Differentiation

Big Ceramic Store and Bracker’s Good Earth Clay are two influential ceramic stores within the ceramic industry. BigCeramicsStore.com was founded by a husband and wife team in 1999 when the ceramic industry was just getting involved on Web 2.0. In 2013, the couple sold the business to Vertana, a NYC based e-commerce company. Bracker’s Good Earth is also owned by a husband and wife team that starting selling ceramic supplies in 1985 and began a web presence in 2000. Each company has a e-commerce website; however this is where they begin to differ. Big Ceramic Store (BCS) website is a traditional e-commerce store with links to Facebook, Pinterest, and the company blog. Bracker’s website is enriched with offering an extensive collections of social media networks and it provides content rich information presenting them as a ceramic industry leader. Each company uses social media to create brand awareness, drive traffic to the company website, build relationships with consumers but they have different goals.

BigCeramicStore.com

Big Ceramic Store is known for selling “big” ticket items, such as a pottery kiln or wheel, with free shipping. This is an alluring marketing tactic in a niche industry. Big Ceramic Store has created a 1950’s diner style website that directs the consumer right to products they are looking for as seen below:

bcsbanner

The BCS social media strategy is apparent as soon as the consumer lands on the front page. BCS has invested in driving business through the store e-newsletter which pop-up instantaneously. The goal behind collecting emails is to turn potential leads into return customers. BCS e-newsletter is focused on conversion which is apparent with an immediate sign-on bonus of 15% off. Once the consumer joins the BCS e-newsletter, he or she will continue to receive frequent incentive discounts especially based on areas within the store where the consumer has visited. The BCS e-newsletter is designed to increase web traffic and sales through conversions while building brand awareness and communicating directly with the consumer.

Big Ceramic Store also uses the social media networks, Facebook and Pinterest, to post sales; however, Pinterest has a stronger impact with 1.6K followers, 29 boards, and 862 pins. A popular board on Pinterest is called BCS Announcements linking viewers to BCS blog and discounts. The Pinterest boards and Facebook link the consumer back to BigCeramicStore.com to watch ceramic videos, read the BCS blog, or make a purchase. Both social media channels support the company goal to convert the potential lead into a sale by driving the consumer to the website.

Brackers.com

Bracker’s has a distinctively different approach to socially engaging the ceramic consumer. The Bracker’s website is overwhelming the consumer with a large volume of ceramic content earmarking them a leader in the ceramic industry. In addition, Brackers.com offers repetitively links to the social media channels with banners as noted below that the consumer is lead to believe Bracker’s is super socialBrackers

This extensive presence promotes the Bracker brand to a wide audience and can leave the consumer feeling compelled to click through to one of the networks. The Bracker’s website offers upcoming events which can be conveniently added to a consumers Google, Outlook or Apple Calendar; it has informative video’s educating the ceramic consumer on relevant content. Bracker’s is using the tactic of search engine optimization (SEO) with keywords and the repetitive social media channel with reciprocal links to earn ranking organically on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Since the actual Bracker’s e-commerce store is hard to find, the company goal is education and brand awareness as a ceramic industry leader.

Consumers Vs. Industry Leader

Big Ceramics Store is branded for “big” discounts and offers constant contact with the consumer through an e-newsletter. The company’s goal is to drive traffic to the e-commerce website, develop brand loyalty through social media channels, such as Facebook and Pinterest, and convert leads e-newsletter subscribers into sales. Bracker’s Good Earth Clay is recognized as a ceramic industry leader by offering a plethora of high quality content, informational videos, an educational blog, an extensive presence on the social media landscape, daily listings of ceramic events, and uses search optimization tools to increase web traffic. Both companies use their website to connect and communicate with the consumer, however Big Ceramic Store is effectively building a relationship with the consumer through the e-newsletter and discounts. Bracker’s is branded as a ceramic industry leader and used a reference and resource more so than generating a return on investment. What do you want from your ceramic supplier, “big” discounts or a social calendar?

Soaking Up The Mobile Ceramic Rewards

In 2012, Daily Clay, a mobile off-spring of Ceramics Arts Daily and produced by The American Ceramic Society, hit the iPhone mobile application market. I, like many other potters who use Ceramics Art Daily as a ceramic resource, were hopeful that the app would prove to be beneficial. The extensive website offers books, magazines, videos, educational, blogs and forums. Instead, the mobile app became a daily posting of a handmade piece of ceramic art. Although inspirational, it didn’t serve the same grandeur as the parent website. Daily Clay had a strong potential to be a useful tool integrating mobile ability and social media with the Ceramics Arts Daily website.

