FROM OFFLINE TO ONLINE • Lucy Štruncová


It has been more than a year since the world went online. All meetings, events, the way of selling, purchasing and presenting ourselves had to be transformed to the online world. That meant to start thinking differently than ever before.

Time is passing by quite fast and we are able to see a lot of new online projects, interesting platforms, classes and overall new ways of learning and teaching…



But have you changed anything about your business operations

and have you been able to switch from offline to online?

In this article, I would like to tell you more about things and projects we have been doing during the past months in the Polymer Week. Everything is honest, there are no secrets. I am here to present to you our marketing strategies, how to build an online community, the way of thinking about social media, and hopefully inspire you on your own journey. So let’s start!



SOCIAL MEDIA AND OWN WEBSITE

Our main social media are Facebook and Instagram at this time. From many people’s opinions Facebook is a dying platform. There are definitely many changes around the algorithm since the very beginning, where we all got a big amount of views, reactions, and comments. Facebook is currently dedicated more to groups with people interested in different hobbies, and to market places where you can buy and sell your own products or second hand goods.

What does that mean for us? It’s definitely good to be there. As the polymer clay community contains mainly women around 30+, Facebook is still a big field where it's good to be seen. With the algorithm supporting groups and markets you can focus on sharing your work in Facebook groups or creating your own groups and pages dedicated to your business.

When having a business page there, it’s good to think about paid advertisement which is a great and usually the only way of reaching a bigger audience which was a standard before. Problem with Facebook pages is that you are not seen on people’s feeds. But paying just a few pennies per one post will immediately change it and you can get more comments, followers, or customers back on your profile and the business page.



Instagram is exactly what Facebook was five years ago. You simply have to be there. In today’s world you don’t give a paper business card anymore, you show your Instagram feed and get a follow from your business partner to stay in touch in the future as now you know about each other.

The Instagram Polymer Week account brings the latest information to our followers not only about our business. You can get news about the new blog posts, projects, products, sale offers but you can also easily connect with polymer clay artists from all over the world. All our social media accounts are connected to our website and the online store. That’s how we do the business in today’s world. Let me present our strategy to you now.



FREE CONTENT


We write a blog post dedicated to interesting polymer clay artists three times a week. It basically means never ending searching for new talents, writing text, editing photos, and publishing those articles on our website. All this is a hard work of four people and every one of us does his or her part to make it smooth, fast but also in the highest quality. Publishing free content costs a lot of money and the Polymer Week Blog is not something we would like to charge our readers for.


Instead of getting money for it, we get something much more important and valuable.

Attention and connection.

On the day of publishing the blog post we also create visually interesting Insta Stories using a Swipe up to easily access the article, plus one post on our Instagram and one to our Facebook feed. While connecting with the presented artist, we both tag each other on our profiles and there is a chance that we interchange our followers. Polymer Week and the presented artist receive attention on both sides but also a few new followers that one day can become possible customers. It definitely makes the community bigger.

During the last two years we have published around two hundred articles. Here I definitely don’t want to know how many hours it has taken. But what I see as a very important fact is that we have built some kind of credible source for people or let’s say renowned medium presenting high quality content about the polymer clay artwork of people from all over the world.

A HOME OF YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE


Next to social media it is important to run your own website - a home where you can write and publish anything you want. It’s yours. No one can delete the posts that don't fit to social media’s standard, many artists can have problems with presenting their own work for example showing naked parts of human bodies or other subjects that the platform evaluates as inappropriate.

Your own website including blog, portfolio and bio works basically as a huge tree linking to your online store (Shopify, Etsy), videos (YouTube, Vimeo), podcasts (Spotify, Apple Music,…), and to your social media accounts. It’s necessary to have your own space, easily accessible, containing all your online presentations at one place.


WHAT TO SHARE WHERE


Now it’s getting crazy. There are so many platforms and ways of sharing content that it can get very overwhelming. It’s actually a game. The more you share, the more attention you get, the more visible you are, and the better your business works.

Each platform has its own kind of invisible rules. During your presence on each of them you are getting information about what works and what doesn’t bring any results. In case of Polymer Week, our own content is shared on the website. Latest news in the form of photos and graphics is shared on Facebook and Instagram, but…

Around two years ago Instagram basically stole the concept of Snapchat and decided to integrate short videos called Reels to its platform. A 30 seconds long video is enough for telling and presenting the most visually interesting things about your business. There are people sharing jokes, tips and tricks, tutorials, time lapses, information about themselves or even poems.

