SOCIAL MEDIA, WHERE TO SPEND YOUR TIME

Handmade in Europe - How to make Social Media work for you

For every handmade artist building up the name and brand is one of the key points in making it. You need to create a profile for the outside world to see and then share it consistently to the right audience. Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol are very good examples here, they built up distinctive images of themselves, stuck to them, and regularly hit the headlines in their days.
Nowadays it is much easier to profile yourself as there are multiple channels to communicate and share your works as well as your points of view. It is all a matter of time, organization, and choosing the right platforms to reach your target audience. What is important, you want to do it in such a way that you still have enough time for your most important activity: creating.


Choose your platforms

It’s not about telling you where to go, that you will have to decide for yourself. Just remember to consider your target audience’s preferences, you want to be present where your potential customers are. You also should keep in mind the fact that your content might be suitable for some platforms more than for the others. Whether you choose Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Flickr, it doesn’t matter as long as you know why you’re choosing it.  You have to evaluate each and every site you are considering and decide how it’s functionality can help you. Just because some platform is great for one business, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best choice for yours. If you can’t see how a site might help you it is better to try to look for another one. Remember, the time spent on comparing platforms and choosing the best ones is going to pay off, really.

Amongst others there are two factors that you should consider when choosing platforms for yourself: the time you can spend on the social media and the amount of content you plan to post. For instance, Twitter or Instagram might work well for short daily updates while you will need a blog for long posts with many photos.

Also consider the fact that not all your target group is using the same platform, people have their preferences, some just want to read the headlines (eg. Twitter), some want to watch the photo’s (eg. Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook), some like to shop or see pretty collections (Wanelo, Pinterest) and some people really want to read the details (websites, blogs, newsletters).

Below you can read the very basic information on the most popular social media platforms but there are many more out there for you to look at if you want. Just don’t go wild and try to use them all! Choose two or three that suit you and stick to them.

If you are interested in some more numbers and stats you are welcome to visit the Digital Marketing Stats site listed in resources and references at the end of this article.

FACEBOOK
This is the highest ranking platform with over 2 billion users, of which 1.4 billion are active (logged in regularly).
Works best for sharing photos, videos and events, as well as text content. There is a difference between personal profiles and business accounts (fan pages).

GOOGLE+
1+ billion users of which 540 million are active. It works much like Facebook but Google+ content will often rank higher in the Google search results..
You can share photos, videos, events etc.

TWITTER
500 million users, 284 million active. It was launched as a short message app  where you can share messages up to 140-characters (Tweets). It is mostly used to send many short messages a day to share with the world.

INSTAGRAM
300 million+ registered users and almost all of them are regularly active. Used to share mobile photos which can be easily transformed with filters for vintage effects (think polaroid pictures). The photos are easily shared to Facebook (who owns Instagram), Twitter or Tumblr at the time of posting.

PINTEREST
An online pinboard where you can ‘pin’ or upload your favorite photos. Photos can be grouped on boards and used for inspiration. Pinterest has got 70 million users, 80% of them are female.

FLICKR
92 million users. Photo sharing service owned by Yahoo.

TUMBLR
420 million users, 100 million active. This is a microblog platform on which you can share texts, video, photos, and follow other blogs.

WANELO
This is kind of a huge visual shopping mall where you can share and save products you like (want, need, love) from all over the internet. All products posted have a link to where you can buy them. Wanelo has 11 million registered users, 90% female. You can also find the big brands there.


Be consistent

Once you choose it, use it!
It is better to NOT be on a platform at all than to have your last status being many months old. This might work for static content as being published in books or on your personal website, but the social media platforms are all about regular updates, this is what keeps your audience interested.

CONCENTRATE. DO NOT DIVERSIFY.

What you are aiming for is one main place where all your content is stored and to which you can point via the other platforms you use. A personal website where you have full control of all the content in most cases is the best option.
Your goal is to attract people to visit one website where most of your information is available instead of spreading bits of information over many different platforms. It is also important for Google counts, as the more links point to a site, the higher its ranking will be. So, next to having your central website you have to be consistent in pointing to it by placing links on your social media platforms, in your headers, your email signatures, on your business cards, and wherever else possible.

ACTION AND REACTION.