Increasingly, I find Instagram connecting potters with their audience and consumers. Instagram is a mobile-only network which means you create and publish from the mobile app only. You can view and  a picture from a laptop or desktop but that is it. Instagram has gone to great lengths to offer the user high quality resolution ensuring the visual of ceramics pictures and videos are inviting. Instagram offers “filters, special effects, and editing tools” (daCunha, 2015). If you download InstaCollage, an app that compliments Instagram with special effect, layouts, and borders, you can create eye captivating pictures instantly as seen here:

spinart

It also offers easy “sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare” (Hemley, 2013). This allows a ceramic business owner to expand his or her audience in vast numbers from one mobile social media application.

The Instagram platform used hashtags from its first inception, known as the symbol”#”, to expound on the content of pictures and videos posted (Gonzalez, 2012). It is best for a potter to hashtag their pictures to identify the place it was taken, subject, and description. Some popular ceramic hashtags are #ceramics, #potter, #throwing, #stoneware, and #loveclay. #clay is the most tagged at 1,172,085 posts. If a potter was looking for inspiration from other fellow potters, they could search #cone6, a type of glazing firing range, and find 4,382 posts. If they wanted to find a ceramic supply brand from a picture posted and  with a hashtag such as Amaco, they can use the spyglass on the bottom of the app. Once they find AmacoBrent, one of the largest ceramic supply company’s, they can click the name AmacoBrent which brings them to AmacoBrent’s Instagramer page.  The potter can start following AmacoBrent as well as view pictures they have posted. On AmacoBrents Instagram page they cleverly posted their website www.amaco.com drawing the viewer to their shopping cart website as seen here:

amacobrentinstagram

Instagram helps businesses like a small ceramic studio like Extrudergirl or a large company like AmacoBrent. Gerry Moran suggests building a strong profile on Instagram as noted in detail below (Moran, 2013):

Perfect-Instagram-Profile1

A well-developed profile becomes the foundation for Instagram as social media strategy. Posting pictures of handcrafted ceramic pieces or products a ceramic supply business is selling to potter allows the business to cultivate a following not just through Instagram but with the cross posting capability to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare. As a ceramic business builds their brand awareness, they can start following back their new audience. As posted pictures become visual commentaries with hashtags, a potter can create a theme or capitalize on current trends to complement his or her brand and increase credibility. They can engage viewers and consumers with consistent images and by leaving comments on follower’s postings. Developing a posting schedule will entice followers and inspire potential consumers. Over posting could cause followers to abandon your business. It is best to analyze how many posts, the kind of pictures, hashtags followers are relating to, and comments consumers are leaving. Iconosquare is a free tool to measure your Instagram success. It will give you a snap shot of the percentage of followers, lost followers, follow growth, likes, comments, and overall engagement (Lawrence, 2014).

spongeholder2

Instagram is a visual experience for your followers, consumers, and perspective fans to learn, like, and buy into your business brand. Instagram will help promote your business, build a community around your photographed work and hashtags, generate leads and encourage conversation with your audience and consumers. I like to think, that with my Extrudergirl shop, once I get attention from my customers with a sponge holder photo on Instagram, I soak up my ceramic rewards.

Resources:

Ceramic Arts Daily Home Page (n.d.). Ceramics Arts Daily. The American Ceramic Society. Retrieved from: http://ceramicartsdaily.org/

daCunha, M. (2015) 10 Instagram Marketing Tips to Make People Love Your Brand. Business 2 Community. Retrieved from: http://www.business2community.com/instagram/10-instagram-marketing-tips-make-people-love-brand-01115446

Gonzalez, P. (2012). How to Use Hash Tags on Instagram. Instagramers. Retrieved from: http://instagramers.com/destacados/how-to-use-hash-tags-on-instagram/

Hemley, D. (2013). 26 Mobile Apps to Improve Your Business and Networking. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-mobile-apps-to-improve-your-business-and-networking/

Lawrence, T.(2014). Instagram Analytics Website Review ~ Iconosquare.com (Statigram). Tyler Lawrence. Retrieved from: http://tylerlawrence.com/instagram-analytics-website-review-iconosquare-statigram/

Moran, G. (2013). How to Build the Perfect Instagram Profile Infographic. MarketingThink. Retrieved from: http://marketingthink.com/infographic-to-build-the-perfect-instagram-profile/

Getting Dirty With Social Media Tools

Getting Dirty With Social Media Tools

I spend eight hours a day five days a week talking ceramics. After work, I come home and walk in the countryside of Florida a mile and a half with my toy fox terrier, Puppup. As eight o’clock rolls around, I crack open the laptop and start my Master’s Program term homework. On the weekends during the day, when my hands are not covered in moist clay, I might be packing up an order, designing new plates, or blending glazes to provoke that exclamation “Wow!” from the next group of wedding registry millennials on Etsy.

