Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The CraftStar Guide: Social Media For Small Biz

Today we're going to focus on really breaking down how Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest work and why they are important for your small business.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140characters, known as "tweets". Since its launch, Twitter has become one of the ten most visited websites on the Internet, and has been described as "the SMS of the Internet." Unregistered users can read tweets, while registered users can post tweets through the website interface, SMS, or a range of apps for mobile devices.

How should I use Twitter?

Be real. The Twitter community values interaction with real people. If the only thing you're adding to the conversation is a push to visit your website, you aren't going to have a strong and valuable reputation on Twitter. Some people will still follow you and click your links, but you'll be leaving several unique opportunities on the table, untouched. Of course you want to use Twitter to spread the word about your products and services. But if that's all you share, and if you share them frequently, you can bore your customers and turn them away. In addition to your marketing, sprinkle in unique, personalized messages that engage consumers one-on-one, as well as links to interesting, useful articles online.

Always be engaging! Having a sense of humor helps immensely on Twitter. No one likes a drone. When people are free to cultivate their own voice and speak freely in 140-character messages, a like humor is going to come through, and your customers will appreciate it. Keep your business Twitter account business-appropriate when it comes to humor. You don't have to be funny and crack jokes; just keep a positive and light-hearted attitude. People love photos. Your customers and community are curious about what's around you. What influences you? How does the inside of your factory, laboratory, office, or kitchen look? Share visually and often. People want to know.

Promotion! Launch special Twitter-only promotions to your followers. Tweet an offer code that unlocks a promotion or tweet a secret word that customers can mention to get a discount when they visit your business.

Behind the scenes. Tweet behind-the-scenes videos or photos that your followers can’t get any other way.

Don't ignore customer service.  An increasing number of your customers are most likely taking to Twitter to voice their satisfaction -- and potentially their problems -- with your products and services. Don't ignore these messages. Monitor Twitter for mentions of your brand and respond quickly to any questions or concerns. You might also consider creating a secondary account specifically for customer service.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is an online photo-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook or TwitterInstagram is distributed through the Apple App Store and Google Play so grab your smart phones, download the app and let's get started!

Launched less than three years ago, the company has amassed a cult-like following of over 100 million users. Instagram users are able to quickly and easily turn a plain photograph into something spectacular.  Although Instagram became a favorite for camera bugs,  it was never imagined that the service would become a powerful tool to be used in social media marketing. 

How should I use Instagram?

Show the human side of your brand or business.  Include behind the scene photos, pictures of customers enjoying your services, items, or include any work that your company is doing in your community. You don’t have to make a sales pitch to get attention and support; creativity and ingenuity will go a long way. Be approachable, fun, and interesting!

Hashtags are everywhere!  When posting photos to Instagram,  make use of relevant hashtags. Utilize hashtags that can help increase your chances of your photos being viewed by your desired demographic.   But, be careful and tread lightly.  Any misuse of hashtags can carry your brand in areas where there is no real interest in your brand or what you have to offer.

Reward Followers.  Everyone loves to win, so consider doing something fun, like rewarding your audience for reading descriptions and looking at the photos you share via Instagram. Run a promotion by letting them suggest a name for a new product, upload their own photos on a designated hashtag, or demonstrating unique ways to use your products. Consider awarding a merchandise promo code or even a cash prize as part of a customer contest.

What is Tumblr?

Tumblr, is a microblogging platform and social networking website, owned and operated by Tumblr, Inc. The service allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Users can follow other users' blogs, as well as make their blogs private. Much of the website's features are accessed from the "dashboard" interface, where the option to post content and posts of followed blogs appear. As of April 13, 2013, Tumblr has over 102 million blogs.

How should I use Tumblr? 

Target Audience. According to internet analytics service comScore, 50 percent of Tumblr users are age 25 or younger. So if your business targets the youth market, it should be worth a shot. But even if young people aren't your core market, Tumblr's search visibility benefits, mobile friendliness, and popularity should make it worthwhile to at least experiment with.

Follow, like, and reblog. In any social media, listening and curating are key to engaging your followers. You can search Tumblr for posts on topics related to you or your business, see who publishes the most important, popular or engaging items on those topics, and follow them. Take a few minutes each day to "like" or reply to Tumblr posts from other people. Also, share their posts (called "reblogging" on Tumblr), which will put them on your Tumblr blog with attribution. And experiment with posting different types of content: links to interesting stuff you find online, your own photos or videos, brief written observations or tips, and more. Aim to reblog others' posts -- or create your own new posts -- three to five items per day, three to five days per week. That may sound like a lot, but posting can be fast and simple.

Use tags. A key way that Tumblr users discover each other is by the tags they append to posts. Pay attention to the tags used on the most popular Tumblr posts for topics that interest you. You can save those searches ("tracking" those tags) so you can easily see the latest posts, even if you don't follow those users. Where relevant, tag your posts using those same tags. This can make it easy for others who are already tracking those tags to discover your posts. Taking a few moments to tag each Tumblr post may seem tedious, but this can help expand your network quickly.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, 're-pin' images to their own pinboards, or 'like' photos. Pinterest in now the third most popular social network above LinkedIn, and techcrunch reports that Pinterest beats yahoo organic traffic, making it 4th largest traffic driver worldwide. Pinterest user spend on average 89 minutes online compared to 21 minutes for Twitter user's, 17 minutes for LinkedIn user's and only 3 minutes for Google Plus user's.

How should I use Pinterest?

Know your audience: Be sure to document who your target audience is, what matters to them, and how they consume information (in this case, visuals).

Start relevant boards: For each audience, short list a handful of themes and kick start boards aligned with some or all of these themes. Pin images that are visually attractive and are aligned with the theme for the board. Don't aim to sell. Aim to inspire your users. Ideas include the values behind your brand or business, DIY projects and moods, among others. Allow your users to pin on to these boards.

Follow, Follow, Follow. Start following users and/or individual boards that are of interest to you. By following and engaging with users and repinning their content, you will begin to build your own community of followers.  

If you sell products, add prices to your pins. Type the price (ie $9.99) into your Pin Description and Pinterest will automatically add a price banner to your pin!

Time Your PinsTake note of the times when your fans are pinning – be flexible, and if all else fails, 2-4 pm and at night are popular for pinning according to Pinterest. Weekends are too in my experience.

Don’t just self-promote. Have a balance of your own content and the content of others. Showcase the lifestyle/beliefs/interests behind your brand, as well as your products, services, blog posts, events, designs/portfolio, and behind the scenes fun with your team.  Be creative!

The content for this blog entry was gathered from Social Media Examiner. If you are looking for more great tips join their mailing list! 

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