I’m the social media maven for my introverted husband’s coin ring business (more on that here). I’ve noticed that artisans on Etsy.com, where Matt has a shop, get to feeling overwhelmed with what they perceive as social media obligations. Maybe not so much if they happen to be outgoing types, but many makers are makers because they like to work their craft alone or with a small team. All the stuff of marketing and relating to customers is something many would rather avoid. Also, introverts tend to value in-depth one-on-one relationships over a large network of acquaintances, so social media may seem rather alien with its focus on numbers of followers and broadcasting of personal information to what amounts to strangers.
The good news for makers, and anyone who wants to avoid social media overwhelm and still be visible:
1) It’s about engagement, not advertisement.
2) You don’t have to be everywhere or compromise your personality or ethics.
Each social media outlet has slightly different demographics and “culture” for posting. No one engages with posts that are nothing but product promotion, especially if there are lots and lots of those in repetition, no matter what the social media outlet is. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see from handmade artisans of various products.
Let us get to know you, the maker. That’s the idea. It’s more about you as a maker and person than the product itself. Remember that you are selling your making talent more than anything else; that’s what makes handmade and custom made products special. We’d like to know a little about your process. No, you don’t have to give away all your “secrets.” Most of us wouldn’t understand enough to copy you anyway. We just want to know what it’s like for you to make cool stuff with your own tools and talents, and how that affects your lifestyle and how you feel as a person.
If you are a strong introvert and just want to make stuff rather than make contact with people, it’s likely best to work with a partner on the social media stuff (that’s what my Matt does), but I know this isn’t always possible.
So, read up on some of the blogs about how the different social media outlets work and see what seems to fit your style best.
—Twitter kind of expects people to be engaged several times a day (but not necessarily hundreds of times, thank you!), but the others you can likely get away with a post or two a day.
—Take Instagram, for example: people tend to post pics with their mobile phones as it occurs to them. Very spontaneous, is the feel I get.
—Facebook is not a fav of mine for biz, but it works for others. Make sure that your products fit the angle of the social media outlet (Pinterest can be good for makers because it focuses on pictures and doesn’t require a big story behind everything) and ignore those that don’t fit.
For visual/physical products, I would think that Pinterest and Instagram would be excellent outlets, and perhaps Facebook (baby boomers, more women) or Google+ (younger geeky types, more men) depending on your target market. If you make most of your posts about you and your process and what interests you, then inserting the picture of the product you just made every once in awhile will be seamless and more likely to be shared.
Pick two or three outlets that seem to match your personal style and share yourself and your making process (video, for example, can be a great way to share what you do) regularly. Pick a frequency of posting that works for you, and then be very regular with it.
Sales are not actually highly correlated to social media directly for much of anything, so don’t despair if you don’t see direct connections. Most folks still buy because they search for something they want, or because an offline friend recommended something. Social media is just a way to increase general visibility.
So, keep making regularly, make sure your search tags and categories and all are good on your website, and then if you want to share certain aspects of yourself in addition, go play with social media.
That’s what I’ve learned in managing Matt’s biz and running my own services in the publishing industry.
Go forth and make!