No Sales? Hmmm… Part 2 Social Networking
Promoting your products comes with the territory. I believe that the popular line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he (they) will come” only applies to baseball diamonds built in the middle of cornfields! When it comes to selling, after you build it you have to promote it. Finding what works requires a lot of trial and error testing which also takes a lot of time. Selling, both online and off, is hard work. I won’t apologize for using those two four-letter words. As a matter of fact, I’ll say it again. Selling is hard work. Period. The good news, however, is that your hard work will pay off if you keep at it!
In the article, Offline Promotion Opportunities, I talked about the importance of promoting your business and your Zibbet shop offline and suggested several ways to do that. Don’t underestimate the importance of establishing a local following. Call on your friends and family to help you–my mother is my most enthusiastic supporter. She keeps my business cards in her car and shares them with others. She has also asked for cards to give to a couple of her friends who offered to give them to their friends. Business cards are very inexpensive and should be a promotional tool in every seller’s toolbox–don’t leave home without business cards in your pocket or purse!
Online promotion is also an essential component of selling from your Zibbet shop. Although it may seem overwhelming, getting involved in social networking circles is a must. In order for a social networking site to help you, you have to be active there and being active takes time and effort. Start with one or two sites and as your comfort level increases gradually add others to your list. If you’ve installed the temporary Google Analytics “work around” in your shop, you can obtain some limited but useful information about where traffic to your shop is coming from. That information should help you decide how to better spend your online promotional time. Don’t waste valuable time on sites that are not sending traffic to your shop. Instead, concentrate on the ones that are bringing in potential customers. One or two productive sites are a much better use of your time than many sites that are only providing a trickle of traffic.
If you are just getting started with social networking sites, there are a couple of essential truths that you need to know. The purpose of social networks is exactly what the name implies–social networking. Facebook and Twitter were designed as online places to meet and hang out with your friends to socialize. In the process, you meet new friends which causes your network of friends to grow. Mixing business promotion with socializing in balanced proportions is challenging but well worth the effort. Many Zibbeters have reported that some of their best customers have come from social interactions on Facebook and Twitter. You can promote yourself by promoting others so avoid constantly talking only about yourself. I can’t help but think about the lyrics from the Toby Keith song, I Wanna Talk About Me. The conversation is very one sided in this relationship–all about her. Finally, Toby sings “You know talking about you makes me smile, but every once in awhile I wanna talk about me.” Mix talking about you with talking about others!
There are many social networking sites available today. Select the sites that work for you and settle in. Each site will have its own personality, participation guidelines and etiquette. It’s your responsibility to know and follow the rules of each site you join. Below is a list and brief description of some of the most popular social networking sites used by Zibbeters.
Zibbet’s Community Hub is Zibbet’s own social networking site and is open to both buyers and sellers. Currently, the majority of members are sellers although buyers are gradually joining. The Community is a great place to meet other Zibbeters and become part of the caring and sharing Zibbet family. The Community also provides a place to promote your shop and products directly to other Zibbet sellers who, by the way, are also buyers! Because the pages of Zibbet’s Community Hub are indexed by Google just like every other site on the web, buyers may end up in your shop by way of a Community page that was found in a Google search. Be sure to include a link to your shop at the end of your posts so that your shop is just a click away from the Community! You may also be interested in joining Indiepublic and My Craft Corner.
Facebook is probably the most popular social networking site on the web today. In addition to having a personal presence on Facebook, you can also create a business page for promoting your Zibbet shop. On Facebook you develop a network of friends who you interact with by sharing comments and photographs. With business pages, people “like” your page and over time your following will grow. Using a program such as RSS Graffiti you can automatically feed shop updates directly to your Facebook pages. That way your friends and followers are kept current with the latest and greatest products in your shop. Be sure to make these Zibbet connections on Facebook: Zibbet Website, Zibbet Friends and The Zibbet Group.
Like Facebook, Twitter is intended to be used to socialize using very brief messages called tweets. A Twitter account also gives you a page where the tweets that you send and receive are displayed. Your tweets are sent to people who have chosen to become your followers. You in turn can and should follow others. Twitterfeed is a good tool for automatically sending tweets from your shop to Twitter when you add new items. Be sure to follow Zibbet on Twitter at ZibbetScoop and Zibbet.
Flickr is an online photo management and sharing site which has also developed into a social networking location. You can upload photos of your items and organize them into related groups called sets. Each photo can include a description as well as tags used for searching. Be aware that Flickr does not allow links to commercial sites to be included in your descriptions. However, you can include a link to your Zibbet shop in your Flickr profile. A great way to socialize on Flickr is to join groups that focus on particular photographic interests. Be sure to join the Zibbet group on Flickr.
Blogs are yet another social networking tool available to everyone. Probably the two most popular free blog hosting sites are Blogger and WordPress. According to Wikipedia, the term blog is a blend of the phrase web log. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Personal blogs that include a mix of business and non-business content seem to be the most interesting. Blogs provide a great opportunity to promote other Zibbet shops. I encourage you to feature another seller as part of your regular blog schedule. I also suggest that you accept invitations from other bloggers to be featured on their blogs. Like Twitter, you can follow blogs of your choice. Blog articles are also indexed by Google and can be found in searches which may ultimately bring a potential buyer to your shop! IndieSmiles is a blog dedicated to promoting handmade and is a good source of interesting and useful information for independent artisans and crafters.
This is not an exhaustive list of social networking opportunities. However, these seem to be the most popular among Zibbeters. Please feel free to leave comments with suggestions for other sites that you have had success with. Join me next week for Part 3 of this series when I focus on a few more online promotion sites and paid advertising options as we continue to get serious about selling!
Best wishes for much success on Zibbet!
Tags: Blog, Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, Indiepublic, IndieSmiles, My Craft Corner, Online Promotion, Promotion, RSS Graffiti, social networking, Success on Zibbet, Twitter, Twitterfeed, WordPress, Zibbet Friends, Zibbet's Community Hub, ZibbetScoop