Social Media for Craft Sellers 101
Welcome to Episode 8 of the Craft Seller Success podcast. In this episode I will be talking about social media for craft sellers. Many craft sellers use social media to market their products, share their blog posts and interect with the target market. But how do you make the most of social media? How do you get people to follow you? What pitfalls should you watch out for?
Listen to the Social Media for Craft Sellers 101 Podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.
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Transcript of Episode 008
This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number eight Social Media for Craft Sellers 101
Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts
Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.
You may already be pretty familiar with some sorts of social media. You will almost certainly have heard of Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps you use them to stay in touch with family and friends or to follow people or companies you like.
Even if you have aren’t using social media already you may find that it is a very useful tool. It can help you sell your craft products, build up your brand and reach new potential customers and other contacts.
Many craft sellers use social media to help market their products, brand and more. It is generally free, easy and can generate traffic, feedback and sales. But it needs a time commitment and a certain amount of strategy to get the most from social media.
The ability to reach very large numbers of people, cheaply, quickly and easily makes it the most popular marketing technique for craft sellers.
Social media is the term used to describe the overall concept, and the things you post and share.
Social networks are the different platforms, websites and apps on which you can use social media.
Social networks thrive on people posting interesting content, sharing that content amongst their selves and discussing the content. There may be options for users to “like” or “heart” content they really enjoy. People can usually follow the users whose content they particularly like, so they catch all the latest posts. These followers may share your posts with their own followers, spreading them far. When lots of people do this we say a post has “gone viral”. There is no guaranteed way to make a post go viral, if only! but it is a very exciting event when it happens!
What is this podcast about?
In this podcast, I will be discussing how and why social media is beneficial to craft sellers. I will concentrate on how to use social networks for maximum effect, with a view to getting more followers, interaction, traffic and, ideally, sales.
Unlike many articles on this topic, I will not be mentioning “followers” or “likes” very often. Whilst having lots of people following your social networks has many benefits, this will happen naturally if you are posting great content and using the platforms well. Concentrate on your strategy and content – the followers and likes will take care of themselves.
So whichever form of social media you use, or want to use, this podcast will hopefully be useful to you.
Popular Social Media Networks
Because each type of social network is different, I will be dedicating a full podcast to them later on. In these future episodes, I will go into detail of how to best use each network as a craft seller. For now, I will just give a very brief description of the 7 that are most often used by craft sellers.
Facebook is by far the most used social network with many over 2 billion users worldwide. This makes it very popular with craft sellers! You can have a dedicated page for your business, market and connect with fans. You can also pay to advertise using Facebook’s very targetable advert system.
Although post lengths can be no more than 280 characters, many people love Twitter and a lot of craft sellers swear by it for helping their business. It tends to need pretty frequent posting but can be automated to make this easier. Twitter is now the largest source of breaking news.
My personal favourite social network. Pinterest is useful both for marketing your products, blog posts etc but also as a research tool. Users create virtual boards where they “pin” pictures and articles from around the web, repining other people’s content or creating new.
There is a lot of information in Podcast Episode 12, Pinterest for Craft Sellers.
Google+ is owned by internet giants, Google. It is especially popular with craft sellers who use Google’s blogging platform, Blogger.
Google+ integrates tightly with YouTube too. Although it has never been as popular as some of the other social networks, it has a dedicated core of users, with a higher proportion of male users than the other networks.
Tumblr is a cross-between a mini-blog and a social network. Many craft sellers use it for posting their new products, even if for nothing else. I personally enjoy Tumblr and post most days with pictures of the various crafting projects I do. With over 500 million visitors every month, it can be worth considering.
Instagram is hugely popular with crafters as it is a very visual medium. Users tend to be young. To make the most of Instagram you will need lots of attractive pictures and a commitment to post regularly. There are over 800 million users of Instagram. It is now owned by Facebook.
People define YouTube in many ways. Some people say it is a search engine, others a social network and others “just a video player”. Creating videos for YouTube can be very beneficial for some craft sellers and can generate a lot of traffic for them. You can also use it to support your brand without creating any videos yourself – more about that in a future podcast.
