used to Etsy. 
Krissi:  People will shop where your stuff is. There's nothing magic about Etsy - it's just a tarted up online shopping cart with name recognition.  Keep Etsy for the walk-ins, but ask your facebook fans, friends and repeat customers to go through ArtFire to save your fees. You can even increase the prices by $1 or so on Etsy to compensate for their listing fees and people will probably start 'getting used to' ArtFire pretty darned quickly.  If you don't want to increase your prices on Etsy, you can hold "ArtFire only" sales to introduce people to it.
Artist: I have to tell you, though, I don't get the bulk of my sales through my inventory at all. If I relied on either shop to pay my bills, I'd be even worse off than I am now. Most people just contact me on Facebook about custom orders, and I set them up with a Paypal invoice.
Krissi: I don't get very many drop-ins either since most of my customers come from Facebook, but I do have more than I used to AND hear from people who say they've been 'stalking' my shop for months before they actually buy something.  I've learned that most people want the freedom to look around at items with prices and without a sales clerk following them.  If they need to contact someone to ask the price, a good number of them probably won't.  Providing a fully stocked online shop with full descriptions to allow potential customers to browse at their leisure is critical.  It's kinda like me walking past Crate & Barrel every day at lunch and then one day wandering in to buy that vase I've been looking at for a week.
Here's a visual.   Look at the difference by clicking on my Facebook fan page.  Can you immediately tell what I have available for sale, what my prices are and whether I take custom orders?  
Now click on my ArtFire shop.  See a difference?
[at this point the conversation went off on another tangent about programming shop widgets and tagging, which will be addressed in separate Marketing Tidbits]

Don't be the sad pug.  Make your shop accessible and invite your customers over.  This advice has already started working for one of the Glitter Bitches Handmade Corporate Rejects, AmyLynn of Kittycrossbones Custom Promotionals, who recently reopened her custom promotionals business after a 7 month hiatus.  Not only has she successfully moved her customers from Etsy to ArtFire, but she is quickly regaining her entire customer base at the same time.  Go AmyLynn!

And GO YOU!  I know you can do it!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: Play A Little

Have some fun with your customers - invite them over to play once in a while.  Laugh a little.  There doesn't need to be a payoff, a prize or a giveaway for them every time they come to visit.  Sometimes, it's enough just to hang out with you and goof off for a while.

Halloween-themed free downloadable coloring page
from Kittycrossbones over on Facebook
for you, your kids, your friends, whatever

Some marketing isn't going to have an immediate and direct effect on your bottom line, but it does build up your likeability, which is a huge part of what handmade is all about.  Besides, even if nothing comes of your evil plan for world domination through free coloring pages, it's worth doing for the smiles.
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: "Senno Ecto Gammat!"

NOTE: Because today's "tidbit" is so long, I'll be back on Monday with the next installment.  See you then!

Senno Ecto Gammat
("Never again,
without my permission")
Don't "advertise" on your competitors' pages.  Not ever.  It's one of the fastest ways to get your page banned from posting again and will get you a nasty reputation in the indie business community.

As a matter of fact, don't even do it on your colleagues' pages without express (not assumed or implied) permission.

Now, I know there are a lot of people who think posting their promos all over facebook is an acceptable form of "networking," but it really isn't.  There are even quite a few people who don't mind spam on their pages, so when they spam others, they don't even know they're being rude.

Try thinking of it this way: you live in a small town with a 2 block Main Street and are in Luigi's Italian Restaurant.  Someone from Mario's Sicilian Eatery across the street wanders in and starts handing out sales coupons to absolutely EVERYONE.  Wouldn't you think that a bit unprofessional?  Which response do you think is more likely? (1) Luigi things excitedly "Oh boy! Now I can pass out my coupons in Mario's restaurant!" (2) Luigi tosses Mario and his coupons, a-fluttering in the wind, out the door.

Why is it that when we get behind a keyboard and monitor, all social niceties go out the window?  It's that darned feeling of anonymity we all have on the internet.  Since running a successful indie business means letting your customers get to know you and your company, let's bring back those small town business niceties, shall we?  We'll start with what NOT to do.

DON'T post links or contests to your business on a competitor's page!  Even the name-dropping and flattery in the first couple of lines doesn't excuse this bad behavior. This is very bad manners.

