A very important part in promoting any brand/product is the social media. The purpose of this post is the exploration of the added value that social media websites bring to the Butterfly Garden website, the way they interact with the project and myself as the artisan. The reason that prompted me into writing this is the fact that I just reached 200 fans on facebook.
The social platforms in use by the Butterfly Garden
Right now, due to the kind of items I create and the kind of online content (mostly visual), the Butterfly Garden uses two social media platforms, facebook and pinterest.
The reason I use these two and not twitter and tumblr is first the fact that both the platforms that are used are suitable for the kind of needs I have with the project, regarding the community that is being reached and the way of presenting the content. Twitter is mostly beneficial for making announcements, which I do rarely, a need that is totally covered by the facebook page, and tumblr is outdated in my opinion as I have a website towards which I can direct the people who want to learn more about the project.
How I use the social platforms and what I think of them
I created the facebook page of the Butterfly Garden right before I updated this website to its actual form, in order to be able to post pictures of the different items I had made by then. This was the first step towards bringing the Butterfly Garden online, right after I picked the name for the project and decided what would be the objectives and the general purpose (raising awareness on the idea of upcycling and on the actual value of your old clothing items and accessories you no longer wear).
I tried to make the page look as presentable as possible from the very beginning, choosing only high quality images and sorting them into collections (at the time I only had the annual kanzashi flower archive for 2011 and 2012, the butterflies and the satin flowers).
At first my pictures were simple, without the watermark, since the Butterfly Garden didn’t yet have a transferable visual identity. Later on, I added the logo to most of the online materials. This is a very important thing to do, since otherwise anyone can take your pictures and do whatever they want with them. If you want to find out more about how to find a name for your project and a visual identity, read more here.
I do not wish for the designs that I used and created to be my intellectual property (even though they originated in my work and imagination), since I support the freedom of access and use of online information for creative purposes. Nevertheless, I do want the pictures that I took to be mine in their original form. The logo placement does not interact with the objects in the pictures, in order not to prevent viewing the whole item, but it does occupy a large space, still keeping the professional air.
Pinterest is a recent discovery for me and I’m still learning to get around it, but I noticed that many of the people I know (including the ones that like and support this project) follow different people and brands that are active on pinterest. I really like it because it focuses mainly on the visual side of things and it’s a really good place to showcase my work.
Recent progress through social media and future plans
Right now on the facebook page I communicate mainly through the new product images, each with a unique design, noticeable either through the shape, the fabrics used, textures and different color combinations, as well as types of fasteners. Unfortunately, communication through facebook is still quite unidirectional and I’m not sure how to motivate people to write back. The facebook page should be a platform for active feedback and interactions. I hope that in the next period I will improve this aspect.
In this regard, I would like to transfer the new product presentation on pinterest and mostly use the facebook page for making announcements, asking for people’s opinions and showing pictures and stories from events. This is why I created a pinterest profile that I’m right now trying to convert to a professional’s profile, in order to connect it to the website and post there directly everything that’s new regarding design and new items.
What my social media activity should look like
I’ve been reading a lot lately on how to improve your online visibility through social media platforms, but not all the “advice” I found around the internet is applicable to my project. Among them were suggestions like posting between specific hours (13:00 to 16:00 are apparently the best – don’t ask me why), posting different kinds of content (project pictures, product pictures, content not-so-related to the page, contests, giveaways, stuff), having constant page activity in order to not lose your fans and others.
Still, the most important lesson and the one that I truly value from all this theory is the fact that in order to get anywhere you need relevant content. The most important thing to do online is to make sure that the content you give other people is original, real and relevant. This way, the people will be interested in what you’re offering and everything else is detail (the posting time is also important as long as you post while your audience is awake – not at 2 in the morning, for example – I tested it).
What my social media activity actually looks like and why
As I mentioned just earlier, your content is the most important thing online. Thus, I decided to insist more on product and communication quality than on the frequency and their type. I concentrate on making my products as good as possible, taking good pictures (I’ll soon write about taking almost professional pictures with low resources) and I try to post once every day or two, but not more often.
I noticed that even though my “fans” like the product pictures up to a point (especially the girls enthusiastic about handmade accessories), the pictures or videos with people or processes under way are more attractive. Maybe it’s because of the fascination we have for other people’s work; the same way I like seeing how the things I use every day are made, the others like to see me working, not just the final products of my work. This is the reason why in the future I will mostly post on facebook the stories from my events and making-of the items, rather than the items themselves. Stories about princesses are a lot more interesting than princesses themselves.
Social media buttons: do we really need them?
I did include the social media buttons because I realized in time that I do need and like them more than I dislike them. So now they’re neatly aligned to the right and below each post, allowing you to either share what you’ve just learned, or find me on social media sites. Yay.*
Looking into my experience online, I rarely use social media buttons on other websites. Actually, most of the times they bother me and even more bothersome I find the fact that facebook knows where I am at all times and that it can follow me almost everywhere because I’m logged in and most of the websites I visit are integrated into this huge mesh that is facebook. Nor do I find the pin-it button really relevant. After all, if something makes me want to pin it, I’ll do it without the button.
So how will it be? Should I add like and pin-it buttons to this website or should I let my visitors breathe a bit?
For any suggestions and feedback regarding this article, questions about social media and anything else, I’m looking forward to your comments. I’m not an expert, but I do like to help people with what I’ve learned up to now.