Thinking Small for Big Sales: 3 Social Sites to Boost Your Biz

No doubt you’re using Facebook and Twitter to build your following in an attempt to find as many customers as possible, and that’s great. But what you may not have considered in the world of social media are the smaller social networking sites as a way of targeting people who already share certain interests with you.

Susan Newman
Susan Newman of Susan Newman Design, Inc. uses a great metaphor to explain the idea: Facebook and Twitter are global, while these smaller sites are more like your neighborhood, and she’s got the perfect virtual hangouts that any New York business gal should know about.

Social Media Examiner. The Social Media Examiner is a blog website that posts news articles and tutorials about social media, business and blogging (among other topics), and in a section called The Networking Groups, features a discussion board that covers three categories: small business, Facebook, and blogging.

“It’s a great site, because they got people interested in social media all together, then expanded it so that we could all help each other and answer each other’s questions,” says Newman.

Members can also sign up for the site’s daily newsletters, which offer the latest news on social media. “I get alerts every day,” says Newman, “and they’ve taught me quite a bit of what I’ve learned about social networking.

“Of course, if you’re knowledgeable about something, the discussion boards give you an opportunity to help others, as well," she adds. “It's a terrific niche community where the answers you get are really relevant and truly helpful."

The Social Buzz Club.  Newman says the Social Buzz Club has been “really unbelievable” in terms of how much exposure it has gotten her on the web.

While it’s a site that charges for its membership (after a free trial), there are different levels of participation to fit anyone’s budget, and Newman says any level is bound to increase your visibility on the internet.

The Social Buzz Club works by members reposting one another’s blog links on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you specify you’d like to be promoted.  The set-up is simple: You feed your blog link into the stream, check off its subject category, then wait to see how many people repost it for you. Each member commits to reposting a certain number of times each month, and Newman says it’s incredibly helpful to see which of her blog posts get the most reposts.

“What’s great is that as soon as I go into my dashboard,” she says, “I can see which posts were shared how many times, and that’s valuable information for me, to see which posts are resonating. I had one post that was shared just once, while another was reposted 26 times.”

When a member has tens of thousands of followers on their Facebook page, for example, and they repost your blog link, that’s incredible exposure.

“It’s amazing how much this site has exploded my visibility on the web,” Newman says.

(A link to the Social Buzz Club is on Newman’s site, If you decide to sign up for it, kindly consider joining from that link, as it will earn Newman some well-deserved points for all she’s done for the New York Etsy Team. Help her out!)

Savor the Success. Like the Social Buzz Club, Savor the Success has a free trial, but the monthly membership fee, at $50, is a bit steep. However, Newman says the work one can get through the group can often cover the monthly cash outlay.

Savor the Success is a global group of women entrepreneurs, who work in just about all fields; they’re artists, chefs, businesswomen, designers, you name it. (Newman is a member of the New York chapter.) The site's two best features, says Newman, are first, its monthly meeting, which features a guest speaker, then breaks the attendees up into groups of six or seven. During that time, each woman gets to talk for seven or eight minutes about what she does, or she can ask for advice or feedback on some new venture.

The second advantage is access to the group’s web site, and its astounding media lists that cover just about any and all fields…entertainment, jewelry, home décor, business, plus many more.

“They have at least six media lists that get updated every year, and members get to download one per month,” Newman says, noting that for most, just one media list will be applicable to what the member does. “You also get full access to the web site, where you can interact with other members, and find all kinds of video resources as well.”

Newman notes that Savor the Success is a very tight community, which means that each woman knows what everyone else is doing. That, in turn, means that everyone is recommending one another for potential business.

“We also get to post our news, which goes out in a daily email,” she says, “and we can upload our banners, which appear at the top of these emails on a rotating basis. There’s just constant interaction within the group.”

Aside from the free trial, there are also free memberships available, which limits how much access you have to the group's activities and web site. It does, however, allow you to post your profile.

Newman also recommends two other sites: Ozoshare, for Etsy merchants who sell eco-friendly products, and Tumblr, a blog site that is heavy on imagery, and is growing at one of the fastest rates on the internet. More on these sites will appear in a future essay.

Until next time!
Mary Ann

The Brooks Ring
The Shop: MaryAnnFarley

Pinterest: Three Tips for Going Viral

With Pinterest now being the fourth largest social networking site, it’s no secret that everyone loves it, and if you’re an Etsy merchant, you’re most likely using it to promote your wares, hoping for those cherished “pins” and “likes” that might make your item go viral.

Instead of just crossing your fingers and wishing for that to happen, Susan Newman of Susan Newman Design, Inc., says there are some key actions one can take to help that along.

Susan Newman
Introduce yourself by re-pinning the items of others. Undoubtedly, you’re regularly pinning your own items to your boards, but sometimes merchants can make the mistake of posting only their items and not photos that express their other interests.

Why is re-pinning so crucial? For one thing, by creating boards that express your other interests, you’re creating a larger and more interesting picture of yourself. But more important, when you re-pin something, the original pinner gets an email notice that you’ve re-pinned their item, and that can stoke some interest in who you are.

“Pinterest is the ultimate social visualization site,” says Newman. “There’s not a lot of commenting going on; it’s just eye candy to look at. So a great way to get someone to notice you, to introduce yourself to a potential customer, is to re-pin their item. Yes, you can follow their boards, but that’s really not the same as friending someone on Facebook. Even commenting on their pin might not get you much attention. The way to draw them in, to get them to come to look at YOUR boards, is to re-pin their items. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to someone you might never meet on any other social networking site.”

Include a price and a description for your pin. The Etsy discussion boards are rife with debates as to whether to post a price on a pin or not, but Newman says it’s better to err on the side of doing it than not. Why?

For one thing, a pin with a price gets the item into Pinterest’s gift section, and making sales is the whole point of pinning the item in the first place. While some may consider posting a price as tacky, Newman says that just too many shoppers are on Pinterest looking for gift items. Not pricing your pins is missing too big of an opportunity, particularly since Pinterest allows shoppers to search by price, too.

“Even if you change the price down the line,” says Newman, “you probably won’t be changing it that much, so you can always honor the previous price if someone has a gripe. You want the sale, right?

Newman also says that a common search practice lately on Pinterest is the use of hashtags, which merchants should absolutely include in their descriptions. In the same way one includes hashtags in a tweet on Twitter, it should also become standard practice to use one or two with your pin on Pinterest.

“Add descriptions to your boards, as well,” she says. “Too many Pinterest users are forgetting to add descriptions and hashtags to their boards, which is a great oversight, as shoppers are also searching the boards for items they’d like to buy. If you have ten items on a board, and there’s no description for it, it will be completely missed in a search.

“It’s okay for your board to have a funky name,” she adds. “Just be sure the description is good.”

Create boards that are relevant to what you do.  Obviously, Etsy merchants are posting their own items, but another way to make contacts is too pin items related to what you do. For example, if you make baby clothes, you could devote a board to baby photography, or vintage dolls.

“By doing this, you’re bringing in people who are like-minded, who might appreciate what you have to sell,” Newman says. “Artists, for example, could create boards devoted to things that give them inspiration, like food or distant places. The more you open up your boards, the more people you’ll bring in who will be eager to learn more about you.

“It’s all about humanizing yourself,” she adds. “You can’t expect everyone to follow you just because they’re your friend or they love what you do. If your intention is to make sales, then the more you reveal about yourself, the more visibility you will get.”

She notes that when someone re-pins something, not only does the item appear on the main page, but also the name of the person who re-pinned it.

“Sometimes I go to Pinterest with no intention of doing any promotion for myself,” Newman says. “I’ll just spend an hour re-pinning and liking what other people are doing. I’m there just to share the love, but even that gets me on the main board. You don’t always have to be pinning your own stuff in order to be visible.”

Until next time!

Mary Ann

"Frida" Watercolor Print
The shop: maryannfarley

Seven Twitter Tips to Make Sales Soar!

OK, so you’ve got just 140 characters to work with, and you’re wondering how in the world you can make Twitter work for your business, other than posting what you have for sale, right?

Wrong!  Even if you never used another social media site, Twitter alone could be the secret to your success, taking your business to heights beyond your imagination, and Susan Newman of Susan Newman Design, Inc., has just the suggestions to make that happen.

