Future Implications

 

The social media landscape is constantly changing.  Ultimately this means that companies need to be adaptable to keep up with the forthcoming changes.  Unfortunately, there is no way to predict what the social trends will be in the future.  This means that companies need to stay focused on keeping their brand and message consistent across all platforms that they choose to interact on.  It is also important to keep in mind a company does not have to participate in every new social media trend out there, if it is not in line with their overall strategy, or aligned with their brand goals.

The changes that may occur in the future may be caused by changes in human nature, or in technology.  What is valued today may not be valued in five years.  Just think, ten years ago social media was an it’s infancy, who knew what it would grow into.  The same could be said of everything that has come from it, Myspace, Friendster, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to name some.  How many social platforms have had their moment, then slowly faded away?  Marketers need to participate where their audience is, if their target audience isn’t there then there is no point.  Technology and human nature, go hand in hand, with one influencing the other.  Human nature drives technology, while technology alters human nature.

Viral Marketing Initiatives

Have you ever wondered why something goes viral online?  Is there a formula you can follow to produce viral content? or does it occur by chance?  After some digging, I’ve determined that the following characteristics make content go viral.

Content that goes viral often causes an emotional response, whether it be something humorous that evokes positive emotions, or something that brings out sadness or anger.  After Cecil the Lion was lured out of his  reserve and killed by a dentist, the social media response was overwhelming.  While there are two sides to the story, social media overwhelming believed that Cecil was illegally, and unjustly killed, and brought the story to international attention, gathering attention from celebrities such as Ted Nugent, and Ricky Gervais to weigh in (Miceli, 2015).

85ANDY LOVERIDGE/WILDLIFE CONSERVATION RESEARCH UNIT/AP

People share content that they think is going to be helpful to others, and will add value to someone’s else’s life.  Listicles and How To Videos are frequently shared on social media.  If a viewer finds a something of practical value, they are going to share it, because they know someone else will also find value.  Others share content, because it demonstrates that the product actually works, and shows it’s value. An example that covers both reasons is the BlendTec  Will It Blend? videos.  Who knew that a man blending an iPhone, would lead to millions of views?

People also share content that gives them social currency.  Essentially people share content that makes appear a certain way, whether it be smarter, or trendier.  Infographics and political articles fall under social currency.  The Ice Bucket Challenge raised millions of dollars because it played off of people’s desire to fit in, especially on social media.  The premise of the challenge was that participant’s would challenge their friends, via social media,  to dump a bucket of Ice Water over their heads, all in the name of raising money for medical research.


References:

Ankeny, J. (2014, April 23). How these 10 marketing campaigns became viral hits. Retrieved
from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233207

Berger, J. (2013, April 10). Viral’s secret formula. Retrieved from
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonah-berger/virals-secret-formula_b_3052685.html

Lautenslager, A. (2014, August 1). How to make your content go viral. Retrieved from
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235125

Miceli, M. (2015, July 29). Cecil the Lion’s death prompts social media outcry. Retrieved from
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/07/29/cecil-the-lions-death-prompts-
social-media-outcry

Nguyen, T. (2015, September 18). The 7 factors that make for viral content. Retrieved from
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250249

Differentiation

Netflix and Hulu are both popular streaming services that have a very similar social media approach.  However, Netflix, boasts ten times as many Twitter followers, ten times as many Facebook fans, and twenty-eight times as many Instagram followers.  Much of this can be attributed to the fact that Netflix has been around 10 years longer.

Netflix’s social media strategy highlights their product line-up, which is the content they offer for streaming.  They’re not outright telling you to choose their service over the competition, or beating you over the head with their pricing model.  They offer a mix of promotional content for their original shows, clips and quotes from old favorites that are available for streaming.  The best part of their strategy is that all their content is intended to be shareable.   Much of Netflix’s social media strategy is focused on nostalgia.  The rest of their success is due to the immense amount of consumer data they have available.  Netflix was started in 1998, and since that time they have been gathering data, that they now enter into their algorithm that is able to predict their audience demographics, which is why they are so good at what they do.

Hulu on the other hand has taken a similar course of action to Netflix, but they are not differentiating themselves enough from Netflix.  They are basically copying their strategy, but having much less success.  To really succeed Hulu needs to show people that they are different than Netflix.  Both services offer original content, and they are now starting to focus more of their marketing efforts on their original content, rather than the content that is currently airing on television. Hulu is slightly less active posting on social media, however Facebook has given them a special designation because they frequently reply to comments.

If Hulu ever wants to gain traction on Netflix, they are going to have to work harder to differentiate themselves, particularly through social media.  Social media is where people go to discuss the shows they have been binge watching, Netflix is typically used for bingeing, where Hulu is more likely to be used to catch up on a missed episode.  There is room for Hulu to succeed, they just have to find where they can differentiate themselves from all the other services out there.