Mind the ‘social’ bit in the social platforms. In order to see a return on social channels, you have to actually be social on them. Just posting and posting, dropping links and content, and never looking back is really not going to work.
Flooding people’s timelines with many posts and never reacting on theirs, as well as not bothering to reply to the comments people are leaving for you is not a good idea at all. People will quickly get tired of you and your posts, and remove you from their circles.
This has a name: ‘content fatigue’. People simply get tired of seeing the same posts and people over and over again.
On some platforms it matters how many followers you have so being removed from people’s circles will result in your profile going down in rankings and the algorithms in place will move you down in popularity.
After all, the social platforms want to be popular themselves so they tend to give priority to trendy profiles with many followers and the activities of these will be promoted more frequently than the activities of unpopular and rarely used accounts.

THE RIGHT TIME AND THE RIGHT PLACE

If you use your social media regularly you have possibly noticed that not all of your posts get the same attention from your audience. Sometimes the reason is the post itself but in many cases it is the posting time that does make the difference. Remember: the first minutes after you post are crucial, this is when the most people can see your content and get engaged in any way. It is a good practice to post when your audience is there to see what you have to share so for some time you should try posting at different hours and monitor your posts’ stats to see when the results are best.

CONSISTENCY MATTERS

If you use different platforms remember to be consistent when it comes to your profile photo, banners and general information. Make sure your content is personalized and distinctive so that no matter where people come across it, they will recognize you and your brand.

PERSONALITY

It is very important for an artist to be authentic. However, do not forget that it is your business you want to promote and keep that in focus at all times. Being yourself and personal you also have to be professional.

MIX WITH THE RIGHT CROWD

Be careful about who you follow. It is nice to share links and likes but if you are a painter, why is there a pizza place constantly posting on your pages?
Try to follow people with similar interests, this will only strengthen your own brand, and will display well on your pages, strangers visiting your profile should see immediately what branch and interests you have.
Choose quality over quantity in this, try to connect with similar successful brands, and interact with these, they might get interested in you, and share your content for you..


Quality and quantity, keep your audience engaged

If you post anything, regardless of the platform, use all available resources possible. Tags, links, keywords, photos… Keep the interest, and make as much share-able as possible, the more shares you get, the better it will be.

VISUAL CONTENT

If there is one thing that all the resources agree on, it is this one: any visual content will get much more engagement from your audience than the best text. People generally like pictures, but photos are also easy to share, pin and tweet. Not many people read posts anymore but with a good photo you have a chance of getting their attention.
But you should not be posting ANY photos. Make sure that your photos are good, develop your own style and stick to it, be consistent in using watermarks. This way you will become recognizable and people will be able to tell your photos from the others without even reading.
In case you need tips on photography you might want to read the post on SUCCESSFUL PHOTOGRAPHY.

INVITE INTERACTION

You want people to interact with you and share your content so you have to provide them with all the possible tools to do so. Make sure you there are social media buttons on your website and blog so that people can easily follow and share your updates with a single click.

A good way to get people to interacting with you is asking questions, posting polls or quizzes. You also can just ask people to like or share your content but remember to do it in a subtle way without bragging, pressing or shouting.

KEYWORDS AND TAGS

Your goal is to be found, so you should develop a habit of using appropriate keywords, tags, and hashtags. They should reflect your brand, so that if people search for the keywords, or stumble upon one of your posts they can find out more about you easily by checking the keywords. Hashtags work on most platforms, so to be complete you should not leave them out. Also make sure they are relevant and unique.

QUALITY

Wherever you share your content make sure it is of top quality. The photos have to be sharp, spelling has to be perfect and all the links have to be working. You also should remember to add  some relevant tags.

Checklist before hitting the ‘Post’ button:

  1. Are the photos sharp, visually engaging, and recognizable as yours?
  2. Is the spelling correct?
  3. Are you encouraging interaction?
  4. Are the tags relevant?
  5. Are the links working?

Keep track of what works, and gains results

One thing that you can do to make sure you are not working in a vacuum is to keep track of your statistics, you really want to know how many people are viewing, following, and clicking your content. Being up to date with your posts’ results will make it easier to plan and adapt your campaigns.

Here the free service Bit.ly comes in handy. First of all it will shorten your long links to a more friendly and shorter format, secondly it will keep track of the number of clicks on the link which lets you see if your campaign is being successful. This service is available to registered users only, but the registration is free. Most platforms do provide you with some basic statistic but they do not say anything about the number of visitors actually clicking your links, bit.ly can keep that score for you.

