As handmade artists, we are stretched pretty thin. Most of us do everything ourselves, at least in the beginning. Adding another task to the list can seem overwhelming, but social media mastery is one that your business cannot succeed without.
Yes, I groaned too when I first started a social media campaign. I did not quite understand why I needed to be tweeting about a new necklace, or sharing photos from an interesting fashion shoot with Facebook, but social media is actually the perfect platform for handmade artists. With a variety of applications like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, there are multiple ways to engage an audience about what makes your work unique and what makes you special as an artist. Plus, it's FREE!
(Do you have an IndieMade site? Check out our handbook page, Website Promotion and Social Sharing, to find out how to use our built-in social media features to help promote your business.)
First, Do Your Research
Diving right in to social media can be a bit intimidating. The best way to start is to do a little research. Check out the different applications and choose one that feels right to you. Take notice of other handmade artists or bloggers that you admire and see how they are using different social media sites to drive interest. What tweets, photos and Facebook posts appeal to you? Which ones do you find the most engaging? Taking notes on social media usage is a great way to help develop a social media style that best suits your business.
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Start With Visuals
Once you are ready to try your hand at a little free self promotion, I recommend starting out with a visually driven app like Instagram or Pinterest. As a handmade artist, you already have a lot of images to share. Product shots, work in progress, craft fair photos, and things that inspire you are all great images to share with your fans. A simple photo of your messy studio can be engaging and help tell the story or your brand to your customers. For more info on using Instagram and Pinterest, check out IndieMade's more in-depth resource articles on these two growing social media platforms here and here.
This photo of the author's studio space gives potential customers a peek behind the scenes of her business.
Get Started with Facebook and Twitter
Once you have gotten more comfortable with communicating your work via image, Facebook and Twitter should be your next step. Your Facebook business page should act as your central hub of information. This is where you post relevant articles, images, blog posts, and status updates that will help tell the story of your brand. For example, if you are a quilter and recently went to a quilt exhibition in a museum, post a link to the museum's Facebook page and later post some of the photos you took at the show. If you happen to find a review of the show in the New York Times, post a link to that. Customers want to know what you enjoy, what inspires you, and keeps you interested as an artist. Sharing not only information about your own work, but stories and photographs of your inspiration will help customers stay engaged and keep them coming back for more. (Having trouble coming up with content ideas for your Facebook posts? Visit our resource article on making the most of your Facebook page for some fresh ideas!)
Twitter is the place to go when you want to share information about a sale, press, or event. While it can seem limiting to engage your customers in 140 characters or less, Twitter actually helps keep your message concise and to the point. Announcements work great on Twitter. If you are going to an art opening, or meeting with a collaborator, that makes a great tweet. Announcements of a special coupon code, free shipping, or the dates of an upcoming trunk show are also great to share on Twitter. While you might post information about the location and dates of the show in advance on Facebook, Twitter is the place to share the information with your customers the day of. Visit our resource article on using Twitter for your business for more ideas on how to promote your business in 140 characters of less.
Using social media is an important step in the marketing of your handmade business. While it can take some getting used to, it really is just a skill like anything else you have had to master in your business. Remember, do some research, start slow, and only share what makes you comfortable. Before you know it, you will have built a following and an engaged community of customers.