Social Media 101 for Retailers

Social Media 101 for Retailers


Are you a local yarn store owner? It’s a hard business, but most local yarn store owners are in it because they love yarn, knitting, crocheting and the people who love those things, too. When a customer walks into a local yarn store, chances are excellent that there will be a sale made. Few people wander into a yarn store randomly; for regular customers, you’re part of their weekly habit and for new customers, they probably Googled “yarn store near me” because they want to buy some yarn. The yarn sells itself when the customer is standing in front of it.

But how do you invite them to see what’s new? Social media can help bring those customers through the door, but only if you do it right. Let’s look at what makes a social media post effective and what you can do to make your social media posts work harder for your store.

Effective Tagging
You’ve just received a new shipment of interchangeable needle tips and cords from Knitter’s Pride. You have full sets as well as individual tips. You went all in and ordered every available style and length, so you have Bamboo, Karbonz, Marblz, Nova Platina, Nova Platina Cubics, Symfonie Dreamz, Symfonie Cubics and Trendz. You’ve taken fun pictures of all of them. You’re ready to post to Instagram and share the post with Twitter and Facebook. How are you going to tag these pictures? Hint: we listed the names of all the varieties of KP interchangeables because those are tags you’re going to want to add besides #knitterspride. Do you regularly use the tag #knittersofinstagram or #knitstagram? That’s where the knitters hang out and that’s who you want to see your posts. Add those tags, too. But don’t spam with hashtags. Three per picture is the upper limit. So you’re probably not going to send out one picture that contains all the styles of tips. Spread it out with one or two per picture so that neither the picture nor the caption are visually crowded.

As a general rule, it’s good practice to tag not just the brand but the specific product as well. If you’re posting about a hand-dyed yarn with iconic colorways, tag the individual colorways instead of the yarn base, especially if they’re well-known. It’s how customers can find you and the products you have ready to sell to them.

You send a weekly email newsletter to the list of customers who have signed up for it. How do you reach the ones that aren’t on your email list? Post a link to the permanent URL of the newsletter on your store’s Facebook page, in your Ravelry group and on Twitter. Don’t just post the link; make sure you add an attractive and subject-relevant photo and some introductory commentary. Now your newsletter link is a full post and you can turn your attention to another task. Make sure that the original newsletter includes a way for customers who found it on one of the social media channels to sign up for the direct email if they want it.

The same idea holds true for a blog post or a podcast. Don’t just put it on the blog or on the store website, link to it from your other social media platforms so that you can reach different segments of your intended audience.

Make It About More Than Marketing
Don’t post only when you have something to sell. The social part of social media is about engaging with your customers around your shared interests. Share information that you found useful or delightful. Chances are good your followers will enjoy it, too. Ask a question about a local event that your followers may be interested in, too. It gives them the opportunity to keep you informed and engaged with each other via your Facebook page, for example.

Tell your followers about a charity or a cause you and your store support. You can give them information without directly soliciting them and show that your business has heart as well. If they’re interested, they will participate or support it. If they’re not, your next post will offer them something that does interest them. The shelf life of social media posts is quite short. That doesn’t mean you should be posting constantly; what it means is that unless something goes viral, any single post is not going to stick in customers’ minds, for good or bad, so you don’t have to fear making a mistake. It also means that you can recycle (sparingly) things to which you had a good response.

Tips and Techniques
Use your social media channels as a means to educate your customers. Videos that show how to do a particular stitch or a finishing technique can be great social media posts. You can embed them or link to your store’s YouTube channel. You don’t necessarily have to produce them yourself. There’s great craft content out there; find things that reinforce the skills your customers want to learn and share them. Your customers will remember who brought that great little tip to their attention.

Consistency vs. Personality
Across your social media platforms, you want your posts to have a consistent voice and visual aesthetic. Find what works for you and stick with it. You can have multiple people posting for your store as long as they know how to follow the voice and style guidelines. It’s okay if there’s a little individual variation, because it shows that your store is staffed by employees with distinct personalities. That can be a branding element in itself; customers like being able to recognize who is offering that piece of advice. They know that Laura likes the rustic yarns, so she’s a good candidate to star in the spit-splicing video. Gail’s better for the K5tog tbl, because she’s always knitting complicated lace patterns.

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Leanne Pressly
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