Quick! The holidays are coming and I have to start marketing online! Featured Post by Diane Gilleland of CraftyPod

Quick! The holidays are coming and I have to start marketing online! By: Diane Gilleland

spun around

Spun Around | the trial | Flickr Creative Commons

Hear that rumbling sound – the one getting closer by the minute? Yup, it’s the holiday season. Guess we better crank up our marketing efforts. So let’s start a blog, and sign up for Twitter, and make that Facebook page. NOW what do we do?

Wait – let’s back up for a moment. Actually, right now – heading into the holiday season – is the wrong time to start social media marketing.

Blogging, Twitter, and Facebook are a lot like gardens. You can’t plant seeds and then pick tomatoes five minutes later. Instead, you plant those seeds and spend months tending them. Social media marketing works the same way. You have to put in the months to build your online community, forge friendships with people, and earn their trust. Then you can market.

But don’t despair! If you new to social media tools, you can still use them in creative ways to spread the word about your product this holiday season.

add your comment-premasagar

Add your comment |  Premasagar | Flickr Creative Commons

First, find blogs where you can respond to others

If you haven’t had time to build your own online community, then now is the time to participate well in other people’s online communities.

Your brand-new blog might be fairly invisible to the blogosphere. But that’s okay – lots and lots of other people have blogs. Make a practice of leaving comments on a few other people’s blogs every day, and you’ll be able to subtly spread the word about yours.

Now, this is an idea that’s all too easy to misuse, so let’s be clear: I am not talking about leaving spammy comments that say, “Hey, great post! Come look at my shop [link].” Comments like that won’t get you noticed, they’ll get you disliked.

Instead, look for blog posts about subjects related to your product. Leave substantive comments that are related to the post. Don’t directly mention your online store. When you fill out any comment form, you’ll put in the URL for your online store, and that will create a link to your name.

If your comment is thoughtful and interesting, the blogger will click that link. So will some of that blogger’s readers. And they’ll see your website through more interested eyes, because your first contact with them was a genuine conversation – not a blank-faced marketing message. It’s a backdoor method, to be sure, but effective. We all love the people who notice us, so by noticing others, you become interesting to them.

facebook twitter

Then, carry the idea to Facebook and Twitter

The same idea works on Facebook, by the way. If you don’t have many friends there, try joining some public groups (or becoming a fan of some pages) and then participating in conversations regularly. Again, leave thoughtful responses when people share things. Try to participate in conversations that are related to your business. And make sure your Facebook profile page has a nice, prominent link to your online store.

On Twitter, you can use Twitter Search to find people posting about subjects related to your product, and then you can join in these discussions. This is best done subtly – after all, you don’t want to look like an online stalker! But on any given day, there are so many conversations taking place on Twitter, and so many people asking questions and sharing ideas, you’ll find places to join in appropriately. Again, the key is being on-topic and making sure your responses have substance. …But before you dive into a program of responding, there’s one key concept to understand:

crafting

Your community and your market are different groups

It can be very tempting, when you’re in these social media spaces, to focus on people who are just like you. And this leads to awesome friendships, but it may not get a lot of marketing done during the holiday season. Here’s what I mean by that: let’s say you make amazing crocheted pot holders, and you want to sell them. Who’s a better customer for you: someone who also crochets (and could make their own pot holders), or someone who loves to cook (and needs pot holders, but can’t make them)?

If you’re embarking on a program of social media responding for the holidays, you’ll want to keep your efforts focused on people who’d actually be likely to need what you sell. So think about what kinds of online communities might find your product compelling. If you make pendants based on classic 8-bit video game graphics, then you’ll want to look for gamers. If you sew bibs and burp cloths, then look for new parents.

Tools like Google Blog Search and IceRocket can help you find blogging communities. You can use Twibes and WeFollow to find interest-based communities on Twitter. And on Facebook, try doing some searches for Groups and Pages And when you’re on a fan page, see if it has any “Favorite Pages” listed in its sidebar.

Christmas Candle | keibr | Flickr Creative Commons

Less is definitely more

Keep in mind, though, that the holidays are a noisy time, and everyone is inundated with marketing messages. When you’re responding to people online, your best bet is always quality over quantity. In the cacophony of the holiday season, true conversation will stand out. (That’s a short paragraph about a great big idea. If you’re unfamiliar with “engagement marketing,” then you might also find this video useful, along with part one of this series on  Craftzine and part three on the Etsy Storque.) And then, right after the holidays, you can begin building your own social media community, so you’ll be ready for next year’s holiday season.

~Diane Gilleland

About the Author:

Handmade Spark is proud to feature Diane Gilleland, the Social Media Maven behind Craftypod. Stay tuned for much more from “Sister Diane” in the weeks to come!

Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,