This past Sunday afternoon, we were able to meet a number of our registered knot too shabby BAZAAR vendors during an informal meet ‘n greet, at which time we answered questions about the event and shared advertising ideas. There were a lot of questions about why and how we should be collectively using social media to promote the knot too shabby BAZAAR and with the “rules” of engagement changing constantly, I put together a list of my top five recommendations of how to best utilize social media.
- Pick your top 3-5 social media platforms and stick with those
Rather than trying to master ALL of the social media outlets, pick your favorites. I limit my social media interactions to pinterest, facebook, instagram, you tube and twitter. By limiting what I’m using, I am much more able to focus my message on each of those platforms depending on the nature of my audience and interactions. And, that’s the whole point of social media…it’s to be able to interact, albeit on a superficial level with your audience.
2. Avoid duplicate and cross-application posting
Allow me to get on my soap box for just a moment regarding duplicate posting! It is my biggest social media related pet peeve (other than nasty feet pictures and food shots)…seeing the exact same post appear on instagram, twitter and facebook. All of those platforms have features that allow you to link accounts. But, it doesn’t mean you should. It’s easy to link your accounts. It allows you to keep them active. But, it’s also a very lazy way of communicating and engaging your followers. I have unfollowed more businesses because of duplicate postings that clog my feed. And, aren’t we in the business of acquiring followers, not chasing them away by over-posting the same content? This takes me to my next recommendation…
3. Identify HOW you will use each platform and devise a flexible schedule
So that you don’t fall into the duplicate-posting trap, know what you want to communicate with each platform and how you are going to do that. In my case, I loosely follow this formula:
- Instagram = inspirational and in the moment photos 1-2 times per day
- Facebook = informational and instructional content 2-5 times per day (plus local “group” engagement)
- Pinterest = networking and sharing content of other customers and stockists as well as our product 5+ times per day
- YouTube = short tutorial videos and shop shots 1 time per month
- Twitter = feeds from Facebook (yes…I know, I violate my rule of not duplicate posting but twitter has become an incidental social media account).
By knowing how I use each network, I can focus my photographs and posts appropriately. I can also pre-plan certain posts so that there is more structure and thought in what I am posting as well as quality photographs.
4. Speaking of photographs, at least every 8 out of 10 photographs you post should be among your best
Have you ever been to a restaurant and scoffed at the food photos on the menus? Every time you post a photograph to your feed, it is a representation and visual aide of what you do, how you do it, where you do it. Make it a good representation. I’m not a photographer by any means. But, I find superior photography so valuable in my business, that I’ve hired a real photographer (i.e. Caitlin) to capture what we do. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever take my own pictures, but I make sure that the bulk of my photographs are magazine worthy. The rest fall in the “in-the-moment” category. But you can still bet that they are taken in good lighting, staged nicely and tell a story. The last thing I want is someone to blanch at my pictures the way I blanch at the gross food pictures on the cheap restaurant menu.
What do you do if you don’t have access to a professional photographer? Well…I hate to be a buzz kill, but it’s worth it to invest in one for a big photo shoot. Gather a large quantity and variety of your products and have a pro come out and photograph them professionally. Those will be the pictures you can use on your other marketing materials, and mix them into your regularly scheduled posts. And, if you’re not ready to make that leap, practice taking your own pictures. Set up vignettes of your product. Practice the staging. Take pictures outside and inside. Find out where you take the nicest pictures and stick with that location. You’ll notice that most of my pics are taken either outside or in my kitchen and living room. I have oodles of natural light in those two rooms of my house so can usually get a fairly decent picture. I steer clear of the rest of the house because the pictures come across too dark and shadowy. The pictures aren’t a good representation of what I am photographing so I won’t even bother.
5. How and why to use the over-used #HASHTAG.
Hashtags serve several purposes. Think about it like organizing your kids room! You have a bin for books, another for toys, and another for socks. Those items, or in the case of social media, those posts get perfectly categorized based upon the content of picture if you use a hashtag. Now, rather than just organizing your kids room, you get to be a participant in organizing the ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD. Stuff goes in #books, #toys, #socks. Everyone who categorizes their stuff, or in the case of social media, their posts with a given hashtag gets it dumped in that metaphorical bin. The more people using a given hashtag, the more popular those posts!
Now this is where it gets confusing. The collective use of hashtags allow your posts to be more visible to a broader audience. Basically, facebook (and now, instagram) have complicated algorithms set up in their software that filters posts based upon both popularity and the liklihood that you or your audience will want to see said post. IF more people are using a given hashtag at a given time, the software recognizes its popularity and pushes it up in the feed, therefore more people will see it and you are more likely to gain new likes or followers.
It also makes your posts easier to find (because they are categorized in those lovely hashtag “bins”). Let’s say, for example I want to feature one of our #knottooshabbyBAZAAR vendors and I don’t have access to my file of photos. I’ll search for #knottooshabbyBAZAAR on facebook or instagram and can see every post that has ever been identified with that hashtag. Which begs the question, why do you want your posts to be easy to find? Hopefully, so that you are recognized by someone who can feature your products…but that will only happen if your pictures or outstanding. Or, I need inspiration so I search #ChalkPaint…or #vintagejewelry or #MilkPaint or #TBT.
This really just scratches the surface of social media. And, the rules are always changing as is the software so don’t kick yourself if you aren’t keeping up! It’s a lot to navigate and I’ve made loads of mistakes in the past and by no means am even close to understanding it all! But, that’s how we learn.
Coming in the fall of 2016, we will be starting a small business development series of workshops and round-table discussions geared specifically to new, creative based start-ups! If you are interested, join our e-mail list for updates and info and don’t hesitate to comment, e-mail or message us if you have questions or more useful social media related information!