Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Using Twitter to Best Business Advantage, Part 2: Show me the money??

Okay, so a couple blogs ago, I outlined some Twitter basics I’ve identified in my short time on the Tweets, and that’s all well and good.  But if you’re a crafter/seller/artisan, I’m sure the #1 question on your mind is:  So does Twitter actually bring sales??

Well, Twitter does bring views to my individual items (though not my shop as a whole), but as far as I know, my three months on Twitter have brought me exactly two sales–one from a “follower,” and a custom order from the same person a few months later.  On the Etsy forums, I’ve heard people claim it brings them a good percentage of their overall sales and views, while others say it’s done precisely bubkes for their biz.  Given that I can easily kill two or three hours on Twitter in a single day, as a time-spent-for-money-earned ratio, Twitter may qualify as a whale-size fail, depending on who you are.  I suspect success with TwitterBiz also has something to do with what you sell; if your product is more unique than, say, jewelry (just to randomly pluck an example out of thin air, wink wink) then you’ll probably bring more interest from fellow Twitterers than someone who makes a really easy-to-find product.

However, the purpose of marketing isn’t simply to drive people directly to the checkout button (though that is the bottom line); no, any marketing expert will tell you that it’s pretty much equally important to “brand” yourself and get your name known.  That’s part of what Twitter can do for you–getting your shop into the consciousness of as many people as you can, either on an idle click-and-close basis (at least they’ve seen your item) or in a more “Hey, I know her work!” sort of way.  The more widely dispersed your name, the bigger your reputation and the more people will ultimately breeze through your shop–and logic says that the more visitors we have, the greater chance for a sale.

Besides which, whose shop do you want your Tweeps to think of when they are in the market for a pair of knitted baby booties or a goth leather cuff?  You should be the first name they think of for your type of item, right?

Here’s a real-life example of what I’m talking about.  In a town where I used to live there was a very nice locally-owned bookshop, and I loved to go there for all my bookish needs.  It was run by a man who was very nice, but a bit ditzy and capable of, I’m convinced, literally talking someone’s ear clean off their head.  Looking for spending money, I once asked the man if he needed any holiday help for the month of December.  He more or less offered me a position in “marketing,” which in his mind meant stuffing mailboxes with flyers and cold-calling people with Christmas promotions.  I declined and thanked my stars I never had to work for him–then asked him if he’d tried advertising in the local papers, since everyone in town reads the locals.  He said he’d tried running a coupon for a couple of weeks once, but nobody had brought one in.

Even then, I knew that he had it all wrong.  See, I was a regular newspaper-reader, and maybe I didn’t have time to use coupons from the newspaper before they expired, or was too busy to remember a special store event that was advertised on a particular day & time.  But when I thought about real estate agents, I thought first of the ones I’d seen advertised in the newspaper every single week.  And when I thought of carpet stores or chiropractors or lawyers, the ones I’d repeatedly seen in the newspaper were the ones that came to my mind–and perhaps my wallet–first.

And that’s why building your brand is important.  Maybe your Twitter contacts aren’t in the market for what you’re selling now–but when they are, maybe they’ll think of your shop and be there.  Or maybe if they’re asked for a recommendation, your shop is the one they’ll think of first.  And that’s the value of long-term marketing. Thus, I think of Twitter as a permanent  investment in making my brand known.

Oh, and a social outlet, and a source of info on other things I’m interested in–it is best for that, particularly for me.  Ultimately, I wish I could have discovered Twitter’s joys first on a personal level and had the time to enjoy the luxury of following fascinating people who will never follow me back.

But us WAHMs have not this luxury; thus, I create my Twitter balance between shop-talk, shop-promotion, blog-promotion, and just plain chatter with interesting folks.  (And reading @AlYankovic’s wacky tweets.  Just can’t resist!  And hey–wouldn’t my earrings look just smashing with his long curly locks?)

Until next time, my dear reader.  Feel free to request or suggest topics you’d like to see me write about.  And please, leave a contribution in the leetel box below…or e-mail particlesofstone at yahoo dot com.  Thanks for reading!

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Sweet Tweets: Using Twitter to Best Advantage, Part 1

Ah, Twitter…every Etsian who’s done any research into marketing their art/craft shop has been told to get onto Twitter and promote promote promote!  But, uh…don’t promote too much…socialize, mostly, or tweet interesting things…and then promote some…but not too little or people will miss it…um…

If you are confused by the Twitter-mania touted on Etsy and Artfire, I hope these 2 blogs (this one and its sequel) will help you make a bit of sense of this thing called “social media.”

