It’s almost guaranteed your customers are 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. 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.
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’ 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: here’s my new product type of posts, which are basically asking followers to spend their money.
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 ideal customer 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 their 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.
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.
- Card makers 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.
- A toy maker might get their followers excited about playtime with their child and share tips for sparking their child’s imagination.
- 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 😉
Consider the interest someone has that’s related to your products and try to add more content related to that interest, to your social media feeds.
Although your followers love your work, they would probably appreciate hearing about more than just the products you sell.
The number one reason 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.
SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKE #2 – YOU’RE USING IT TO MAKE SALES
I know what you’re thinking…What else would I use it for?
There are over 30 options on this list, besides Etsy, for selling your products online. Those options are for making sales.
When you post a product to one of those websites, you should expect to make a sale. You should not be posting to social media, expecting someone to see the post and buy.
Hoping for a sale when you post to social media will cause your feed to be too promotional, which is the number one reason people will unfollow you.
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 feeds to share post after post of your products, you’re asking for something more than you’re offering something.
Your products are amazing, I know that. But the average person is probably not interested in seeing a picture of them day after day.
Instead of thinking of your social media platforms as a channel to make sales through, think of them as a place to connect with your target market.
Do you buy from companies you don’t like?
And I buy more often from the companies I find endearing, valuable, cool, funny, etc.
It can be really hard to show people those sides of our business when our main priority is focused on selling.
The first step is to put your customers’ interests first.
The second step is to sell less and to sell in a more pleasing way.
A good ratio to follow with your promotional content is 80:20
80% of your content should be helpful and valuable to your followers and 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.
Try marketing your products in a way that doesn’t feel like: here’s my latest product.
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.
An article about “Soap Ingredients” could easily work in a product mention as well, but it’s much less interesting to soap consumers.
SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKE #3 – YOU’RE ON THE WRONG PLATFORM
I know what you’re thinking…But everyone says I need to be on Facebook/Instagram/etc.
Sometimes social media just ain’t working for you because it’s not the right platform for your business. Or maybe it’s not the right platform for you, the business owner.
And that’s okay.
Test out different platforms and discover what works best for you.
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 see any benefits 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 out 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 is Pinterest for me…follow me there!), 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.
I’d love to know…how are you going to make selling feel less like selling?
(Please comment “yes please” if you’d like me to share in my next article, an awesome strategy you can use in almost any situation to make selling feel less like selling)
*UPDATE: For everyone who commented: “yes please”, thank you! You can check out the article here: HOW TO USE THE TROJAN HORSE STRATEGY TO SELL YOUR HANDMADE PRODUCTS