Ok, whether you are already using online social networks to promote your art business or you are just thinking about it, one of your goals should be to take a look at how you are using social your social networks. In this article we will take a look at two of the ways you can use your social networks – social networking and social media.
Artists and other creative professionals can benefit from using online social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn to build their brand and grow their business. These tools can help you expand your business reach, keep in touch with customers and prospects, and grow your bottom line.
Many artists are using some form of online tools with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest being the most popular. There are a multitude of networks that you should consider but keep in mind that you need to be in the places where you are likely to find the people you are looking for. Some networks skew more towards women than say men. Others may skew more toward different age groups and interests. Some networks are growing and others are in decline. You need to be sure that the social networks you participate in are where your customers and prospects can likely be found.
Social Networking vs. Social Media
Social networking is not the same as social media. Social networking is building a network of contacts and interacting with them on a personal basis. Social media on the other hand is using your social network as an advertising or public relations tool or channel. The uses of social networking and social media are not mutually exclusive – in most cases you will want to use both. The big questions are how to employ each of these concepts and in just the right amounts.
The idea behind social networking is 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. If you cultivate your social network, you will grow your brand, increase sales and probably make a lot of new friends along the way.
Here are some of the ways that social networking might work for you:
- Meeting new people and developing new contacts
- Exploring and sharing the world of art, ideas and interesting people
- Sharing your art, knowledge and expertise
- Interacting and communicating with others
- As a soft introduction to people you want to meet in person
Social networking is increasingly being referred to as social media but they are really two different things – social media is about marketing. Social media is not free, it requires a strategy that aligns with your overall marketing plans and strategies – you need a reason to be using social media. It also requires time and effort to maintain, and a certain skill set of the people executing the social strategy. When you think social media, think advertising! Some ways social media can work for you:
- Announce your shows, exhibitions and studio activities
- Promote your online content such as your website, galleries and blogs
- Direct people to other websites or blogs where you have a presence such as a blog article about you and your work
- Advertise a particular piece or collection of works
- Advertise a promotion or contest
- A public relations venue for press releases and other newsworthy items
- Invite people in your network to join you on your other social media sites
- Identify and make a plan for the people and organizations who you want in your network and how they might benefit you and how you might benefit them.
- 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.
- If you have others manage your online social activities make sure they are as passionate about your brand as you are.
- 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. You may want to utilize software programs that will allow you to schedule your posts so they are more likely to be seen by your audience.
The bottom line(s)…
Experiment and see what works for you. If done right, your social networks can be an important part of growing your business and your brand. It will take some time and effort to get just the right mix of social networking and social media. If you get it right you and your art business will be rewarded. I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @neilmckenzphoto – Good Luck!
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he teaches “Marketing the Arts”.
Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto