issues that affect your business
Using Twitter and Facebook for Marketing
Basic advice to get you started.
by Diane Gilleland (May 4, 2009)
It's possible you're hearing this lately: "If you want to
market your product, you have to get on Twitter." Or Facebook.
Or even MySpace. But what does this mean, exactly? Social media
tools like these are definitely powerful ways to connect with
customers, but using them means marketing very differently than you
may be accustomed to marketing.
How does this work? Social media websites like Twitter and
Facebook are becoming massive online gathering places. The great
thing about them is that in these spaces, there's a great spirit of
sharing, and consumers are actively telling each other about the
people, places, and things they like.
(Incidentally, MySpace, although it has a huge number of users,
has become largely music-focused in recent months, so in my opinion
it's not the best place for craft companies to reach their
In the social media space, the playing field is also quite level
(at least for now). On Twitter I can befriend a crafting celebrity
or Oprah, and even trade messages back and forth. On Facebook I can
publicly become a "fan" of my favorite craft materials (or
foods, or TV shows, or just about anything else). Consumers are
receptive to well-crafted marketing in the social media space, and
willing to spread the word, whereas at this point, most of us are
primed to tune out traditional advertising.
Social media is still so new, however, there is no hard data as
to its potential for driving sales. But that isn't really the way to
measure the success of your social media marketing efforts. Instead,
what you create through social media is positive word of mouth and
deep customer loyalty. Those may seem too intangible to justify the
effort until you read case studies like this one about shoe retailer
Zappos or this one about Comcast. (Editor's note: At the end
of the article the reader will find links to these and other
Broadcasting vs. Engaging
Most craft-industry retailers and manufacturers are accustomed to
traditional broadcast marketing. This is where you invest in a
single marketing message and send it out through some kind of media
channel to a large audience. Advertising is broadcast marketing. So
is a direct mail coupon campaign.
But social media websites like Twitter and Facebook are no place
to broadcast. People on social media sites are very averse to
blatant marketing come-ons, and any company they perceive as using
the space to advertise quickly loses credibility.
Instead, you need to engage with the people you find on Twitter
and Facebook. And, to put a finer point on it, you need to engage
with them as people, not as mere consumers. (More on this idea in a
Getting Started with Social Media
Engagement marketing is new territory for many craft retailers
and manufacturers, accustomed as they are to broadcast methods. I
recommend spending some time listening to what goes on in the social
media space before you begin posting material there.
You'll need to create accounts on these websites in order to
listen. The mechanics of setting up accounts on Twitter and Facebook
and getting started using them are available on the web. Try the
Twitter tutorial and the Facebook tutorial. .
Then you need to create connections with some crafters. On
Twitter, this is called "Following." On Facebook, it's
"Friending." So, friend or follow some crafters, and spend
a couple weeks reading their updates. Here's a good list of crafters
on Twitter. There's no such list for Facebook, but you can search
for some of these people by name, and from there Facebook will
suggest other crafters for you to "Friend."
When you're ready to begin posting updates, it's time to think
about what your goals are for using social media. These might
include A) Increasing traffic to your website. B) Building
brand awareness of a single product or category of products. C) Building
word-of-mouth recommendations among consumers. D) Supporting
a new product launch.
Your goals will help you focus the material you post on social
media websites. But, you can't merely post reminders about your
products over and over again – that's broadcast marketing, and as
we've stated, social media users will quickly ignore you.
Keeping It Engaging
In the social media space, keep in mind that you're speaking only
to people who have chosen to "Follow" or
"Friend" you. So in some ways, they've already
demonstrated receptivity to your message. Once you've established
this social media relationship, your job is to keep your followers
interested. You do this by providing them with valuable information
and resources – not just about your brand, but about crafting in
general. Here are some good approaches:
1. When crafters use your products to make projects, and then
post photos to their personal blogs, you can share links to them.
It's a great way to thank a customer for using your product, and to
make it clear to the larger public that you see your customers as
human beings. (Incidentally, if you want to know who's using your
products, try a Google search for your product name.) This is in my
opinion the number one way companies can use social media well. If
you want to see it in action, follow Duncan Craft on Twitter or on
2. When print and online craft publications feature projects
that use your products, you can share a link to those as well. The
projects are a great resource for your customers, and the link is a
nice way to show gratitude to the publishers.
3. You should absolutely invite people to ask questions about
your products, and then answer them in the social media space. Not
only does the information benefit the consumer who asked, it
benefits every other consumer who sees it. This also portrays your
company as being interested in helping crafters succeed with your
4. Tapping into this spirit of sharing, you can also share
links to interesting articles about craft from around the web.
5. You can proactively search for people who mention your
product or company in the social media space, and then respond. This
isn't as time-consuming as it sounds: Twitter has a great search
feature. On Facebook, you can search for your product name from the
homepage to find user groups who are talking about your product.
This isn't to say that you can never mention your own product or
company in the social media space! You should sprinkle these
mentions in with a program of more universally-valuable updates.
Here are some ways to do this:
A. If you're a brick-and-mortar retailer, you can offer
special discounts and incentives to your social media customers from
time to time, either to bring them into your store or to encourage
B. If you have a consumer-oriented blog, you can feed new
blog posts into your social media stream. (Here's how to do this on
Twitter and on Facebook.)
C. If you're consistently providing the kinds of value above
to your social media customers, then you can occasionally sprinkle
in mentions of new products or upcoming events. Just don't make
these your entire social media output.
Give it Time
With broadcast marketing, you have concrete timelines: an ad runs
for a specific period of time, and then you can track the response.
With social media, the process is ongoing and open-ended. This is
challenging for marketers to understand at first, but basically if
you participate well in the social media space each day, over time
you will build a loyal following - as in, a large group of people
who are actively engaged in your brand, and far more likely to
spread good word of mouth than any "eyeball" you try to
buy with ad-vertising.
What you're aiming for is to have consumers connect your brand in
their minds with the positive social experience they're having
online. If you can create this, it will absolutely lead those
consumers to select your brand more consistently at the craft store.
Further Reading and Links:
Marketing in 140 Characters or Less: Click HEREl
Ten Things You Didn't Know About Facebook: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2008/04/ten-things-you.html
Twitter Tutorial: www.twitip.com/how-to-set-up-a-twitter-account
Facebook Tutorial: www.ehow.com/how_4581117_started-facebook.html.
List of crafters on Twitter: http://wefollow.com/tag/crafts.
Duncan Ent. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ilovetocreate.
Duncan Ent. Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Duncan-Crafts/1594449508.
Twitter's Search Feature: http://search.twitter.com
Twitter Feed: http://twitterfeed.com.
(Note: Diane produces CraftyPod (www.craftypod.com),
a blog and bi-weekly podcast about crafting and the indie craft
culture. She also writes about craft for print and online
publications including CRAFT magazine, CraftStylish, Sew
Simple, and Hello Craft. She also wrote
"Understanding Indie Crafters (by an Indie Crafter)" for CLN.
– click on "Vinny Da Vendor, then scroll down the right-hand
column. Diane may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)