I grew up in a family of crafty women – crafty, as in proficient at handicrafts, not crafty as in sneaky and sly (okay, maybe a bit sly). My mother, grandmother, a great-grandmother, and an aunt were/are all knitters, and when I was a child they tried their best to instill a love of knitting in me. But it wasn’t until many years later, when learning to knit was part of my summer job, that I caught the knitting bug. My first few projects were wonky, but the feeling of accomplishment from creating something tangible was addictive.
Based on research from Google Trends, the Craft Yarn Council, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, a communications approach to reaching an audience of knitters should take the following things into consideration:
Profile of knitters
According to Google Trends, the top regions interested in knitting in the past year were New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia; all liberal democratic countries with largely Caucasian populations.
The knitting community skews to middle-aged. A 2014 study commissioned by the Craft Yarn Council in the U.S., found that, of 3,178 knitters and crocheters surveyed:
- 15% were 18–34 years old
- 13% were 35–44
- 23% were 45–54
- 32% were 55–64
- 17% were 65+
The study goes on to note differences by age in the reasons why participants knit. “For instance, 45–54 year olds (70%) and 35–44 year olds (69%) are more likely than younger respondents to say they knit and crochet because it provides them with a creative outlet. For 18–24 year olds, creative outlet ranked first at 57%, followed closely by helping them cope with stress (54%) and making them feel productive (47%).” (Ibid)
Tools and strategies for communicating to knitters
Ravelry.com is one of the most popular knitting networks, functioning as a kind of Facebook for knitters. In 2014, the site celebrated its 4 millionth person to sign-up. It’s a place to share and sell patterns, as well as featuring forums, blogging, and allowing users to search for knitting groups in their area. Depending on the communicator’s aim (to sell a product vs. to gain authority in a community), Ravelry could supplant Facebook outreach in a communications approach, as many of the larger Facebook knitting groups have rules against commercial postings in their forums.
With knitting being such a visual craft, Instagram is also an effective tool to reach knitters. The hashtags #knitting (7,786, 383 posts), #yarn (3,316,236) and #knittersofinstagram (2,734,835 posts) are some of the most popular. These hashtags are also very active on Twitter.
Based on the member motivations outlined in the Craft Yarn Council study, any messaging for a knitting audience on social media should focus on the creative possibilities of knitting, as well as the way that knitting can play a part in an overall wellness strategy.
A successful strategy?
I recently started following a new knitting account on Instagram after they liked a photo I had taken. Within a few hours of following the account, I received a direct message from them thanking me for following, and inviting me to take a look at their upcoming offerings. This is the first time I have been directly contacted by a business that I follow, and while it was successful approach (in that I checked the website), it felt a little aggressive to be marketed to so soon. Has anyone else encountered this kind of situation with someone they follow?