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The Uncommon Life

How to Tell Your Story Through Social Media

August 27, 2015

Earlier this summer, I caught an episode of NPR’s TED Radio Hour titled “Amateur Hour.” The host Guy Raz interviewed past TED speakers around one common theme: how they plunged into the “I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing” experiences and emerged as experts. The last story of the hour was told by a woman named Nancy Frates, and how she became the voice and face of a little phenomenon you might remember as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Ice Bucket Challenge | Social Storytelling

Photo via marketingland.com

Before listening to this story, I knew that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the biggest and fastest fundraising campaigns in history last summer. But what I didn’t know was that the challenge wasn’t even started with the intention of raising money for ALS. Rather, it was started as a campaign to raise money for any charity. Nancy had no prior social media experience before this challenge took over our Facebook feeds. In fact, she didn’t even have a Facebook account until last year! However, like many of our makers, she did have a business and merchandising background. When her family recognized the opportunity to raise money for the treatment of her son’s disease, she decided to go after it. 

Professionals in the social media world ultimately hope to discover their own “Ice Bucket Challenge.” That is, a strategic and engaging way to build a community online. Though I can’t give you a step-by-step guide on how to build an online legacy like Nancy achieved, what I can say is that, like Nancy, you don’t need to be an expert in order to tell your story through social media. It’s okay to feel like a social media amateur. What’s most important is dedication and the ability to recognize opportunities to visualize your brand. 

blue and black collection

UncommonGoods having fun on Instagram during “The Dress” controversy.

As online storytelling becomes increasingly visual, the words you write are just as important as the images you share. So instead of merely writing suggestions about social media, we thought it would be better to illustrate examples from UncommonGoods’ community. We turned to some of our socially-savvy makers for insight on their favorite storytelling networks. Whether you’re always the first person to notice something go viral, or you’re not even sure what a #hashtag means, scroll down for tips on how to elevate your story on social media.

Instagram Tip: Experiment with videos and other content that keeps the user in mind

Richard Upchurch, @brandnewnoise

“I think Instagram is great since you really have to see [our product] in order to get what it is. Since our gadgets are so interactive, a 15-second video can hopefully give our audience a creative idea, or at least a lift in their day.”

Play Date #op1 @teenageengineering #loopylou #brandnewnoise #letyourvoicebeheard

A video posted by Brandnewnoise (@brandnewnoise) on

 

Instruction manual #Brandnewnoise #letyourvoicebeheard #brooklynmade #madeinusa #letyourvoicebeheard

A video posted by Brandnewnoise (@brandnewnoise) on

 

“I think rather than just trying to sell a product, we are working to show the joy and fun we have. The Instagram should reflect who we are and what we love; music, traveling, laughing, sharing meals. At the end of the day, brandnewnoise gadgets are an extension of who we are as a community.”

 

BrandNewNoise_Instagram_screenshot3

 

Instagram Tip: If you’re mentioned, share the love

Alexandra Ferguson, @alexandrafergusonllc

“I’m really proud about a lot of the things my company is doing, and I use social media to share that excitement. That often includes images from our factory in Brooklyn, retailers around the country with creative displays, celebrities and media plugs, and customers having fun.  I especially love when people use pillows in their photos almost like captions – the pillow just kind of says it all.”

Alexandra Ferguson | How to Tell Your Story Through Social Media

“… So I try to inspire people to think a little differently about the brand by showing all the creative things people are doing with our products.  I mean, our products have been photographed with Snoop Dogg, Mindy Kaling, and Miley Cyrus. Sara Blakely, the influential founder of Spanx, has one.  Talk about range!  I love it.”

Snoop Dogg | How To Tell Your Story Through Social Media

 

Miley Cyrus | How To Tell Your Story Through Social Media

 

Instagram Tip: You don’t need a fancy camera to create Instagram-worthy photos

Emilie Shapiro, @emilieshapirojewelry

“I use my iPhone 5s for all images I share on social media. Natural sunlight is the best way to capture well-lit images. In fact, I have one spot in my studio that the lighting is perfect and I use for little photo shoots. Make a human tripod by resting your elbow on a table or something to steady your camera. Use the “grid” option on your camera to center your work and create good frames. Use an app like VSCO Cam which has easy editing options to color correct, bump up contrast and saturation.”