 


References:

 

Burney, K. (2014, April 11) A modern marketing showdown on the small screen: HBO vs. Netflix. Retrieved from http://trackmaven.com/blog/2014/04/interactive-marketing-hbo-netflix/

Lynch, J. (2015, June 24) Here’s why consumers love Netflix more than Amazon and Hulu clear branding is key. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/news/television/here-s-why-consumers-love-netflix-more-amazon-and-hulu-165547

Hulu. (n.d.) hulu. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/hulu/

Hulu. (n.d.) Hulu. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/hulu/?fref=nf

Hulu. (n.d.) hulu. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/hulu

Netflix. (n.d.) Netflix. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/netflixus/?fref=ts

Netflix. (n.d.) Netflix. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/netflix/

Netflix. (n.d.) Netflix US. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/netflix

Blogging Best Practices

The Internet is full of tips for bloggers, some tips are definitely better than others, and some may be irrelevant to your specific type of blog.  But in any case, I’ve rounded up some of the best tips that have helped me to create my own content, and feel better about it.  So, here they are, in no specific order.

Blogging Tips

Limit the amount of time you work on a post.
I came across this solid piece of advice by clicking on an article link on Twitter, but it’s something I’ve definitely taken to heart. Even though you may want it to be perfect, and want to spend hours perfecting your post, there are always going to be minor things to change, and if you keep changing the minor things, a week can go by and you still haven’t posted anything.  So the best thing to do is to set a time limit, or a word count, and do your very best to work within those constraints (Schaefer).  There more you blog the easier it will be, the point of blogging is that you are getting your thoughts and any information out into the world.  You’re not writing a scholarly article, (unless you are) and slight imperfections are one of the best things about blogs.  Just don’t forgo the spell check, and edit for grammar.

Write for yourself.
Another great piece of advice from Mark Schaefer.  Personas don’t have a place in blogging, they’re great for marketing, but nobody wants to read a piece written for a fictional persona.  Your readers want to read your blog because they want your thoughts and opinions, they don’t want to read what you think they want to read.  Also write about what you’re passionate about.  Don’t start a craft blog if you hate crafting, just because you think you’ll be successful.  If you’re not passionate about it, writing about it is going to become a chore that you dread.  If you love antiquing, write about your finds, if you love cooking, then cook your little heart out and write about it.  If you’re passionate about rhinos, then write about them.

Differentiate yourself.
This goes hand in hand with writing about what you’re passionate about.  If you’re passionate about crafting, by all means blog away, but know that there are a million other crafting blogs out there, why should someone subscribe to yours?  Is there a particular craft style you prefer?  Are you using old-fashioned techniques?  Why are your antique finds better than anyone else’s?  What makes your peanut butter cookies better than everyone else’s?  Find what makes you and your blog unique, and play to that strength.  If all else fails…

Have amazing photography.
Even if your peanut butter cookies suck, if they at least photograph well, and you do photograph them well, there’s a better chance of your post being shared, and people actually trying your recipe.  Sometimes photos can make or break your post.  But in the case of those awful cookies…

Don’t let the fear of the negative hold you back.
Mark Schaefer has really good advice, that’s why I stole (with proper credit) three of his top pieces of advice. But you have to accept that there are going to be people out there who don’t like what you like (like rhinos, or candle making), or followed your cookie recipe and realized they taste awful,  and are going to express their dislike all over your comments section.  But that’s really the worst thing that can happen.  Unless you’re stealing all your posts from someone else, then you have nothing to worry about.  Get your thoughts out there, you’re mostly going to get positive feedback anyways.  Learn from your mistakes, but don’t let the haters get you down.

Stay Consistent.
Both in the way you write, and the format of your blog. Here consistency is key.  Write the way you talk, that way your readers get a real sense of who you are, and that you are carrying on a conversation with them.  I read enough professional and scholarly articles everyday, I read blogs to get away from that type of writing. So does the mastermind behind BlogHer.com That’s why writing the way you talk made her list.  She also suggests keeping the format of your blog consistent.  Use headings to make it easier to read, and easier to reference back to a section, (like an ingredients list for those cookies), bullets when you’re making a list, don’t change your colors or your fonts too often. Pick an aesthetic that you like and stick with it.  Obviously you’re going to change your theme and your format a zillion times in the first like two weeks or blogging.  But after that pick something and stick to it, if you want to change, make minor changes as you see fit, or change it dramatically all at once, but maybe write an explanation post. But, don’t change drastically from week to week.

Include your audience.
They keep you going after all.  One of the best ways to do this is to conclude with questions to inspire discussion in the comments.  Or dedicate a post to your readers, take suggestions and once in a while devote a whole post to someone’s idea.  Maybe they have a cool craft, or a really great recipe.  Don’t be afraid to reach out.  Test out your ideas on Twitter, if you get a good response then clearly it’s something your readers are interested in (Cooper).

