If you are a part of Colorado’s creative sector (or even if you are not) you should be using online social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to build your brand. These tools will help you expand your business reach, keep in touch with customers and prospects, and grow your business.
I have used these online tools for several years to get the word out about my photography business, and the results have been very good. As I began to develop and teach my Artrepreneurship course at the Center for Innovation (MSCD) I expanded my network to include people and organizations in the arts and other creative enterprises. I did this for a couple of reasons, to learn more about what was going on in the creative world and to develop contacts which would benefit me and my students.
Today I would say that most arts organizations are using some form of online tools with Twitter and Facebook being the most popular. How effective they use these tools and their overall social strategies are what this article is about.
Social Networking vs. Social Media
I have noticed a change in how these tools are referred to and how they are used. Originally they were referred to as Social Networking and the idea was to build a network of contacts much in the same way as you would do it in person. Your network should include customers, prospects, suppliers, media, industry influentials and others who you find interesting or benefit to your business. If you cultivate your social network, you will grow your brand, increase sales and probably make a lot of new friends along the way.
Social networking is increasingly being referred to as social media and you can see it in how many organizations and individuals employ these tools. I guess that it was inevitable that when a bunch of marketing folks equated Facebook and Twitter with free advertising that we would end up with social media.
Social media is not free. It requires a strategy that is congruent with an organization’s overall marketing plans and strategies – you need a reason to be using social media. Social media also requires time and effort to maintain, and a certain skill set of the people executing the social strategy. It’s probably not a good idea to turn it over to someone who isn’t busy at the time or has no idea why you are on Facebook other than every other organization is doing it.
Social Media and Arts/Creative Organizations
One of the things I have noticed is that a large percentage of arts organizations (most notably museums, galleries, and the arts media) only engage in social media and not social networking. For these organizations, social media is just a way to pump out endless pitches and announcements and not to build relationships with their followers, customers and benefactors. In short they are missing the networking part of the equation.
Arts organizations are under great pressure as their financial support is being tested and the growing trend of less public participation in the arts – many are struggling for survival. You would think that they need as many friends as they can get.
- Mix your online social activities with both social media and social networking.
- Follow the people who follow you. You may need their support and as Guy Kawasaki wrote, “It’s courteous to do so and because when you do, some people will respond to you and everyone who follows them will see this-which is more exposure for you”. People like being liked, people like being noticed – don’t you?
- Have a clear strategy as to why you are using online social tools. Develop some clear objectives and figure out a way to measure your progress.
- Staff your online social activities with people who are passionate about your brand and understand your goals and objectives.
- Some on-line social experts recommend a quantity of followers versus a quality of followers strategy. Strive for the best of both worlds, a large quantity of quality people in your network.
- Interact and build relationships with your followers, they can have a big impact on your bottom line. Go ahead and make your announcements or pitches but don’t forget to make comments, ask questions, give accolades and share things with your network.
- With the increasing number of organizations using social platforms for social media your message may go unnoticed. I don’t think most people would subscribe to a channel that only shows advertisements – well maybe if you are the Home Shopping Network!
Use this opportunity to build a real network and you will be rewarded. You can follow me on Twitter @neilmckenzphoto or on Facebook at neil.mckenzie – I will follow you back!
This article first appeared in ColoradoBiz magazine. For more ColoradoBiz articles by Neil McKenzie on the creative economy in Colorado and business ideas for artists please visit: Neil McKenzie Author Archives