Online shopkeepers have a lot of juggling to do: creative work, daily business maintenance, and tapping into social media. Yes, some days can feel like a circus – particularly when it comes to social media.
Facebook. Twitter. Blogging. Your shop. How is it possible to be in so many places at once? Where to start?
Don't worry – there's no need to clone yourself to maintain various social media presences.
Try these steps to de-stress and refocus on your social media success and lay a solid social media foundation:
1. Research and Target
Research where your target audience hangs and head there to start. Most people are on Facebook and Twitter, but if you have a more niche audience, do some Google research to find out where you can catch them.
- I prefer Twitter for relationship-building because it's very common to gain business, partners and key friendships on the site. It's no longer appropriate to just spew out your own business links, though. To reap rewards when you get started on Twitter, spend 80 per cent of the time giving (by re-tweeting, replying and answering questions) and only promoting yourself 20 per cent of the time.
- I prefer Facebook for promoting business. If you have a Facebook Fan Page (which is the best for collecting a loyal fanbase of people who just want to hear about YOUR products) all you need to do is update it once a day. Your fans will want to hear about company news, product launches and promotional offers, so use that to your advantage. Be sure to interact with your fans by replying to their comments and clicking the "just fans" tab to see what people have posted on your wall.
- Blogging can be stressful and discouraging if you don't plan it strategically, so I'd suggest holding off until you have more time to devote to regular blog posts and marketing it as its own entity.
2. Define your Goals
It's extremely important to understand WHY you are using these social media tools in order to maximize your time.
A few of my goals are:
- Increase traffic to my blog
- Gain new sign-ups to my free classes
- Build relationships with key players
- Establish my brand and authority
Quick Tip: Continually check in with yourself to ensure your social media activity is helping you reach your goals. Dave Navarro runs a website called Rock Your Day and included in his free More Time Now ebook is this powerful quote:
"Imagine if you wrote down your major goals for the decade/year/month on a 3x5 index card you carried in your pocket – and you looked at it two or three times a day, asking yourself 'Am I still on track?' How would it change your daily behavior to be holding yourself consistently accountable?"
Setting goals is essential, but you should also think about HOW you will meet these goals. The best way to do this is to break them up into smaller, doable tasks.
Say you want to build a relationship with a blogger who may consider featuring your work in the future. Simply check their Twitter feed and reply to them once a day so they get use to seeing you around. Don't feel discouraged if you haven't been replied to, it takes a bit of time but soon enough, you will have plenty of power players responding to your tweets and thinking about you next time they need to complete a post.
4. Set a Time Limit
The easiest way to juggle social media is by setting a time limit and sticking to it. I'd recommend starting with just a few minutes a day and then working your way up.
To get started on Twitter, simply find and follow people who may be interested in your work or those who you would like to follow. From there, you can slowly build up a targeted following. I am going to be honest here: Getting followers will seem daunting at first, but it doesn't matter that much. You can reply or re-tweet ANYONE, regardless of whether they follow you or not, so be relevant to them and they will not only follow you, but perhaps recommend you to their followers as well.
Quick Tool Tip: Buzzom is a great Twitter application for finding like-minded people. For instance, if you are a jewelry seller, you can find people who searched for "shopping jewelry" and start following them. Some may follow you back and that's where you start building that targeted list of followers.
Kimberly from Kim's Kandy Kreations offers some Twitter time management advice:
"I went to a Twitter seminar given by the man who wrote Twitter for Dummies. He definitely said you need to block out time like an appointment for social media. Make sure you keep the appointment, but don't go over your scheduled time. Get off and get moving."
It's easy to get sidetracked by what Charlie Gilkey calls the "Infinite Loop of Technological Distractions". The best way to avoid getting sucked in and wasting time is by outlining your most important projects first then scheduling a small amount of time to use social sites.
Personally, I don't get sucked into a site like Facebook because I've been using it for years. However, if you are new to the site and find it addictive, here's a tip: focus on your goals and remember that things like games, chatting and group-hopping won't help you reach these goals. My system is this:
1. Check out what my local friends are up to.
2. Check my inbox for private messages.
3. Head to my fan page where I either ask a question or post a link.
4. I merged my wall with my fans wall so I can see what the fans wrote without having to click the 'just fans' tab. This way I can quickly scan and see if there are any questions or comments I can respond to.
5. Sign off and get back to work!
6. Use Social Networking during Breaks Only
Like most traditional jobs, your business thrives on you getting important things done, so consider sites like Twitter and Facebook off limits until you have completed one of your projects. You can make better use of your time by creating little tasks for your larger projects and then setting up social time in between completed tasks.
Quick Tool Tip: Charlie Gilkey teaches people all about being productive. His free planners allow you to outline your projects and break them up into more manageable tasks to boost productivity and sanity.
7. Be Mindful
Before implementing the actions above, research the best ways to use social media sites effectively to ensure your time is well spent. Here are some more resources:
- Why I'm not following you on Twitter
- How to Manage Your Connections On Twitter
- How to better Engage Facebook Fans
How do you juggle your social media presences? Which social media tools are helping you achieve your goals?
Justine Smith is an Etsy success story who used her experience selling online and turned it into a full-time wholesale business. Her real passion is helping handmade sellers find success marketing their craft products. She offers tips on advertising, branding, social media and growth via email through her blog Handmade Marketer.
Main image courtesy of artist Flapperdoodle, who sells her original drawings in the form of cards, stationery, calendars and more.