Strategies for using Social Media
Many craft sellers have found that having a social media strategy pays off. It is very easy to either neglect a social network or to spend more time on them than you really want to. Here are some ways to get the most from social media.
Which Social Network should I use?
It is very important to understand that each of the different social networks has a different demographic of users and that each works in a slightly different way.
Whilst it is tempting to want to do all the social networks, for maximum effect, in practice it is better to concentrate on just a couple at first, adding more later if required.
When deciding which social network to use, it can be worth considering three things.
1 – Where does your target market hang out? Older people are more likely to be using Facebook than Instagram. There are more women than men on Pinterest. Business professionals like LinkedIn and Google Plus. Consider your target market and do a little research to find out which social networks are likely to work well for you.
In future podcasts I will discuss the various strengths and weaknesses of the different social networks for the craft seller.
2 – Which networks do you like using? If you are already familiar with a social network then it makes a lot of sense to begin by concentrating on this. You will already be familiar with how it works and the type of people using it. Plus it is much easier to commit to regularly using a network that you actually like.
3 – Consider your time and schedule. Each network has its own requirements. Some, such as Twitter and Instagram, seem to work best with very regular posting, such as many posts a day. Others, such as Tumblr or Facebook are ok with a couple of posts a week. There are tools that can help you schedule posts, and I will talk about these further later in the podcast. You may also find that some social networks require more work to be done in preparing a post than others.
Lots of craft sellers have found that the very visual social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram have been very beneficial to promoting their handmade products. Facebook and Twitter are popular because these are long established networks and have vast numbers of users.
Create a presence
It is worth having a basic presence on the majority of popular social networks, even if you don’t intend to use them regularly. There are three reasons why I recommend this:
1 – You will be ensuring that no one else can get the account name you want. Ideally, it is worth checking popular social networks before committing to a brand name to be sure you can have the account name you want. The sooner you create an account, the higher the chance you will get the name you really want. You might not be using this social network right now, but if you ever want to in the future, you will be glad you saved the name. Plus you will not have someone else using your precious name and confusing your customers!
2 – Fill in the basics on the account, including links to your website or shop. Then if someone does search for you on that social network, they will be able to easily track you down.
It is always a good thing to be easy to find.
3 – You can use simple tools and apps to automatically post things to many social networks. This means you can use them with pretty much no effort. Whilst this sort of use will not reap the rewards that more active, organized use brings, it an easy way to give your business a tiny perk.
A good example of this would be if you have an Etsy shop. Etsy allows one to link one’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can then post all new listings to these social networks with just a couple of clicks. It is very easy to get into the habit of sending all new listings to social media this way.
Posting nothing but items for sale is not likely to make your social networks explode with activity. But it is a very quick and easy way to get a little extra advertising for no extra cost.
It is also easy to use plugins that automatically send your blog posts to one or more social networks for you.
How often should I post?
One of the most often asked questions about social media is “how often should I post?” Each social network has its own “sweet spot” for how many posts work well. There are many charts and tables online if you want to look this up. Generally, most people believe that posting regularly is probably best, even if it is not as often as recommended.
There are many tools available to help you schedule your posts. Most, such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer and SproutSocial let you queue up a number of posts in advance and it then automatically posts them on the social network at desired intervals, for example, one a day. These services may have a monthly subscription fee but there are some free (if a little more limited) options available too. I will talk more about the different scheduling tools when discussing individual social media networks in later podcasts.
Create a social media calendar
It can really help to keep track of social media on a calendar, planner, journal or diary. You can use a physical, paper one or one of the many online or app-based options.
You can use your calendar to keep track of upcoming events that might affect your social media posting. For example, you might want to be posting about your Christmas products in the run-up to the season or posting more “behind the scenes” posts during springtime with spring cleaning in mind.
You may also want to plan a series of posts that naturally follow each other, over time. Or to organise a more complex social media campaign over multiple networks.
Using a calendar of some sort, perhaps together with a post scheduling tool as mentioned a few minutes ago, you can plan your social media interactions in advance rather than fretting about them every day.
For more information on managing your time and getting more done, check out episode 18, Time Management for Craft Sellers.
Link everything up
Once you have created a social network account, be sure to add a link to it from your website, blog and other online presences. If you are planning on using the social network as a lynchpin of your marketing you may want to add it to your business card too.
