Whether you love or hate social networks, they are now a fact of life and the quickest, cheapest, easiest way to pass information around.
You don't have to be on all of them... if you were, you'd spend more time updating your information than with your beloved craft materials!
As you know, these tips are based on my own experience, so I'll only be talking about the sites I've used to any great extent; Facebook, Twitter and more lately, Google+. I'm not saying the others don't have any merit - it may even be that if I were present on more of them, I may get more page hits on my Etsy shop but I spend enough time promoting my work as it is, I don't need to add another just yet! In this post, I'll tackle Facebook.
The first thing to say about Facebook is to make sure you have a fan/business page rather than simply using your regular Facebook account to promote your work. That way you can keep the two sections of your life as separate as you need them to be. Your "fans" won't see (or be put off by) your non-business information ("Your friend needs help with a barn-raising"... I'm so glad I managed to kick the Farmville habit!) and people won't have to send a friend request to be able to follow your work.
Now I know that some people have a separate account for their business; I can't really see why this is needed when you can have a business page on your regular account without one affecting the other. Besides, you'd have two sets of usernames and passwords to remember and really, don't we have enough of that from all the sites we join without duplicating one? If I did it that way, I'd forget which "me" I'd logged in as and post the wrong thing on the wrong account! ;D
Creating a business page is pretty easy - there are plenty of tutorials out there to help but you probably won't need one as it's a fairly logical process. Tarting it up is another matter which I may address in a future post but for now, have a play :) My page is here: http://www.facebook.com/janehamillbeadsandjewellery - look at the bottom of the left-hand column and you'll see a link for "Create a page".
At first you will be given a generic URL for your page but once 25 people have started to follow it, you can choose a more user-friendly version. When you have created your page, feel free to post the link to your business page in the comments at the bottom of this post - hopefully you'll get to 25 followers before you know it! :)
A quick word about naming your page - make sure you choose the title of your page wisely as you will be unable to change it in the future, which could be awkward if you make any changes to your work. I find this particularly annoying as I'd prefer my title to be "Jane Hamill - Art Glass Beads & Jewellery", in line with the changes I've made to my other promotional materials. Instead I'm stuck with the much longer "Jane Hamill - Lampwork Glass Bead and Jewellery Artist". And I thought using my own name as my brand would be easier! ;)
The most important thing here is to make sure that whenever you list something, post it to your business page! People who like something but can't buy just now are likely to share links they like with their friends so it's a good way to spread the word.
Obviously you don't want to flood your "viewers". You see, that's where tip #1 - "An item a day" is also useful here. If you're posting once a day to Etsy to keep your visibility up there, you're also posting at least once a day to your Facebook page, to keep you on people's walls.
There's nothing to stop you posting to your Facebook page more than once a day, just be careful not to flood it as that's the surest way for people to remove you from their list of "likes".
Of course, we're hoping that your customer base is as wide as possible and so probably international so we're working across timezones. There's no way to guarantee you'll catch all of the people all of the time but I use a handy technique to promote the same thing twice over two days and at different times.
I list new items in the evening of day 1 and post the link to my business page.
On day 2 I upload a picture (preferrably a different one to the one I associated with the original link from the day 1) to my page's photo album and in the caption I put the name of the piece and its Etsy link. Even if the item has sold before I get to this stage, I still upload a photo with "Sold - thanks!" as the caption because you're still promoting your work - I've received a few commissions this way.
There are a number of Facebook groups that you can join, who are happy for you to post links to handmade shop listings on their pages. The ones I use are:
I post a link to each day's new listing on each of those groups. You don't have to do the same. For instance, you could post a link to your Etsy shop once a week.
There are other things you might want to put on your fan page, for example Etsy treasuries in which your work has featured or that you have created yourself. For now, I've tried to include the basics to get your FB page started. I have plans to write further ways to use your Facebook page for promotion but this post is long enough already, so I'll stop here!
If you think I've left anything out, please leave a comment below. If I edit the post to add your tip, I will also include a link to your shop, blog or Facebook business page :) Next time: Twitter!