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Crafty Business Week – Social Media Sites for Crafters

Reported by Amy Anderson

With so many tools in the blogosphere, it’s hard to know what you should use and why. You could spend all day engaging in social media or bookmarking, but does that help you grow? Here are four social media tools that I use regularly. For each I explain what it is, how to use it, and how it can help your business. Keep in mind that these tools, while not necessarily complicated, require a little more investigation to make sure that they are right for your business. I hope the basics will help you decide if they are worth checking into.



What is it? I’m so pleased to talk about StumbleUpon first, because it is one of my favorite online communities EVER. StumbleUpon is a personalized recommendation engine that helps you find your favorites on the internet by ranking your preferences. It’s a filter and also uses social networking (just like Pandora).


How do I use it? Create an account and choose your favorite categories. Once you are set up, you will “Stumble” by pressing a button, and you will be taken to a website in one of your categories. You can choose to thumbs up or thumbs down the website. If you thumbs up the website, then StumbleUpon knows to give you more like the site. The more sites you rate, the more StumbleUpon can refine and give you what you like. You can also friend people and have their favorites come into your filter. I highly recommend downloading the toolbar so that you can easily thumbs up and thumbs down sites.


How can it help my business? StumbleUpon is one of the most useful tools I’ve EVER used to grow. It takes awhile to get going and to have your sites “discovered” (added to the StumbleUpon engine), but once you do, your site (or shop) will come up in relevant Stumble streams. Being a part of this discovery tool will allow potential customers to find you who might have never known you existed.

What is it? Have you ever had a corkboard where you have pinned your favorite magazine cutouts, ideas and inspiration? Same concept applies here, except virtually. On Pinterest you create collections of your favorite things and then follow collections by others to find more cool stuff.


How do I use it? Right now you have to request an invitation, but once you’re up and running, Pinterest is super easy. Simply find things that you like and “pin” them – I recommend using the “Pin It” toolbar for one-click pinning. Pinterest is easily searchable for items of interest, or finding friends to connect.


How can it help my business? I like it when sellers use Pinterest as a more indirect tool. My advice is to start collections of your favorite things and incorporate some of your own items into “style guides” like the fashion magazines do. For instance, if you are a jewelry seller, it would be nice to include a collection of your pieces with handbags, shirts and summer sandals to inspire people to buy. You can share these collections via your social media and blog. This method says “here’s how my items go with current fashion trends” rather than “buy my necklace and earring set.” It shows that you care about how your customers will use your items.

What is it? Flickr is an online image hosting website and a vibrant online photography community. Flickr is used by a lot of bloggers (including myself) to host images to later embed into blogs or other social media. The basic Flickr is free (but there are upload limitations), or you can upgrade to a pro account without upload limitations for $24.95 per year.

How do I use it? Simply open an account at www.Flickr.com and start uploading your photos. You can tag photos with keywords that will make then show up in searches, and you can also organize photos into sets so that viewers can easily browse. Another cool feature is “Notes,” which is basically putting a note on top of the photo that you can see when you hover your mouse. If you do use Flickr, I recommend using the Groups feature as much as possible. Sharing your photos with interested parties gives you a lot of exposure.


How can it help my business? There are a few reasons to use Flickr. First of all, it lets you host large images of your products without using up all the bandwidth on your blog. Secondly, tagging photos helps them to come up in Flickr AND Google/Yahoo! searches, so you have a good chance of being “discovered” by participating. This can, of course, lead to additional purchases! Finally, I host a Mod Podge Rocks Flickr group so that participants can easily share their photos and possibly be featured. You could do this as well – have customers share the photos wearing/featuring your product, and host a contest. It all builds buzz!

What is it? Instagr.am is a free iPhone application (yes, iPhone only at this time) that allows you to take pictures, apply a filter and then share the image via various social media.

How do I use it? Download the application from the App Store and install (it’s free!). Take a photo and select a filter from one of 16 filters used to transform the look and feel of the photo. Select the social media to broadcast your photo – choose between Twitter, Facebook, E-mail, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare and Posterous.