Some social networks allow you to include links to other social networks. Be sure to fill these in if you can. Remember, links are the lifeblood of the internet.
Some social networks have options to cross post to other networks, or you can find tools and apps that do this. For example, you can set it so whenever you post to Facebook, the post is shared on Twitter automatically.
This sort of tool can certainly make it easier to maintain a presence on multiple social media, but be aware that it may well not be as effective as having posts that are properly tailored to suit each social media platform.
Use Google Analytics to see if it is working
If you are using Google Analytics on your blog, shop or website, you will be able to see how many visitors arrive from different social networks. This is very useful information. You will be able to assess which social networks work best for you. I recently had a big spike on my blog, far more visitors came during the night than I usually get in a week! Why? I looked at Google Analytics and discovered that they arrived via a particular pin on Pinterest. The pin had gone “viral”! It was very useful to be able to see where this traffic had come from so I could learn from it in the future.
What time of day?
There seems to be a lot of talk online about the best times of the day to post on various social media platforms. A quick search will bring up loads of charts and tables with advice on this.
If you are concentrating your sales on just your own country, or area, then this might well be worth utilizing, to ensure your new posts get the best chance of being read by your target audience.
But if you sell internationally, or want people from all over the world to read your blog posts etc, then the time of day you post will not make a lot of difference. Prime time for one country will be the middle of the night for another. Post when you are ready to do so.
Do not just Sell, sell, sell
This is rather a biggie. Social media is about being social. It is not just a sort of simple advertising. If you want to get the most benefit from it for your business then you need to consider what your followers, and potential followers, will want to see and read about.
People who post endless pictures of things they have for sale rarely get vast numbers of followers. A few do, but for many niches, it will be a turn off. The general rule of thumb is to vary your posts. Sure, post your new products and things you want to promote, but intersperse the posts with lots of other things.
Someone selling, for example, wedding jewellery, might also be posting about celebrity weddings, cool wedding related items they have spotted, wedding related news stories, DIY wedding projects, pictures of beautiful brides and so on. All are part of the wedding niche, but following someone like this will be much more interesting, and useful, than someone who is just endlessly hooting “buy my stuff!”.
If your niche does not lend itself so easily to such a broad spectrum of posts, you can mix up your advert posts with more general things. I have noticed that many craft sellers include pictures of their cats and dogs now and then. Hey, everyone loves a funny cat picture, don’t they?
A lot of crafters also post links to fellow craft sellers’ products. Whilst it is probably best not to promote your direct competition, ie the people selling very similar stuff to yourself, featuring other craft sellers has many benefits. It can add interest to your social media feed. It generates good feelings and makes you look friendly and generous. It can even create long-lasting friendships. This works particularly well if you feature sellers who sell within your niche but are not direct competition. So in the case of my theoretical wedding jewellery seller, she could sometimes post things from people selling wedding flowers, wedding dresses, invitations and wedding cakes. Although on paper she appears to be using her valuable time to promote someone else, she is actually offering her followers links they may well find useful, establishing herself as an expert in her niche and potentially networking.
Think about the social media accounts that you yourself follow. Why do you like those people? What sorts of things do you enjoy seeing in your feed?
What exactly should I be posting?
There are countless charts available online with lists of ideas for social media content. There are also lots of charts with daily “prompts” to give you ideas for what to post about.
Some social networks have established popular “post days” that many people enjoy. For example, on quite a few different social networks there are “Work-in-Progress Wednesdays”. On Wednesdays, people post pictures of, you guessed it, their works in progress, partly finished projects. They will use the same hashtag or key phrases, so the posts are easy to find. I will add a link to lists of some of these fun days in the show notes. (Link to a site with lots of fun hashtags, including “post days” ones). Joining in is a great way to get inspiration for your posts as well as the chance to get noticed.
My book, Make It, Blog It, Profit! – Blog post ideas for craft sellers includes many ideas that are also great for social media post campaigns. I know lots of readers are using it for this. That is the shameless plug for this episode over with!
Being helpful is always a good thing. Post links to articles you think your followers might enjoy. Offer advice, hints and tips. Pass on important news relating to your niche – check first to be sure it is factual and fair.
All this helps establish you as a friendly, professional, decent sort of person to deal with. And it can help build up your status as an authority in your niche.
For about becoming an expert or authority in your niche, check out episode 16 – An Expert in Your Niche.
Start conversations with your followers, both serious and fun ones.
“What do you guys think about the big change over at Etsy?”
“Does anyone know what sort of glue is best for fixing felt to glass?”
“Busy working on bright teal coloured earrings today. Teal is definitely my favourite colour now. What colour do you love, and why?”
Not only is this a great way to get your followers and visitors interacting with you, it also can gather useful market information for you. With the last example, I gave there you may discover that lots of your target market are really into, say pink this year – so you perhaps better get on with pink earrings too!
People love to share their opinions and are flattered when asked for them.
Add sharing links to your content
You also want people to share your products, blog posts etc for you! Make sure that you have sharing buttons they can use to do this, if possible. Many marketplace sites such as Etsy have these already in place for you. If you have your own standalone shop or blog you may need to add them using a plugin or some code.
As you are reading this podcast transcript on the Tin Teddy Blog, you will see the bar of social media sharing icons that is always at the bottom of each page, even when you are scrolling. This is created using a plugin called Social Warfare. This is one of the most popular ways to include sharing buttons and I see this familiar icon bar on SO many craft related (and other) sites that I visit. I will include a link to the Social Warfare plugin in the show notes.
Your details and links
Add an avatar. Many craft sellers use the same avatar on all their social networks. Be sure that your avatar is the right size for the network you are using, and that it is the shape they prefer too – most use square but a couple use round avatars.
Most social networks have some sort of cover picture or top banner. Whilst many businesses like to use the same basic design across all social networks, you will find that they do have different size and even shape requirements, so you will probably need to create a bunch of different pictures for this.
Some craft sellers regularly change their cover pictures, perhaps to match the seasons or to highlight new product ranges.
I personally have different cover pictures for most of the social networks I use, but they all include my Tin Teddy logo, my corporate colours (that snazzy shade of purple I so love) and so on. I want people to know it is me!
Usually, you will have a profile which you can fill in with the details of who you are and what you do. You may be able to include links to your shop and/or website. This is another thing that each social network does in a different way.
Pictures – very important
Most of the social networks allow you to include pictures in your posts. Posts with pictures have been shown to have much higher chances of being noticed and read than those without. Especially if the picture is eye-catching, of course. For many of us craft sellers, great pictures of our products are one of the best ways to get our brand out there. Ideally, people will spot our beautiful creations, fall in love and simply HAVE to buy it! Having great pictures really helps with that!
Note that each different social network has different recommended sizes for pictures. This is something that I strongly advise you to take into account when creating pictures to post.
For example, many top Pinterest users will recommend a 2:3 vertical format for pin pictures, but Twitter posts work better with a horizontal picture. You may find that some social networks tend towards certain styles of pictures too.
I will be talking more about taking great product and social media pictures in a later podcast.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Some social media posts are searchable by Google and other search engines, or they may be searchable within the social network itself. It is always worth ensuring that your posts include a few strong keywords or phrases to help them get found. Just add them naturally within the post. If the social network uses tags or hashtags then include them too.
Use Tags in the Recommended Way
Many of the social networks allow you to tag your posts with keywords that enable others to find them. It is very important to be aware of what format the social network you are using requires. Some have tags that start with a “pound symbol” or hash, some don’t. Some like only one-word tags, others are fine with multiple words. Read up on how best to tag your posts and you will be found more easily.
Be careful if trying a new social network not to assume that it works the same way as your previous ones. Many people fall into this trap and then wonder why their posts are never getting found.
Links to Social Media
If you have a blog, website or online shop then it is worth having links to your social media somewhere on there. I have links to all the social networks on which I have a presence, down at the bottom of all my website pages.
Whenever I post something new on the Tin Teddy blog, I announce it on Facebook, Twitter and Google plus, as well as creating a Pin for it on Pinterest.
All my blog posts and product listings have clear sharing buttons, and my visitors also post about them on their social networks.