Emilie Shapiro | How To Tell Your Story Through Social Media

“I have a strong following on social media of people who admire my work, customers who purchase it, wholesale accounts and press. I get a lot of wholesale accounts from buyers who find me on Instagram. I often get press requests and have even picked up a few celebrity clients from people browsing my feed. In today’s marketplace, things move fast and consumers are flooded with images. I find customers (retail and wholesale) like to browse my work on my Instagram feed because it’s quick, easy and tells my story.”

Emilie Shapiro | How To Tell Your Story Through Social Media

 

Twitter Tip: Share lifestyle content that not only interests you, but is also relevant to your community 

Tori and Chris Tissell, @storiarts

“At Storiarts, not only do we make literary-themed apparel, but we’re true fans of books and the written word in general. So it’s natural and fun to share what we’re interested in with our customers. Of course, this has the added benefit of making new fans for us on social media who want to be part of the conversation and who are likely to be interested in Storiarts products.”

Storiarts | How to tell your story through social meida

Storiarts | How to tell your story through social meida

“…Since we became intentional about using social media, it has become the number one driver to our website. It’s also been the place where bloggers have found us and asked to feature our products. It is also the only place where stuff like this can happen.”

Storiarts | How to tell your story through social meida

 

Twitter Tip: Offer a glimpse into your process and your daily life

MG Stout, @mgstout 

“Folks that commission work are very excited to be able to see their paintings come to life. It’s also really cool to get immediate feedback. Their comments make the process collaborative in nature & ensures they will be happy with the finished product.”

MG Stout | How to tell your story through social meida

Social media has been key in introducing myself and my work to an international audience.  I’ve got followers all over the world and have connected with so many artists and collectors I would never have met otherwise. It is also a great way to keep everyone abreast of what I’m up to. I can share where my paintings are going to be on exhibit and invite them to visit my art studio.”

MG Stout | How to tell your story through social meida

 

Facebook Tip: Tell your story through different perspectives

Leigh Ann Stratakos, manager of the Facebook accounts for MudWorks Pottery and Elwood the Rainbow Unicorn

“I can’t remember when I started [Elwood’s] Facebook page, but it just seemed like a natural thing to do since he was taking on a life of his own. And people were really connecting with him in a major way. I wanted to have a place for him to connect with his fans that was not focused on selling more units.”

Elwood | Social Storytelling

“I think this social connection is important, because we are social creatures! We are more than just consumers and I think people respond to being treated as such. It’s working on the business, but from a different angle. Everything I do on social media is helping to make MudWorks a brand people respond to positively, but I enjoy not having to actually push the product 24/7. That sort of happens on its own naturally.”

 

Elwood_Facebook_ViralScreenshot

Elwood the Unicorn Cereal Bowl broke the record for most viral post on UncommonGoods’ Facebook!

 

Tumblr Tip: Do your research, set realistic goals, and engage with other communities

Kendyll Hillegas, kendyllhillegas.tumblr.com

“I started posting to Tumblr in late 2012 with the idea that I would try to post something every day. 365 projects were quite popular at that time, but I was thinking about it more at more of a day-by-day level. I had no grand plan. I just wanted to motivate myself to be more consistent with the practice of making, and to include the act of sharing what I made with others in that process.”

Kendyll Hillegas | How To Tell Your Story Through Social Media

 

“… People often refer to social media platforms as communities, but Tumblr is the only one that has actually felt like a community to me. Everyone I’ve connected with whether staff members or other users has been kind, approachable and supportive. They even invited me to come visit Tumblr HQ last summer! I’ve had almost no negative or mean-spirited interactions or comments. On a basic level, I also just find it easy to use, and I love the multiple post formats.”

Kendyll Hillegas | How To Tell Your Story Through Social Media

“Broadly, I would say to post regularly – it can be daily, weekly, bi-weekly (just be sure it’s consistent). Use hashtags – do some research to find the main curated tags for your area (i.e. #crafts, #artistsontumblr, #illustration). Submit to some of the big curated Tumblrs in your field, and, of course, be nice. Engage with other people, say hi, answer questions, be thankful (you know, decent human stuff). If you photograph your work, taking good pictures is also important.”

 

Kendyll Hillegas | How To Tell Your Story Through Social Media

 

Do you have any social media tips for makers? Share your storytelling advice in the comments below!

 

The Uncommon Life

Get Your Weekly #UncommonGoody on Twitter!

April 3, 2014

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. On our end, that is. Sometimes we have more of an item in stock and on sale than we were planning. The good news is that we thought of a pretty fun way to take care of our conundrum.

