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As Etsians we are constantly hearing that we should be participating in social media. Not only should we be on Facebook and Twitter, but Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Flickr, Kaboodle, Pinterest, Ning, and YouTube. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but you don't have to do it all. You don't have to do any of it if you don't want. Social media is only one aspect of marketing and it's up to you to decide if it fits into the overall scheme for you and your shop. If you decide to move forward, start small. Find one platform to use and once you're comfortable there, maybe add another.
When you're just starting up it's easiest to go with one of the larger, more well-known sites like Facebook or Twitter. Essentially these sites work the same sharing information like pictures, listings, upcoming shows, and random tid bits. How you interact in these communities is very different, however, so do your research before making a decision.
If you're looking to grow your social media presence, it's time to branch out into sites which will allow you to reach a more specific market. If you take great photos, sharing them on Flickr is a great idea. Here you can add your images to specific groups for interested users to see. Ravelry is a site dedicated to knitters and crocheters. DeviantArt is for artists to share their work in various media like photography, digital art, and traditional art forms. Kaboodle is a social shopping site. There are hundreds more, so with a little searching you can find one for you.
For your homework, first, decide if social media is right for you. Decide if you have the time and want to make the effort to participate in these communities. Secondly, if you decide to dive in or take on more, do some research to pick out the platform that best fits you. Let us know what you choose!