Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company

In the first of a two-part series, Andrew Langridge looks at what social media platforms all garment decorators should be using and how to connect with potential customers.

Social media continues to rapidly grow year on year with new platforms, evolving types of content and increased ways of communicating with customers. Whereas before it might have been something you looked at when you had a quiet five minutes away from the press or eight-head machine, managing social media is quickly becoming an essential part of any marketing strategy.

First things first, what platforms are out there for your business?

There are many, many social media platforms out there. I’m going to concentrate on the core ones that are most likely to boost the profile of your garment decoration business.

Facebook A popular choice for many businesses – and with two billion active users, you can see why. Almost every business now has a Facebook page, allowing them to create content and engage with customers.

Instagram The most rapidly growing social media platform with over 700 million users (as of May 2017), Instagram is the most visually stimulating of all the social media platforms, relying solely on video and picture content. This is probably one of the most up-and-coming platforms for garment decorators.

Twitter The micro-blogging site has 313 million monthly active users. With only 140 characters available (excluding pictures, polls, GIFs etc), Twitter proves to be probably the most popular for off-the-cuff, spontaneous live posts.

LinkedIn The dominant business-to-business (B2B) social media platform that allows you to reach out directly to business owners and directors. It has over 450 million users (as of June 2017), and is the largest B2B networking tool available.

How to find your customers

The simplest technique for finding existing customers is to do a basic search for them and see what comes up. Another easy one is to monitor any email campaigns you carry out, note who is clicking the social media links and follow them up.

You can also use tools such as Twitter lists, Hootsuite and Social Searcher to create a custom feed to monitor customers’ activity, and to see what they are posting and when. This will allow you to make the most of the time you’re on social media.

To reach out to new customers, there are several methods for each platform. A classic example is a ‘Like and share’ or a ‘Like and retweet’ competition to help grow the coverage your post (and your social media page) gets.

Another tack is to use a basic search function to find people who may be interested in your products – local businesses, gyms, clubs and so on – and try to engage with them. Try searching for people using #hashtags that may relate to what you offer, especially on Twitter and Instagram, and engage with them.

There are tricks for each platform that garment decorators can capitalise on. Twitter has Twitterel, which allows you to find people talking about related topics, LinkedIn gives you an advanced search which allows you to target people in certain job titles in certain areas (for example, marketing managers in a 50km radius of London), while Facebook has groups and pages where your customers may be active and where you can promote your services and products.

Your customers are out there, you just have to find them and engage with them!

Next issue: Andrew looks at what content you should be posting, and when.

Andrew Langridge is from eTrader, one of the industry’s leading suppliers of websites to garment decorators across the UK.