December '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 D EC E M B E R PRINTWEAR | 97 MAKE A PLAN It's no accident that the first word in social media is "social," so reach out to others and form a community. Make sure that liking, retweet- ing, repining, and commenting are a daily part of your social media program. Social media is about interaction and connecting with oth- ers. If you only post sales messages and never interact, you'll find that you're talking to yourself. Also, don't be afraid to try new platforms. New social media outlets pop up all the time, and one of the new platforms may be the perfect place for your business. Do your research first—make sure the new outlet is in the realm of your target market and suits your social media style. Understand how to properly use the new platform, and give accounts time to grow and the attention they need. Everyone wants to post the sensational video or tweet that goes vi- ral, but that's a rare phenomenon. Modest goals are a better bet and usually benefit your account in the long run. Look at what you've posted over the past year and see what created the most engagement on each platform. Examine what competitors are doing and see which posts on their feeds engaged people the most. With this information, you can craft posts on your feeds that echo what you know works without copying it. Your goal isn't to go viral but to add value and interest to your feeds. Along with competitors, watch industry players. Find out which companies are the stars and keep an eye out for those accounts that consistently generate buzz and engagement. You can follow and learn from these accounts. Keep in mind that social media works both ways, and ig- noring your engaged followers is the worst social media sin. Respond to comments, retweets, and questions in a timely manner. Don't simply post so that new content appears reg- ularly on your feeds. Half of social media is about commu- nicating with others, and it's an integral part of the process. Like most advertising mediums, generating a buzz on so- cial media isn't free, but with the right research, plan, and platform, advertising provides good returns for your dollar. Don't waste time complaining about the cost. Most social media outlets weren't set up as a nonprofit, nor do most claim to be so. Budgeting for social media advertising should be part of your planning for the year. When it comes to social media, be responsive, interesting, and aware. Manage your accounts consistently, and pay at- tention to your engaged followers. Remember, the most suc- cessful social media accounts are the ones that give you a peek behind the curtain and reveal a company's personality. pw

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