Exploring the Power Of Social Media to Promote your Print Shop
I own Industry Print Shop, a screen printing company with 25 employees in Austin, Texas. I have been using social media since 2013, but really started harnessing its full power around 2016.
If you’re like me, 10 years ago you may have viewed social media with a wait-and-see attitude before jumping in. I was aware of it, but was not willing to invest any time until a close friend insisted that I was missing out by not getting involved. He essentially threatened me by saying “I’m not going to be your friend if you don’t start doing this.” He was joking, of course, but I took the hint.
Today, we have accounts on multiple social media platforms. I think they are all valuable and useful, but we found our footing and voice with Instagram. Every platform requires a different approach. You’re not going to get the same type of engagement on Twitter as you do on Instagram with the exact same post. You can still use the same content, but you have to tailor the context to the channel.
Because what we do is so visual, Instagram is natural. It gives us the most return for our efforts. It's important for people to find their platform and use them all if you are willing to tailor your messaging for each one.
You may find that Facebook works better for your business. The challenge we found with Facebook is that it's ever-changing. In the past, just when we started to find our footing, all the algorithms would change. We found it restricting.
As Instagram grew and evolved, it allowed us to learn about new & different platforms like Snapchat. Just when we started our account on Snapchat Instagram introduced ‘stories’. So while we are represented on multiple social media outlets, we focus our efforts on creating engaging posts on Instagram, as it is a Swiss Army knife of social platforms.
When getting started in any social media platform or channel, you’ll find it’s a trial-and-error process. We tried different things, and eventually found a pattern and style that provided the most engagement with our following. It’s a matter of thinking things through and learning enough about that channel and your audience until you can trust your gut to choose what to post and what to say about it.
Within Instagram, you’ll find you have options on how you publish. You can create a static post that is a single photo with a caption. You can create a story, which is a photo or a video that will pop up in people’s newsfeeds for 24 hours and then disappear.
You can choose Instagram Live, which is a real-time video that gets broadcast to your followers as you film it. You also can create a photo album of something like an event or a process. Reels is the ability to record and edit short videos and share them to Explore where anyone may discover them.
Even when you are simply posting a photo, there are many ways to enhance it and add information that will attract more viewers. Obviously Hashtags are extremely common, but there are other options that are often overlooked. For example, you can use a geo tag. This identifies the location of where the photo was taken. It works equally well on Instagram and Facebook.
For example, when we post, we add an Austin, Texas tag. By tagging our location, if a user is in the Explore feed and they are in Austin, we are much more likely to pop up. So it’s another way to put yourself out there and ensure you are seen.
Another feature that many users do not employ is tagging people. When you tag someone, your post shows up in their profile under their tagged photos tab, and they get notified.
Here’s an example. I posted a behind-the-scenes photo that showed a Pantone book, and I tagged Pantone even though they were not mentioned in the copy.
By tagging them, Pantone will be notified, and it will show up on its profile. They can remove the post or keep it, but it gets our company in Pantone’s newsfeed. It’s a lost opportunity not to be tagging people, places and companies in your posts, because it increases the number of viewers. As well as provides content for them to repost.
There are two ways to tag, tagging photos and @ mentions. When you are uploading a photo, you’ll see an option below the caption box you can click on to tag people. Once you click on it you enter the account of the person or company, a small box is now displayed on the photo and you can click and drag the box anywhere on the photo. It’s a good idea to start following the account before tagging the photo so the account auto populates when typing their handle.
If you happen to forget to tag a photo you can tap on the 3 dots just above and to the right of the photo after uploading it to edit the post. Here you can tag accounts and also fix any copy in your caption. It’s a good idea to make edits to your post immediately as edits to posts are known to reset the algorithm disrupting any traction your post is gaining.
The other way to tag is to include the users IG handle in the caption, also known as ‘mentioned’. You must ensure to include the @ symbol in front of their handle. Once you include the @ symbol in the caption, IG automatically knows what you want to do and provides a list of accounts to choose from.
One challenge with @mentions or tagging photos is there are many similar names. For example, let’s say you are trying to tag your customer John Smith. If you type in John Smith, hundreds of John Smiths might pop up, and none of them will be the right one.
To solve this problem, each person has a unique handle. So be sure to do a little research and follow the account you wish to include. Once you do that, the auto populate feature will be much easier to navigate to pick the correct account.
It’s ideal to include both tactics, but you don’t need to and which one you choose will depend on the context. In the Pantone example above, I did not @ mention Pantone’s account in the caption copy. Since it was a behind-the-scenes photo and not a post specifically about Pantone, it didn’t require that.
The copy read: “The process is the inspiration.” So it was not appropriate to call out Pantone by name in the post. But I knew Pantone might appreciate being notified that it was included in the photo and also have the option to repost on its page or stories.
In the John Smith example, perhaps this client came by the shop, and I took a photo of him reviewing some samples, or we did a selfie together. In that situation, @ mentioning him would be appropriate as I am identifying who he is and if followers click on that tag, it takes them directly to his page.
Here’s one last example of providing context to your content. At Industry Print Shop, we work with a lot of musicians and artists. We recently did a collaboration with an artist and when we posted about it, we @ mentioned their account so viewers unfamiliar could click on that, this would allow them to see their work and how prolific they are.
I see posts all the time where the company will say something like “Hey check out this collaboration we did with this artist.” Without @ mentioning the account, viewers have no way to get more info about this artist or even find him without doing some legwork of their own.
If I’m really curious, I might search the name of the artist and see 50 people with that name. Including the @ mention provides viewers with more information lessening frustration while promoting the artist. Ideally, the artist either shares that post on his page or writes his own and tags you. So it’s win-win.
If you want to increase your success with social media, I strongly recommend that you make yourself familiar with all the tools and enhancements available to maximize the "viewability" of each post. I learned most of these by simply trial and error and getting on the channel and surfing around.
In future blogs, I’ll continue to share tools that I use regularly that will help you turn social media into the powerhouse marketing tool it has been for me.
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