How to Leverage Social Media When You Don’t Have a Local Community

Every week in my Facebook Group, Transform Your Yarn, I give my members a chance to have a question about knitting, designing or running an indie-biz, answered personally by me, during a live-stream.

This week’s question was asked by Katrina:

“Word of mouth is a powerful thing when it comes to advertising designs, but what do you do if you don't have close knitter friends or a local knitting community to help share the love?”

This was the perfect question to ask me, because this was literally my situation for the past two years. I recently moved to Osaka (the second biggest city in Japan), from the tiny village of Ubuyama, located in the middle of nowhere. While living in Ubuyama, the closest yarn shop was one island over, which happens to be located in Osaka. In order to travel anywhere we had to drive and I didn’t have a driver’s license, essentially leaving me stuck at home during the day.

Basically, I had no local knitting community. I was all by myself on my mountain top (okay, I had my husband and cat).

The first winter I was in Ubuyama, I quickly learned how miserable it is not to have anyone who shares the same passion for knitting and designing, within close contact. So I made the decision to learn how to use social media: 1) building my own community, and 2) establishing genuine relationships online. By working on these two goals simultaneously, this naturally progressed into “buzz” around my brand and design work.

I’m going to share some insights I’ve gained over the two years that I’ve been working on these goals, and it’s still something I work on, more than 19K IG followers later!

1.         Choose a platform and learn it inside-out

Each social media platform has its pros and cons. Choose the one that you feel most comfortable with, one you naturally spend a lot of time on, and learn how to effectively engage with your ideal audience.

2.         Speak Up!

You wouldn’t go to a networking event, stand in the corner and expect to make connections. Social media is the same way. People will pass you over if you stay quiet—make some noise! Engage with other accounts on social media. Comment! Provide value on your ideal audience’s accounts. I emphasize to provide value, because no one likes spammers. If you want people to spread the word about your work, you have to give something back first. Annoying them is only going to get you banned. You can provide value by asking questions, answering questions, sharing resources, being open, etc.

3.         Develop Genuine Relationships

Social media has really broken down many barriers. I’ve been able to make life-long friends that started just by simply leaving a comment on a post or photo! These friendships have turned into collaborations, partnerships and opportunities. If you want people to like you and your work, at your local knitting group, you don’t go in and yell “BUY MY WORK!” No! You introduce yourself, chat and knit up a storm, ask the new friend out for a cup of tea/coffee, get to know the other knitters, tell them what you do, show them what you’re working on—all to get a bit of excitement and interest going. Social media is the same way. Remember, it’s social! Treat it as you would in-person interactions.

Building your brand and developing buzz for your work does take time—it’s not an overnight success. Take it step-by-step and be patient. Those who stick it out, for the long run, will see their goals realized.

For those wanting to leverage IG, I have a two-part FREE mini e-course about how to curate a beautiful IG feed and then how to build and nurture a following. You can retrieve these courses by signing up to access my resource collection!