They didn’t think Facebook would work for their business

Written by Sonya Martin, Office of the NSW Small Business Commission.
As featured in The Country Web 2016 Annual

On Wednesday Tracie Johnson’s business didn’t have a Facebook page—by Thursday, 150 000 people had seen her first post.

Tracie and Coel Johnson

Tracie and her husband Coel are partners in CT Johnson Shearing, a business they started 12 months ago. Coel has been shearing since he was 17 and the couple decided it was time to capitalise on his experience and reputation by starting their own operation.

Today their team of shearers, shed hands and wool classers could be anywhere in Australia where there is a flock to be shorn. Travelling with their own food supply (and a cook who knows what to do with it), they spend weeks away on a property, shearing large flocks of sheep.

“It’s hard work,” said Tracie, “and every business is challenged with the issues of finding ways to generate new business.” The drought has taken a toll on flock sizes and competition can be tough. “You have to look at different ways to increase revenue and build brand recognition.”

It was the quest to grow the recognition of CT Johnson Shearing that led Tracie to sign up for our Regional Activation Program’s new interactive workshops. Her hometown, Deniliquin, was one of the first NSW communities to be offered workshops, together with Mullumbimby and Gilgandra.

Tracie signed up for a Social Media Workshop, even though she was skeptical that her business would benefit from being online at all, let alone in social media.

“This is basically a word of mouth business,” she said. “Being a service business and in the agriculture sector, I didn’t think social media and online marketing would have any benefit to us.

“Social media is only going to get bigger and the agriculture sector is moving forward so I thought it was worth trying,” Tracie added.

The night after the one-day course, Tracie went home and set up the CT Johnson Shearing Facebook page. Her inaugural post was two pictures. In the first her husband Coel holds an impressively woolly sheep found by the team on a property in Deniliquin. The second picture shows their son dwarfed by the giant fleece that came off the sheep. Using her newfound social media skills, Tracie also shared the picture with other Facebook pages she thought would be interested, like the R.M.Williams Outback magazine page. The post has been shared over 400 times and as a result it’s been seen by over 150 000 people.

Tracie’s business philosophy is that success relies on continuous learning and in this case that motivation to step outside the norm has paid off in spades.

Attending the Social Media Workshop has turned Tracie from a curious skeptic into a believer and has connected CT Johnson Shearing to a new audience.

Her next project, inspired by the success of the CT Johnson Facebook page, is a website with videos and photographs showing the company’s professional shearers in action all over Australia.

More information
t: 1300 795 534
NSW Small Business Commissioner website

About nswrwn

NSW Rural Women’s Network is a government program working in innovative ways to promote leadership and action on rural women’s issues. The RWN team is dedicated to connecting and exchanging information with women and stakeholders in rural, regional and remote communities.
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