Fan fishing: a post by one artist on another artist's page
Asking for advice is, while acceptable, a little presumptuous.  Most successful indie business owners/artists just don't have time to answer every individual request for help, so those of us willing to help out will write blogs (*ahem*).  Try asking if they have already written or know of a post that addresses the issues you're asking about or, better yet, go search through their blogs yourself first.  If you really need one-on-one advice that only they can answer (meaning you're not just too lazy to do your own research), ask privately and be gracious and understanding if they don't have the time to respond.

DON'T post links on a colleague's page without permission.  Let's say instead of a competing restaurant, Mario owns a little street cafe that just sells coffees and gelato, and instead of coming into the restaurant, he hands coupons to everyone going in or out of Luigi's Italian Restaurant.

A new company's post on an established business' page
While this is admittedly more subtle that our artist friend above, it's still going to be perceived as begging for fans. This person snuck in a hotlink back to her own promotions business page!  Clever girl.  

Here's another, even less obvious, example of self-promotion on another company's page.
Posted on an indie makeup company's page (MUA="makeup artist")
You're not really "showing some <3" if you post like these folks.  No matter what your intent, your post will be received as an attempt to collect someone else's fans for your own business.

There are potential business opportunities here for all the businesses in this example.  They could cross promote, link share or even offer deals to customers who do business with both.  However, if we go back to the restaurant/gelato example again: the problem is that "Mario" didn't even ask "Luigi" if he'd be OK with him handing out coupons to every customer entering or exiting the restaurant.

I saying never post on other business' pages?  Heck no!  Post away!  But if you are going to post on someone's page, DO post something positive and substantive, for example:
☺ a fan photo of their product 
☺ ask a question (but don't pick their brains!) or even better,
☺ answer someone else's question!
☺ a "my [whatever that company makes] arrived, and I love it." 
☺ a link to their page from yours so you're sending your fans to them, like these companies:

It doesn't matter whether you're a Mario, a Luigi, a start-up makeup company or a struggling new artist, don't make a posting faux pas like the companies I pointed out did.  Promoting your business on other pages without permission, no matter how subtle you are, will eventually get you in trouble.  Just ask Korben Dallas. Not asking permission is how he ended up with Leeloo pointing that formidable looking gun in his face.  And none of us want to end up in that situation, now do we?

Do you have an indie business question or tip?  Drop me an e-mail at art@krissisandvik.com and let me know!
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: Got a Schedule? Stick With It!

This is a quickie blogging tip for you guys today, since I'm busy actually following my own advice...

If you say you are going to post (photos, examples, tutorials, marketing tidbits, whatever) in a certain place at a certain time, be sure not to change up your schedule whenever you feel like it. If you cannot meet the requirements, you need to reset your schedule and tell people so they can adjust their expectations.

For example, last night I didn't have a post ready to go for my Modern Rosies "Ask Krissi's Art Studio" Thursday feature. I figured I'd write a quick-tip (yeah, like this one).  Then this morning, someone asked a REALLY good question, but I just didn't feel like writing about it today. I wanted to put up a link to something cool for tomorrow then work on writing the feature so it could on the next available open post. Uh. No. Unacceptable. Whether or not I think people are reading those posts, I said I would be posting on Thursdays, so I'm flipping my schedule. I owe it to anyone who is reading, to the blog organizers and to myself.

So I'm off to write a post about pyrography.  What?! No!  I said pyrography, you dirty birdy!  You know, woodburning.  Sheesh.

Do you have an indie business question or tip?  Drop me an e-mail at art@krissisandvik.com and let me know!
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Five DIY Pricing Mistakes (repost from BlogHer)

Yours truly (that's me) has the featured blog spot over at BlogHer this week thanks to my very glittery and crafty colleague, Kathy "Crafty Chica" Cano-Murillo.  THANKS KATHY!

Since I'm still working on a few new marketing tidbits for all of you, I thought today would be a good time to repost some mistakes we all make when pricing our art or DIY products.  I've never tackled this subject myself, so instead, I defer to an actual business coach and brand strategist, Annemarie Cross.

