Okay, let me say this right off: there is no social-media magic bullet. None. I know, because I spent months trying to find one.
A word of introduction: “I’ve been using social media in its various forms for more than a decade, but it’s only in the past year and a half that I really stepped up my efforts. The results couldn’t be more obvious – sales and commissions are up by close to 300%.” ~Bret Taylor
I read countless articles, went to seminars, even bought a book or two. And what it boils down to is this:
You have to do the actual work. Shortcuts are useless. You need to forge real relationships, you need to engage your audience, and you need to build that audience organically (which is to say, without being overbearing or spamming people).
In other words, it’s just like every other aspect of being an artist. You need to invest a lot of time and effort, but eventually that investment will pay off. Patience, obviously, is key.
I know social media can be daunting. There is a lot to learn – especially in terms of etiquette – but a lot of it is common sense, too.
Demystifying Social Media:
1. Talk to your audience, not at them. Your followers are a key part of your online marketing platform, so be nice. The word-of-mouth that they generate will put your art in front of new people. So say thank you, don’t be rude, and don’t get the idea that you’re a celebrity (unless you actually are, of course) just because you have a lot of followers.
2. Keep in mind that a lot of online venues are good primarily for meeting and interacting with other artists. That’s certainly useful in and of itself, in terms of support, feedback, and critiques, but it’s all too easy to let that eat up time that could perhaps be more wisely spent.
3. Flow of content is key. If you want people to keep coming back, you have to give them a reason to do so. Ask yourself, what am I giving in return? Social media is becoming more about conversation and collaboration than about the hard sell.
4. Since you’re essentially marketing yourself as a brand,consistency is important.
- I recommend using the same avatar/icon
- and when possible, having the same username.
- The latter part isn’t always easy, but do what you can.
- People who know you in Twitter should be able to see that you’re the same person on Tumblr or Flickr, for example. Basically you want to own that identity right across the internet. (Hint: tags, blog labels, hashtags etc. are particularly useful in that regard. Google “howyadoin” and you’ll see what I mean.) And putting a human face on that identity is crucial.
I make no guarantees, of course. But so far social media is definitely working for me.
*Guest artist/author: Bret Taylor. Bret makes his living as a freelance artist in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. You can meet Bret on Twitter or check out his blogs, http://howyadoingraphics.tumblr.com or http://howyadoingraphics.blogspot.com/
Thank you to Bret for a really insightful post! ~Lori
Other helpful articles:
The #PowerArtists Series! (Learn how these artists use social media to help their careers)