A Honest Guide to Social Media for Small Business: Part 1

If you own a business and aren't taking an advantage of social media then you are missing out on a great opportunity for "free" advertising.  I am using quotations around "free" because time is money in the business world and it takes a lot of time to build a strong social network.  This leaves the small business in a bind where they may have trouble deciding how much time to devote to social media or if it is worthwhile at all.  Is it worth it?  Yes and No...and here is why.

Setting the Right Priorities
If you are a small business social media may not be something you should invest a lot of time in.  You are much better off investing that time in creating happy customers who will provide rave reviews and word of mouth referrals.  Additionally, your physical storefront and/or website are your next window to world.  No matter how great you are at connecting on social sites if the customer gets to your storefront and it doesn't look put together they are likely to have second thoughts then leave.  Social networking is often painted as a solution to being noticed in the downed economy but the truth of the matter is that it ultimately will make no difference if you can't get your customers to walk in the door once you have their attention.  In short, time is money and you want to be sure you are spending time where it does the most good for your business.

Choosing Your Social Networks
If you have decided that social networking is a good option for your business plan you next need to decide how you want to establish your company within the social media network.  There are countless options for social networking on the internet and each one reaches a different type of audience.  To help you figure out what network will best fit you and your buisness, I have developed a brief overview of some of the more popular options available.

Users can create profiles with photos, lists of personal interests, contact information and other personal information. Communicating with friends and other users can be done through private or public messages or a chat feature. Users can also create and join interest groups and "like pages" (formerly called "fan pages" until April 19, 2010), some of which are maintained by organizations as a means of advertising. -wiki

Currently the most popular social networking platform, Facebook allows you to create what they call "pages" for your business.  I like to keep these simple but some people devote a lot of time into creating custom landing pages and incorporating other facebook marketing strategies.  Since my work appeals to more than one type of audience I maintain one facebook page for those who have a broader interest in learning about Architecture, Graphics, and Crafts and then another that I only update with my own work as ArchGrafix.  Facebook can be a great tool for those who need to reach a younger crowd and even older generation are staring to get into facebook (probably because that's the only way they can contact their kids).  I have found that facebook fan pages are best for companies that are product driven since it makes it easy to send out special deals and announcements to your fan base.

MySpace is a technology company connecting people through personal expression, content, and culture. MySpace empowers its global community to experience the Internet through a social lens by integrating personal profiles, photos, videos, mobile, messaging, games, and the world's largest music community. MySpace is a division of News Corporation. -MySpace Press Room

While MySpace use to be the leading social network site it is now quickly falling out of the spotlight.  The only real exception you'll find is that it is very popular for bands because MySpace allows for easy music sharing while Facbook does not.  In general I think MySpace is a waste of time for businesses and should only be updated via RSS Feed if used at all but if you are in the online dating or music industry it is a place you should have on your social network list.

My personal favorite because it is easy to update and is even easier to feed into all other prominent social networking sites.  Not to mention that you don't have to spend hours creating content since you only have 140 characters per tweet.  These short updates also allow you to reach a broader audience since it makes it okay to post information that, while not completely unrelated to your business, appeals to a broader audience than you'd usually focus on.  Twitter users want to know about the people they follow just as much as they do the company they represent so don't be afraid to allow your personality to show through; in fact some even suggest using your personal picture even if the account is for a business (I personally don't think it matters as long as you have a cool twitter image).  With my twitter account @archgrafix I try to keep a broad focus while still keeping most of my tweets focused on my business and design.

When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional expertise and accomplishments. You can then form enduring connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to a vast number of qualified professionals and experts. -LinkedIn
You should have a personal presence on LinkedIn if you work directly with customers because it provides a great platform for collecting reviews and growing your professional network.  While you can create a LinkedIn page for you company it is not a very good marketing too in of itself.  Utilize LinkedIn for reviews and networking and then post those reviews on other social networking sites with a link back to their original source.  Since their Company pages are still in beta (you can find the ArchGrafix LinkedIn profile here) it could become a powerful marketing tool in the future for those that cater to businesspeople; so keep it on your radar.

While there are many other social networking platforms the above are the most commonly used by businesses.  I debated adding Google Buzz to the above list because it is very similar to twitter; but when I tried it out it bombarded me with emails so after having to spend a lot of time (ironically) Goggling how to turn it off (a problem many had) I quit using it.  If anyone thinks it is a good business tool please let me know how you utilize Buzz for your business.
I hope you found this guide helpful and straightforward.  In Part 2 I intend to go over strategy and netiquette for use when promoting a business on social networks.


A Blog From the Heart

My name is Whitney, I am a LEED AP, have a professional degree in architecture and a passion for graphic design (hence ArchGrafix) as well as environmentalism and crafting.  So, it was only natural to focus on Graphic Design and EcoCrafts when setting up my Etsy shop.

I have been doing graphic design since 2001 but arts and crafts have always been a personal passion.  I combine my three loves: Architecture, Graphic Design, and Crafts into what you are currently reading: Arch|Grafix|Crafts

There was not likely a time growing up when something art and crafts related wasn't in my hand.  I was always painting, cutting, pasting, and building interesting creations out of things I'd find around the house and yard. 

When it came time to go to college I knew what I wanted to do; become an architect.  In May of 2007 I finished the first leg of that journey upon graduating with a professional degree in Architecture.

The economy granted me the opportunity to explore doing business for myself. In March of 2009 I started offering a selection of architectural and graphic design services.  It has certainly been an adventure filled with many learning experiences.

While I have always been a craft oriented person I never knew how to sell my work aside from renting a booth at a craft mall...then I found Etsy and here I am.  I hope you like my work.

Places you can find me around the net:



Fun with Word Clouds

I found this fun website today called Wordle.  It allows you to create word coulds based on anything you input into it.  You can use poems, book passages, favorite colors/things or your most commonly used twitter phrases (which is what I did).  Here's mine:

Seem interesting?  Try it out at

Make sure to follow @ArchGrafix for updates on Architecture Graphic Design and Crafts


Why buying "green" isn't always green.

While overall it is good that it has become trendy to care about environment there is also the downside to the green movement...greenwashing.  You can find it happening in every product market from housing to food.

What Is Greenwashing? 

Greenwashing, also sometimes called green sheene, refers to businesses who utilize the marketing benefits of going green by presenting their company in a manner that makes it appear that they are making changes to benefit the environment when their intentions are elsewhere (such as cost saving).  This practice often involves spinning changes in corporate policy so that they are viewed in a green light when there is no real argument to be made for a positive environmental impact.  Companies that green wash will spend more of their time advertising being green than they do working to implement beneficial green and sustainable programs.

You Can't Paint Your House Green

In the building industry a common form of greenwashing is consumers purchasing one of the many "green" paints on the market then claiming their entire house is eco-friendly.  It's great that you want your indoor air quality to improve but that doesn't mean your environmental footprint got smaller.  In truth, unless you needed to paint you just increased your footprint by needlessly using resources.  A lot of energy goes into making paint, packaging it, and getting it to your home.  Making smart environmental choices in your home or business means making numerous changes for the better till you've done all you can to create a sustainable and healthy envrionement.

Organic Roadtrip

Those who choose organics aren't immune to greenwashing either.  While many organic farming methods are better for the environment did you ever stop to check where your organic food is being produced?  Many grocery stores stock their organic food sections with produce and other products that have been shipped in from around the world.  What are the chances that you are still making less of an environmental impact after all of that transportation energy?  The, of course, you don't want to blindly follow the organic label anyway because organic it doesn't mean sustainable or humane:

requirements, which must be met in order for food to be labeled “U.S.D.A. Organic,” are fine, of course. But they still fall short of the lofty dreams of early organic farmers and consumers who gave the word “organic” its allure — of returning natural nutrients and substance to the soil in the same proportion used by the growing process (there is no requirement that this be done); of raising animals humanely in accordance with nature (animals must be given access to the outdoors, but for how long and under what conditions is not spelled out); and of producing the most nutritious food possible (the evidence is mixed on whether organic food is more nutritious) in the most ecologically conscious way. . .People don’t understand that, nor do they realize “organic” doesn’t mean “local.” “It doesn’t matter if it’s from the farm down the road or from Chile,” Ms. Shaffer said. “As long as it meets the standards it’s organic.” --The New York Times
So, eat organic if you are concerned about antibiotics, pesticides, and fertilization methods but don't let the corporations trick you into thinking that choosing organic is necessarily better for you or the environment.

Green Chic

Organic and recycled note cards, clothing and accessories is not immune to greenwashing either. As with food, in many cases these products are produced half way across the world in working conditions that we are often unaware of.  As with organic food, these long travel distances are very likely going to cancel out any potential environmental benefits.  If you are buying a recycled product that doesn't contain post-consumer waste that means they are just recycling waste product from the normal manufacturing process but not reclaiming anything that has been circulated to consumers.  While there is nothing necessarily wrong with recycling production waste in many cases these companies were doing that before the green movement (to save money) and are just taking advantage of the green pr.  So, if you want to purchase recycled products that help the environment; look for products that say post consumer when talking about recycled content.  If you are buying organic clothing and don't know what that really means Green Wardrobe: Getting Techie may help you understand.

What is Green?

"Green" is many things but is mainly a very elementary way of describing a whole class of products and actions which are beneficial to the environement.  If you try to purchase locally made (within 500 miles or less) products, avoid foods which have long ingredients lists that sounds weird, and remember that 'natural' isn't always safer (hemlock is natural) or better you'll have the kind of mind necessary to navigate through the greenwashing mine field to come out the other end as a savvy eco-shopper.