Conquer the Social Media Movement

by Rémy Dolan

Courtesy of Handmade Business

Artists and craftspeople are constantly bombarded with advice on how to improve their social media presence, but how do you know exactly what to follow? Social media platforms are ever-changing their algorithms, making it very difficult for the average user to keep up. Here are some top social media predictions for 2018 that will keep you up-to-date and ahead of the handmade pack:

1 Growth in YouTube videos
The costs for placing ads on Facebook are increasing; the social media giant knows what it's doing when it comes to helping you make money off ads, while conveniently stuffing their own wallets with your hard-earned cash. Many artists and craftspeople are relying on the popularity and ease of use that YouTube affords. Not only is YouTube a video hosting site, it's a tool that you can use to present a problem and creatively, visually solve it, all while throwing in a free pitch. Growing a following on YouTube and sharing your videos across other social media platforms helps build trust, credibility, and a customer base.

2 Expect rising ad costs
It's no secret that ad costs continuously rise, and advertisements placed via social media giants are not immune. The good thing about placing ads via social media platforms is that this type of advertising generates brand interest and awareness--which is critical for any art or craft business. According to LinkedIn, ad spending on Facebook alone increased 74 percent in 2017. CNBC reported that the average digital advertisement in 2017 cost 12 percent more than it did two years before--a hike five times the rate of inflation and 70 percent more than televisions ads. This means advertisers are paying more to reach their audience, and at the same time are competing with other businesses for new customers. It is expected that U.S. spending on digital ads will hit $83 billion in 2017--passing up total television ad spending. Who's pocketing the most money? Facebook and Google. Experts advise to invest in social media ads now, while they are still affordable.

3 Value your Facebook reviews
How many of you follow the advice of reviews when shopping? Most people do, and customers who buy your art and craft work are no different. In fact, they are more inclined to buy from a maker who has recent, positive reviews on social media, such as Facebook. It's the "new" word-of-mouth referral. When a customer buys from you and gives you positive feedback, it does not hurt to ask them to review your business on your Facebook page. In fact, you may even wish to include this on your hang tags: "Love this handmade item? Review [business name] on Facebook @[your Facebook handle]." With more customers shopping directly through their favorite social media feeds, this is a great opportunity for your handmade business.

4 Tweet a little more
Even with Facebook and Instagram swallowing the social media world the past few years, Twitter is still alive, well, and growing. Think of Twitter as a micro-blog--it's a fantastic way to quickly put out a short, engaging thought. A welcome improvement for many, new in late 2017, Twitter doubled its character limit to 280, up from 140. What does this mean for marketing? You have more room to tell your story on Twitter without risking editing out content that drastically changes the intent or meaning of your message. While longer tweets may be appreciated by some, be careful not to overdo it when adding hashtags. According to Our Social Times, Social Media for Business, "Tweets suffering from a hashtag overdose just look plain ugly."

5 Instagram is top dog
Statistics don't lie, and the numbers show that Instagram is a growing social media superpower. Over 70 percent of American businesses used Instagram in 2017--nearly doubled from 48.8 percent in 2016! Small businesses currently make up the majority of Instagram advertisers and business profiles. This soaring increase is likely attributed to features such as prominent contact information, powerful analytics data, and the ability to create Instagram ads. According to Instagram, 80 percent of users say they follow at least one business on the app with 60 percent hearing about a product or service through their platform, and at least 30 percent of users reported purchasing a product they first found on Instagram.

6 Video is essential
Carmen Collins, the social media lead for Cisco commented in a www.socialmediaexaminer.com story, "I don't need 300 words to describe how social media will change in 2018. The answer is live video, produced video, Snapchat video, Instagram video, and YouTube video. If you don't have video in your content mix for almost every social media channel, you're going to lose out on those 'thumb-stopping' moments when people scroll through their feeds." Collins also suggests that users find ways to repurpose and repost their video content for maximum exposure.

7 Connect with, don't sell customers
One thing that social media users have gotten very savvy at is spotting and avoiding promotions, paid ads, and hard sales pitches. What users want is an experience, and to feel that the advertisers that do reach them are authentic and genuinely interested. It's not enough to gain followers and likes--you need to make connections to build brand loyalty. Share your story; give users more of yourself when sharing on your business social media platforms and less of only your product. You will see sales rise.

8 Organic Facebook acquisition is fading
In the past, Facebook users could source fans organically quite easily--those days are long gone, and you may have already noticed the slowdown and wondered why. In 2016 Facebook altered its news feed algorithm--and not for the first time--which prioritized active family and friend interaction. This had a huge negative affect on business brands that relied on organic fan acquisition. With fewer eyes on your posts, this equates to less clicks, comments, and shares. While some brands have circumvented this strategy with video content, Facebook has monetized their change by encouraging more businesses to pay to reach more users. Unfortunately, the paid model is here to stay. The good thing is you are also paying for improvements in analytical tools that will better serve you in the long run when it comes to social media marketing and getting to know your target audience.

How to Lead the Social Media Pack
  • Photos are a must, and lifestyle photos are better than product-only shots
  • Make video content a priority
  • Position yourself and your brand as an industry influencer
  • Treat each platform differently
  • Promote your partners (suppliers, toolmakers, marketers, etc.) and connect to their audience as well
  • Put some time and grit into it
  • Listen to your customers, and ask questions
  • Use analytics to review your own performance; adjust your strategies as needed


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