Integrating social media: case studies

Daunted by how to integrate social media? We’ll go through some of the benefits of marketing your business on social and also look at how businesses of different sizes have set up their social media channels, with a some case studies.

Case study 1 Lion Brand

Case study 2 Buried Diamond

Case study 3 Crucial

Case study 4 Pattydoo

We’ll look at what type of content they’re sharing and the levels of engagement they’re getting from their audience.

There are two important things you should do to learn, and become more confident and successful in your social media marketing,

The first is to spend a bit of time looking at what other companies are doing, whether they’re tiny little one-person businesses or huge companies with big budgets. Look at anyone you respect, or like what they're doing - you can be inspired by their online activity.

The second is to try it out yourself. You have to test it, immerse yourself in the platform and even if you’re not very tech savvy it’s fine, because these are really quite straightforward interfaces. It can seem quite tricky to learn initially, but once you’ve posted once or twice it’s really easy to pick up.

The benefits of being on social media

Social media marketing gives you an opportunity to show off the human side of your company. It also increases your brand awareness. It’s a great opportunity to hear from your audience and customers, to start becoming influential in your industry and drive traffic to your site.

Despite these benefits there are still many businesses that may have tried it out and run out of steam and stopped posting or maybe think because they haven’t started yet it’s too late. Well, it’s not true!!

You can get set up today or rejuvenate an existing channel that’s been abandoned quite easily. Or, maybe you’re perfectly happy with your social output but you just don’t know how to get more engagement, and more followers.

The information in this module will help you to pick up from where you currently are and become more successful in your social media endeavours.

So let’s go ahead and look at some different websites and see what social media accounts they have set up to get some inspiration about what types of social media channels and content works for different types of industries and brands.

Case study 1 Lion Brand

We’ll off with a website called Lion Brand Yarns, who sell lots of yarns, knitting patterns and accessories.

When you're on a website it's worthwhile spending a little bit of time taking notice of where the social channels are linked to from their site. Lion Brand Yarns have them in the footer of the site, and they’re quite big and bold.

Lion Brand social icons

They’re quite big and bold; there’s a clear integration between their site and their social channels.

The footer is quite a common placement for placing social links. It's not necessarily where you have to put your social icons but it's interesting to pay attention to where other sites in your industry locate their social icons. You can then consider whether that's the best place for your icons as well. What you’re weighing up here is whether visitors can quickly and easily find out where to follow you on the social network of their preference.

If you click on the Facebook icon you can see straight away that Lion Brand have a really nice colourful image for their Facebook cover photo.

Lion Brand Facebook

Maybe you want to think about updating your cover photo with a new season or a new range?

You can also see that they're using their iconic logo as a profile picture. They’ve also got a couple of offers below the picture which is a great call to action. There are other call-to-action buttons which are really easy to set up. When you log into your Facebook page you'll see the options around the bottom of your cover photo. You can use this feature to drive traffic from your profile to your site.

Now let's look at their About section. This is pulled onto your page from the 'short description' in your Facebook account settings. You'll want to keep this section quite short (you have 155 characters to play with - and you’ll want to use all those characters).

About Lion Brand

Make it descriptive and punchy and memorable. Use primary keywords but focus on writing it for your human visitors, make it interesting, explain to visitors who you are and what you do.

Lion Brand's description is great, very friendly and welcoming and sets the company up as a very old established family business (so they know what they’re talking about!). However their short and long descriptions are identical. This is a wasted opportunity to say a bit more about themselves.

Lion Brand are making use of their custom tabs, which run across the top of your page here just under your cover photo.

Your first two will always be ‘Home’ and ‘About’, but you can choose what you put in the other two, and more are available from the drop down menu.

Lion Brand custom tabs

They’re using custom tabs promoting their Featured Yarn - Save 20%, and their Weekly Stitch newsletter.

You can set up a custom tab by using 3rd party app, if you see a tab you like just, look at the bottom to see what app they have used to set it up. Some companies, such as PageModo will let you have one free custom tab.

Let's look at what they're posting about. They’ve uploaded images and videos, and included the shortened link in the update. They're publicising their offers and webinars, but also have lots of other content they think their audience might be interested in.

Lion Brand Yarn

They've shared a photo with a link to a 3rd party site, so they're not afraid to shout out to something else they like in their industry.

They've mentioned the owner of the pattern so people can click through and they'll get a notification they're being talked about. 

This is a great way to build up a relationship using social media. It's also showing a mixture of sharing their own content and other people's content.

There are differing opinions on the ratio of sharing your content to 3rd party content. Some people say 5,5,5+: 5 of your own, 5 pieces of 3rd party content, and and 5 replies + any other miscellaneous content. It really depends on how much you’re updating your page.

I would aim to alternate – so share one piece of content from someone else then share something of your own - as long as the content from elsewhere is good quality, and you're prepared to endorse another brand to your followers.

If you have lots of your own lovely content, images or blog posts, don't be afraid to share it - but minimize the amount of full-on sales posts. So for every “ooh  we have a 20% off sale” maybe share 3 other pieces of your own content that are helpful or visually appealing so you’re not overwhelming your followers.

The most important thing is to test out what works for you! If you're suddenly losing lots of followers or receiving feedback that you're being too over the top then you can tone it down a bit.

charity knitter

This story about a young charity knitter got great engagement...

Pokemon

...while their Pokemon post shows they're on trend...

Facebook offer

... and this shout-out to a crochet brand is combined with a 20% off sales promo.

It's amongst lots of other good content so they haven't overdone it on the sales pitch. 

Lion Brand have the same company description on Pinterest which creates good cross-channel continuity and they're linking back to their website and also to their Twitter account. Pinterest also has the option to add your Facebook and Google + account here. It's a good way to integrate your other social accounts as well as your website.

Lion Brand Pinterest

Lion Brand have the same company description on Pinterest which creates good cross-channel continuity.

They're linking back to their website and also to their Twitter account.

The two main things to remember with Pinterest are to make sure you’ve included a link if you're uploading your pin from your computer and make sure you spend a bit of time writing a nice description.

When people pin your pin they very rarely edit the description so pay attention to this - you have a lot of control over what it says there. You have 500 characters to play with, but only the first 75-100 will show up initially. It’s a good idea to have a look at what other people are using for their descriptions. You can include a call to action but don't include more time sensitive information - you want your pins to be evergreen. Think about your primary keywords for each pin and weave those into your description.

It can help at this stage to type in a few keywords into the Pinterest search function to see what comes up.

Lion Brand are pinning from lots of other websites, not just their own. They're also pinning from their Lion Brand blog - and they have an ideal business to be able to put up lots of colourful pictures!

On Twitter they've chosen to link to their blog in their description and have their website in the website field.

Lion Brand Twitter

So that’s another way you can drive traffic to other pages of your site.

They're also promoting a seasonal post through a pinned tweet. This is quite a nice feature you can use with your Twitter account, for sales or offers etc. Just click on the three dots here for your tweet, click pin tweet and it'll stick to the top of your profile.

Pinned Tweet

A lot of Lion Brand's Twitter content is similar to their Facebook so there are lots of images. They've included the handle for the creator of the crochet pattern so they're recommending and endorsing them to their followers and building a relationship like we saw on Facebook previously.

In fact almost every tweet is an image. They're not auto tweeting from Facebook to Twitter however, they're careful to write a unique message to share on each platform, which is what you want to do.

So let’s have a look at their YouTube channel.

Lion Brand YouTube

Case study 2 Buried Diamond

The second site I'm going to look at is Buried Diamond which is the jewellery brand set up by a creative lady who makes ceramic charms by hand. I thought it would be interesting to look at someone who is a sole trader because there are only so many hours in a day and maintaining a strong social presence can be overwhelming at first.

We can see she has a link to Instagram at the top, and again at the bottom where her main social links are.  Her site and niche is very visual and she has obviously found that Instagram is the most relevant for her and so links to it twice.

Buried Diamond social icons

She has Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, which is a powerful trio for small creative businesses because they’re quick to update and you can share lots of your own unique content, particularly images.

In Instagram there's only one place where clickable links will work and that's the section of your accounts settings that is for your website. So if you include a link in your description or your comment on a post it won't be linkable - people can still copy and paste though.

Buried Diamond Instagram

So she's driving traffic directly to her Etsy site, which obviously works for her.

You might want to think about driving social media traffic straight to the shop section of your site, but this is where you should use analytics to tell you which page converts better for you, taking out the guesswork.  Ultimately, if your home page converts better then that’s where you should be driving people.