Susan Newman
Use hashtags.  It’s pointless to simply post info about a sale or a web link, as the only people who will see that tweet will be the ones who happen to read it as it flies by during a very short amount of time. However, the use of hashtags, which are subject words preceded by the “#” sign, will ensure that hundreds, if not thousands, will see that post.

“If you only send out one tweet a day or one per week, and you don’t use hashtags,” says Newman, “then the only people who will see it are those sitting in front of the computer during the moment you wrote it. The only way to get more eyes on that post would be to post that same tweet more often, and to use hashtags, as that’s what people search in order to find the things they’re interested in.”

For example, if you’re tweeting about a new item you have for sale in your Etsy shop, and it happens to be an artistic piece of jewelry, some hashtags you could use might be #necklace, #jewelry, #etsy and #art.

Newman offers a recent example of what the right hashtag did for her: She had entered a contest given by Chase in which 12 winners would receive $250,000 each to build their small business. But in order to be accepted into the contest, she needed 250 votes to qualify. As she had 1,000 followers on her Facebook page, and 6,000 followers on Twitter, getting 250 votes would seem easy, right?

Newman said her pleas for support went nowhere, and she was deeply perplexed.

“Day after day I’d post my request for votes, and maybe I’d get one here, or two more there,” she says, “but when it came down to my having just one week left to qualify and I was nowhere near 250, I said to myself—I’m doing something wrong. Why can’t I get these votes?”

Then the answer came to her…in the form of the hashtag #missionsmallbusiness, which she’d spotted in another entrant’s Twitter post. Apparently, this was the hashtag associated with the contest, and entrants were using it in their tweets as a way to ask for votes, which all basically said, “vote for me and I’ll vote for you.”

Once Newman began using the hashtag, she quickly ended up with 280 votes, AND she made great connections with small business owners from all over the country.

“This whole experience made me realize that you can’t succeed at a particular Twitter task unless you know who your target audience is,” she says.  “My assumption that my friends and followers would help me get votes was wrong, not because they didn’t want to help, but because the issue wasn’t important to them, whereas it was important to the other entrants seeking votes. The minute I figured this out, within a day and a half I had all the votes I needed.”

Invest in the software Tweetadder.  Now that you know about hashtags, how do you start reaching that valued “target audience” Newman speaks of?  She says that for about $50 for a lifetime membership, Tweetadder will be working for you all day long while you’re off working on other aspects of your business. (Note: This is not a paid endorsement for Tweetadder.)

“It’s really amazing in what it can do,” Newman says. “Its scope is incredibly broad.”

Here’s just a few of its features:
It searches hashtags, then automatically follows those people for you. If they don’t follow you in return, it will automatically unfollow them. (It also can create a White List for people to never unfollow.)
It can search by keywords and profiles.
It can manage multiple Twitter accounts.
It can find out what keywords people used to find and follow you.
It can schedule tweets throughout the day, and can even schedule them up to a year in advance.
It can post your tweets to Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace.
It can automatically retweet another user.
It displays current Twitter trends.

The list goes on, Newman says, noting that ever since she started using the software, not only has her Twitter exposure grown, but it has also freed up a lot of time that she can use to advance her business in other ways.

“You can load in 20 tweets, then check them off that you never want them deleted, and in fact you want them to continue to be randomly posted. I’ve been doing that for all my brand interviews and blog posts.”

Use your team to create a Twitter Day. Newman suggests that the New York Etsy Team pick one day a week to create a thread on its discussion board whereby everyone retweets one another’s Twitter posts. She says this works incredibly well in an online social group she belongs to.

“Each week, we have a Twitter Thursday, and the rules are that you put in one tweet that you’d like everyone else to retweet. When you post your tweet, put an 'RT' in front of it (for 'retweet'), and all participants have to do is just copy and paste it into their Twitter feeds.  Once you add your tweets to the list, it’s then your obligation to retweet everyone else’s,” she says. “When you have 25 or 30 women participating, your tweets are getting a great reach.”

