The timing of this course could not have be better! The small business that I work for is endeavouring to increase their presence on social media and to better understand how social media can work for their brand. I work for a boutique but in the past year, due to Covid-19, I have been working from home managing their social media presence. I have been posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram for a few years now with some positive response but not great reach. The Facebook page is 7-8 years old and is close to 1000 followers. There is also an Instagram account that is about 2-3 years old. The owner is looking to improve engagement on both Facebook and Instagram and drive more traffic to the online shop and website.
The tricky part will be creating a strategy for a company that has always looked at marketing options as a last minute effort. The idea of a ‘strategy’ has been pretty non-existent. Already, through the course readings I can see many holes with the sharing of business plans and ultimately social media marketing plans. It will be a challenge and one that I am already expressing concerns over. Social media planning is new to the company and quite new to myself as well.
The owner has hired a social media marketing consultant to guide us through this process. They are there to give tips and help with the planning process. At this point, we are working together planning monthly schedules and brainstorming lots of ideas for posts in advance.
I will be using my current work experience as an example in the discussions and assignments of this course. I look forward to combining the two to help understand how beneficial and necessary a social media strategy can be to a small business.
What are your thoughts on social media for small business?
It’s been over a year now that Covid-19 has been a part of our daily lives. I can’t recall a day in the past year that I have not been somehow impacted by the virus, whether reading a headline or talking to family and friends (by text) about their experiences and thoughts about what direction we’re headed as the vaccines roll out and what lies beyond this moment in time that has captivated every aspect of our lives.
As Covid-19 continues and we work our way through lockdowns and restrictions, I can’t help but wonder how much impact social distancing and pivoting will have on businesses going forward let alone, humanity in general. As a small business employee and owner I’ve experienced many changes in the type of work I do daily as well as some opportunities I have taken advantage of over the past year. I’ve transitioned to working from home part time and have taken on new work responsibilities and tasks. For me, I would say most changes in my work have been positive aside from missing the social benefits of seeing my fellow employees and clients in person.
I also rejuvenated my maker business and was able to connect with a local entrepreneur who provides a pick up and drop off service as well as a point of sale online marketplace where local vendors can sell their goods.
While new to online selling I have watched and participated in different opportunities that this marketplace has provided in the past eight months. They have pivoted from the early days of lockdown last Spring, online only sales to in store retail as the lockdown was lifted. Most recently they have discovered Live Facebook Shopping Shows due to most recent lockdown measures and they have been quite successful. The owner of the marketplace presents a selection of vendor items to showcase twice a week and the only thing the customer has to do is tune in and claim what they would like to purchase. Payment options are later sent by email. The shows have had an increasing audience over the past several weeks and sales have gone beyond everyone’s expectations.
It seems that in this instance, a community has adjusted their way of shopping while still supporting local makers and artisans by making use of social media. Perhaps this change in selling methods was unforeseen up until necessity came into play (Biewener, 2020). It has been so successful that for the time being the marketplace is delaying their retail reopening. They can reach so many more people online on Facebook at one time than they could allowing customers back into the store. The purchase online and pick up service has been a success for this company. The local businesses get their needed support and the money stays in the community.
Going forward, I can’t help but wonder how other businesses who have seen success through all of the changes in the past year will pivot back to their old ways when the time comes. Will people continue to work from home or will we convert back to commuting and office time?
Social media has been a link for so many in these trying times. It has allowed families, friends and co-workers to communicate and stay in touch and some businesses have flourished as a result of having to pivot and reorganize how they do business.
With all of these changes now in place, will businesses choose to go back to the way things were or will they learn from some of the benefits of a more flexible way of doing things.
What are your thoughts on how businesses have changed since Covid-19?
Find your niche! This is a common statement in today’s business world and one that I am learning about as a maker on social media. As an artisan/maker I have been hearing more and more about niche marketing and how it works for businesses and their products or services. Although niche marketing is not a new concept to me, I’ve been thinking a lot about it as I grow my personal business and look for new ways of marketing and finding an audience that has a sincere interest in what I do.
So what is a niche market?
“A niche market is a focused, targetable portion of a broader market in which specialized products or services can be sold. Establishing a niche market helps businesses gain competitive advantages” (Ward, 2020, para. 1).
According to Ward some of the benefits to a more targeted niche are, “…reduced competition, focused business efforts, providing expertise and establishing brand loyalty” (para. 7).
I’m a knitter with a small but growing audience on social media. Whenever I research products on google or tips on marketing for social media, inevitably the topic of niche marketing comes up. I follow many different makers on Instagram with varying audience numbers and am always curious about what works best for other businesses that have a similar slant to my own.
For many years, my business was more of a hobby and the marketing side was not something that I put a lot of thought or time into. Posts on Facebook were few and far between and likes and comments never really flourished or grew.
When I first began posting on social media, I’ll admit I did not put much thought or planning into my posts. My objective was simply to share my work, something that I had recently made and had visions of selling in some form. I don’t think I am alone as a maker in this scenario. In the beginning, with little budget and know-how my efforts were usually a last minute effort and many of the finer details of marketing would go by the wayside. I’m pretty sure there was no tagging and certainly not a hashtag in sight! Simply posting something on the great wide world of social media was an event in itself. I was sharing a personal part of myself, my art with an audience. At the start, I reached a few followers, mostly kind family and friends who would give an occasional like or comment of encouragement but the question always remained: How do I find people that will buy my products and is it better to have a smaller or larger audience?
Fast forward to the past year! With Covid-19 and working part-time from home, the new reality, I have been able to devote more time to my business and what it takes to increase my presence on social media. Researching niche marketing for makers and small business has become a frequent past- time for me. Figuring out different tactics and practices and what works best for me and my business has been an interesting experience and an on-going one.
Research is the most important thing when it comes to finding your niche market. You want to look at a broader more general market and then break it down into smaller, more specific markets. This is my current process as I am refining the products I offer and finding an audience that both appreciates and wants to purchase these items. I’ve been following other knitting businesses with larger audiences or those that have good engagement on their platforms. Following through on hashtags and links has been very helpful. Many of the businesses have shops on Etsy as well as sell through local communities. Seeing what they offer and how they have focused on creating a certain type or number of products. It has made me take a look at my own products and what I can cut from or add to my line to hone in on products that I enjoy making and that perhaps are not covered by other makers in my community.
I currently knit accessories for adults and children and the home. I have a modern, simple style and have followed trends over the past few years. I believe I am still in the process of testing products with my audience. I use a variety of colours and post regularly and get a steady response from those that follow. I make use of hashtags with large followings but also those relevant to the product I am highlighting. I get a small percentage of likes on posts from outside my community, most are makers themselves.
My next steps are to continue to research my niche market. I am still trying to refine my own product line to offer more than seasonal offerings. My biggest selling season is Christmas and I have an idea of what sells well at that time of year. I would like to explore more home items and personal accessories that can be worn and used throughout the year. I love the process of creating a product and finding an audience to sell to. I will continue to research and follow other businesses as well as take a closer look at my account analytics and insights. Social media is an incredible resource to use in business and I like to think that the process is just beginning.
What are your thoughts on niche marketing?
Do you have any tips or suggestions?
Ward, S. (2020, August 6). What is a Niche Market. The Balance Small Business.
I appreciate a good infographic! I also enjoy advice based on experience especially when it comes to business and more specifically, social media. Figuring out the best times to post on each platform is a job in itself for many social media marketers. There are any number of articles on the internet available that share their best practices and thoughts on the issue. In Mark Walker-Ford’s article, “The Best Times to Post on Social Media in 2021 and Beyond [Infographic]”, he shares an infographic by Oberlo, a company developed by Shopify that aids business owners in starting up their own online stores.
The first thing I noticed was how clear and simple the information is laid out. Six of the top social media platforms are each highlighted, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest and Youtube. Timely topics like the best and worst days to post and the best time to catch users online are broken down into easily digestible infographics with consistent layout and some colour added for ease of reading.
Now to the actual posting advice. As I mentioned it seems, there are so many sources to help with this topic but I found that this simple graphic presentation allowed me to make some sense of the subject and potentially create a schedule for my own business. The infographic does not go into great detail about when and how to post, but for those visual learners (like myself) it strips away a lot of the noise and just gives some easy tips to get started or further your social media posting experience.
Each platform is, of course, a little different when it comes to who its audience is and when they are using it. I’m more familiar with Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I have a Twitter account but don’t Tweet and am not regularly active on Linkedin or Youtube. In this infographic, the ease of presentation allows for better comparison.