Annemarie Cross, BlogHer Member
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: Be Awesome (Part I)

I was chatting online yesterday with fellow artist (and one of the newest GB Handmade Corporate Rejects Affiliate Members), Scott Krichau, about a technical problem he'd managed to get customer service help on where I had failed. When I asked him just how he'd accomplished this amazing feat of persuasion, his answer was,

"I made it clear that I was awesome and they needed me, and they bought it."

This got me to thinking about how important it is to project a certain level of self-confidence whenever you are representing your indie business (which, let's face it, is pretty much all the time, but that's a subject for another tip).

Really?  OK.  I'll just go buy stuff
from someone who doesn't suck.
Thanks for the warning, though!
I hear all the time from artists, writers and DIY company owners that they don't like to talk about themselves or that they don't think that they or their art/writing/product is 'good enough.'  Well then, my friends, let me tell you something: you either need to find a way to get over it or admit that you're in the wrong line of work because self-deprecation is NOT charming.  Not even a little bit.

I'm not saying you need to walk around saying how awesome you are.  But posting "here's my shop, like it if you want to, but I'm just starting out and my stuff sucks" isn't going to win you any new fans or customers.  Think about it, why should they want to buy something from you if you are already telling them they shouldn't want it?  I mean, would you buy it?

By publicly undervaluing your own work or even your shop design, photography or description writing skills, you are actually selling your competitors' goods to the people who would otherwise be your potential customers.

Your friends may be willing to overlook your negative self-assessments for a while, but I promise you, it will wear on them sooner or later.  Not only will you lose your initial supporters and potential customers, but you drive away others in the DIY business.

Successful indie shops aren't going to promote a shop owner who can't or won't promote him/herself.  I know because this subject comes up constantly in DIY/indie business owner/artist groups.  For example, I asked for some of the biggest marketing mistakes my colleagues noticed, and one posted "I get sick of seeing ... people do the guilt trip 'Does my stuff really suck so bad none of you want to buy it?" Another mentioned shop owners who asked for advice and then refused to follow any of it because they "'don't get enough customers to bother putting more time in to this.' *face-palm* "  Well, if you'd follow your friends' advice and stop telling everyone how much you suck, you'd probably get more customers.

Of course, there is the Irony Exception to the don't be mean to yourself rule, but if you're going to employ comedic self-deprecation, you'd better do it really REALLY well and be completely thorough about it.  Joint venture The Worst Shop Ever! is one of the few shops that has managed to get it right:
Being featured in the Regretsy book totally ups their "we suck" street cred.

OK, so we have a pretty good understanding that self-deprecation is not the same as modesty (which kinda went out of fashion in the 1920s anyway, Granny).  I'm guessing that the next question is -because it is always the next question- "But Krissi, what should I say? I don't want to sound full of myself!"  Well tune in next time for some tips on how to write positive posts, listings and descriptions (even for items you goofed up) without sounding like you think you're the best thing since sliced bread.  Trust me, it is possible.

Do you have an indie business question or tip?  Drop me an e-mail at art@krissisandvik.com and let me know!
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: Make The Connections for Them

This little piece of advice is probably the one I give out the most: MAKE IT PAINFULLY SIMPLE for potential clients to find you.


Well, for expample:

Add your business' facebook fan page to the employment section of your personal profile AND be sure to make it publicly viewable.  That way every time someone lands on your personal profile, there's a bright, shiny link right up at the top sending them over to your business page.

Add a shop link every single time you promote.  Don't make people click over to your Twitter/Facebook/whatever profile from their news feed to look for the link.  More times than not, they won't do it -especially those who get posts on their phones- and you'll be wondering why nobody took advantage of that sale you ran ... somewhere.
  • WRONG: 25% off everything in my shop for the next hour!
  • WRONG: 25% off everything in my shop for the next hour!  Just go to my facebook page and click on the ArtFire Kiosk link.
  • WRONG: 25% off everything in my shop for the next hour! Find me on ArtFire at MyAwesomeShop!
  • RIGHT: 25% off everything in my shop for the next hour!  Ends at 11pm Eastern! http://myawesomeshop.artfire.com

Provide all of the coupon/sales/promotional information a customer would need every time you post about it.  You might actually have a potential customer who just 'tuned in,' after all.
  • WRONG: IMAGINARYWIDGETSALE for 25% off almost all of my widgets this weekend!
  • WRONG: Widgets 25% off this weekend - scroll down for coupon code and terms/conditions.
  • RIGHT: 25% off all widgets in my shop through Monday when you enter coupon code IMAGINARYWIDGETSALE at checkout (excludes clearance widgets)  http://myawesomeshop.artfire.com
Add your shop link and e-mail to your information/profile section already.  Right at the top where people will see it when they visit your fan page.

