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Social Networking - Are you doing it yet

Everyone is "socializing" on the Internet - creating communities with like interests and a platform for distributing information, establishing a brand and marketing a site or product. You are either in or you're out - and out is not where you want to be. Social networking has become the number one way to market a business online. Although banner ads and relevant links are important components when developing a comprehensive, successful marketing plan they alone will not do the trick and do not result in an increase in traffic to your shop like social networking does. For many, social networking can seem overwhelming and just another thing to add to the to-do list, but it is the reality. And just like everything else online, it is always evolving.

Social Media Sites - Channels

Choosing the right social media site, often referred to as a 'channel', is your first step. We suggest sticking with the ones proven to be the best for creating a dynamic community of followers with like interests with whom you can can 'engage' by providing good content and links. Doing so will translate into an increase in traffic to your shop, if handled correctly. Setting up a profile and page on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ are the best places to start.

How many sites do you want to establish a presence on is up to you. When first starting out pick one or two, at the most. More than that can be overwhelming and create time issues. Although marketing your site through a social network is great for business you don't want to spend 50% of your day doing it. Two to three times a week is plenty of time to dedicate to the task of maintaining a social presence, more than that can result in your community of followers feeling overrun by posts and they may opt out.

Set measurable social media goals to determine what is or is not working for you. Keep track of the number of followers you gain each week or month and what posts are getting the most comments, shares or pins. Check your shop Google Analytics to determine what posts drive traffic to your shop. Armed with this information create an 'editorial calendar' listing types of posts to publish and when. Review the data periodically and make adjustments when needed.

Start building your member base by inviting customers, your friends, and anyone else who may be interested in the types of items you sell, in an outgoing email. Be personable in your note, provide a link to your site and a quick summary of what your social network is about.

And, where your dollars are concerned, don't worry, social networking costs you nothing but your time for planning and maintaining your presence. Although "Time is money," a good editorial calendar will keep you on track and help you to manage your time efficiently.

The following is a list of Social Media sites we recommend. Choose one and get busy.

Facebook

Facebook is the number one social media site on the Internet. With a community of 600 million users it is hard to ignore by individuals wishing to establish a social network for communicating with other users and marketing your shop in a global arena. Although setting up a Facebook page can be a bit overwhelming at first it is an established fact that marketing a site or shop using the right tools and the 'Rules of Engagement' results in an increase in traffic to your shop. Ruby Lane maintains a Facebook page where we post links to items in our shops, contests, blog links, videos and more. Once you join Facebook and like our page you can 'share' photos and links to your items or items you like found on Ruby Lane directly from an item page using the Facebook share button provided in the listing. "Our Facebook page is found at http://www.facebook.com/RubyLane

Twitter

Twitter ranks at #2 for the most popular social media site. Twitter is a micro-blogging service where users can 'tweet': share very short, interesting bits of information about themselves, links to a blog, what they are doing or selling. Ruby Lane shop owners can 'tweet' their follows and share links to the items in their shops. A convenient 'Tweet' button is found on item pages in a Ruby Lane shop. Follow our Twitter page at http://www.twitter.com/rubylanecom

Pinterest

There is a lot of buzz about Pinterest these days. It is fast becoming one of the most popular social sites on the Internet. It is a bookmarking site where members can create boards to showcase photos with descriptions and links which revolve around their interests. A significant number of our shop owners maintain display boards featuring items they have for sale in their shop. Ruby Lane also maintains boards surrounding a particular topic or type of item sold on the site. The boards have proven to be an excellent social tool for driving traffic to a shop and the site. Underneath every item on Ruby Lane there is a 'Pin' button which allows you to you to 'pin' an item on Ruby Lane to one of your Pinterest boards. Our Pinterest boards are located at http://www.pinterest.com/rubylanecom or http://www.pinterest.com/vintageartisan

Google+

Although Google+ got off to a slow start, it is gaining in popularity and may in prove to be the place to 'socialize' and share good, relevant information in the future. Google+ is similar to Facebook where you can create a personal profile and a business page to showcase your items and build your brand. It allows you the same opportunities as Facebook to engage your audience and establish a social network. The one advantage that Google+ has is the ability to 'push' out your posts to a Google and Google+ search by clicking the G+ button found under your post or on a Ruby Lane item page. Getting your items out to a Google search is crucial to driving traffic to your shop. Add us to your G+ circles - https://plus.google.com/b/108314906274783174882/108314906274783174882

Sources:

Rodriguez, Neil. "Ten Myths About Social Networking For Business". Forbes.com. August 10, 2011. May 7, 2012.

Litwinka, Lauren. "Beyond Friending: How to Hit Social Marketing Bullseye". AimClearBlog.com. October 21, 2010. May 13, 2012.

Inside CMR Editors. "50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence On". Focus.com. n.p.May 13, 2012.

"Social Media". Wikipedia.com.n.p. May 7, 2012.

Boyd, Danah, "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship".Journal of computer-Mediated Communication. .2007. May 15, 2012.

Article Last Update: September 29, 2013