Monday, May 23, 2011

What I Thought Would Happen and What Actually Did – Social Media

If you’ve been following along with my blog posts, you know that I’ve been working on making changes here there to improve my (very) small business – my Etsy shop, One In The Hand, where I sell sewn and knitted cup cozies. Since late 2010, I’ve gotten very involved in a certain corner of the handmade community on Twitter, I’ve gotten very involved in my local Etsy team and I’ve put together a plan for making my shop one that has sales year-round, not just in the busy shopping season before Christmas.

I’ve gone into this period of transformation thinking that certain things would produce certain results, and it didn’t happen. Other things happened. So today, I’m going to tell you about some of the things I thought would happen and what happened instead. And then I’m going to tell you about recalibrating my compass and the somewhat different direction I plan to travel.

Today’s post is going to focus on social media.

What I Thought Would Happen

Especially once I stumbled upon the handmade Twitter community, I thought that my connections and friendships would increase traffic to my shop, and thus increase sales. I thought that by posting more often on my Facebook shop page, and offering a variety of post-types, I would get a lot more interaction with the people who are “fans” of the page. With my blog, I thought that writing regular posts related to the handmade community, and partnering with other bloggers, I would gain blog followers and get a lot of exposure, which would lead to more sales.

What Actually Happened

Instead of all my tweeting relationships leading to more sales in my shop, it has led to relationships with other handmade business owners. I have gone through a few stages of feeling like I don’t fit in with these ladies . . . trying to gain their aproval . . . resigning myself to the fact that I am just not enough of a glittery unicorn for them to notice . . . and finally seeing the dust of my flurrious (yes, I said flurrious) tweeting settle to reveal a small number of meaningful relationships, both within and without the handmade community.

With Facebook, it took a while to kick in, but I am beginning to see a liiiiiiiiitle more intraction with my Facebook fans. Mostly, though, it’s still just my longtime real-life friends who are responding to my posts. Still – improvement is improvement! At the same time, Facebook finally made it much easier for me as a shop owner to interact with other handmade fan pages. I have definitely spent a lot more time commenting on other pages *as my shop* (rather than usng my personal profile) than I ever expected to do. Sometimes I’m able to interact on a daily basis, but I’ve at least maintained weekly interactions with other fan pages.

Bloggity, bloggity blog. Well, I’m kind of all over the place with this blog. And for now, that’s ok. My intention with my blogging was to provide another look at who I am as a person, not just as a person involved in handmade stuff. I think I have been pretty successful at that. I’ve shown my thoughts regarding what I want to do with my shop. I’ve talked about racism a little bit. I’ve highlighted some handmade artists I think are doing great things. I’ve shared things that make me laugh and that I hope will make my readers laugh. I’ve shared music, which I love (even more than I love anything handmade, shh, don’t tell). I’ve steadily gained some blog followers and recently, have received an increase in interaction with my readers – i.e. comments from them. I’ve been surprised to notice that readers are most responsive (by leaving comments) to my posts that show a lot of humor.

One thing I never, never expected, was to tap into the area of philanthropy as it relates to the handmade world. It has been really invigorating and inspiring to see so many people interested in philanthropy! It’s also been so exciting (and a little overwhelming) to brainstorm with my fellow handmade peeps, the ways we can collaborate with each other to make philanthropy accessible to others.

Changes I’ll Be Making

First – Twitter. I gotta tell you, Twitter has kind of taken over my life. You get such instant gratification from Twitter and you get in the habit of sharing every little thought . . . you get to the point that things begin to seem more and less interesting based on how tweetable they are. Or how drastically they will impact your ability to tweet. For example, I have taken a cab from the train station to my office, just so I could tweet for a few more minutes. Normally I walk, it takes me around 10 minutes to get from the station to my office. 10 minutes, folks. I spent $8-10 on a cab ride, more than once, because I wanted to tweet a little longer, and I knew I had a full work day which would keep me from sharing some super important thing, like . . . a link to my blog. Or a photo of someone rudely taking up too many spaces at the bike rack. Really, Ashley? Was it that important? No, it wasn’t. It was a waste of money and it was lazy and it shows a dependence on something that should not be that important to me.

Also? I tweet way too much while I’m at work. It’s one thing to take a 30-second break here and there, but there have been days when I review the day’s tweets, and realize that I didn’t just spend 30 seconds here and there. This is not only a waste of my employer’s resources, it’s also not worth it. What if I lost my job because of it? Or what if I was looking for another job and the potential employer found my Twitter profile (which I want to keep public) and decided I wouldn’t b responsible with my time with them? Could I really blame them? And you know what? All this tweeting hasn’t led to any sales!! The only sales I’ve gotten from tweeting – that I can tell – are from when I was giving all my proceeds to the Red Cross after the Japanese earthquake. Tweeting may be turning into income for some people, and more power to them. But it isn’t doing that for me and I have to cut way, way back. So. I am going to work on cutting back not only during my work day but overall . . . because for me, at least, one feeds the other. I already had to deal with my family thinking I was online too much, but if it were to impact my ability to provide for my family? OH HAIL NAW. I cannot let that happen.

I have to say that before I really admitted that the tweeting wasn’t leading to sales, I was so fearful of cutting back. But now I am pretty sure that excessive tweeting isn’t going to make my sales skyrocket. I would rather be more strategic and focus on keeping the small number of real friendships alive.

Facebook changes? Really not much right now. I still haven’t implemented all the things that I put on my goal list, so I’m just going to keep at the list. Facebook is a territory I still need to explore.

Blogging is also an area that I’m not going to change much, except that I’m still working toward the major changes I intend to make. I’m still working with my friend the graphic designer to come up with a cohesive brand for my shop/blog/Twitter/biz cards. I’m still working on coming up with regular, varied content that is (hopefully) interesting to different types of people. I suppose what I will be changing . . . is what blogsI follow. I am still working on culling who I follow on Twitter and in blogs. I am done following out of guilt and I am done following to win contests. I am done following without really inspecting someone’s content to see if it’s the sort of stuff I want to read regularly. And I am done leaving blogs I never read on my Google Reader list because I’m scared I’ll hurt feelings or miss a potential collaboration. If I don’t read your content EVER, I’m going to “unfollow” and hope you will still be nice to me when we “run into each other” online. I plan to be nice to you!

Tell me, friends – what are some of the things you thought would happen one way in regard to social media, that didn’t happen that way? Are you making any changes? Do you think your original hopes might still be realized?


Mama Pea said...

Thanks for sharing all this. As a fellow blogger/Twitterer/Etsyan, it's interesting to read about your experience. I agree with what you said about Twitter becoming so time-consuming, and although it may be fun, it's not necessarily productive. Gina (@hiyaluv) introduced me to which I use every once in a while to revise my Follows :) It points out Tweeters who appear to be spam, or never interact with you, don't follow you back, etc. Good post Beth. Love, Susan.

Chrissy said...

Love the post and can rely to so many things!! Thanks for sharing!

DoBatsEatCats said...

Thanks for this post! If you spend any time at all on the Etsy forums someone will be telling you that you MUST tweet and FB because that's how you are going to get sales. That has not been my experience, which of course made me feel like I was "doing it wrong." I'm not going to give up on tweeting, though, as I've met some really great people on Twitter!

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