Utilize applications like the ArtFire Kiosk and My Etsy (they can be a little glitchy, but if you can get them to work properly, they're great tools).

If people ask for the information you have already painstakingly provided for them (and they will, 'cause there are just TOO MANY LINKS our there screaming for our attention), simply provide them with the link and then tell them where the info is for future reference.
  • WRONG: It's in the side-bar, genius.
  • WRONG: It's http://myawesomeshop.artfire.com
  • RIGHT: It's http://myawesomeshop.artfire.com and if you can't find this post again or forget, you can always look in the left sidebar and find the link under the ABOUT section!  <3

You can come up with some of your own 'painfully simple' tips by taking note every time you see a link or post and need to link somewhere else or ask someone for the information.  Remember, if the info is there but it's buried in text, then it's not painfully simple, is it?  The easier you make it for your customers and clients to find you, the more customers and clients will actually make it into your shop!  

Do you have an indie business question or tip?  Drop me an e-mail at art@krissisandvik.com and let me know!
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: Give 'Em A Visual

So you know how important it is to show photos of each item you list in your shop, but that's not enough.  Be sure to also include example photos showing any options you offer like sizes, personalization, colors, chain, patinas, etc.

View Ant Farm Studio's new KID KRITTERS
shop section for some cute child (and adult)
friendly wall art and home decor!
Example #1: Kim offers a new option on her new 'child friendly' art pieces where you can add your kid's name or a word to the piece.  Her customers are going to want to be able to see what their child's name will look like, but... uh oh!  She doesn't have examples of names on any of the kids' room art pieces yet!  No problem - because she HAS painted words on other pieces so all she has to do is include photos of those pieces. By adding photos that seem unrelated to her listing, her customers get a better idea of what the finished product will look like before they order.

Example #2: I offer pendants with my art on them in "inchie" and "twinchie" (one-inch and two-inch square) versions.   Although I clearly list the measurements and mark the photos, sometimes people really need a visual reference for sizes.
That's where the lovely and talented Beth Br00tality comes in!  Not only did she photograph herself wearing each size pendant, she went above and beyond.  Now people know what to expect (because the 2" pendant is really four times larger than the 1" pendant)!  Yowza!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: Sales Etiquette #2 (Save the Sob Story For Someone Who Cares)

This drawing is very cute,
 but actually begging for sales,
not so much.
drawing by Lanika on DeviantArt
More from the Miss Krissi's Manners For Small Business Owners Guide on running sales.  Do NOT beg.  

Charity drives aside, people don't want to hear about your financial difficulties.  If you can't pay the rent and need to run a sale, call it something else.  Anything else, really.  Just do a Google search for whatever silly "National Holiday" is coming up and use that, but begging for rent money is just tacky.  Not only is it unprofessional looking, but it can lose you customers and friends pretty darned quickly.  I've hit many an "unlike" button after a few panhandling posts.

People who can't afford vacations aren't going to throw
their hard-earned money around just so you can take one. 

Likewise, don't EVER do this: "My kid threw my Blackberry in the toilet, help me get a new one - coupon code is POOPY2011 for 25% off everything."  First of all, there are people out there who are struggling to feed their kids, so your loss of a smartphone, even though you use it to run your business, isn't going to make them shed a single tear.  Plus, the only people who are going to find this sort of thing cute are probably other mommies who have also lost their technology to the toddler/crapper, so they aren't going to have cash to buy a new one for you too.  Me?  I go right for the 'unlike' button.

Remember, your business is only around because there are people who want the items you are selling.  Your customers do not exist to support your bank account, so don't treat them that way.  Entitlement is ugly.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Still in progress, but going in the right direction.

I've been fighting with this pic over the last few days....

