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Ask Social: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, June 29, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ask Social: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

By Vickie Howell and Mari Chiba Luke

Welcome to Ask Social, an advice column for TNNA members aimed to demystify social media practices and strategy. In every issue, we answer questions from store owners, manufacturers, designers, teachers and bloggers about simple and effective ways to use new media to influence their businesses.

Dear Ask Social, 

I signed up for a Twitter account ages ago, and I just never post to it, because what can I say of value in 140 characters or less? Is this a channel I need to be spending time on? I'm just not sure what I should be posting on Twitter, or how important it is, when there are so many things I need to do to promote my business. 

- Clever Name

Dear Clever Name, 

I have good news; you don't need to add Twitter to your task of daily to-dos. The reality is,  our crafty demographic spends more time on other channels. Sure, there are knitters, spinners, and stitchers of all sorts on Twitter, but there might still be a few on Myspace too. As a small business, you need to focus on the channels where you're going to get the best bang for your buck, and  odds are, that isn't on Twitter. Twitter is predominantly male (22 percent of males online use Twitter, while 15 percent of females online use the platform), and the largest segment of Twitter users are 18-29. Furthermore, the average Twitter user spends 2.7 minutes per day on the platform, whereas Facebook users spend 20 minutes or more a day on the platform. 

That being said you could use IFTTT or another automation app that automatically exports your posts from other channels directly to Twitter, so that your feed still has fresh content. We recommend connecting your Instagram feed directly to Twitter, and if you can train yourself to write a short intro, then include a hashtag or two, and then the rest of your caption, you can get a post that also looks great on Twitter without any extra work. Bonus: Since Instagram also clips your captions, they will make more sense on Instagram, too. 

We do recommend that you check in on Twitter regularly (once a week or so) to make sure that people aren't trying to reach you there. Twitter seems to be a favorite platform for people with a complaint, so monitoring the channel for feedback and responding quickly will help you provide the best customer service. 

 

 Dear Ask Social,

As a relatively new knitwear designer trying to make a name for myself, I’m having a hard time balancing my design work with what I think I should be doing on social media. Other than a blog, how important is it that I have a presence on all of the prominent platforms? I want to be taken seriously by publishers and yarn companies, but I also want to maintain my sanity. Help!

-Overwhelmed

 

Dear Overwhelmed,

First off, know that you’re not alone. Shop owners, yarn companies, and freelancers alike struggle with keeping all of the plates — involved in both running their businesses and promoting it — spinning.

Secondly, although in the digital age it is very important that you do have some social media visibility, it isn’t crucial that you are on ALL of the major platforms. Social media is the new portfolio, so publishers and yarn companies looking for designers go straight to the web as a source of confirming experience, talent and legitimacy. Because of that, we recommend that rather than spreading yourself thin by having a mediocre presence on several platforms, you instead work towards strong, well-thought-out campaigns on a couple. Digital marketing is a numbers game, and a perspective creative director or editor for company X will be much more impressed if you have 3,000, truly engaged followers on two platforms rather, than only 500 followers on five.

Lastly, as a designer, visuals are key. We recommend putting your efforts into a beautifully curated Instagram feed, including a mixture of your finished designs, styled shots of your works-in-progress, and perhaps some lifestyle or inspirational photos that exude your aesthetic. Most importantly, though is that the photography for your main stream is Instagram-worthy meaning, clear, well-lit, and styled, if appropriate. Fortunately, thanks to the ever-improving smartphone cameras and a plethora of photo editing apps out there, getting a strong snap isn’t difficult. We recommend using the A Color Story App (available in the iTunes App Store or on Google Play) to amp up your images. With over 100 filters, 40 effects, and 20 tools, it’s an invaluable asset at an affordable price (around $10.)

Designers are also often teachers of one form or another, so a place to interact with your community authentically, and in a less calculated manner, is Facebook. The ability to share info, give updates, broadcast live, and upload video tutorials is key to creating a community. Varying content is important, as is not only uploading native content but also sharing other people’s content. To quote marketing guru, Guy Kawasaki, “If you’re not sharing other people’s content, then you’re not following the right people.”

Perspective hirers look to see if you engage with fans of your work, and thusly —in addition to your mad, design skills — bring a dedicated audience to the mix. Your followers then become accessible to that company and therefore increase their promotional reach.

