What does it take to succeed in social media? As artists, you have access to an enormous amount of creative leverage that you should be taking advantage of and that's exactly what this post is all about!
I recently spoke to a group of artists as part of Art Talks and had some amazing conversations with exceptionally creative people from all walks of life. If you couldn't make it, here's the presentation I gave on the day.
First of all, ask yourself - what do you want from social media? Just because everyone is after likes, followers et al doesn't mean that's what's best for you too. I tried to keep it simple and tackle the big players; Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and provide just three actionable points to take home with you.
Profile vs. Page
This can be quite daunting when you're trying to figure out if you should create a business page or just have your personal profile. It's even more daunting to have a professional page with 59 likes on it which doesn't look great at all. But what do we have in abundance? We all have friends, hundreds of friends on Facebook and Facebook allows you to turn your personal profile into page thereby translating all your friends into 'likes' automatically. That's a hidden gem for those starting out and are a bit scared at first.
Boost vs. Dark
I didn't realise how many people were uaware of Facebook dark posts. Once you've set up your page, get on over to the Power Editor and decide which one's best for you. Dark posts are the mafia of advertising on social media at the moment, Facebook has a ton of information that the human brain cannot even begin to comprehend and it's about time we leveraged that. With dark posts you can target anyone, anywhere regardless of whether or not they have heard of you before. Advantages of dark posts over boosting or promoting your post is that it attracts new audiences to your page which can be hard to come by, especially when you're starting out. That's not to say boosting or promoting is anything less worthy but this is where your choices will determine what you get out of social media.
This is something I feel rather passionate about, social media platforms do roam in groups and the sooner we recognise who is friends with whom the easier it gets to navigate these territories. With Facebook no doubt, native videos will be prioritised over those such as Vimeo etc whilst at the same time so will YouTube & Instagram primarily because Facebook owns Instagram. So if you're ever thinking of tying in your social media accounts, do a bit of research into which ones are most compatible with each other.
We all have a Twitter account by now, even if you don't actively use it. I can tell you from both personal experience as well as working with art organisations and brands that there is no better business marketplace than Twitter, not even LinkedIn although that's debatable as some might say. Unlike leveraging Facebook profile to business pages, it can be disheartening to start with zero or 10 followers on Twitter but here are a few tricks that might give you the nudge to take action:
Remember Twitter is a search engine just like Amazon, Facebook and Google so add relevant keywords as part of your bio. Are you an artist? Niche down, sculptor perhaps? Illustrator or any thing else for that matter, find the keywords that are most relevant to your industry and make sure they form a part of your bio.
Twitter allows you to have more than one link in the bio so make use of that. If you go to my Twitter page you'll find there's a link to Chronically Driven my passion project as part of my bio alongside a main link to my website.
Hashtags are dead! Well not really but the hashtag symbol # certainly is, it hasn't taken off in Facebook and it no longer matters on Twitter. For example, tweet something with a word and then try to find it on Twitter, regardless of whether you've used the hashtag symbol or not you'll find it. It's that simple so using a sign that confuses the human brain can lead to no good. Event specific or meaningful hashtags on the other end are thriving though, such as a word you wouldn't ordinarily use in a sentence they need to be utilised as a hashtag to collate myriad of tweets into a single space.
You've probably heard a lot about Twitter ads, Twitter has a resource of information that might be beneficial in the long run so go ahead and sign up for a Twitter ads account, it doesn't cost a thing! Yes, you heard me right- it's free. You don't necessarily have to spend money to get access to basic information, such as how many people viewed your tweet, how many clicked on the shared link etc.
As I mentioned earlier, every social media platform favours the ones they own or in collaborate with and for Twitter it's most definitely Vine, Medium & Periscope.
Work vs. Personal
Instagram reminds me of Twitter when it first started, everyone thought it was stupid, irrelevant and just plain nuts and they were right. We had to evolve and learn about a new consumer behaviour in order to respond to the changes Twitter was bringing about and that's the same with Instagram except the change has been accelerated as social media is already an established behaviour for many of us. Instagram is godsend for artists and creative peeps, it works on visual media which is central to everything that we do but that doesn't mean it's an easy space to hack your way into spamming. Instagram allows you to showcase the other side of your practice, make you more human. It's not about asking people to buy your art but about showing them the process, engaging one-to-one on what makes you different as an artist.
Hashtags are Instagram's gift to social media, they might not have pioneered it but it's certainly a goldmine. Important points to note, you can add upto 30 hashtags for any post. Personally, I would add them as a comment after the caption just so:
a) They disappear once you get a few comments thereby no longer appearing spammy to new viewers
b) You can also delete and add them afresh hence gaining your exposure back from the same hashtags which is indispensable in the noisy social media world
Instagram is driven by people and as Facebook prioritises videos and Twitter welcomes images, Instagrammers have taken on to visual texts. Have a quote over images or post an inspirational image that speaks to what you're doing. An image is worth a thousand words might be a cliche but it means a whole lot more in the world of Instagram.
Last but nowhere least...
Besides the ones specific to each platforms, here are some general outlines that I hope will allow you to really focus on what you truly want to get out of your social media strategy.
It might all seem a bit too overwhelming if you don't have a clear objective for what you're after. What do you want? Build a newsletter? Gain engagement? Reach new audiences through your art? Really understand what you need at this stage of your career and build your social media presence from there on forwards.
People still seem to underestimate the importance of content production; blogging IS the most underrated social media tool. Ever. Why would anyone want to follow you if you don't give them a reason to? Talk to your audiences, blog about your practice, blog about what drives you, blog about your creative aspirations and challenges - just blog.
All of us fall under the prey of wanting to be everywhere at some point or another, I have several accounts with very little or no content whatsoever simply because I wanted to join in the bandwagon and create a presence without realising the platform really doesn't speak to me. Where do you feel most comfortable? Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or perhaps something completely niche like Etsy or ArtStack? You can never truly connect with your audience if you aren't comfortable yourself, so pick 2/3 platforms at most and focus on developing your presence in them instead of stretching yourself too thin and adding undue stress into your life.
I hope this was helpful for you in one way or another, I am constantly looking for avenues to help artists and creative practitioners. Overwhelmed? My team & I are working on a Social Media course for art professionals just like you! The course will take you step-by-step into dominating social media in less than 30 minutes a week with actionable tasks along with helpful resource neatly packaged into an email. It's going to be by application