Be sure to include your handle in every tweet.  If your tweet asks readers to see your art or visit a link, it goes out into the Twitter universe, and that’s that. But if you include your handle (which is stated like this: @yourtwittername) and other people retweet your post, your visibility is not only increased, but also your klout score (which is the measurement of someone’s overall online influence).

“I think people don’t understand what Twitter is really all about,” Newman says. “It’s not like Facebook, where you post something, then go make dinner. On Twitter, you have to be a bit more attentive, as you can also have conversations.”

Make sure that the tweets you’re sending are consistent and often.  Previously, the common wisdom was that one shouldn’t tweet more than five times a day, as readers would find such repetition annoying. But that’s no longer true, as it’s now evident that if you send out the same tweet five times in one day, most likely there will be different eyes reading it each and every time.

“You would never do that on Facebook,” says Newman, “as it would be annoying. But on Twitter, it’s actually okay to retweet old posts…especially the ones that have information that people are looking for.”

For example, on this very blog, the story “Four Quick Tips for Getting Those Google Hits,” which was another interview with Newman, has continued to get readers, and that’s because Newman has continued to tweet about it, which in turn has caused it to be retweeted countless times.

Use fresh language in every tweet.  The best way to continually draw traffic to posts, pages and artwork is not just to tweet frequently, but also to use creative language that will grab attention. “I just wrote a blog post on how to find clients when business is slow,” says Newman, “and I titled it ‘Offer Your Best Cookies and Watch Them Follow.’ It’s an interesting copy line, and I see that it’s getting retweeted.”

Pay attention to how you phrase things, and once in awhile, tweet something that people will find of service in some way. Don’t always just send out info about new listings. Draw people in by being helpful and kind.

Keep your characters to 120. Even though Twitter allows you 140 characters, if you keep your tweet to 120, you leave some space for people to comment in a retweet.

Remember, too, that you have can personal, private conversations on Twitter. “People think that Twitter is impersonal and Facebook isn’t,” Newman says. “That’s not true. On Twitter, you can have that personal conversation, but it still has to be brief and to the point.”

Newman will be kicking off her fall webinar series this week, Wednesday, July 25, at 2 p.m., with a webinar titled “Using Pinterest for Your Business,” to gain more traffic, leads and sales. Go to for more information.

Until next time!
Mary Ann

The "Cutie Pie" Jewelry Box


LinkedIn: Four Tips to Build Your Business

We’ve all said the same thing at some point: I’m a member of LinkedIn, but I’ve no idea why, as I don’t get what it’s about. What’s the point of it? Is there some way to use it that I’m missing?

You bet there is, according to Susan Newman of Susan Newman Design in Jersey City, NJ, who says that LinkedIn may just be the best social media site out there at the moment. As people have become more and more frustrated with Facebook and its constantly changing landscape, they’ve been giving LinkedIn a second look, and have been amazed at the scope of its functionality. Newman offers four tips to understanding LinkedIn better.

Susan Newman
You can make your profile much more robust than you know.  Aside from putting in all the basics about your current stats and your work history, you can add imagery by connecting to free portfolio sites like Behance. Or you can add a Powerpoint presentation by connecting with Slideshare, which also allows you to insert a video into that presentation.

“When you click on my own LinkedIn profile, a video will immediately start playing, and it really attracts people," says Newman. "All of a sudden they hear me talking, so when they scroll down a bit, they’ll see a two-minute video of me and when I'm done talking is shows a slide presentation of everything I’d like to show to them. It makes a huge impact on viewers.”

She says that when filling out the places where you’ve worked, instead of inserting the company name, insert your role, as that’s the criteria people will be searching for. “I’m a brand identity designer,” says Newman. “People aren’t going to find me based on the name of my company. They’re going to find me under a search for brand identity designers.”

That’s how you’ll get found, she says, and once you do, seeing a portfolio and video in your profile will give visitors a much better sense of who you are both as a person and a business.

Join a LinkedIn group, then make use of the advanced search functions. Not many people know this, but on LinkedIn, there’s a group for just about anything you can think of…animal lovers, jewelry designers, “green” activities, etc. What makes this significant is that, because LinkedIn only allows you to connect with people you know, if you like a person’s comment in a group, you now have a reason to connect with him or her. You can see all of your groups’ discussion activities through daily or weekly email digests.