So, here are some tips I learned:
the best day to post on Instagram is Wednesday between 11am-1pm and 7pm-9pm. It seems many are not browsing during work time, only during lunch breaks.
the best time to post on Facebook is between 1-4pm. Weekends are better for engagement.
the best window to post on Linkedin is 10-11am during the week. Apparently users are most active during the work day.
the weekend is the worst time to post on Twitter. Monday to Friday during lunch hour is the best.
the best time to post on Pinterest is evenings 8-11pm on the weekends.
the best time for Youtube is Thursday and Friday during the day, 12-4pm to maximize viewing times on the weekends.
For Instagram, I was a little surprised that weekends are not very good for posting. I would have thought that users being at home would indulge more on that platform. For Facebook, there wasn’t anything really new but recently someone in the industry mentioned to me to post off peak hours to avoid the deluge of posts in the afternoon. Two conflicting views — I guess try both and see what works best for you. Linkedin and Twitter are both more popular during the week day, especially Linkedin for recruiters and business people. Pinterest is like a little indulgence in the evenings and weekends primarily by women/mothers. Pinterest is a favourite of mine to just relax and look at pretty things after kids have gone to bed. For Youtube, I think I watch videos more often in the evenings or early morning as they are less time consuming after hours.
The information in this article gives lots of great, simple advice for those looking to post more effectively on social media. The infographic displays a clear and easy to read/understand template to help create a social media schedule for your business. Whether you choose to follow each tip to the letter or experiment with one or two is up to you but it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the information the infographic lays out. If you are overwhelmed or time constrained, creating a worthwhile social media schedule can be daunting. A neatly designed infographic with key information may make all the difference and help you take the guesswork out of social media posting!
What do you think of the infographics in the article?
Are you a visual learner?
Walker-Ford, Mark (2021) “The Best Time to Post on Social Media in 2021 and Beyond (Infographic)” Social Media Today, January 21, 2021.
Learning how to create an effective Facebook post is an important skill to keep up with in the ever evolving world of social media. Research Facebook tips online and you will find a plethora of articles that all claim to have the magic answer.
As both a small business owner and employee of a small business, I spend a lot of time posting on Facebook! It is probably the platform I am most active on outside of Instagram. While not a Facebook expert, I have made use of some tips that have helped me find an audience in an ever changing landscape. Sometimes the posts I think will do well barely get seen and others I am pleasantly surprised at how well they performed. I’ve experimented with posting during peak and non-peak hours, different media forms, hashtags and calls to action. Experimentation has helped me understand that what works one day may not the next and that is ok as long as you keep going and modify where needed.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is finding a distinct voice when posting. With my own business this has been easier as it is my passion and I’m happy to share what I love with an audience. I’m sharing a piece of myself and enjoy adding my personality into the posts. In my workplace the search for a voice has been more difficult as I am speaking through the owner of the business, sometimes with little direction. I find the more personal posts perform better overall like a photo of an employee or a heartfelt message that seeks to connect with those who share the same sentiment.
As someone working my way through the posting process, I find it challenging at times because I want to see a positive result. I think the best advice if you are just beginning and haven’t a clue is just make a decision, create a post and see what happens. You can learn from certain strategies and tips what works best for your business. There is so much information available to help you on your journey to find your voice on Facebook as well as other social media platforms. With a little confidence and know how you can create a following of people who engage with your business on a regular basis.
For some, the tips may seem obvious but are nonetheless good to keep in mind when creating posts and for those looking to increase their social media engagement.
What do you think makes a great Facebook post?
What do you practice when posting? Share below what works best for you!
As I near the end of this course I’ve been looking back at how I’ve changed in the past few months and what I’m taking away from what I’ve learned. The biggest change for me is my focus is a little sharper and I am able to see my being creative as a necessity in my life. For many years I thought of creativity as something that children do or something not for me because I am not what some would call a ‘traditional artist’. I’ve realized that somewhere along the line I gave up thinking I was an artist because I didn’t know how to draw or paint. It sounds silly when I say that but I think that many adults give up on being creative or artistic because it is seen as fruitless or wasteful and that we are better to put our minds toward more practical or money-making endeavours. Activities that we enjoyed as children become bothersome and time consuming when there are more important things to be doing like laundry and cleaning out the garage, and spending endless hours at a job that you loathe.