Think about your art and figure out what is worth sharing. Is it the way you mix your polymer clay colors, studio, behind the scenes videos of packaging orders, the way you create your art,

a tutorial you want to share with your audience?

You can get inspired by our account where we share sneak peeks of our paid tutorials here on the Society, visually satisfying packaging of our products, and behind the scenes of the magazine publishing, our office, and so on.




With Reels it’s really easy to get thousands of views. What Facebook doesn’t move to the fore, Instagram is currently supporting and is kind of fighting with TikTok. One of the latest social media platforms built only for sharing exactly these kinds of short videos.

TikTok might look crazy to you at the first look. But the more time you spend there, the more this platform gets to know you and offers suitable content to you.


At the end, it really makes sense to share short videos on Instagram and TikTok at the same time. TikTok (together with quickly growing LinkedIn) will probably be the most usable social media platform and might put Facebook and even Instagram aside within a few years. Be between the first of your community, meet new people there, and build your audience on this platform as soon as possible. Thanks to less people and a better algorithm, your content can get much bigger views than you are used to.


LINK YOUR STORE WITH THE SOCIAL MEDIA


Facebook and Instagram offer to create your own store. You can upload photos of your products you sell and link them to your online store. That is very helpful when sharing your products on the feed. You can simply tag the uploaded product on the shared photo and your follower can visit your store directly in seconds.

Again, having products linked from your online store on social media helps to get customers that may not know about you, yet. Using keywords and hashtags together with an algorithm that connects and offers similar content to users can guide new audiences to your products and profiles.



WHAT TO SELL


Many businesses had to recreate their product offers in a few days or weeks. Restaurants started doing mainly take away, businesses selling experiences started to offer vouchers to get money in advance and survive, and people organizing events and personal meetings had to learn working with online technology and start to sell live streams, online classes and in some way offer their skills via Zoom or Google Meet.

The question is, what do you sell and how do you pay the bills? Even the polymer clay community

is small and we all kind of know each other, there is still enough space for everyone.

From online pdf tutorials, live classes via Zoom, Patreon platform facilitating to get support in the form of money from your followers in exchange for behind the scenes videos, tips and tricks and tutorials, to physical products that you can sell and ship anywhere around the world. All of this can become a base of your income. We are all different, different styles of art, different tastes, and different offers. That’s the beauty of diversity.



THE MORE YOU GIVE, THE MORE YOU GET


The important question that you should ask yourself is, what you are willing to give for free and what do you want to get paid for. In my opinion, the more you give, the more you get.

Community around the Polymer Week can read all blog posts about talented artists, listen to the audio podcasts, watch videos, and get a daily inspiration on all our social media accounts in the form of photos and videos for free. On the other way, we publish and sell high quality publications, products and tools for working with polymer clay, and premium content here on the Society.

There is definitely much more we could do. Running our own online classes, transforming all events we used to organize in the Czech Republic to its online version, selling single tutorials for polymer clay projects, publishing another book, coming up with new physical products or offering our skills to other companies that need help with online presentation and visual identity.



I completely understand if you struggle with all those possibilities, I do, too. New forms of online presentation, social media accounts, never ending content creating, editing photos, videos, copywriting, and constantly staring at your phone or notebook while the “real work” is happening somewhere else. To be honest, there are just 24 hours and we can’t do it all.

To me it’s about finding a balance when producing the content, products and the company’s presentation in the best quality possible. It’s always good to try new things and forms, but it doesn’t mean that all things I wrote about in this article will suit you.

Maybe you hate writing then you should not share content in the form of blog posts and articles. You might enjoy video making, then YouTube, Instagram or TikTok could be the platforms for you. When having a passion in photography and graphic design, you can dig deeper into Instagram and Facebook, create your own pdf tutorials or publications. For those who enjoy self-presentation and like to speak to the audience, the Zoom classes, YouTube videos, podcasts or live streams on Facebook and Instagram might be the way to connect with others.

I wish you to find your own way, your own style and form of online presentation. Don’t get lost, ask for help if necessary, I am always here to tell you more, and enjoy this crazy but wonderful journey that we get to live during this 21th century.



Lucy Štruncová