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Your customers are most certainly on one of the major social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, so your business should be too.
If your competitors, or businesses similar to yours, are finding success on a social media platform, it’s a good indication that your business can also find success there.
But there are more businesses struggling to find success on social media than those who have found it.
Although I don’t believe social media is the best marketing tool for your handmade business, it is still important.
>> A newsletter (even if you only have a few subscribers) is more effective and has much higher conversion rates. Set one up for free today in 10 minutes…here’s how.
You’re likely spending a lot of time on your social media marketing so you want to be sure it’s working and you’re getting a return on your time or money investment.
>> Not sure if your social media efforts are giving you a return on investment? The Success Planner will help you track and assess so your handmade business can be more profitable.
If you just aren’t finding your groove on a social media platform, here are the top three mistakes I see small (and big) businesses make.
SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKE #1 – YOU’RE MAKING IT ALL ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
I know what you’re thinking…What do you think I’m using it for?
Yes, the purpose of your handmade business’s social media pages are to promote your business but you probably need to tone down the “promote” aspect a tad.
I see a lot of businesses filling their feeds with links to product listings, which are basically asking followers to spend their money.
Think about how many times you post to Facebook per day. What about Instagram or Twitter? The averages for a business are:
>> Facebook – 1x/day
>> Instagram – 1 to 2x/day
>> Twitter – 15x/day
Now think about if a friend texted you 1 to 15 times per day, for money. Or if they used email, social media, and text messages to ask you for money.
Would you start to ignore their messages?
Although you’re not coming right out and asking your social media followers to give you money, if you use your social media feeds to share post after post of your products, you’re asking for something more often than you’re offering something.
Be honest, when you post to social media, are you thinking about how the post is going to make your followers’ day better?
Or are you thinking, I need to make a sale!
Think about your target market as you assess your feed.
Better yet, think about yourself as a user of the social media platform, not as a business owner.
What do you want to see in your Facebook or Instagram feed from the businesses you follow?
Why do you hop on that platform when you’re brushing your teeth, sitting on the bus, or waiting for your friend to arrive?
Is it to see how you can support a business? Or is it to be entertained, inspired, motivated, etc.?
Fitbit is a Facebook Business Page I follow. But I wouldn’t if day after day they posted;
here’s our latest Fitbit
here it is in blue
here it is in black
here’s a feature of the Fitbit
here it is in purple, here’s a new kind of Fitbit….
I like Fitbit and its product but I don’t like any product enough to want to hear about it every day.
Instead, Fitbit has rocked their social media strategy and they fill their feed with information that’s actually helpful to me.
They know, as a customer of Fitbit, or someone who’s interested in one, I’m also interested in fitness and being healthy. So they share articles with tips on staying healthy, improving my workout regime, stories to motivate me, etc.
They’re thinking about me when they post.
Because I’m interested in the content they share (that’s not focused on their products), I click, like, share, etc.
So when a promotional post does come around and they share their newest product, I’m more likely to see it.
(If you don’t interact with a social media account (by liking, clicking, sharing), less of their content will appear in your feed.)
I’m also more likely to pay attention because I haven’t been bombarded with promotional posts from them.
I love Fitbit’s Facebook page because they educate, inspire, and motivate me.
How can you do that for your followers?
- Artists or people selling home décor items may inspire followers to fix up a room in their home by sharing decorating tips, photos of beautiful rooms, new trends, etc.
- Someone selling accessories could inspire followers to try a different look, a new color for fall, or get them thinking about how they might wear their hair or makeup and recreate a stunning look they’ve seen in their feed.
- Soap makers or someone selling bath & body products may inspire someone to take the time to care for their skin by sharing skincare tips. Or maybe get them looking forward to a relaxing bath and glass of wine at the end of their day by sharing spa-at-home tips or images that evoke the feeling of relaxation.
- Cardmakers might share lovely stories about people staying in touch without the use of technology and inspire followers to send a card to someone they love or miss. Or share gift ideas for upcoming holidays…since they’ll need a card to go with those gifts.
- A toymaker might get their followers excited about playtime with their child and share tips for sparking their child’s imagination. Or, if they mostly sell locally and have a local audience, share kid-friendly events, restaurants, and activities happening around the city.
- Someone selling food could inspire their followers to throw the best parties by sharing hosting and decorating tips and photos of theme parties. Or maybe they could motivate their followers to be more conscious about what they put in their bodies and living a healthier lifestyle (in many areas; exercise, stress, etc.) if their food product is health-related.
- Someone selling garden products might inspire their followers with gardening and environmental tips.
You get the idea 😉
If you can uncover what your target market will be interested in seeing in your social media feed, you’ll have much more success on social media.
You’ll also have content ideas for your newsletter, blog/website text, product ideas, etc.
However, the content must be related to your business/products in some way.
For example, I could fill my feed with pictures of cute dogs, something most people are interested in seeing. But if I’m selling table linens, it makes it pretty hard to tie that content to my products and encourage sales.
The reason most people hit the unfollow button is too much promotional content.
Make it more about your followers and less about your business and you’ll start seeing more engagement.
You can still keep your followers interested AND promote your products
A good ratio to follow with your promotional content is 80:20
>> 80% of your content should be helpful and valuable to your followers
>> 20% should be promotional (e.g. here’s my latest product)
That doesn’t mean the 80% can’t still promote your products, but it should be done in a more subtle way.
How can you make a promotional message more entertaining / educating / inspiring?
Fitbit also does a great job of this.
An article shared on their Facebook page reads: “Could stress be as unhealthy as junk food for your gut?”
Interesting headline right?
I’m interested to learn more so I click the link, which leads to an article. The article shares more insight on the topic, as well as 5 ways to reduce stress.
One of the tips suggests focusing on your breath and how that helps combat stress. It also mentions the “Relax” Fitbit feature, which provides a guided breathing session, and links to more information about it.
Although the main message is about reducing stress, they’ve snuck in a promotional message by mentioning how a Fitbit can help in that area.
Instead of saying “Here’s my newest scent of soap”, a soap brand could find an interest connected to that soap, deliver a message about that interest and mention the soap within that message.
Perhaps a soap brand that focuses on using organic ingredients attracts people interested in living a clean lifestyle. The soap brand could then write about the dangers of synthetic scents. They could mention the most harmful personal care products that use synthetic scents and what to replace them with. If soap, shampoo, and deodorant were the top three, they would subtly mention their naturally scented soap as an option to replace store-bought soap.
This works best when you think about the follower first and come up with content they’re interested in.
Then find a way to work a product mention in.
You don’t want to force a connection and you don’t want to spend time writing content your audience isn’t actually interested in.
I like to refer to this marketing method as The Trojan Horse method.
You’re presenting your followers with a free gift they’ll value, but inside that gift is a promotional message.
SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKE #2 – YOU’RE USING IT TO MAKE SALES
Again, I know what you’re thinking…What else would I use it for?
Those options are for making sales.
Although there are some tools, like Ecwid, that allow you to add a shopping cart function to your social media page, in most cases, sales don’t happen ON social media.
When you keep that in mind, the content of your posts should change.
The job of your promotional social media posts is to get your followers TO your sales channels.
Intrigue your followers so they click the link and visit your online shop.
Share one important feature that will get your followers to take notice, but make them have to go to your sales channel (i.e. Etsy shop, website, visit your craft show, etc.) to learn more.
There are many ways to intrigue your followers enough to click the link and visit your online shop. E.g.:
- Don’t share prices on social media; make followers visit your shop to learn the price.
- Share an amazing review for a product but make followers follow the link to see photos, price, etc. (E.g. “Wow, you guys really love my new X product. Here are just a few of the amazing reviews I’ve received: (reviews go here, or post a screenshot of the reviews as the image for the post). Read more about X product here (link to X product)”).
- Share a benefit you know your followers care about. (E.g. Instead of “I just listed a new product in my Etsy shop” with a link that auto-generates an image, try sharing a beautiful photo cropped to the appropriate size for the social media platform. The photo and text can highlight the product’s benefit. Such as a photo of a diaper bag going into a washing machine. The text might read “Messes happen when you’re dealing diapers. Which is why my diaper bags are machine washable.”).
The key is, your sales channel must then help convert visitors into customers.
If someone follows a link from a social media platform to an online shop and the photos don’t look professional, product descriptions are short and don’t share selling features (here are examples and templates for writing better product descriptions), the shop is full of other products that don’t suit their style, etc., they’ll head right back to social media.
When you track conversion rates, you’ll be able to see where you’re losing people.
For example, if Facebook stats tell you lots of people are clicking the link to your new product listing but you don’t see any sales, that tells you your Facebook marketing is effective, but you’re losing people on your website/in your Etsy shop.
On the other hand, if you only get a few clicks from Facebook but you make a sale, your sales channel’s conversion rate is high while the conversion rate of your Facebook post is low.
>> The Success Planner for your Handmade Business will help you uncover which conversion rates to calculate, how to calculate them, and which numbers to track.
SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKE #3 – YOU’RE ON THE WRONG PLATFORM
You may be thinking…But everyone says I need to be on Facebook/Instagram/etc.
Sometimes social media just isn’t working for you because it’s not the right platform for your business. Or maybe it’s not the right platform for you.
And that’s okay.
Test out different platforms and discover what works best for you.
Although it’s important to keep your target market in mind, and choose the platforms they use, you also must keep your strengths in mind.
Some social media platforms are better suited for your business and products but if they don’t play to a strength of yours, they probably won’t be beneficial to your business.
Instagram is a good platform for handmade products because there are lots of photo opportunities when you’re selling a product. But if snapping enough pictures to fill a month’s worth of posts is a challenge for you, you may focus on a slower platform that doesn’t require you to post as much content.
If you’re a wordsmith, Twitter or Facebook may be a better platform where you require fewer photos and can focus on the written word to capture followers’ attention.
I don’t recommend connecting one social media account to another so when you post to Facebook, it also posts to Twitter.
Each platform favors a different type of content and although it can save you time to post the same thing to Facebook and Twitter, you likely won’t benefit from it.
If you really want to be present on a platform but don’t have the time to keep it updated, my suggestion is to post however much quality content you can and use your bio or cover photo to direct followers to the platform you do consistently use.
For example, if Instagram typically requires around 20 posts a week but you can do five, make those five posts really great. Then use your bio to mention you’re always on Facebook and encourage Instagram users to follow you there for more up-to-date content and exclusive deals.
Try the different social media platforms for marketing your business, but don’t feel like you have to use them all, or the most popular ones.
The rule of thumb I like to go by is focusing most of my attention on one platform, which should also be your most effective platform at driving traffic to your online store. Then play around with one or two other social media sites.
It’s impossible to keep up with them all as a small business owner and chances are, you won’t find a benefit from being on more than three social media sites.
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!