The topic of embracing your creativity or art can be vague because it is different for everyone. You don’t have to be a traditional artist to be creative. Indulging in a little playfulness or simplicity can get those creative juices flowing. You can be creative in any area of your life.
I spent years envying those who do things that make them happy and wondered what was it about myself that couldn’t get over that hurdle. I am now starting to view many things in my life differently. Perhaps a midlife crisis is looming in there or I am coming out of a lifelong crisis into who I actually am. Am I finally seeing the light? Hope so!
For me, embracing creativity is crucial to finding out who I am and finding my place in the world. I have found that by putting myself out there whether in social media or by simply writing a blog entry I have felt a little more confident about self expression. I’ve used the format of the course to work through my thoughts and ideas for my small business and it has helped me organize the next steps.
There is a plethora of articles and videos with tips to self improve through creativity and finding your passions in life. I found a TED talk which speaks to the fear of doing things that bring us great joy and satisfaction. Enjoy and create!
The Light it Up Blue campaign to raise awareness about Autism was prominent on social media this week! On a personal level I found it so encouraging to see this support as my family has been affected by Autism on different levels in the past 10 years or so.
I’ve seen an outpouring of support and awareness for Autism in the past week. I’ve read inspiring stories from people on the spectrum, detailed articles about the effects of Autism on families and individuals and a slew of posts from organizations and news agencies in support of raising awareness of a condition that effects many. All over the world, people are lighting it up blue to show their support.
Coming to terms with Autism in my family was not easy at first. There is so much information on the internet that is overwhelming, conflicting and just plain incorrect. This campaign has brought so many stories and experiences to the forefront to give an honest and open-minded perspective on a condition that is so complex and varied. Education and increased awareness is what is needed. Social media has reached that challenge with their overwhelming yet positive response to getting the word out there about Autism. In years to come I hope the momentum continues and the awareness keeps spreading.
I wanted to share some of the inspiring posts and images I saw this past week in my community and beyond. Social media can be used to spread positivity and knowledge to people everywhere. Light It Up!
A friend of mine, Chic Tags, using her talents to support!
I found this article on my Facebook feed that shows photos of children and their families with descriptions of what Autism means to them. Very touching and honest.
So, starting a small creative business is a fun and challenging project that is both exciting and overwhelming. Keeping up with all the options out there to make your presence known on the web and more specifically social media is a job in and of itself. Motivation and focus are on my mind a lot these days and how to get and keep them rolling when procrastination decides to come by for a visit. As I research and look for inspiration in books and on-line the one thing that keeps popping up are goals and how to define them. For me, this is where things get sticky and I usually spin my wheels with indecision. So, to help me along and perhaps a few others I decided to look into the SMART tool. Some of you may be familiar with this technique which may be applied to many areas of life.
Basically, SMART helps people like me move beyond the indecision to better define what they want from their business (or other area of life) and how they are going to get to their destination. SMART in acronym form stands for:
Specific: The more detailed the goal the easier it is to focus and put your plan into motion. What is it that you want to achieve and why is it important? What are the steps involved in achieving your goal?
Measurable: Measure the impact of the goal. Creating targets and milestones will help to make sure you are moving in the right direction.
Attainable: Be realistic and don’t stretch yourself too far. Take into account the size/scope of what you want and make it manageable. Break each goal into smaller steps and work within the time frame you’ve decided upon.
Relevant: Make sure your goal meshes will different aspects of your business, including type of business, clientele and marketing. If the goal is relevant to the needs of your individual business then you are more likely to achieve your goal.
Time-bound: Put a time frame on your goal. If you leave it to chance it isn’t a goal and will never come to fruition. Set a time limit for your goal and work the different steps required into your time frame.
In the next while I hope to start setting some goals for myself and business using SMART. I’m hoping that having more specific goals will help me move forward and from becoming overwhelmed with all the ideas that are in my head. I came across a very helpful article that details the SMART technique using specific examples. Do you have any tips when it comes to setting goals?