Looking at Tumblr we can see she’s she's sharing lots of images and she’s got some cultural references - it all fits in very visually with her brand. It’s a mixture of product images and inspiration as well. The business obviously lends itself to Tumblr as it’s all very visual.

Buried Diamond Tumblr

Looking at Tumblr we can see she’s she's sharing lots of images and she’s got some cultural references. It all fits in very visually with her brand  -  it’s a mixture of product images and inspiration.

Let's see how this compares with her Twitter.  Her Twitter is all set up she's got a lovely profile picture and cover photo in place and link in place. 

Buried Diamond Twitter

But it looks like she's not sharing as many images directly on to Twitter as Lion Brand were, and she was on her other 2 channels. 

It looks like she's auto tweeting out from her Instagram, which is becoming less common. It's not really a problem except you get a truncated symbol which means the message has been cut off, which you see with these 3 dots here.

Buried Diamond Tweets

On one hand it might be fine if you're pushed for time - but on the other hand you really want to show yourself at your best, and display all you have to offer on all the channels you're putting time and effort into, so you're maximising your reach and engagement on each channel.

It might be better to upload that image and write a custom tweet using hashtags and linking people by mentioning their handles. It just means it fits the platform better and you don't get the truncated message.

We’re not seeing nearly as much engagement on Twitter as she has on Instagram, so perhaps testing more image-based tweets and updates written specifically for Twitter are worth a try.

Those were two quite fun crafty, creative websites, so let’s look at something a bit more technical.

Case study 3 Crucial

Crucial sell memory and hard drives and so on. They're a really big company with a bigger budget so let’s see how that reflects in their social media output.

So once again, the social icon links are at the footer of the site and they're pushing YouTube Facebook ,Twitter and G+ as their social platforms.

Crucial social icons

They have a nice image they’re using across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and G+ so that’s great continuity across the social channels. They’re not using that image on their website, however, preferring to go straight to products, technical advice and offers.

On Facebook they have their call to action set up.

Facebook call to action

And you can see that their page looks a little different to Lion brand because they have added an address in their account settings which opens up the review option.

They've also added a featured video and they're posting funny images relevant to computers and gaming and designing and so on.

It does seem like they know their target audience because they're sharing these image based posts, often asking a question encouraging people to get involved. It looks like a strategy that is working well for them because they're getting lots of engagement, and people responding. And they are replying to each message.

Crucial Facebook post

Make it fun - include lots of images, ask questions and reply to your followers!

On YouTube, like Lion Brand, they've got their social links in place (including 2 links to G+...).

Crucial YouTube

On Twitter Crucial are repurposing a lot of content from Facebook, but they're generally writing a unique message that fits into the channel format. They’ve also set up some lists for other industry relevant accounts.

Twitter lists

That's a great way to organise accounts and get noticed as people will get a notification when you add them to a list. You don't have to follow someone to add them to a list, and you can set up private lists as well.

Their G+ account has some shared content repurposed from Facebook, but also lots of unique content which suggests they’re catering for a different audience on this platform.

It's worth playing around with what works for you.

So even if your niche is a bit more technical and maybe you think there isn't any fun content out there, that's really not the case. Think about what you are interested in, what makes you laugh or groan, think about what your customers are interested in, what makes their day or what really ruins their day. you can start to hit those trigger points in your posts.

Case study 4 Pattydoo

I’m going to quickly show one more crafty website - there’s a bit of a theme here! It's quite easy for you to make this kind of analysis with your competitors or sites that you come across.

Pattydoo is a sewing website, specialising in tutorials, videos and sewing patterns, including design your own. Their social links are in another location that’s quite common - right at the top.

Pattydoo

One likely reason for this is that the site requires quite a lot of scrolling to get to the footer so they're easier to locate at the top here. In fact they look quite good at the top, but you should go for whatever works for your site.

Pattydoo currently has Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. This is a really nice selection as her niche is very visual. It’s a good range for sharing buttons because you don't want to slow down your site, and realistically if someone wants to share your post somewhere else they can copy and paste the link.

A previous version of the site had Twitter and Google+ but not Instagram. The main takeaway here is that you should experiment and see what works for you. There are plenty of opinions and guides about what works for sharing content and integrating social into your marketing strategy, but ultimately you have to dive in, give it a go and don’t be afraid to change.

Each business, niche and audience is different and will respond in different ways. So test out what works for you, and above all don’t give up, keep posting and testing and building and improving on what works.