Make social media work for your business

Over the last decade, social media has become a major part of how we communicate and for business, offers an extra way of reaching customers. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram offer platforms to share content including images and video, while connecting with others and in some cases creating groups and communities. But what can social media achieve and how should you use it.
 

What can you do with social media?

 
Social media offers a means of engaging with your customers between visits to your shop, website and workshops. It can offer an extra means of promoting your products and services as well as building authority, strengthening your relationships with them and even creating a sense of community.
 
Promotion

Social media offers you the chance to share new fabric collections, products, workshops, services or promote your presence at an event.

The craft and sewing industry is naturally incredibly visual, with so many beautiful fabrics and potential projects. Posting imagery can be a great way to get your customers excited about a new collection or workshop you are offering that can stand out on the homepage or newsfeed of your target audience. Aim to make your image look as appealing as possible. Ideally something that is likely to engage people – something that they are likely to like, comment or share so that their friends may see it as well. Your notions and threads for instance may be less visually exciting, so consider showing them in use or even making a video demo. Instead of making your message a hard sell, think about what will engage your customers and let your enthusiasm shine through.


 
Building Authority

You can use your social platforms as a place to share top tips, how-to knowledge and even video demonstrations with your audience. This will help you build a reputation as having good knowledge of the crafts you supply for, strengthening your brand and building trust. If this content incorporates the products you sell then this can also act as a means of soft promotion for your products.
 
Offering your own tips and creating demonstrations is fantastic, although posting content from others can also be valuable. Be sure to check that the content you share is clear and accurate – don’t mislead your followers or waste their time with bad content.


 
Strengthen Relationships and Build a Sense of Community

Social media sites such as Facebook allow you to create groups and communities as well as offering platforms to share content from friends and followers. Encourage your customers to join your groups and share their projects on your group/page as well as asking questions. This can encourage interaction and discussion between different members of the group and lead to a sense of community through a shared interest and a sense of togetherness. Be ready to responsive and encouraging to those who engage with you and your pages.


 
Get to know your customers and market
 
An effective presence on social media where you follow and become friends with your customers and craft community can teach you a great deal about your customers and wider market. Through observing what content they interact with both on your own social media and elsewhere, the language they use, what creates enthusiasm, what they share you can strengthen your understanding of your customer base and target market and incorporate this into your wider communications and business plan.
You may also learn more about your customers on a personal level through their social media posts and interaction with your accounts, finding common interests and ways to engage with them.
  

How can you use social media?

 
Think about what you most want to achieve from social media and how you will achieve this – what are your priorities? Try and set goals that are simple, realistic and measurable.
Think about your target audience and customer base – which platforms they use, what they respond to, what language and content appeals to them. Follow others in your industry to see what is effective and pick up ideas and inspiration.

Plan your use of social media to make sure it is timely and effective. You can create a social media calendar for this. Think for example about when you will need to start promoting a workshop, when you will have key fabric collections, when will your customers be looking for seasonal fabrics etc.



Build your audience – the more relevant followers you have the more you will be able to engage and the more people your posts and content will potentially be shared with. Promote your social media accounts through other channels - in your shop, on your website, in classes etc and give them reasons to follow you. You can also encourage regular to follow you by following, or adding them as a friend. Finally, share quality content with your audience. The more they like what they see the more likely they are to share with others; quality is more important than quantity.

Test, evaluate and adjust your strategy. Test different content on different times, different days and different platforms to find out what works best for you. You can analyse figures such as views, likes and shares. Adjust and improve your strategy based on this data