If you are on Facebook consider starting a fan page. Next to other advantages it will possibly bring you will be able to look into your page’s stats, like the number of views, shares, comments etc. Personal profiles on FB do not provide you with any stats at all.
Another advantage of having a fan page is the possibility of keeping your business and promotional posts separate from more private posts that you might be posting on your personal profile. Of course, you always can share posts from your fan page to your personal timeline.


Consider paid promotion

The social sites are there to make money and most of them offer you various paid promotion systems which will make it easier for you to get to your audience. You can define your keywords and location, then your posts will be featured prominently to non-followers and followers alike.
Choosing the right keywords and a campaign budget is the key here. You want to reach the right audience which means people interested in your content and products. General keywords like jewellery, shoes or art will not do the job; ‘handmade unique metalwork jewellery’, ‘handmade felted artisan shoes’ or ‘Italian landscape watercolor paintings’ will work much better.

Google Adwords is also a good option with its tools to measure the effectiveness and ranking of keywords. I have also noticed that after a few days of running a campaign the general ranking of my sites and the number of visitors keep increasing even when the campaign is already closed.


Work smart, not hard

TIME SAVERS

Some platforms will let you share your post directly to other platforms and that is a great time-saver which you should not underestimate. For instance, Instagram photos can be shared simultaneously to your Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare, your pins can be posted to Pinterest and Facebook at the same time.

If you know what kind of keywords and titles work best on different platforms, you might consider sharing the same visual content accompanied by slightly adjusted titles, texts and tags in order to get better results.


If you have an online presence across multiple social platforms, you might want to check out some of the services that allow for scheduling social media updates across multiple platforms.

HOOTSUITE

Hootsuite offers a range of apps, including their web-based original, mobile apps, desktop apps and also add-ons for Firefox and Chrome, all with the power to schedule updates. The desktop and web-based apps allow you to schedule to Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Ping.fm, WordPress, MySpace and Foursquare. The mobile apps are limited to Twitter and Facebook. The service is free.

LATERBRO

You can log in using either your Twitter or Facebook information. After choosing your time zone, you can either start scheduling updates or add more social accounts. You can add multiple Twitter accounts and are limited to one Facebook account. LaterBro is limited to Facebook and Twitter. Free service.

COTWEET

CoTweet is an enterprise-grade tool for monitoring a brand’s Twitter accounts and engaging with customers. One of the many features is the ability to schedule tweets by time and date. CoTweet can also be configured to send updates to Ping.fm. Another free service.

PAID SCHEDULING SERVICES

Next to the free services there are many services available with various pricing plans. You can check out services like Objective Marketer, SocialTALK, Vitrue, Postling, Sendible or SocialOomph. Some of these services offer limited-usability free versions as well.


Think outside the box

Discussing the social media you tend to think of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc., but do not forget newspapers, art fairs, magazines, television, and direct promotion, like getting a celebrity to display your art proudly.
If you have an exhibition contact the art department of a local newspaper, and invite them personally. If you know a local celebrity who likes your products, invite them as well, give them a gift and make sure you document this with photos which you can share on your social platforms.
If you know any organizations or artist groups relevant for your products consider joining one or two of them as such groups are usually strongly oriented towards supporting and promoting their members.


Closing tips

It is a big world out there, and the amount of social activity is overwhelming.
The main point is: even though you don’t need to reach everybody, you just want to reach your target, you should not underestimate or ignore the viral nature of social media. Some of your fans might not care about your product at all, but they do have a valuable network of friends. By sharing your content they spread word to people who might become your future customers.

Keep the above in mind when posting. Engage with all your followers, make all of them feel appreciated and you might be surprised with the results.

Also, use your time and resources wisely. Don’t be afraid to reach out and try new media, and don’t be afraid to close your account on a platform that does not work for you and is not bringing you the expected results.


Additional resources & references:

WHAT AND WHERE TO POST by Savvy Seller
BEGINNERS GUIDE TO KEYWORDS by Moz.com
KEYWORD PLANNER TOOL by Google adwords
HOW MANY USERS ON 800+ MEDIA PLAFORMS by Digital Marketing Stats


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