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Marketing Tidbit O' The Day: Customer Followup

OK, today's tidbit isn't really marketing, but customer service. Some of your customers may be shy about approaching you to say they have a problem. While I see my business as a business no matter who I sell to, I know some clients see me as a "friend" who they don't want to upset. Make it easy on them. Open up dialogues with them after transactions & never blame them for hesitating to tell you about an issue.

Example: I goofed and didn't follow up on a shipment from earlier this month and guess what?  The package was lost. I should have caught that by following up on that shipment within a few days after sending it, but I didn't.  My customer is a friend who doesn't like to 'rock the boat,' so she said nothing.  Luckily, the subject came up in the course of conversation. I assured her that "stuff happens" and I'm never going to be upset with any client about a lost or damaged package.  Likewise, I am never going to be upset with a client who asks for the status of a package, even if it's my fault.  But rather than try to change how my friend feels or thinks, it's simpler and more direct to change my practices.

It's our job as sellers to make our clients comfortable and to make sure they know what our shipment/insurance/replacement policies are in advance. Some people will be direct, some shy, some may come across as rude, some vague and some will dance around the issue. Do your best to read into what they're trying to tell you and offer up solutions.  

If you make a mistake, tell the truth, don't make excuses, then apologize and make it right.  It's also a smart move to add in a little something extra without asking since most customers will say they don't want anything extra.  Just send it.  Whatever you do, don't send them a % off coupon for their another purchase - that's just rubbing salt in their wound.  If you goofed on this transaction, they're unlikely to purchase again until you make it up to them.

Oh, and track your packages before your clients have a need to come to you about it. Yeesh.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Marketing Tidbit O' The Day: Sales Etiquette #1

Yes, there is a Miss Manners guide to holding sales.  You didn't know that?  Uh oh.  We'd better get started, then.  Miss Krissi's Manners For Small Business Owners says:

Don't piss off your customers by making each sale better than the one you just held. If you offer "30% off everything" one week, don't come back the next with 40% off and then 50% the week after that.  If you keep reducing prices, you're punishing your loyal customers!  You should reward early shoppers with the best discounts (or discounts on your best stuff), then taper down the amount you take off or only offer discounts on certain items.

Be sure to let everyone know WHAT will be on sale and WHEN the sales are as far in advance as possible so they know when the best deals will be happening.  If you allow your customers to budget for sales and take advantage of your best prices, you will probably do more business than if you have sudden "surprise" sales.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Marketing Tidbit O' The Day: Pull 'Em In!

When you post links to blogs, fan pages, shop items, etc., on a social networking site, say something interesting to draw people in!  Let's face it, only the most avid fanboys/fangirls are going to click through on everything you post just because you posted it.

A simple "check this out" won't make 99% of people click on a link.  Even putting something like "Cool use of product" won't, but something like "I would never have thought to use this glue for that application" sure would! Think about what you found useful, funny or worth noting and create a little teaser that will make people interested enough to look. You're competing with a lot of links out there!

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Marketing Tidbit O' The Day: Facebook Fan Pages

Welcome to the first edition of Krissi's Art Studio Marketing Tips! A few weeks back, Wenchkin started a great conversation in the Glitter Bitches Handmade members group about marketing dos and don'ts. Since then, I've been thinking about ways all of us could improve our shops and online presences.  Several times a week, I'll be posting little tidbits of information for the indie business owners and artists out there.  Enjoy!


Are you on facebook?  If so, USE A FAN PAGE for your business. If you don't have one set up already, head over here and create one. I know, I have heard it all before.  "But I already post on my personal profile. Why should I make a fan page?"  Well, because you can:
  • access it from your existing profile - you don't need another login
  • post your art publicly (people don't have to friend you to see your work)
  • separate your personal stuff from your work (and then DO NOT double post everything or you'll lose fans AND friends)
  • spare your non-customer friends from a gazillion "just listed on Etsy" posts 
  • prevent your fine art collectors and creepy fanboys/girls from seeing pictures of your kid potty training (or whatever)
  • post as your fan page.  Just think about the clicks you'll get when you post something clever (way better than friend requests from people you don't know)
  • there's no limit - you can have more than 5,000 fans (you cannot have more than 5,000 friends

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