Successful Selling - Marketing & Social Media
inAugust 31, 2012 - 5:21am
I know, you've read it over and over again - the importance of marketing through social media sites. And like many sellers feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of them and underwhelmed with the amount of time to dedicate, I've put it off over and over again. Since going from privately owned to publicly traded, Facebook finally changed a key policy to allow users both a personal and business page which was exactly the push I (and maybe you) was looking for.
It used to be you were permitted one page on FB which I needed to keep in contact with family. Using it for business would have been impossible - us Italians have lots of relatives and events! This new policy allows you to switch from your business page to your private profile with a single click. The cover photo took a few attempts but set up was otherwise effortless as was posting items from my shop. Once your page is ready, you can instantly invite all your friends from your personal page to help you get the 30 likes required by FB to give you access to page tracking and stats. My family needed some encouragement (I threatened to close the pool) but I'm sure your friends will be much more co-operative. I even got a few likes from people I didn't know in the first week - cool! Now when I surf across something interesting, I can share it on my page which translates to new content and linking which makes Google happy. That it takes mere seconds makes me happy.
Facebook is of course only one example. Ruby Lane currently has about 325 sharing links including major players like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and LinkedIn. Once you've joined your chosen sites, you can quickly share your items with all your pages without ever having to login. It's extra work but marketing is the area in which many of us need improvement. I thought it was enough to list often to feed Google's appetite for fresh content. I linked to other shops and pages, joined forums, established a blog and contributed to Ruby Lane's Notes. And you know what? After being open nearly 4 years, I've barely scratched the surface in establishing a presence so now it's become my mission. Hey, I may be late to the party but the internet is still relatively young and you're never past your prime online.
In a nutshell, you have to make Google think you're "important" in your niche and this evaluation is based on how you interact in cyber space. It's no longer just about how much you list or what/where you sell. How popular you are on social networks, how many pages you like, share or link to and the frequency your items are shared are some of the factors Google considers to determine your importance. Correct keyword usage is a must but it only serves it's purpose when people know what they're looking for. Through social media you can attract a buyer who had no idea they wanted your feather boa until they "stumbled upon" it on a page not even associated with your shop - talk about reach! If you belong to Ning sites or other vintage addict communities be sure to submit photos that link to your shop. With the links to all these sites so readily accessible on every page, you never know who will like, tweet or pin your items. From there, your stuff could end up all over the web and hopefully into someone's cart!
When I started selling online, I only considered the obvious - photos, listing, shipping, etc. I never dreamed there was so much more work involved but the internet is changing constantly and what worked a decade or two ago is certainly not in play today. Even the concept of selling vintage is changing in that what once targeted collectors now attracts new and younger audiences who are blending vintage into their homes and wardrobes. It almost seems an oxymoron but even vintage is subject to current trends and this new generation of buyers can best (and sometimes only) be reached through social media sites.
Online marketing is actually getting easier and in many cases it's free. Memberships to high traffic sites like the Vintage Fashion Guild and the Vintage Village are beyond reasonable. There are sellers who spend small fortunes on resources but subscriptions to sites like Kovels and WorthPoint aren't cheap nor will they get you direct sales. You can also pay to advertise online but invest time first and you'll see your numbers increase. Sales, shop traffic, page rank - the numbers that count. Sure, Google creates a somewhat level playing field but you have to play and many of us just sit on the sidelines praying for profits.
So if you haven't jumped on the social networking bandwagon it's time! You don't need a course in Google either, it's not as hard as you think and it's only time consuming in the beginning. Considering the potential of return, it's an investment in ourselves that validates the tremendous effort we put into our shops. If you're like me and sometimes wonder why you do it, successful marketing will turn your labor of love into a profitable romance.
Written by Rita Zappitelli
Falls Avenue Vintage Fashion on Ruby Lane