I joined the Twitter brigade about two months ago.  I figured it was a free service to try out and see if it actually would help in promoting my shop.  I was unsure of what to expect, but once I got there, I realized it’s pretty much just the next evolutionary link in the social networking chain–which began eons ago with BBS (bulletin board systems), then Usenet newsgroups, mailing lists, and forums–and ultimately, Myspace and Facebook.  I’ve been down with that stuff practically since Al Gore invented the web, so I felt comfortable in the Twitter groove pretty quickly.  I even surprised myself by actually enjoying the interaction!

Still, a few things are new to me, and I find that I am learning every day that I Tweet.

So here are a few suggestions gleaned from my weeks of experience, based on my own mistakes and those of others.  Take it with a grain of salt, since I am still pretty new to the process, and feel free to share your own experiences in the comments, even if they are different from mine.  We are all still learning, right?

•First off:  Be interesting, or at least be social. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before.  If you think it’s going to be hard to think of non-product things to tweet about, well…I doubt you’ll feel that way for long.  Some days, I enjoy the interaction so much I almost forget to promote anything.  Sounds cheesy…but it’s true!  Oh, and if you only tweet about your products, I may follow you, but I won’t rec you on Follow Friday, and you’re highly unlikely to keep very many non-crafter followers.  And maybe not even the Etsy/Artfire folks, either.

•Which brings me to:  Follow people from other walks of your life. Do you write?  Play golf?  Are you a foodie or a wine enthusiast?  Love the outdoors?  Tech gadgets or gaming?  Star Wars?  Cats?  My followers include not only artisans and crafters, but quite a few moms, dads, and SAHM/WAHMs (that’s Stay-at-home and Work-at-home Moms, for those not in the know), since that’s my current demographic.  I’ve also friended fellow fans of my favorite movies/tv shows/books, people whose music I like, folks from my state, and educators (since I am also a teacher).  Not only might these prove better customer bases for me than, say, the 287 fellow jewelry designers I follow, but (and more importantly), they are folks I can connect to on a very necessary level.  After all, if you’re not going to tweet your products all day long, you have to have other interesting things to talk about, right?  And I’ve discovered some great people (and some great blogs) through the folks I follow, both artsy and otherwise.

•And yes, most of the people I follow do indeed follow me back. If they don’t, you can always un-follow them later–every three weeks or so, I purge those who are not following me back–especially when my Tweeps’ Tweets are already too numerous to keep up with properly!

Know whom you follow, and why. Don’t neccesarily avoid people who do only tweet with professional purpose, if their profession can benefit you on any level.  Say you’re searching for a job; following Tweeps who link you to all kinds of job-hunting tips and posting boards might prove a useful connection.  Or you may enjoy following people who tweet nothing but interesting news stories from all over the web, like @GuyKawasaki.  I highly recommend such follows!  Just don’t expect to sell many earrings to them.  😉

•And when you do actually tout your product (which you definitely should do!), here’s a few tips I’ve learned from experience:

1.  If you say, “Check out my new wool house-slippers!” and then link to your main storefront, you won’t get any views of the house-slippers…though you might conceivably get views of other items, but that’s a crap-shoot.  Pick a specific item to tweet and put up the link directly to it, then sit back and watch the views roll in.

2.  Experiment with doing this at different times of day to find out what times will get you the most views and/or re-tweets.  Twitter is definitely busier at some times of day than others.

3.  Experiment also with wording your tweets to get the most interest in the product you’re tweeting about.  I’m definitely still working on this, but I have seen some difference when I can turn a phrase smoothly in the promo-tweet.

4.  Always promote something different.  I find that if I tweet the same item twice in a day, it usually gets me very few hits the second time around, presumably because my followers who are interested already looked at it before.  Personally, I can’t read all the updates from people I’m following, so I appreciate repetition of links through the day (within reason), but this hasn’t proven true of the people who follow me.  You mileage may vary.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll save the last, most juicy part of this blog for next time, when I tackle the big question:  So does Twitter actually bring sales?? Be sure to tune in!  Leave comments and/or questions if you wish, or e-mail me at particlesofstone at yahoo dot com.  And thanks for reading!