(Photo by Amarand Agasi, via Flickr Creative Commons) Who Has Time for Social Media Marketing during the Holiday Season? You Do! By Diane Gilleland Blogging, Facebook, Twitter – they can be fantastic marketing tools, but there’s no denying that, to do them right, you have to invest a lot of time and energy. Well, we’re headed into our most time-crunched season of the year. Sure, it’s important for your crafty business that you keep up your blog, and it’s wise to maintain your conversations on Twitter and Facebook, but let’s face it – you’re also going to have a whole lot of other stuff to do soon. So where the heck can you find the time in this crazy season for social media marketing?
(Photo by Graham Ballantyne, via Flickr Creative Commons) For one thing, start right now. I talked about the importance of planning your blog posts ahead in a recent podcast – and advanced planning is especially important during the holiday season. All too often, we get busy and overwhelmed in November and December, and blogging is the last thing on our minds. But we know we “should” be using our blogs to market our work, so in a frenzy we dash off the occasional “Hey! Come buy my stuff!” post. Well, you have to remember that during the holiday season, your readers will be absolutely inundated with “Come buy my stuff” messages. It’s awfully hard to earn their attention in that cacophony of marketing. If you want to be heard during the holiday season, you need to give your readers useful, valuable blog posts. (More on that in a moment.) So, sit down this month with a paper calendar, or pop open your online calendar, and schedule your key blog posts for November and December. You don’t have to schedule a post for every day (most of your readers won’t have time to read that much, anyway). One high-quality post a week will carry you through the season just fine, and then you can sprinkle in news of the shows you’re working and some glimpses into your busy studio. (Photo by Urban Woodswalker, via Flickr Creative Commons) Don’t just plan them, make them now! It’s all well and good to schedule some great blog posts, but all the planning in the world won’t change the fact that you’ll be too busy to write and photograph them during the holiday season! Set aside a couple afternoons within the next two weeks to do all the writing and photography for your key November and December posts. Put on some holiday music, have a little eggnog – whatever it takes to get you in a holiday mood. If you have these posts “in the bank,” so to speak, you’ll be thanking yourself profusely come mid-December. And, more importantly, you’ll be keeping your readers interested throughout the holiday season. (Photo by rustman, via Flickr Creative Commons) So, what does a high-value blog post look like during the holiday season? We’re all aware that marketing messages are everywhere in November and December, so as we mentioned earlier, you won’t get much response out of blank-faced mentions of your product. Instead, think about all the things your readers are struggling to do this time of year. What tricks do you know that could make your readers’ lives easier? Do you have any strategies for shopping more efficiently, packing things for shipping, organizing your baking, or getting dinners on the table quickly? Share them as posts on your blog! Your readers will appreciate it, and that appreciation will draw many of them to your business. Plan a few holiday-themed tutorials for the season, too – maybe for decor, or gift items, or gift wraps. (Wraps for your product, perhaps?) Tutorials are important for your blog’s visibility, because let’s face it, a huge percentage of the links you see shared on other people’s blogs – and large craft websites like this one, and Facebook, and Twitter – are tutorial links. Speaking of links, you can also compile roundups of great links to other blogs: gift ideas, holiday decor ideas, recipes, and so on. You can use links from past years (which are frankly new to many readers), so you can pull them together now. Then when the time comes to post them later, you can always slip in a new link or two you’ve found. What about Twitter and Facebook? It’s also a good idea to do a little advance Twitter and Facebook planning for the holidays. You can’t write all your updates now, of course, but you can certainly get in the habit of pre-scheduling some of them. (You can use tools like HootSuite and SocialOomph for this.) Try getting up in the morning and setting up a handful of tweets/Facebook updates so they’ll post automatically at various times of the day. This way, you can stay on your customers’ radar even when you’re tied up in your studio. What’s even better, you can schedule updates for your customers in different time zones. Just as with the blog posts, these scheduled updates should be useful to your readers. They can be links to your best blog posts, or funny observations on the season, or pointers to great stuff you’ve found online. There are lots of possibilities. Again, think about what your friends and followers are trying to do this time of year, and look for ways you can help them do it. They’ll remember you for it. (Photo by Flying House Studios, via Flickr Creative Commons) Understand how much is enough. Keep in mind, too, that you don’t have to maintain every online presence you have during the holiday season – just stick with the ones where your customers are already paying attention. So if your Facebook fan page isn’t getting much action right now, put it on hiatus until the new year and focus on your Twitter account. If your blog has lots of readers and commenters, but you haven’t quite gotten the hang of Twitter, feel free to focus on the blog until the new year. You’ll get more marketing traction and save time. And, just to reiterate: One really useful blog post a week will have more impact than a dozen scattered posts about how busy you are. Three high-quality tweets a day can reach people better than a constant barrage of reminders to buy your handmade earrings. Go for quality over quantity. Be a lone voice of value amidst all the holiday clutter, and you won’t be screened out by your busy readers. About the Author: Diane Gilleland produces CraftyPod.com, a blog that geeks out on crafting and also helps crafters use the web more effectively to promote their businesses.