You’ve got this!

 

Got social media questions? Send them to astramowski@tnna.org or leave a comment below!


Ask Social is a collaboration between Vickie Howell (@vickiehowell), executive producer and host of The Knit Show with Vickie Howell (premiered on YouTube, October 2017), and Mari Chiba Luke (@mariknits), business integration manager and design director of Stitchcraft Marketing.

 Vickie Howell      Mari Chiba Luke
    Vickie Howell              Mari Chiba Luke    

 

Tags:  Ask Social  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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Ask Social: Facebook Live and Hashtags

Posted By TNNA Editor, Friday, June 2, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 2, 2017

Ask Social: Facebook Live and Hashtags

By Vickie Howell and Mari Chiba Luke

Welcome to Ask Social, an advice column for TNNA members aimed to demystify social media practices and strategy. In TNNANews, we’ll answer questions from store owners, manufacturers, designers, teachers and bloggers about simple and effective ways to use new media to influence their businesses.

Dear Social,

I’ve been seeing more and more live videos pop up in my Facebook stream. Should I be working on a lifestream strategy for my business?

Yours truly,
Fiber Company Owner

Dear Fiber Company Owner,

The short answer is, yes.

The longer answer is that live stream video is where current marketing is at right now. It offers a way to reach out to both a global (key, if you also have a e-commerce aspect to your biz) and local customers at once, while also enriching your consumer community. Because Facebook Live videos are interactive (meaning that those watching live can post questions during the stream, which you’ll see and can react to in real time), they give your followers the feeling of being a part of something — it’s the virtual equivalent to getting to talk to you in your shop, or chat via an old-school help line.

Conversely, the live videos are also recorded so that they can be viewed at a later time via your Facebook page, which means you can build a playlist of videos to act as a living resource library. As a bonus, currently (and I use that term literally, like right this very minute, because who knows how long this will be the case), the Facebook algorithm allows for more of your audience to see these than even natively uploaded video. This number increases if you also spend a few bucks to boost the post after you’re done recording.

Here are my top three tips for Facebook Live video success:

1. Be consistent. Pick a day (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) that your videos will go live, and stick to it. You’ll be surprised how many people will fold you into their life schedules, if they know what to expect.

2. Have a plan. Pick a topic or topics ahead of time, so that you're clear on what’s happening once that on-camera countdown begins. Producing a relatively tight, 10-minute video is way better than a 40-minute ramble session. Also, if your followers know the topic to expect (I recommend promoting ahead of time), they’re more likely to be invested in seeking the video out.

3. Be yourself. Although I I just recommended going into your video with a general plan, feel free to treat the situation as if you’re having these viewers into your home. Talk to them as if they’re friends, which means not being concerned about staying too on-script.

Have fun!

 

Dear Social,

I see everyone using hashtags on Instagram, but I'm not sure which ones I should be using?

Thanks,
LYSO

Dear LYSO,
 
Yes, you should definitely be using hashtags! Before we get into which hashtags to use, let's talk for a moment about which ones not to use.
 
I see many fiber related accounts promoting sales with #discount and #sale. Before you use a hashtag, I'd encourage you to first look it up! If you search either of those hashtags you'll find a lot of images that are totally unrelated to our fiber niche. The beauty of the hashtag is that it helps people interested in your content find you and your channel. What are the odds a yarn shopper is going to be searching Instagram for #discount? Not great. And what are the odds that someone searching #discount is a crafter? Also, not great.
 
Some of my favorite hashtags for knitting related accounts on Instagram are #knitttersofinstagram #knitstagram and #instaknit. But to get a fuller picture of the hashtags your brand should be utilizing, look at the hashtags your customers, the companies you admire, and your competitors are using. There are also some great tools (both free and paid) that will tell you related hashtags and the popularity of specific hashtags. Displaypurposes.com is a free option that shows you related hashtags and their frequency; hashtagify.me offers a variety of in depth tracking and analysis for hashtag usage.
 
And one more thing while we're on the topic of hashtags: Consider starting one for your own brand. This will be a way for others to share your products on their own feeds, and for others new to your brand to find related content quickly and easily. Make sure to search a few options that include your company name before you finalize your brand hashtag, and then put it in your profile so that it's easy for others to follow suit.
 
