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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 customers.)

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 articles.)

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 moment.)

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 Facebook.

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 products.

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 online orders.

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

Zappos: www.readwriteweb.com/archives/zappos_twitter.php.

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 diane@deepideas.com.)

xxx

 

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