If you want to use social media tools like blogs, Twitter, or Facebook to market your business, read on — Diane Gilleland (sometimes known as Sister Diane) considers these outlets to be the key to success. This post is distilled from a workshop she presented recently for the I Heart Art program in Portland, OR. If you want to learn more about social media and how it works, you can also listen to Diane‘s podcast on the subject.
Friending and Following are just mouse-clicks.
We’d all love to believe that every single person who subscribes to our blog, follows our tweets, or becomes a fan of our Facebook page is listening hungrily to everything we have to say about our product.
But in fact, every one of these people is struggling to keep up with all the other blogs, Twitter pals, and Facebook updates they follow. We live in a perpetually overloaded world.
People can friend or follow you anytime, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re actually paying any attention to you. If you want real attention in the social media space, you have to earn it. That takes some effort — and a different way of looking at marketing.
Old School vs. New School marketing
Most of us are accustomed to “broadcast marketing” (which is old-school). Advertising is classic broadcast marketing — you craft one marketing message about your product, and you try to blast it out to as many people as possible.
The problem with broadcast marketing is, we’ve all grown up so bombarded with it, we’ve begun to collectively ignore it. (Have you ever deliberately tried not to pay attention to an ad?)
Thankfully, a new style of marketing is emerging in the Internet age. It’s called “engagement marketing.”
With engagement marketing, you don’t broadcast messages about your product. Instead, you build a community around yourself and your business. You use online tools to form real, one-on-one relationships with people.
This may seem counter-productive, but consider this: how much do you trust marketers? After decades of being hammered with broadcast marketing, most of us don’t trust marketers at all. But we do trust people — and especially, people we like.
So in the social media space, it pays to be a person. Focus on being friendly with people, and sooner or later, they’ll come check out your shop on their own — and they’ll do it through the interested eyes of a friend.
Common Mistakes I see everywhere…
Of course, since we all grew up with broadcast marketing, we’re a little hard-wired to do it ourselves. This usually means that when we start using social media tools, the first thing we do with them is broadcast marketing. Oops.
I see blogs that talk about nothing but “I just listed this product in my shop!” and “I’ll be selling at that show over the weekend!” In other words, blogs that read like one long ad.
I also see updates like the one above on Twitter and Facebook all the time. See the resemblance to broadcast marketing?
When you try to do broadcast marketing with engagement marketing tools, you’re sending a dangerous message to your potential customers. You’re in effect saying, “I’m interested in you only as a customer. I don’t care about being your friend.” This makes you look like a marketer — and we don’t tend to trust marketers, remember?
So in the social media space, don’t broadcast your product. Instead, tell the story of you as an artisan.
How to Tell Your Story: Content
There are three main elements to telling your story online. The first is content — that’s the material you share in your blog posts, tweets, and Facebook updates.
To make great content, you need to think about your readers. What will they find interesting and useful? Share glimpses of your creative process. Share your ups and downs as a small business owner. Share the things that inspire you. Share resources you’ve found helpful. Share your favorite books, foods, films, and music. Share your non-crafty hobbies.
Mention your product less frequently — and when you do, make it creative and interesting. Instead of saying, “Just listed: Pearl Drop Earrings,” say “These earrings are based on a design my grandmother wore to cocktail parties.”
With every post, give people a reason to see you as a trustworthy person, not a marketer.
How to Tell Your Story: Responding
You also tell a story about yourself through the way you respond to people. When someone comments on your blog, what do you do? When someone mentions you on Twitter or Facebook, what do you do?
Well, you should always respond — whether with a simple “thank you” or with a follow-up discussion. Small acts of courtesy like these go a long way toward earning people’s trust.
How to Tell Your Story: Reaching Out
This is the most under-utilized technique in social media. We often get so caught up in telling our stories, we forget to stop and notice other people’s stories.
If one of your Twitter friends posts about having a rough day, reply with some encouragement. If someone on Facebook mentions a personal triumph, like a big sale, take a moment and congratulate them. If one of your blogging friends writes a great post, leave a comment.
We love the people who notice us — and we’re very likely to trust them. If you do nothing else to improve your social media skills, try reaching out to people more. You’ll be amazed how many relationships you can build this way.
A quick note on time management:
Keep in mind, too, that you don’t have to keep up a blog, and Twitter, and Facebook to be an effective social media marketer. In fact, I think that if you take on too many tools, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and handle them all rather poorly.
Instead, do what feels best to you. If you love blogging but hate Twitter and Facebook, go with that. If you like Facebook but don’t feel comfortable on Twitter, that’s fine too. If you use only one tool, but use it the way I’ve described here, you’ll still have great marketing results.
To learn more about Diane‘s approach to blogging and social media marketing, visit her bookstore. She also offers online classes in blogging and Twitter, as well as one-on-one blog consultations. And, she produces CraftyPod, a blog and podcast about making stuff.
To learn more about the I Heart Art workshops organized by the Portland Etsy Team,
visit their blog at iheartartpdx.wordpress.com.