If you’re in business you’ve heard probably heard you need a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Google+ account, be a member of forums, and possibly have a blog.
Okay, so you’ve gone out and signed up for all those things. You blog maybe once a month, you’ve head is pinning in circles at Google+, your twitter feed spits out random posts from Ashton Kutcher, The Pioneer Woman, and Sh*t My Dad Says, and Facebook changes its interface so often you can’t keep up. How is this helping your business?
It’s probably not helping at all. Unless you’re genuinely interacting with like-minded people. If you’re a gamer and the only people following you on Twitter are fellow gamers, your spam posts of what you listed on Etsy are mostly likely just a waste of time. If you only use Facebook to keep up with your siblings and their children, that venue isn’t working for you either.
You need to be connecting with like-minded people on these sites in order for social networking to be of any use to your business. It seems an obvious thing to say right? Think about it. Are most of your friends on Facebook other lampworkers? Or are they jewelry designers? Do you have both? Are you open to your customers friending you?
When it comes to Facebook, I let anyone on my friend feed as long as they aren’t constantly sending me spam messages or arbitrarily adding me to groups I didn’t ask to belong to. On Twitter I will follow anyone interested in glass, beads, marbles, jewelry making, craft, whatever. Again as long as they aren’t spamming me direct messages.
Okay, now that we know who we should be interacting with, now what? Interact, connect, make friends. That’s the whole point. Just spamming new listings will not get you far. In fact it might get your dropped, blocked, and ignored. FYI-my lampworking Twitter feed has been sadly neglected. It currently only gets Etsy and blog updates. So don’t go looking at that feed as an example. If I was following me, I’d probably block me. I’m much more active over on Facebook.
Now, you’re friending and interacting with people who appreciate glass. Great. Now what? Nothing. That’s it. The thing with social networking and connections is you never know when someone you’ve met will post a link of yours to a private beader group, retweet a listing, think of you for a teaching gig, or ask you to write an article for a publication. All of these things are free advertising and all you did was chat with someone online.
I have a concrete example of what I mean. I’ve been a member of Lampwork Etc since Corri first opened the doors over there. One of the members, Barb, knew me from the online forums. She’s another lampworker and a few years ago at least she bought some beads from me (which totally made my day BTW). In August I met her in person by chance at Bead Fest Philly. It was great to chat with her in person. Being totally awesome, she bought some more beads and signed up for my email mailing list.
Last week I ran an after Labor Day sale and out my newsletter went. Barb, again being totally awesome, shared that newsletter with a bead group of hers online. Needless to say, my sale was a huge success and I’m pretty swamped with orders right now from a bunch of new customers who just heard about me due to Barb.
If I hadn’t been socially networking with Barb years ago, would this have come about? Hard to say. She could have stopped by my booth at Bead Fest and signed up for my newsletter. But without the personal connection would she have shared my link with her bead group? Certainly our personal connection helps tie it all together.
Social networking is about making connections. Many of the opportunities we’ve been given have been a direct result of connecting with people, through a friend of a friend, direct interactions with people on the internet, or just being part of the community.
You never know when a connection is going to lead to something or if it ever will. The trick is to put yourself out there enough so you’re part of the community. If you’re only online to just sell your work, people will notice and it’s likely to backfire. Just be yourself, make friends, and the rest will follow.