We live in a time where there is so much out there, that even if you create the most amazing product it doesn't necessarily mean you'll have overnight success. As much as every designer wants to spend 100% of their time creatively, unfortunately there is a lot of admin work involved in running a business, and one of the biggest things that take up that time is promoting yourself to help get your product seen by potential customers.
I think social media is a crucial platform for any small business, mostly because it's free and so readily available. No matter what method of social networking you chose to utilise for your brand, there are a few things that are very important to keep in mind:
- Spell check is your friend: Nobody will take you seriously as a business if your posts are constantly full of grammar/spelling mistakes.
- Make time: Cultivating an online presence doesn't have to be a full-time job, but it's important to ensure you make time to keep everything updated and communicate directly with potential customers. The more work you put in, the more you get out.
- Don't spam: Be active, but don't let your posts be too close together. Fans will appreciate this - nobody wants to be spammed!
It's very easy (and free!) to set up a Facebook page, however, creating a large fan base in terms of your reach and 'likes' isn't something that happens overnight and can require a lot of work:
- What to post: Due to the volume of updates, not everyone will see everything you post so it is important to make them stand out. They should be a reflection of your business but also conversational in order to increase interaction.
- When to post: It's important to keep track of how many views each of your posts get/how many people interact with them at set points during the day to establish when your target market is most active on Facebook, and use this time to post the most important updates/share new products.
- Interact with your customers: Interacting with the people on your page allows you to provide a more personal approach. Sparking conversation and posting updates likely to be liked/shared helps get your customers talking about your business.
- Make sure you link to your website: It's amazing how many Facebook pages I see that don't actually include a link to their website. If you're promoting a product, it's important to let your customers know where they can purchase that product from!
- Create a page, not a profile: It is against Facebook's rules to use a profile for commercial purposes, and it also limits your potential reach as you can only have up to 4,000 friends at a certain time.
It may also prove beneficial to add to your personal profile that you work at your Facebook page, as then it appears on your profile and anyone that sees it will see where you work, depending on your privacy settings. (However, this does mean anything you post on Facebook will be associated with your brand, and if you constantly post complaining about customers etc, that's not going to do your business any favours!)
Twitter is a great way to interact with customers on a more regular basis than Facebook. Here are a few tips I've found helpful along the way:
- Don't DM everyone that follows you: One of my biggest pet hates is when I follow someone and they send me a DM thanking me for the follow, with a link to their band/website. This causes me to instantly unfollow them because I immediately feel spammed.
- Post often: Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn't pick the importance of tweets to show in certain newsfeeds, it just shows them all. This means the 'home' screen moves fast, so it is important to post often to make sure your posts are getting seen
- Keep it conversational: If a customer just wants to see your products, they will visit your website. The reason they follow you on social networking sites is to see more of your personality or behind the scenes pictures, not constant links to your products.
- Don't ask people to RT you: Posting a tweet saying 'please RT' in it is acceptable (although it's effectiveness is debatable), but directly tweeting people and asking them to retweet that tweet is not a professional form of advertising. It also means they'll report your account as spam and you may get shut down!
- Talk to people: One of the most important things is to reply to people. Occasionally striking up conversation can make a huge difference, and makes people more likely to follow you back, rather than assuming you're just a corporate account that will only be pushing a product!
- Never, ever, ever use text speak: I can understand Twitter can get frustrating at times with it's 140 character limit, but this just means you have to be more clever about your wording. Using text speak to shorten your tweet to get it to fit not only screams unprofessional, it also makes me want to take your computer away from you. Just don't do it.
Instagram is becoming a growing way for brands to get their products out there, as rather than texts, it lets you cut straight to the pictures.
- What to post: Instagram provides you with a platform of posting more candid shots of your products, as well as behind the scenes images, customers pictures and more personal posts to allow your personality to show through.
- Hash tags can be really useful in getting you additional exposure, but make sure you don't overdo it or use ones irrelevant to your product!
I wouldn't feel right doing a blog post about promoting your products via social media without mentioning blogging itself! Out of all the options, this is the most labour intensive as it takes up the most time, as well as requiring more imagination about its use. However, it is a great way to give a customers a further insight than you can provide via a line of text on Twitter, an image on Instagram or a few updates a day on Facebook.
Unlike the other options, a blog won't necessarily generate its own traffic. You do have options like Google Friend Connect and Blog Lovin to help you promote it, but the most effective way I have found is using social networking profiles on other websites to help promote it each time I make a new post. Including Facebook and Twitter buttons within each post is also hugely beneficial in terms of getting hits as it helps get your blog seen by more people.
Not every post has to be a ridiculous essay like this (again, I apologise I keep making huge posts - it's the law student in me), but can simply be a snap of your work space that day, a little information about a certain product you're working on, or even just a shot of your outfit that day! If you do post longer posts, it's always a good idea to use images to break up the text - like I've done with this post using images from my Instagram account!
The above is by no means a be all and end all guide to using social media, but just a few suggestions that may prove helpful. If anyone else has any tips, please feel free to add them as a comment below!