Fake It ‘Til You Make It.
Solid life advice in general.  Pretend to be confident, and you will exude confidence.

 

What are your favorite blogging tips?


References:

Cooper, B.B. (2013, July 30) 16 top tips from blogging experts for beginners. Retrieved from https://blog.bufferapp.com/blogging-advice-for-beginners-from-16-experts

Schaefer. M, (2015, December 15) 5 proven tips to help with your blogging confidence. Retrieved from http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/12/15/blogging-confidence/

Wansgard, M.S. (2015, January 1). Top 10 blogging tips for beginners. Retrieved from http://www.blogher.com/my-top-10-blogging-tips-beginners

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Social Media for Etsy Sellers

In the handmade industry, there are definitely challenges and risks associated with using social media.  In my previous posts, I’ve mostly discussed reasons why you should be on social media as an Etsy seller, particularly on Instagram.  However, it is important to note that social media may not be for everyone, and that there are some cons associated.  So to help you out, I’ve come up with an eternally helpful, pros and cons list.

police box

Cons

  • Using social media takes time away from creating. The time spent posting and cultivating a following can basically be a full time job, especially if you are new to social media. For the inexperienced user it can take a while to find your social media groove.  It is not so difficult if you have been using social media for a while on a personal level.
  • Maybe your specific craft does not need a social media presence to boost sales, the items you sell may be unique or already have a solid following through Etsy, so you may not need to establish a deeper social media presence.
  • Your target demographic may not be super active on social media, or if they are they are not using it to connect with people, not brands.
  • Managing multiple profiles can become a hassle, especially if you have one for your business, that you keep separate from your personal accounts. I’ve accidentally posted to my personal Instagram instead of my business Instagram ore times than I can count.  You don’t want to inundate your friends and family with a constant barrage of posts about your business and product, and the line can be easily blurred.

 

Pros

  • As I’ve stated in my previous posts, you’re already taking photos of your items, it’s not terribly difficult to post them on Facebook or Instagram.
  • You greatly expand your audience and shop’s reach.
  • It’s FREE! Other than the time you put into it, and we all know that time is valuable, especially when you’re in charge of your own business.
  • You can put in as much effort as you want, you get out of it what you put into it.
  • You’re probably already on social media. So even if you don’t want a huge commitment, the occasional self promoting post to friends and family can actually go a long way. The first time I posted about candles on my Facebook page, my shop had over 100 views, it hasn’t seen that many since!
  • There are tons of tools and services out there that will take over for you, line up some tweets or some Instagram photos, and let a site like Hootsuite take care scheduling and posting for you.
  • Social media is a great way to show customers your process, really define your shop’s style, and give them a glimpse into your life. You obviously don’t have to post your outfit of the day and a million selfies to achieve this.  However, humanizing your brand will go a long way, give them a reason to buy from you.  Why should they buy a pomegranate candle from you, when there are 70 other people selling the same thing for the same price.
  • You can gain inspiration, and build relationships with other sellers, and offer to promote them to your followers. It can be mutually beneficial, and you will be expanding your reach.

 

 

When deciding whether or not to use social media it’s important to remember it’s not for everyone, and it may take some time to adjust.   It’s helpful to go into social media with a strategy, or game plan of what you want you want to achieve by being on social media.  If you can’t define the reasons why you want to use social media for your business, then maybe there’s no real reason to be.

 

 

References:

Adam, T. (n.d.) 5 ways etsy sellers get social media wrong. Retrieved from http://www.handmadeology.com/5-ways-etsy-sellers-get-social-media-wrong/

 

Etsy (n.d.) Social Media Marketing for Etsy A-Z. Retrieved from https://www.etsy.com/teams/16272/social-media-marketing-for-etsy-a-z

Can you be social on Etsy? Yes!

Part of the Etsy experience is that it can function as it’s own social network.  It is definitely not used as widely as the top social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but the opportunity for conversations, and following friends or artists you like is there.  Before you even open a shop, you start off with an Etsy account.  This is required for you to purchase items from Etsy sellers.  From this basic starting point, after you’ve created your username, you can work on your profile.  In all honesty, before I was a seller, I didn’t have a profile picture, and I never even gave thought to my profile.  Since I’ve opened my shop, I haven’t finished my profile, but I’ve at least added a picture, and thought more about filling in the “About” section.  Your profile shows you the Items you’ve favorited starting with the most recent, as well as your favorite shops.  Your favorites are visible to people who follow you, or view your profile.  This allows you to find like-minded individuals, who you can find new shops and products from, or as a seller see that they may be interested in your product, and you could initiate the following friendship. The overall profile is really simple, as the main purpose of Etsy is not social media, but it has been integrated.

