What’s the deal with Social Media?

Since this article is on the interweb, I’m going to assume that you are too. Which means that unless there’s there’s some special kind of magical, digital rock you’ve been hiding under, you’ve heard of this thing called Social Media. If you haven’t heard of it…Welcome to the future! This week, I gave a presentation on Social Media to our awesome friends at ShowMe Etsy. I thought I’d go ahead and expand on my notes a little bit, and share them with my reader here on the Fusion blog too!

One thing that I’ve learned about Social Media over the years is that you really do get out of it what you put into it. If I want people to look at my work, and comment then I really have to be out there kissing hands and shaking babies. Adding to other people’s conversations will make them more willing to add to mine. It’s also important to do great work and be genuine about it. When I care about what I’ve made or written I like to think that people can tell, and that they respond to it. And when I’m feeling blech…well the work kind of comes across that way too. I’d much rather go to a site because there’s a picture of George Washington fighting Skynet from atop a pterodactyl than because somebody was begging me to do it.

There’s a lot of different providers out there, and I’ve not used all of them, nor is there really time here to talk about them all. So I’m just going to cover some of the big ones that I use on a regular basis…I’ve also collected a bunch of articles on one of my pinterest boards, if you’d like to read more about it. J http://pinterest.com/redherringjeff/social-media-presentation/

FACEBOOK: Sometimes I try to talk my brother into joining FB. He adamately refuses, saying that he doesn’t care about friends from high school or what kind of sandwich his coworker had for lunch. Fair enough. There are a lot of great things about FB though, especially as business owners.

  • FaceBook is very organized. All the information is laid out in a linear manner, and it’s easy to pick up and add to conversations.
  • I’ve met a lot of people through group boards and gotten to know them on the internet. When I finally meet these people at shows, events or on the street it’s not like meeting a stranger, but more like meeting an old friend for the first time. Professionally, it’s a great ice breaker.
  • Usually the first thing I do when I get home from a show is go and “like” the cool new shops that I met that day. This is something to remember as many of our customers would like to continue the “conversation” with us as shop owners and keeping in touch through FB is a great way to do that.
  • FB gives us tools to keep our customers informed about new products, what show’s were going to be in and to offer incentives to come and visit us again.
  • It also creates a space where we can develop a dialog with our fans, allowing us to find out what interests them as well as create some “buzz” about what interests us.
  • Likes: I try to be very careful of the things I publicly like…especially on my FB fan page. It’s totally okay if, for instance, I’m listening to a lot of Iron Maiden. That doesn’t fit into the story of Handmade Family though.
  • I understand wanting to keep your life private. I’m a sharer, maybe even an over sharer at times, but I don’t want even the best intentioned person just showing up at my doorstep. So I keep my personal facebook profile locked down pretty tight. With one exception, in the about tab my website and facebook business pages are all listed. People need to be able to find where to buy your stuff.

Something I didn’t talk about is Facebook’s edge ranking system. In a nutshell, it’s how FB decides who sees what, based on how much they interact with a page. Melissa assures me that she’s working on a post all about edge rank, so I’m going to leave that to her. 🙂

TWITTER: If Facebook is a meeting, wrapped into a family reunion, then Twitter is more like the after party…complete with boxes of wine and kegs of PBR.

  • Like a party, there is a lot of “chatter” on twitter, with conversations and parts of conversations streaming through the feed all day. The set up may seem a little disorganized and overwhelming at first, but it allows you to join new conversations and make new contacts really easily.
  • I like to think of my tweets as free-form Haiku’s Hashtags are used to make your content more searchable or to give them a context using a minimum amount of words.
  • Hashtags increase your audience, because they also group or categorize tweets. This adds you to a world wide conversation about (for example) #ghostbusters, without having to be friends with EVERYONE who likes ghostbusters.

PINTEREST: Pinterest is like the coffee table book to the modern age. It allows me to curate a collection of projects, recipes, inspiration and interests so I can look at them later and share them with others.

  • One of the things that I like about Pinterest is that it gives me a general overview of what my friends and the people that I follow are into, what’s going on in their lives, and what they’re working on.
  • I pin a combination of things that I would like to do and that I know I’m capable of and things that inspire me to try to do something that I’m not sure that are possible for me.
  • Ideas don’t form in a vacuum, and Pinterest is a great tool for helping us stretch our abilities.
  • Pinterest is also a way to help promote your friends. I have a board called “I Sure Have Talented Friends” where I pin cool stuff made by my friends in an effort to move more traffic their way too.

INSTAGRAM: Great way to share your more personal stories, as well as works in progress and shows “as they happen” For me, being an independent crafter isn’t just about what I make. It’s also about my lifestyle, and the things I see and experience every day.

  • Thinking about and capturing the every day in a way that’s meaningful and timely helps make us stronger image makers, and story tellers as well as helping to make us more relatable to our customers.
  • One big advantage we have over a big box store is the ability to give very personalized customer service as well as tell a story that isn’t just about making money.
  • If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas or getting into the habit of using instagram as part of your brand, a great place to kick off is one of the many photo-a-day projects out there. I do the one featured on the fatmumslim blog.

BLOGSPOT/WORDPRESS BLOGS: I use my blog to bring all the little aspects of the rest of the social media outlets together, editing all the little stories into a larger weekly (or bi-weekly) narrative.

  • Blogs give you an opportunity to really talk about the things you know and love.
  • They are where we can establish ourselves as an authority on our particular craft.
  • Things that I might cover on my blog include:
    Daily Life stories
    Illustrations
    Tutorials
    Observations about the nature of our community or tips on being a part of it.
    Works in Progress
    Things that I’m into
    education
    goals
  • The meat of our dialog happens here, and it can be lonely, especially at first as it seems like you’re shouting into the void. I’ve had people recognize me at shows lately though, and comment on things that I’ve written in the blogs. Which is always pretty great.

Thanks for joining me as I explore some of the possibilities in the landscape of Social Media? Was there anything I missed, or you’d like to know more about? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

Links to more Resources:

Writer Jeffrey Johnson

Stay-At-Home Dad and freelance Illustrator, comiker, crafter and urban homesteader. Jeffrey  and his wife Amy work together at Fusion as Handmade Family, making back to basics toys, gifts and decor for growing families. You can find his work and personal blog at www.handmadefamily.com or around the web as redherringjeff.

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