Let’s face it, social media can be overwhelming! And for many creative people, the thought of tapping away on a computer or smartphone is inconceivable: boring, timely and unproductive. The curse of technology detracting from the pleasures of designing and creating something beautiful, right?
Wrong. To avoid the power of social media means you could be missing a trick. It’s not all photos of people’s dinner and singing dogs – social media is a powerful business forum where your customers and potential customers will flock to find your designs. And this is how it works…
1. Your website
It’s great to have a website that showcases your designs, but how do you tell people what’s on offer there? Social media allows you to let people know you’ve arrived! If your website is your ‘virtual shopfront,’ social media is the signpost that shows customers the way.
2. Making the most of Google
Everyone wants to be on page one of Google – and some businesses pay for the privilege with ‘targeted ads.’ Social media is an organic (and free) way of telling Google it should pay attention to YOU, above your competitors and without the cost of advertising. You may have heard the term SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – it means making it easier for your website to be found when customers search for your product.
So if you design beautiful funky shoes and someone searches for ‘funky shoes,’ you want to be ranked near the top – not on page 23. One of the ways in which Google ranks you is by the number of ‘hits’ your website receives. In other words, the more people that visit your site and the more pages they click onto, the higher Google will rank you. But how do people know to ‘hit’ your site? Simple… via social media!
3. Social media channels
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Digg, Delicious, Google+, Reddit, Tumbler, Instagram, Stumbleupon… where do you start? It seems totally overwhelming. Well firstly, it’s worth remembering that you don’t have to be everywhere. It depends where your target audience is likely to be. This may require a bit of research, but Twitter and Facebook are generally good places to start. View your social media profiles as an extension of your branding; make sure the design reflects your website and includes fabulous photos of your products.
Three or four daily tweets will get you going as you begin to build a following. This doesn’t mean you have to keep remembering to grab your phone and tweet your latest sale (although that’s a great thing to do). You can schedule tweets in advance using specially designed programmes such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. This can include photos – remember to describe them, as people won’t see your gorgeous handiwork unless they choose to click on the link; you need to entice them in to take a look – so make sure you link tweets back to your website to get those much needed Google hits.
And keep them short! You’re hoping for people to retweet you so leave room for your Twitter name and website link to be included in their tweet. And most importantly, it is ‘social’ so don’t forget to share the love by retweeting other people’s interesting stuff in return. In terms of followers, go for quality rather than quantity. No point having 4,000 followers in eastern Asia if you a photography studio in the UK. Cultivate relationships with a handful of followers who have a genuine interest in your products. By retweeting you, these people are recommending you to their own followers – and a trusted recommendation speaks volumes.
Don’t bombard Facebook friends with hundreds of posts – two or three a week is ample, and photos attract the greatest response. Create a Facebook Business page – it’s different to a personal profile – then concentrate on getting people to ‘like’ it. Every time someone likes your page or a post a notification appears on their wall so their friends and followers can see it. This increases your visibility right across Facebook and encourages new people to click on your page and see what you’re doing. And remember, the more people who are interested in you, the more hits your website will get and the more interest Google will have in shoving you up its ranks.
Although LinkedIn is another social media platform, it works in a different way. Use this to concentrate on developing professional relationships. Recommend people you’ve worked with and ask your customers to recommend you. A LinkedIn recommendation is a powerful endorsement as anyone can see it’s genuine. You can add it to your website’s testimonials page too. Join some relevant groups and take part in discussions – or start your own. This vastly increases your visibility, as there can be hundreds, or even thousands, of members in a group – all of whom may get to see your expertise, skills and wonderful designs.
A weekly blog gives you a reason to post on all the social media channels with something that’s new and exciting. Yet many people are scared of blogging – they think they can’t write well, they don’t know where to begin, grammar, spelling, punctuation, telling it in a way that’s interesting and fun… But it needn’t be an ordeal. Short, regular blogs with eye-catching pictures that are properly tagged are an amazing way to bring people to your website. You can proudly show off your work to the world and entice people back to your website where they can then see all your lovely products. Same story: more posts, more readers, more website hits. And as a bonus, Google loves all that activity, so you’ll score with them for keeping your site refreshed and current. It’s a win-win!
So what now?
Social media is a commitment, there’s no getting away from that. You need a good strategy that allows you to plan your time and know when to post, tweet and blog. And you need to stick at it. Social media isn’t a magic wand for bringing in new business – it can take a year to yield results, so do persevere. Some businesses weigh up the time they need to dedicate to building a good on-line presence against the cost of someone else doing it for them; many people choose a social media consultant to handle everything, so they can spend their time concentrating on what they do best – being creative.
Social media is a whirl of activity and, once you get the hang of it, it’s totally addictive. Scientifically so…. The chemicals that activate in your brain as you tweet are the same ones that spring to life when you’re kissing!! So tweet, post, blog and have lots of fun – and hopefully you’ll bring in some new business while you’re at it!
About the author
Renée Wallen is a published author and poet with an enduring love of creativity. She has exhibited collaborative artwork with poetry in London and Cornwall.
Renée trains small and medium sized businesses to use social media effectively. Or, if they don’t have the time or inclination to do it themselves, she’ll handle everything for them! Her expertise covers all aspects of communication skills and marketing strategies, including copywriting search engine optimised web content and engaging social media profiles.