Hey there! I'm kicking off a short new blog series called Grow Your Shop, dedicated to all you hard working entrepreneurs out there. There are four posts that can be read in any order. While some of you blog, many of you also run online shops (or maybe you would like to). I'm still learning every day when it comes to growing a successful online store but have learned a lot in the last 7 years by getting my hands dirty. From name changes to product launches to social media oops, mistakes happen. The key is to keep taking those mistakes and using them as bricks towards building your goals. Today is all about social media etiquette and how this effects the growth of our brand overall.
What is Social Media Etiquette?
Oh glad you asked! In order to define what it is, let's break down the phrases first:
Social Media = websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. For example, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...you get it. (I know this seems basic but bare with me!)
Etiquette = the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.
Social Media Etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior within the context of social networking. Short version: how you should act online. Seems simple right?
The funny thing is, though it may seem trivial, I've come across many different people who are so focused on growing their shop and are not educated in the proper behavior to promote their shop through social media. I've also made some not so great moves when it came to social media etiquette. Here's a few things I've learned.
Time and time again this is what I used to leave as comments with a link to my shop. Not only is this improper etiquette but it really is ineffective. The reader can sense the newbie desperation jumping off the screen. It is not polite to ask for a favor when you haven't taken the time to get to know the person first. And even if you are a huge fan on Instagram and double tap all their photos, it's basically telling them what to do. Come on, we don't like to be told what to do!
Honestly when I see this, it takes every ounce of me not to call the person out on it. You want to gain followers? That's fine! Leave comments about how you really feel about a person's work, how they inspire you, love their style and flair. After you can simply leave a link under your name. That's it. A genuine comment about that other person or their work and then add your shop under your signature. It's professional and puts you in a different category.
It seriously is as gross as it sounds. There have been times I loved a person's shop, visited their Twitter page and was doused with a bunch of links to their products. Nothing else. Social media is about social networking. To mingle, chat, exchange information with other talented folks. It's not just a platform for your self promotion. A good balance helps followers digest things easier. When we keep shoving links, links, links...it will soon get old and mundane. You have to show people you care about what they care about before they care about what you care about. Did you get that? Phew!
A great rule of thumb (mainly on Twitter and Facebook) is to share four other posts or links from other people then one of yours. It might sounds backwards like we are giving them more exposure but being nice always pays off. Make sure you share things you really like. Be genuine. Don't worry about them getting exposure. The reality is that the link to your shop is attached to your social media accounts. Whatever you share will be seen even if it is someone else's and most people will want to check out your profile for more inspiration.
Let's say social media was a big company party. There's Lulu against the wall speaking to no one. Marty is too busy talking about himself that everyone is annoyed. Henry is just plain rude and knows everything about everything. Then there's Justine. She's friendly, shakes people's hands, introduces herself. She asks people about what they do, makes them feel special and keeps the conversation lighthearted. If these four different people were shops on social media, which one would you buy from?
We will automatically gravitate towards the person that is showing interest in who we are. It's selfish human nature. We really can't help it. If your shop were one of the people above, which one would it be? When we break the mindset that our shop is "ours" and concentrate on a target audience, this is when things will blossom. Ask your followers questions. Get feedback on new products. Talk about what they love and share your heart.
Social media etiquette goes so much deeper than just sending your link out to potential customers. It's a chance to share your story, your knowledge, your journey. To connect with others who love what you love. Don't worry about gaining followers. If you can make the followers you have into friends, more will come. And anything grows when you have good friends.