February 26, 2014
I love connecting with fans of Happy Cactus Designs across different social media platforms. You'll often find me tweeting small business articles, sharing sneak peeks of new products on Instagram, pinning inspirational images from the world of fashion and design on Pinterest, and offering exclusive promotions just for my Facebook fans.
January 24, 2014
As a small business owner invested in using social media platforms to share news about my company, I'm always trying to figure out the best way to share my content across the various channels.
It seems that many businesses lump all "social media" together and think that as long as you cross-post your blog post to your Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram feed, you've covered your bases. While this is one strategy, it ignores the fact that to be a more effective marketer and better engage followers, you need to tailor your content to each specific channel and its set of users. The way your followers use and interact with Twitter is probably different from how they use Instagram. And these days, users are savvy enough to tell when you've just hit the "Share to Facebook" button rather than taking a few moments to reconfigure the content for that particular audience.
Here's an example of how I might share a new Valentine's Day product:
On Pinterest: The image is king on Pinterest, so I make sure to pin the most compelling and vibrant image I have of the product on my site. I then craft a strong description using keywords so it's more likely to be discovered and re-pinned.
On Instagram: Again, the image is king. For product photos, I've found that having a vibrant background (a bright color or a texture) often helps a product stand out in the stream of photos. Hashtags are also helpful for guiding people to your content. You cannot hyperlink to URLs within an Instagram description, so I recommend adding "see link in profile" to direct followers to a particular site.
On Facebook: I make sure to upload an image that is the optimal size for Facebook. I can tweak the description I used on Pinterest and adapt it for my Facebook crowds by asking a question, asking followers to "like" or share the image, or including a link to my site where they can shop the product.
On Twitter: I try to provide the appropriate context, use a link shortener to maximize the number of characters I have available, and occasionally use hashtags to make my tweet more discoverable.
One final tip: Review your settings on each of your social media channels to see if you are auto-Tweeting when you Pin or automatically updating Facebook when you post a photo on Instagram. Nothing will drive your followers crazier than when you go on a Pinning spree and their Twitter stream is overloaded with tweets about your pins, so be careful about your settings.
December 20, 2012
As we wind down 2012, I thought I'd share a compilation of the small business related blog posts I shared on this blog over the year. I hope other small business owners have found these posts to be helpful. I'm planning even more small business related content for 2013!
Making Things Official
Making Things Work
Making Things Look Good
Making Things Social
September 06, 2012
- Create a bio. I keep my bio short and sweet - "Owner/Designer behind Happy Cactus Designs - Hand Drawn Paper Goods - Stationery & Greeting Cards" and include the URL to my website. In the weeks leading up to the National Stationery Show, many designers include their booth number in their bio.
- Be authentic. It's great to use Twitter to promote your own business and share updates on new products and other relevant company news. At the same time, none of your followers wants to read tweets that are only about you. Just like Facebook, it's best to balance self-promotion with sharing other content.
- Don't be afraid to join the conversation! Part of what makes Twitter fun is you can quickly correspond with others. A lot of people use Twitter to crowdsource requests for information. Before the National Stationery Show, I ended up meeting and tweeting with a number of other stationery designers. It was so fun to finally meet in person! I've even been able to use Twitter to network with journalists which resulted in press mentions.
- Use a management app. I rarely use the actual Twitter web interface to post tweets and read my stream. I prefer Tweetdeck, a social media dashboard that lets you send and read tweets, view profiles, and search hashtags. It's also integrated with Facebook, so I can manage and follow what's happening on both platforms from one dashboard. I've heard Hootsuite is also a great service.
- Use hashtags strategically. Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by the hash symbol (#) and can add context to your tweets. Many events these days have their own hashtags, as well. Around May, you'll start seeing a slew of #NSS hashtags relating to the National Stationery Show.
How do you like to use Twitter?
August 16, 2012
The first post in my small business series was all about doing your research and the first steps I took to launch my stationery company. I have many different topics in mind for future posts, but wanted to focus first on how you can strategically use social media tools to grow your small business. Prior to launching Happy Cactus Designs, I spent a number of years studying social media platforms in graduate school and implementing strategic plans using social media tools with a number of non-profits and foundations, so I hope I can share some of my wisdom.
These days, it's next to impossible to run a business without some sort of social media presence. With Happy Cactus Designs, I have found that using social media tools is an excellent way to build awareness about my brand, interact with potential and existing customers, and network with colleagues. Here's some of the social media tools/sites I can't live without.
Icons designed by carrieloves
- Facebook: With over 900 million active users, Facebook is obviously the dominant social media platform. The day I launched my company's website, I also launched a Facebook page and have watched the number of fans who "like" my page grow over the past eleven months.
- Twitter: Who knew 140-character messages could be so vital to effectively marketing a company? I've been using the @hapcactus Twitter handle since the day my company launched. I check in with my Twitter stream throughout the day and tweet about my work, communicate with others in the industry, catch up on news (...and the occasional celebrity gossip), and to track trends.
- Pinterest: While much younger than Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has been growing by leaps and bounds since it launched a little over two years ago. Pinterest lets you create virtual pinboards for anything you come across on the web. It can be a great place to share your work and find inspiration.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is considered by many to be Facebook's boring little brother. The professional social networking site helps you connect with former and current colleagues and learn more about companies. LinkedIn hosts professional "groups" you can join on different topics related to your industry. These are great forums for asking questions and learning from key influencers in relevant industries.
I end up using each of these platforms at least once a day (and usually multiple times in any given day) to connect with others, share news, and learn. In the coming weeks, I'm going to focus on each platform in separate posts and share my tips for effectively using each to build your business. What social media tools do you use? Which tools are you curious about learning more about?