How can it help my business? You can use your Instagr.am stream to capture photos of your product, and also do special previews for customers. Instagr.am actually realized earlier this year that a lot of people were adding hashtags (e.g., #modpodgerocks) to their photos, and have made it easy for people to find photos based on your hashtag. I recommend thinking of a business hashtag and adding it to the title of each of your photos.

Once you integrate the hashtag, you can add the photo stream to your business fan page or Twitter stream using the following address:
http://instagr.am/tags/[hashtag name]/feed/recent.rss

To sum up? You can sit in your studio and take photos of your new projects, then broadcast them out to your followers using your cell phone.

I highly encourage you taking the time to check out each of these tools and see what will work for you.  It’s worth the time and trouble for increased sales.

Which of these social media tools are you using? What do you love/hate about them? We would love to know what YOU think in the Comments section below!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Tuesdays with Toolulu: Personal Branding

It’s time again for some business tips from Toolulu. Our last article was all about setting goals. Did you do your homework? Were you inspired to set some specific and attainable goals for your business?
Today we’re focusing on branding. Some of you are promoting a product. For some of you, your product is you. Personal branding is a term that gets thrown around a lot, and some people question the use of that specific term. Any way you look at it, you’re presenting an image (or your personal brand) and people make judgments based on how they perceive you or your product. You want to make sure that your personal brand truly represents you.
A couple of weeks ago we gave a presentation where we discussed this very topic. We used an activity where we each came up with three words to describe our brand. For example, mine might be crafty, speaker, blogger. Everyone at the meeting was then given a sheet of stickers and given the instruction to go around and “tag” people with words that they felt they portray. Some of these people knew each other but others had to go on first impressions alone. Even the way we dress and carry ourselves send a message.
personal branding activity

Here is what people had to say about me. I got quite a few crafty and creative. I was surprised to see just as many label me as helpful. It’s not inaccurate. I love to help. It’s just not something that I was actively trying to portray or promote about myself. This isn’t a bad thing. But now that I know people see me as helpful, I might use that a little more in my overall marketing strategy.
Through this exercise I could see that if I want to be known as a speaker and blogger, I need to work a little more on portraying that. I can tweak my efforts to include things that show the other aspects of my personal brand.
Homework
Choose the three words you want to describe your brand.
Do a little crowd-sourcing. Ask people you know, your blog readers, twitter followers, facebook friends, etc… to use one word to describe your brand. Ask at least 10 people.
Are you surprised by the results? Are you sending the message you’re intending?
Use the results to make more informed decisions for your overall branding. In business, knowing what people think of you (for good and for bad), is a great thing. Get out there and start asking!
Toolulu.com is a social media marketing company whose tagline is “We Know Our Craft”. The women behind Toolulu are Christy Nelson and Deb Averett–avid crafters and designers who also happen to know a thing or two about business. They will be providing a series of articles for Craft Critique over the next several months focusing on building a craft business with a focus on social media.
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Learn a Little: Facebook, Twitter and MORE!