Have fun and start tagging!

 

Got social media questions? Send them to jmoriarty@tnna.org or leave a comment below!


Ask Social is a collaboration between Vickie Howell (@vickiehowell), executive producer and host of The Knit Show with Vickie Howell (premieres on YouTube, October 2017), and Mari Chiba Luke (@mariknits), business integration manager and design director of Stitchcraft Marketing.

 Vickie Howell      Mari Chiba Luke
    Vickie Howell              Mari Chiba Luke    

 

Tags:  Ask Social  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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Social Media Corner: Why Facebook?

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, May 18, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 8, 2017

Social Media Corner: Why Facebook?

By Anita Mumm Wheeless

Setting up a successful company Facebook page can be more complicated than merely posting your address and telephone number. Facebook is not a business directory, nor is it a giant marketplace to sell your wares. As the term “social media” implies, Facebook is an outlet for connecting with other human beings. It’s about nurturing a community with common interests and ideas.

According to digital analyst, author/blogger Brian Solis, “Facebook is a social network to help people communicate, share and discover. With more than one billion people calling Facebook one of their digital homes, a social economy is a natural byproduct.” He also says that communities are built upon a foundation of:

  • Mutual value.
  • Entertainment.
  • Empowerment.

In other words, when you post, don’t overtly promote your business. Use your posts to strengthen the relationship you have with your audience.

“Facebook does not like promotional content — unless you’re paying for it,” writes Jenn Herman of Jennstrends.com. “So it’s best to avoid anything ‘salesy’ in your updates. This means avoiding things like ‘visit our website...’” Instead, Herman advises clever wording, such as, “‘We’re in love with this new scarf! It’s gonna look amazing with your fall wardrobe.’ And then post the link to the sales page, and/or include a beautiful image of the product.”

According to Andrew Tate of Hootsuite’s AdEspresso blog, “A successful content strategy should involve a mix of infographics, videos, photos and other visuals” to attract and keep your audience interested.

As a social outlet, Facebook is constantly changing how and what its users see. Posts that are receiving a lot of attention (i.e., likes, shares, etc.) will be promoted, while posts with little activity might get buried. Although it may be frustrating if your posts aren’t reaching the number of people they used to, experiment with what you’re posting and when.

“If engagement drives reach,” Solis says, “then design content to not just be consumable, but also shareable. Likes, comments, shares, tags, et al, spark a social effect and extend the life and volume of your updates. Simply publishing or paying for each without considering shareability or SMO [social marketing optimization] is done so in vain.”

Louise Myers of Louise Myers Social Media offers these points to consider when you’re setting up your company’s Facebook page:

  • Have a strategy.
  • Build a community.
  • Figure out what your audience wants.
  • Create and curate top-quality content.
  • Post and engage.
  • Keep up with [Facebook’s] constantly changing algorithms, features and graphics sizes.
  • Watch your Insights to see what’s working — and flopping.
  • Pay to run ads to be seen (unless you can post amazingly engaging content).

If this seems daunting, Belle Beth Cooper of Buffer Blog encourages you not to give up! She recommends using your Facebook page as only one of several different marketing platforms.

As fiber and needlework artists, designers and teachers, we naturally enjoy sharing projects and techniques, which is why Facebook just might be worth your time.

I would love to hear from TNNA members with business Facebook pages. What strategies are working for you? Do you have any advice for members who would like a Facebook presence?

Additional sources:

Facebook Marketing Declines: How Business Should React (Social Media Examiner)

11 Facebook Tips, Trick and Facts You Probably Don’t Already Know (Buffer)

Setting Up Your Facebook Business Page (Facebook Business)


About the Author

Anita Mumm WheelessAnita Mumm Wheeless has been a member of TNNA since 2012. A former newspaper writer/editor, she designs knitting patterns for toys and novelties. Leisure Arts published her book, Storybook Dolls to Knit in 2011. Her patterns are also featured on Knitty.com, Knitpicks.com and Craftstylish.com. You can find her on Ravelry.com and Love Knitting. She maintains a website: thepatternbox.com and a blog: mummble-jummble2.blogspot.com. Connect with Anita on Twitter @AnitaPatternBox or by email: mailto:anita@thepatternbox.com.

Tags:  Ask Social  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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