Every Friday we’ll pick one sale item to be our weekly uncommon goody. We’ll take an extra discount off of the goody’s sale price and announce it to you via Twitter with the hashtag #UncommonGoody.

You can snag your goody each Friday between noon and 6 p.m. EST, but we’re only telling the Twittersphere so make sure to follow us to get in on the secret.

The Uncommon Life

#UGPundayMondays on Twitter!

January 31, 2014

Have a penchant for puns? Enter #UGPundayMonday to win every week! | UncommonGoodsIt’s not news to us that our Twitter friends love a good pun, almost as much as our social media team loves writing them. But we shouldn’t be the only ones having all the fun. Starting Monday February 4, we are passing the repunsibility to you guys. Hopefully you can come up with something better than that.

Here’s how to participate:

1. Follow us on Twitter. But you already are, so that’s set.
2. Tune in to Twitter at noon on Mondays (Eastern Time) to see what our featured This Just In product is that we want you to write about.
3. Get inspired.
4. Tweet your masterpiece with #UGPundayMonday and any other fancy hashtag you desire some time before 4:59pm EST.
5. Wait until 5pm EST when we Tweet at our favorite punners.

Three lucky Tweeters will win a $50 gift card each week!

Will we see you Monday?! Punderful!

The Uncommon Life

Picture Yourself Uncommon Contest

August 1, 2012

Is there a place for creative design in your life? Could a regular nuisance be easily fixed with one of our UncommonGoods? We want to know what’s missing from your picture. Enter the Picture Yourself Uncommon contest by sending us a picture of the part of your life where a clever design from UncommonGoods can swoop in to save the day. Five lucky winners will be chosen to see their photo in an upcoming email campaign and receive the life-saving product.

Ok, maybe that was dramatic. But that’s what we want to see from you! Here are some examples of UncommonGoods staff in need of a few good designs.

Save my shower (and my head)! I live in an old building with an outdated bathroom. It features a big, oval tub—kind of like a clawfoot, but without the claws, or the charm. There are no shelves, ledges, or corners for me to stash the shampoo and other bath products, so I’ve resigned to lining them up on the curtain rod. They’re hard to reach and, inevitably, a slippery bottle or two will always fall during the morning shower routine, hitting my wet noggin, slipping behind the tub, or crash-landing in a bubbly mess on the porcelain. Extra arms would come in more than handy in my situation. I need a Shower Squid!
-Cassie

I have a useless umbrella! Anytime there is a gust of wind (well actually really even a light breeze), my umbrella is threatening to turn itself completely inside out! To fight against the treacherous wind, I have to hold my umbrella angled down in front of my face. (You see can see where this is going) I can’t see where I’m going – at all!  This leaves me prone to running into people, tangling umbrellas, stepping into puddles, etc. I need a cleverly designed umbrella, like the Goggles Umbrella, that will cover my head and shoulders and allow me to see where I’m going, even if I have to brave the wind. It will save me from people giving me dirty looks (when I used to bump into them) and save me from sopping wet shoes!
-Becca


Help me cover this hideous metal fuse box in the entryway of my apartment. Not only is it an eyesore, it is the first thing you see when you come into my apartment. And how about this epic-fail to cover it up? Who is that girl, anyway? I need an attractive vertical piece, like James Gulliver Hancock’s All The Taxis In New York to bring life to my white walls and make this fuse box our little secret.
-Gaby D

 

There are many different ways to enter…

  • Post a photo on our Facebook Timeline or tag us in a photo with your story in the caption.
  • Tweet a link to your photo and story on a photo sharing site or your blog with #PictureYourselfUG.
  • Instagram your pic with your story as the caption and #PictureYourselfUG. (Don’t forget to leave an email address for us to find you if you win!)
  • Leave a link to your photo and story on a photo sharing site or your blog in a comment below.

Enter by 11:59PM on August 28 for a chance to win. All eligible entries must be accompanied by a story or caption.

Gift Guides

June Birthdays… now is your time!

June 1, 2012


You say it’s your birthday!? Then tell us about it on Twitter and Facebook.

Enter yourself and friends with June birthdays and this year their gift could be on us. Tag your friend in a comment on this photo on Facebook or Tweet at them with #UncommonBDay to enter them into our June Birthday Contest. Do both of those things for a double entry!

The winner will be contacted on June 30.