On nights that are raining and we are not walking, I am select Etsy shops for my next Treasury on Etsy. This shopping gallery of 16 featured Etsy stores pulls in viewers, favorites, and orders to my Etsy shop Extrudergirl. Once the Treasury is designed, I post a link to it on social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. At the end of the month, I run a traffic source report to see which social media network is working for me as seen below*:

trafficsourceetsy

* (Etsy, 2015)

In trying to expand my marketing for Extrudergirl, I have started delve into Twitter, Instagram and Google+. Trying to maintain the different social media networks is time consuming even when I am not balancing work, home, a small business and school.  A month ago, I was introduced to a free social media management site called Hootsuite.  This program allows me to schedule my posts to a variety of social media networks. I can check daily, weekly and monthly scheduled posts making appropriate adjustments with one click.  I have new insight to my posts, followers and content with Twitter, Google Analytics and Ow.ly.  The reports created helped me make better decisions on content I was posting based on what my followers have been responding to (Hootsuite). The dashboard gives me a quick snap shot of my Twitter account when @Extrudergirl has been mentioned in a post, or I have been retweeted or liked as well as any current activity of those I am following.

A few days after Hootsuite, I came upon Klout. The Klout is tool that measures your presence on the social media landscape. When I first signed on my Klout score was an 18.94. I was disappointed. I had read that the average score is 40 and wanted to know how to achieve such notary (Klout, 2013). After following some very simple instructions on post content, time and volume, my Klout score increased within days. I held a new steady score of 48. Combining the results of Klout with Hootsuite helped me to decide to use Facebook for my personal use only and not my Extrudergirl ceramic business.

Using Hootsuite and Klout as my new social media tools for posting to my Twitter and Google+ account, I thought about an article I read by Cindy King where she talked about Social Mention (King, 2011) which tracks “and measures what people are saying about your company” (socialmention). This search reports specific keywords related to your company or products. This unique tool will help me be more conscious of words I wanted related to my Etsy store Extrudergirl when people do searches. I did a search of Extrudergirl. My name was linked to my blog, Extrudergirl, and the word ceramic as seen below.

socialmention

                This result was startling. I am new to the Hashtag world. Almost everyone has seen and a good handful of you have used the pound sign (#) with a word after it. I thought I would at least have something linked to #extrudergirl since I have been using that to tag pictures on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. In an article I recently read by Cindy King, she recommended Tagbound (King C. , 2015). Tagboard lets you see what is being said related to your hashtag across the social media landscape. I am hoping in the next three months as I expand my Twitter usage and remain consistent with blogging, that the hashtags will be measurable.

My Extrudergirl social media goal over the next three months is to increase my Klout Twitter Score, adding posts to my Google+, and use hashtags and keywords to drive followers, fans and buyers to Extrudergirl. As my blogging grows and tweeting content improves, I am hoping to increase my retweets, tweet likes and Google+1 volume as well. For now, I am heading back to the studio to get dirty.

Resources:

Extrudergirl Stats (2015). Shop Stats 2009-2015 Traffic Source. Etsy. Retrieved from: https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/Extrudergirl/stats?ref=seller_platform_hdr

Hootsuite Platform (n.d.). Everything You Need In One Place. Hoostsuite. Retrieved from: https://hootsuite.com/products/platform

Keath, J. (2015) Ultimate Recap: Top New Social Media Tools for 2014. Socialfresh. Retrieved from: http://www.socialfresh.com/ultimate-recap-top-new-social-media-tools-of-2014/

King, C. (2011). 12 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/12-social-media-tools-recommended-by-the-pros/

King. C, (2015). 44 Social Media Tools Recommended By The Pros. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/44-social-media-tools-recommended-pros/

Measure (2015). Mesaure Page Extrudergirl Account. Klout. Retrieved from: https://klout.com/#/measure

The Klout Score (2013). What is the Average Klout Score? Klout. Retreived from: http://support.klout.com/customer/portal/articles/679109-what-is-the-average-klout-score-