First, why should you? Well, if you don't own a business then the answer is just for fun. You'll find social networking a great source of inspiration and an entertaining way of getting to know more about your favorite designers and meeting up with other crafters.
Open Hand Button by Creative Impressions in Clay
If you do own a business, of any kind, social networking is a great way to connect with potential clients and to stay on top of news from your peers. For myself, when I'm shopping for handmade items, one of the things I love is going to arts & crafts fairs and meeting the artist. Online you can "meet" the creative forces behind the designs. You can read about their inspirations, follow along with interesting links and in general get to see a peek into their creative process. (hint: if you are the creative one these are all great things to include in your profiles) Through social networking sites you can offer your customers the experience of getting to know the artist and learn the stories behind the work.
Glass Links by Cindy Gimbrone
For the small business owner here are a few tips for using these sites to your advantage:
1. Include contact information and photos to let people know what you do, this includes adding your website and blog.
2. After you set up your account, spend just a few minutes a day adding new friends or joining groups.
3. Content, content, content. Update your profiles with relevant content about your business. Avoid TMI (too much information) we generally don't want to hear that you are doing laundry or the status of your cold symptoms.
4. Be warned! You can waste a lot of time in social networking sites. Stay focused on connecting with people, commenting on their profiles and photos is more meaningful than sending virtual gifts. If you join a group, try to participate at least once a week.
5. Don't come on too strong. If you are selling stuff, just be yourself and share instead of trying to sell aggressively. You are networking, connecting with others.
Alchemical Adornment Pendant by Earthenwood Studio
So what networking sites are there? Jennifer Perkins did a great blog post a few weeks ago on the different sites you can join up with and a quick review of each.True Blue Heart Pendant by Humblebeads
I have found that I really love facebook. It's easy to navigate and there is a fun community there. I've been able to meet up with old friends and make new ones. I have a myspace account and update it weekly, facebook I log in every day. What I really love is that it's a great place to funnel all of the different online activities that I'm involved in. I have the art bead scene blog automatically updated there, my flickr photos are sent there whenever I upload new photos. My etsy shop is featured. I can quickly add links to share with my creative buddies. I like following along with the status and seeing what's new with those in my network.
Now if you create a facebook account, it is boring. Plain vanilla. But it's easy to customize and in just a little bit you can add as little or as much information about your business and yourself as you want. Applications are the "flair" of facebook. These are little programs you can add, some automate updates for you, others are just for fun.
Here is a facebook primer from Mari Smith. It's a pdf and will help you get started on facebook.
And so that you don't feel lonely, you can join the Art Bead Scene Fan Club. Art Bead friends to add are me, Melanie and Cindy. You can also find notables such as Rings & Things, The Impatient Beader, Naughty Secretary Club and Beverly Herman.
The last thing I'll mention is Twitter. It's micro-blogging in 140 words or less. I click on almost every crafty, interesting sounding link that gets posted. If you blog and sell from etsy or your website, join twitter. I will follow you if you follow me. I uploaded the twitter application to my facebook page and the two can work together. Every time you update your twitter account, your facebook status is automatically updated. You can twitter on your cell phone or on your computer. Crafty folks to follow: me, Cindy, Margot Potter, Tammy Powley, Jennifer Perkins, Crafty Chica, Rings & Things, Soft Flex, Craft Magazine, and Etsy Storque.
Join us tomorrow for another Studio Saturday with Melanie. You still have one day to enter to win one of my bird beads, just share a comment on procrastination.