The conversations feature allows you to send private messages to friends that you follow, as well as communicate directly with shop owners.  This helps with custom orders, but allows you to chat with friends.  This feature as a seller is a great way to reach out to people that have started following your shop to thank them for the follow.  You can also reach out to shops that you like just to pay them a compliment, or words of encouragement.  This will likely go a long way for them, and cause them to think favorably of you in the future.  You never know when they, or someone in their circle will need exactly what you sell.

That’s the basics of the traditional website, and the mobile version.  However, there are two mobile apps that we should talk about.  First there is the Etsy app, which is how I discovered Etsy In the first place back in 2012.  The app allows you to access all the same features as the main Etsy webpage, but it is obviously optimized for mobile.  It also saves your credit card information to make purchasing super easy.

The other Etsy app is the Sell on Etsy App.  This is strictly for sellers.  It allows you to see all your shop stats and activity.  You can list new items for sale, and add updates to items already for sale in the app.  It allows sellers to view open and completed orders.  You also have access to your conversations as well.  This app is really useful, even if you are not going to be adding listings from your phone.  It allows you to be available (if you want) to respond to any questions from potential customers, or see that you have new orders pending. In the beginning stages, while you are building your reputation, it is important to make sure that you respond to inquiries as soon as possible.  You also get notifications when someone favorites your shop or any of the items you have for sale, which as a new seller is super exciting for me, I love seeing the notifications pop up that someone has liked my shop.  The Sell on Etsy app is useful for those shop owners that want to be able to access their shop on the go, in a simple way.  I personally love it, and think it’s a great way to stay connected, even when I’m away from my laptop.

There are tons of apps that are out there to help with productivity, and edit listings, as well as to help you track expenses, or properly price your items (Here’s a list!).  While some may find these apps useful, there is really nothing that beats the two Etsy apps above for social interactions, as there is no social media site specifically meant for Etsy sellers. That’s why utilizing other forms of social media (like Instagram…) is super important for sellers to help develop their following, and expand their customer base.

Instagram for Etsy Sellers

Social Media is a necessary tool for those selling their handcrafted items online, whether through Etsy or any other domain.  This doesn’t mean that sellers need to be on every social networking site ever, but they should be on at least one or two.   The handmade industry is one where people are highly dependent on social media to expand their reach, whether offering a niche product or something more widely accessible.  Etsy makes it easy to integrate social media into your shops selling strategy, allowing sellers and buyers alike to pin items, with links that will route to the original post

In my previous post I discussed my favorite tools related to Instagram.  In this post I am going to detail how exactly using Instagram can help you boost your Etsy sales.

 

1

I have a deep love for Instagram, and I strongly suggest that sellers set up an account.  It’s so simple, and you’re already taking photographs of items for your shop, so why not put them on Instagram as well.  Not only is Instagram a great place to showcase your items, but your customers can really get a feel for your style, your process, and who you are as an artist.  It gives them a more personal connection to you, which gives them more incentive to buy from you.  Instagram is great because it can be spontaneous, and showcase your personality really well.  Feeds can be tailored to feel vintage, bright, quirky, however you decide.

On Instagram your images are what speak to your potential customers, entice them to click on your links in the caption to find out more about the products and the processes that you’re showing.

The statistics on Instagram are intriguing as well.  Instagram has 300 million active monthly users, 70% of them are located outside of the United States.  The engagement rate on Instagram is nothing to bat your eye at either,  per follower engagement on Instagram is 58 times higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter!   (LePage, 2015). Still think Instagram is for letting everyone know what you’re eating?

The most important thing to take away is from Hootsuite’s Evan LaPage, he said, “People follow brands on Instagram knowing they’re going to be exposed to products. You shouldn’t be afraid to showcase what you have to offer.”

LaPage has additional tips to boost your engagement as well:

  • Photos generate more likes than videos.
  • Faces get 38% more likes than photos without people.
  • When you mention others in your caption, your engagement increases as well. By 56 percent!
  • Utilizing hashtags results in 12.6% more engagement!

 

Instagram also allows you to engage with other Etsy sellers from around the world. Through exploring hashtags related to your own shop, you can find sellers that sell items similar to yours, as well as sellers who sell completely different items from you. It’s a great source of inspiration, and could lead to great contacts for the future.  Be as engaging as possible, respond to comments and direct messages quickly and with enthusiasm to ensure that people are left with a positive impression.   A great piece of advice from Etsy seller, and Instagrammer Erin Dollar, is to remember, “It’s important for a casual user to look at your profile page and understand at a glance what you’re all about,” (Svehaug, 2014).

 

References:

LePage, E. (2015, September 17) A long list of Instagram statistics and facts (that prove its importance). Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-statistics-for-business/

Svehaug, K. (2014, March 27) How to market your shop with Instagram.
https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/article/how-to-market-your-shop-with-instagram/22796090503