Interact with people
Many experts will stress that the way to build followers and fans on social networks is to interact with your visitors. Reply to people who post or comment.
It might help to think of social media for the craft seller as being about networking, rather than marketing.
Interact too with other people’s social media feeds. Please, do not just post links to your own products though, this gets very annoying fast. Offer constructive, helpful, polite and friendly comments. Compliments are always well received, if sincere. This is all networking, and part of building up the presence of your brand.
Remember that you are representing your craft business. Think twice about saying things that could be insulting, inflammatory or controversial. Many big businesses have suffered serious effects from a few ill-conceived remarks on social media. Be yourself but always be professional too.
Do NOT buy followers or likes!
There is no doubt that having lots of people following or liking your content is very pleasing and can be jolly useful too. Many social media users, especially when first starting out, can be tempted to look for a shortcut to getting lots of followers.
There are plenty of websites where you can, at quite low prices, buy hundreds or even thousands of instant followers. Sounds great eh? Well, no, it really isn’t.
Firstly, the social networks are very aware that people are doing things like this to game their systems. It is cheating. And they can penalize anyone they suspect of doing it. That means they could ban you from the network!
A couple of weeks ago Twitter deleted millions of fake accounts that had been created for this purpose. This caused the number of followers of some very high profile users to suddenly plummet. Which looked very bad for them as now everyone could see that they had been cheating. Not very professional.
Fake followers are not a lot of use. They are not real people. They are fake accounts created just to create fake links. They will never buy your products. They will not share your posts. They will never interact with you.
It is better to have a few, loyal followers who regularly share, comment on and like your posts than loads of dodgy fake ones.
I once read that “it is not how many followers you have, but how many followers your followers have that counts”. If you have just a few followers, but they each have many, when they share your content it will reach loads of new people.
Don’t fret about getting followers. If you are creating useful, interesting, eye-catching and fun posts, then real, valuable followers will naturally come in time.
Be honest, play fair and sleep easy at night!
Look at stats to see what is working
Be sure to regularly look at your social network stats and Google Analytics to know what is actually working. When time is short (which for many of us is always!) then it is much better to concentrate on that which is known to bring about good results. To do this you need to have your finger on the pulse and to know how well your different social media campaigns are working.
Link shorteners can be helpful
Some social networks, like Twitter, have a limit on how many characters you can include in a post. This can make it hard to fit in the URL links to your sites or products. You can use free services such as Bit.ly or the
Google URL shortener to create shorter links.
(My apologies, when recording the podcast, I didn’t realise that the Google URL shortener no longer accepts new users. Here is a link to some alternatives.)
It takes time to establish yourself
You will need to be patient. Social media is all about building a network. And this takes time. At first, you are just a tiny voice amongst many, many millions. Keep posting, ideally interesting and quality posts. People will want to share great content.
Be sure you are utilizing any tags and have considered the SEO of your posts. Aim for great pictures and catchy text.
Follow others in your niche, especially the movers and shakers. Comment on their threads, interact with them.
Hopefully, over time you will start to gain followers, and see traffic from your social media to your shop, website or blog.
Some people manage to get all this going very quickly indeed. Read their blog posts and see if there are hints and tips that you can use. But also accept that for most craft sellers it takes a while to establish a good presence on each of the social networks you want to use.
I hope this introduction to Social Media for Craft Sellers has been of interest to you. I will be talking about the different social media platforms in later podcasts and will link to those in the show notes.
Because this is such a big subject I was not able to cover everything I wanted to in just one show. There will therefore be a Social Media for Craft Sellers 102 later on.
Links to all the sites mentioned, and a full transcript is in the Show Notes on the Tin Teddy Blog.
In the next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast, I will be talking Sell Crafts Online – 9 Things an Online Craft Seller Must So to Succeed. This episode will be out on the 7th August 2018.
Thanks for listening to Social Media for Craft Sellers 101. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.
Check out www.TinTeddy.com for more Craft Seller resources.
Until next time, bye
The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.
Featuring Deborah Richardson and Matthew French
Original music by Matthew French
I have created a Pinterest board with list, charts and posting ideas for social media. I will continue to add to this over time as I spot other things I think might be useful. It is called Social Media for Craft Sellers.