Is social media the best way to promote your craft business? It may not cost anything, but it can take up a lot of your time, time that may be better creating new items and updating your site or your store.
If done right though, Facebook, Twitter, and all of the other social media programs out there can help you grow your handmade business, as long as you are targeting the right traffic.
It's natural to network with like-minded people. Golfers are attracted to other golfers; musicians are attracted to other musicians; crafters are attracted to other crafters.
That makes sense. When we are in the same profession or we have the same hobbies, we speak the same language. No one understands spending 10 straight hours trying to perfect a new beaded necklace more than another jeweler. Look at the Etsy forums. Do you know how easy it is to spend hours there reading about and sharing experiences?
If social media is about striking up conversations and getting to know people, who are the easiest people to connect with? If you're a crafter, it's other crafters.
When I started my first Twitter account for my Iris & Lily photo album business, I started connecting with crafters on Facebook through groups and fan pages, and I looked for other Etsians on Twitter. I met some great people that way but it was not generating a lot of business.
I started thinking about who would be interested in buying my products.
I shifted my focus and started doing searching on keywords for weddings, babies, photographers. One of my most successful searches was "wedding pictures." By searching that term, I found brides, brides to be, wedding photographers, a market that was interested in what I had to offer. And I found customers. Now my Twitter time was effective.
When you are looking for customers, you need to figure out what problems they are looking for solutions for. For example, I sell wedding photo albums. On Google, Wedding Photo Albums might be my main keyword. But on Twitter, I've searched the keyword "Wedding Pictures" hoping to find a bride talking about just getting her wedding pictures from the photographer. Maybe she'd need a proof album!
If you are using social media as your vehicle to build your handmade craft business online, consider what the people who would be buying your product would be talking about. Your keyword search here is going to be different than what you've used as keywords on Google when you are giving customers a way to find you.
Selling jewelry? Maybe search bridesmaids' gifts or birthday.
Selling crocheted baby blankets? Search terms that have to do with new baby announcements.
Selling adorable kitchen aprons? Join a Facebook group made up of foodies.
And then connect with those people. Those are your potential customers.
Keep in mind that social media goes way beyond Facebook and Twitter. Ning, for example, allows people to set up targeted niche social media sites. These could be networks full of the customers you are looking for. Because of time constraints, we think we'll get the most out of our time by focusing on the social media giants, but there we have lots of competition.
If your social media efforts are not working for you so far, it may be time to consider other options. It is important to be as strategic with your time when you are marketing as you are when you are creating.
If you make the effort to reach the right people, that effort may be exactly what you need to grow your business.