This is an old article but since these are topics our readers keep asking about, we thought we’d give it a revisit.  
Many of you have questions about how to connect with Craft Critique via the various social media outlets.  Most of you have Facebook and or/Twitter accounts, or are bloggers yourselves.  We thought it would be informative to give everyone a little 101 on the “how” of all our various media outlets.  So put your thinking cap on, and buckle up. Reading this post will require that you have ingested coffee.
What Kind of Blog Reader Are You?
How are you reading this post? Did it come in your email? Then you are an Email Subscriber, congratulations! This is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the smooth, mellow flavor of Craft Critique. But sometimes you might be confused. You might be asking, where do I leave a comment? And how do I know what ELSE Craft Critique has to offer me today. You are missing the full BOLD flavor which is the Craft Critique Website Homepage.
Click HERE to see the full website in all it’s glory!
If you would like to become an email subscriber just look on our sidebar for the email subscription box.
Feed Readers, Getting to Know Them:
Rather than just depending on email, you may use and enjoy a RSS feed reading system. This is my preferred method of blog reading. What is an RSS feed? I don’t honestly know the full dealio… All you “learners” can Google it.
The way I understand it is that the RSS feed is like a little signal that you can subscribe to. You can subscribe to a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a Flickr account… and probably lots of other amazing technical things!
How to Subscribe to a Feed:
Are you on the Craft Critique Blog Homepage now? Good job! See the little orange square in the upper right-hand corner? That is all you need to click (after you’ve signed up for a feed reader, that is). If the little orange square isn’t there then I can’t help you. You are probably on a Mac, which is fine… I mean there’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t speak your language.
This is a picture of the little orange square. Do not click this square.
Nothing cool will happen.  Look for the VERY teeny tiny square in the upper right-hand corner.
Using a feed reader like Google Reader or Feedreader is free and easy. It will allow you to read this blog and many others in a super fast, speedy way! I use Google Reader. I like that I can sort all my favorite blogs into categories for easy reading. Stamping, scrapbooking, design, food, news… etc. You should probably create a special category just for Craft Critique and ALL our feeds. I would recommend titling it: “Super Awesome Craftiness” or something like that.
Ok, so you’ve signed up for a feed reader, and now you’ve subscribed to Craft Critique’s feed right? Wonderful job! I am so proud of you!
Facebook and Twitter are Safe and Fun!
Ok, now let’s talk about Facebook. Do you have a Facebook page? Really? Why not? Facebook is very safe and simple. Just make sure that after you sign up, you adjust all of your privacy settings so your kid’s pictures are only viewable by your friends, stuff like that. There is a lot of information out there about Facebook privacy. You can Google that too.
Once you are all signed up for Facebook you can join our Facebook Fan Page. We provide instant updates there about crafty stuff.  Think of Facebook as a make-your-own-chat-forum.  You can “Fan”, “Friend” or “Join” groups or pages you find interesting.
Twitter is your next step… and don’t worry you don’t even need to be a Twitter member to read our twitter feed and see/read all the fun chatter we post.
I do really love Twitter. And it’s not what you think: people talking about the boring minutia of their day… “I am watching TV”, “I am knitting”, “we are eating cookies”… etc. It’s more like “hey, anyone have a good pattern for a sock monkey?” and “check out this adorable new line from American Crafts!”… fun!
To fully participate in twitter it’s best to become a member. Again it’s free, and safe. In fact, Twitter is much more anonymous that Facebook… so if you are a secret spy or something, then twitter will probably be your bag.
More About Twitter Because it Does Have a Learning Curve:
There are a few things you need to know about twitter. Everyone has a “profile”… easy enough. Ours can be read at http://twitter.com/CraftCritique. All tweets are 140 characters or less. Then there are these things called hashtags. Twitter hashtags help readers sort through all the twitter tweets to find relevant content.
Let’s say I want to see what people are tweeting about in scrapbooking. Instead of searching for “scrapbooking” which is a big long word, I would probably search for “scrap.” But I don’t want to read about scrap metal, I want to read tweets by people who are intentionally tweeting about scrap. So I search for “#scrap”… but without the quotes.
Other hashtags of craft related note include: #crafty, #diy, #handmade, #craft, #scrap, #scrapbooking, #digital, #knit, #crochet, #art, #sew, #jewelry… it’s an endless list!
After you are a member of Facebook and Twitter you can share our amazing posts with your friends! See the little links at the end of this post; there is one that says “Share this” and has that little Green Icon (see left). If you click on the icon at the end of the post you can share this Craft Critique story on your Facebook page or Twitter feed! You can also email it to people and a bunch of other features you will never use. Yay!
So Your Assignments are to:
That’s it! You are done! And feel free to ask any technical questions here. I will try to answer them for you! See you on the web!
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!