“Once you receive your digests, you look through the discussions to see if there are any you want to participate in,” says Newman. “You then go to that discussion, read what they’re talking about, then add your own comment. What’s significant is that if there are 500 comments, that’s 500 people following that discussion, so your own comment gets sent out to all of those people. You can reach so many people in such a simple way.”

Even if there are only five people following a discussion, all it takes is one golden connection to make a difference in your business, and that’s where LinkedIn’s search functions come in. When you load the LinkedIn home page, at the top right hand corner, you’ll see that the search bar is  automatically set on people. But if you click on “Advanced” to the right of the search bar, you’ll be able to search for people using just about any criteria you can think of via the keyword box.

“Let’s say that I was looking for creative directors,” says Newman. “Once I click on ‘Advanced,’ a whole load of criteria opens up on the left side of the page. I can then limit my search to location. Once I find someone I want to connect with, I click on that person’s profile and it will tell me what groups they’re in, and specifically if there’s a group that we have in common. If so, I can now send a message saying that we are both in this group, and it would be cool if we could connect.

“The great thing about LinkedIn is that it offers ways to get incredibly high visibility, which we’re not getting anymore with Twitter and Facebook, where there’s just too many people now and too much going on,” Newman says. “Seventy-five percent of people don’t even see your posts anymore.”

At one time, Facebook “Pages” were a hot topic, but with Facebook’s recent changes, Pages no longer offer the functionality they once did. Many users find the Timeline (which was forced upon Pages) confusing, and Newman has seen a drop-off in Page usage. For a time, many thought that Google+ would be a great replacement for Facebook Pages, but Newman believes Google+ is trying to be all things to all people and just isn’t delivering.

“Google+ tried to combine the best of both worlds of both Facebook and LinkedIn, but the two sites are just too different,” she says. “LinkedIn’s discussion groups are the best out there, which people are beginning to gravitate to as they become more and more frustrated with Facebook.”

Using LinkedIn’s “Question and Answer” section can set you up as an expert. It can also offer a wealth of information that you just won’t be able to find anyplace else.

To ask a question, in the top right search bar, use the pull-down menu and click “Answers.” On that page, you can ask anything you want, like “What should I charge for a dozen printed greeting cards on Etsy?” Once you read the list of answers, you’ll also have the opportunity to click on which was the best answer, which will then give a credit to that person as an “expert.” The more times you answer questions and get the “expert” credit, the more likely you’ll begin to show up in listings as an “expert” in your particular area.

“The best reason for joining LinkedIn is two-fold,” says Newman. “The first is that you want to have a place that stores your complete profile where many people will be able to find you. The second is that you’ll want to join the LinkedIn groups and participate in or start discussions in order to open yourself up to a huge amount of people.

“If a group has 30,000 members and you post a discussion there, that’s a lot of eyes on that topic. You no longer have to worry about 10% of your followers on Facebook seeing your photo. On LinkedIn, you could literally get hundreds of comments and have people connecting with you left and right. The whole key is visibility.”

Schedule your social networking, so as to not spread yourself too thin. Newman says that as there are so many social networking platforms available now, business owners should approach them in one of two ways: Either pick one or two platforms and focus on them exclusively, or stick to a tight schedule of when you’ll post to which platform.

“There are different types of audiences for each platform,” says Newman. “The people who follow YouTube are different from those who follow LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+.  With so much going on, people are in danger now of spreading themselves too thin. Personally, I focus a lot on Twitter, and as a result have seen my followers quadruple in one year.”

But she also follows a social networking schedule, meaning that on certain days she’ll be sure to post something to Facebook, while others she’ll work on LinkedIn. Of course, if she has something urgent going on, like a new seminar or a new blog post, she’ll “pollinate” across all platforms in order to get as many discussions going as possible. But her favorite for discussions is by far LinkedIn.

“People are finally starting to get the message of LinkedIn,” she says. “Yes, it’s a business-to-business site, but the discussion area is more of a community talking to each other. And very often that community is huge.”

Until next time!
Mary Ann

"Serenity" Wood Block Print
Shop: maryannfarley