A couple of years ago I opened an Etsy shop for my knitting business. At the time I didn’t know a whole lot about selling but I thought I would give it a shot. I read one of Etsy’s start up articles that suggested not to worry too much about details a first. The idea was to get your product up on the site as quickly as possible. I looked at other businesses for inspiration especially with regard to photos and product description. A photographer friend of mine took some photos of my work which turned out great. I had my first ten items posted in an evening. For the next while I checked my Etsy account regularly to see if there was any action on my site. I had a little activity but not much happened. I didn’t expect to be the next big Etsy sensation but I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of competition and how much work it takes to get noticed. I let the site continue for about 6 months and had zero sales. I had recently started a new job and the Etsy site got put on the backburner. I also wasn’t posting on Facebook at this point so my knowledge of on-line marketing was a little low.
Recently, I’ve decided to have another look at Etsy but I’m still not sure if it is the right fit for me. I did some research and found a helpful video from an experienced Etsy seller detailing some of the pros and cons of having a business on Etsy. I enjoy the video format and use them regularly for knitting help and techniques. I find some of my videos invaluable.
The pros are pretty straightforward. Etsy takes the complicated out of starting up a business site. The process is pretty smooth and there are more than enough articles for tips on how to get your business rolling. The Etsy community for the most part is very supportive and quick to answer your questions and concerns. You also have the option to ship International (if you choose). A nice feature is the option to sell digital products. I do have a few patterns of my own that I would love to share and this would be a great way to get them out there (in addition to the knitting site, Ravelry).
Competition is the main con in my opinion. What is it that sets your products apart from others who make or sell similar items? Food for thought. I’m still working on this one!
Another con would be that all of the businesses look the same and there isn’t a lot of room for creativity and customization. Customers may not recognize your shop name only that they bought something on Etsy. Perhaps this is where a personal website comes in handy where you have complete creative control over your brand.
The fees are not a huge concern at first and you do have an option to pay a flat fee as you notice your sales increasing.
The other thing I’m learning is that there are alternatives to Etsy such as Shopify and Folksy. I don’t know much about them but may research for future blogs before I make my decision to open again.
What are your thoughts on Etsy? Do you have any experience as a buyer or seller on the site?
I own a small artisan/craft business and I think a lot about how social media can be best used for small businesses that have few employees or in my case one employee–me!. Facebook has been my main mode of communicating with customers in the past two years and has been great but now I’m looking to expand and look at new applications that would suit a smaller business. In my research I came across many lists of tips, some helpful and some more suited to big business. The Forbes article below had some interesting points that got me thinking. Most of the tips can be applied to any business but here are a few of the highlights that I think are helpful.
Have a realistic expectation for what you want social media to accomplish for your business and a good plan to execute your needs.
Very good advice to have a business plan in general but research the areas of social media that can best serve your business. I’ve stuck with Facebook because it is relatively safe and easy to use but perhaps there are better and more efficient ways of getting my products to potential customers. For me, Pinterest and Instagram are on my list to tackle next.
Explore who your audience is and what social media channels they hang out on.
Key to helping you pinpoint where to best put your money and effort.
Set a pace for social media and make it maintainable for the size of your business.
Putting together posts and photos and trying to figure out the best time to post can be a challenge. It’s only through experimentation that I have had mini breakthroughs and a few surprises along the way. This tip goes hand in hand with knowing your audience and where to find them.
Quality posts over quantity
Do you post ten times a day or once or twice a week? Personally, I like to think that quality posts that are helpful and informative are preferred to a bunch of posts with little to no content. I guess it depends on the type of business again.
Know who your audience is following and follow similarly
A little spy work can come in handy. In my knitting world this is not difficult. There are a plethora of blogs and websites out there that have huge followings and can help you keep your ear to the ground when it comes to what’s new and what people are following, ie. Ravelry
Be confident and put yourself out there and have a professional manner when responding to criticism, comments, questions
Putting yourself out there is a huge step but once you start posting and getting positive responses especially from people you may have never met, your confidence builds and you start to get excited about possibilities. Of course with the positive comes the negative and it’s important to have a plan in place for when criticism and negative comments come your way. Try to stay above the situation and remain professional.
Social media is always changing and what works for one business may not work for another so stay open-minded and go with what feels right at the time. You may start out in one area of social media for example Facebook and over time migrate to new areas like Pinterest or Instagram depending on the style of business and what your clientele is looking for. Be flexible and have fun!
What strategies or tips have you found to be helpful?