2010 AGDM Excerpt: Leveraging Social Media

Hi there! It really is Mary this time. I’ve been busily editing the
articles for the 2011 edition of PM, and I sure do appreciate Joy
stepping up to keep you informed on the latest news.

I thought
it was time I shared another article excerpt. This time I have a great article from PM’s sister publication Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market. In
this article designer and illustrator EC (Lisa) Stewart takes on social
media and explains how you can make Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the
like to promote and market your art (or photography!). Check out the 2010 edition of AGDM for tips and advice for getting your work out there.

Leveraging Social Media as a Creative
by EC (Lisa) Stewart

I’d rather be looked over than overlooked.
—Mae West

The
landscape of traditional marketing is rapidly changing, and traditional
publishing is eroding due to the flood of social media (SM) and new,
online competition. Small business owners are embracing this change and
establishing a presence in the growing world of online business. And
the savvy creative entrepreneur knows to go and grow where their
customers are and they’re discovering that social media platforms are
very low-cost way to establish a meaningful dialog with customers.

How does this affect me?
Social networking is growing.

QuickFact: There are 152 million U.S. Internet users.
QuickFact: 3 out of 4 Americans use social technology.

Social
media provides creative businesses with online access to current and
future customers and allows them to connect virtually across miles. Web
2.0, the latest generation of the Internet, allows small businesses and
creative entrepreneurs to interact and engage directly with customers,
enlivening traditional print advertisement into a one-to-one personal
service. As a creative entrepreneur, people love knowing they’re
interacting directly with the artist and social media enables us to
readily connect.

In addition to your website, consider enlisting
a number of popular social media tools as key components of your
marketing program to augment your online presence. Blogs, videos, and
social networks are a powerful combination and play to the strengths of
small businesses by fostering meaningful relationships through links to
other sites, resources, and people.

Simply being active on the
social media platforms can help provide transparency that today’s
customers are looking for and lets you directly engage with your
biggest supporters. Remember, 78% of people trust recommendations from
other consumers and one of the best ways to get those recommendations
is through direct engagement.

The benefits of social media—build, protect & grow your reputation
Social
Media can help you build a presence and generate new ways to be found
easily. And online opportunities are typically less expensive than
traditional marketing, but you should be aware that they often involve
more planning and time-intensive work. Shifting money to social media
to augment your traditional print advertising budget will allow you to:

  • Make connections, even if you’re typically shy;
  • Build your persona and business brand awareness;
  • Manage your brand’s reputation.

Social media community & tools
Social media can take many different forms including blogs, forums, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video.

QuickFact:
6.8 million people between age 15 and 24 visited social networking
sites in June 2009, up 13 percent year-on-year and roughly in line with
increased usage of the Internet overall by this age group.

The fundamental categories of social media include:

  • Communication:
    This includes tools such as blogs, micro-blogging, social networking,
    social aggregation, and events. Examples include, WordPress, Blogger,
    Typepad, Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Friendfeed,
    Upcoming, and Meetup.com all of which allow you to find and link to
    other people and activities. Once linked or connected to someone, you
    can keep up to date on that person’s contact info, interests, posts,
    birthdays, etc.
  • Collaboration: Includes tools such as wikis,
    social bookmarking, social news, and opinion sites. Wikipedia,
    Delicious, StumbleUpon, GoogleReader, Digg, Reddit, and Yelp are
    examples of some of the applications that are available.
  • Multimedia:
    Includes tools such as photo and video sharing, audio and music
    sharing, and livecasting. Flickr, Photobucket, YouTube, Vimeo,
    Ustream.tv, and Last.fm are all sites that allow you to create, upload,
    share videos, photos, and music with anyone and everyone.
  • Social
    bookmarking: Includes sites such as Delicious, StumbleUpon, and
    Kaboodle to help you find and bookmark sites and information of
    interest. You can save and access your bookmarks anywhere online and
    choose to share them with others.
  • Reviews/opinions: Includes
    sites like epinions and ask.com where you can learn what other
    consumers think of products and services.
  • Entertainment: Includes sites like Second Life, The Sims Online, and Miniclip for game sharing and entertainment platforms.

Tip:
For every tool, there is a cult following. Depending on your business,
it may focus more in one of these areas than in others. For example, I
find myself focusing at least 80% of my time on Communications through
WordPress, Facebook, LinkedIn and FriendFeed and supplement my
activities with other categories. I’d recommend one tool from each
category to keep your sanity. The key is to cross pollinate your Social
Media tools with each other. Any new product, service, or news you
share on these tools, will be amplified that much further.

What’s a Blog? Isn’t my website enough?
QuickFact:
By 2012, more than 145 million people, or 67 percent of Web users in
the U.S., are projected to read blogs on a monthly basis and the number
of blogs also will grow. There were 22.6 million bloggers in the U.S.
in 2007, and that number is projected to reach 34.7 million by 2012!

Blogging
is a way of bringing life to your static website. A traditional Web
presence is a passive broadcast of your work that often discourages
engagement with your customer. imagine that your website is like a
house where the door remains closed and locked. This prevents your
enthusiasts from seeing anything more than just your front yard. As a
result they often don’t stay around very long or absorb much about your
lifestyle as an artist. Now imagine that your blog as a garden around
your website house where you fertilize, plant, and harvest your new and
ongoing online relationships. Your blog is now the hub of your Web
presence. Cultivating your blog with your art and activities helps
nourish your artist’s soul. When you tap into a poignant moment and
express it in one of your blog entries, a personal connection happens
and a relationship begins to form. Your blog is a welcome mat for a new
member of your online family.

Blogging allows you to engage your
followers on a number of different levels. They can learn about your
style, get a sneak peak into new designs you’re creating, and gain a
better understanding of your philosophy as an artist. For instance,
when they discover you’re a fun-loving artist who has a penchant for
raspberries on chocolate ice cream in the middle of winter, they can
begin to connect with you. And this is just the beginning of building
your rapport with your clients.

Blogging strategy: It doesn’t
matter how long and involved your entries are, but that they vary to
nourish the inquisitive visitor. Describing the influence that, say,
the red raspberry has on your painting begins to foster a visual
experience. Then, including the recipe to a wonderful raspberry cobbler
to celebrate your finished painting deepens the intimacy. These are the
kinds of wonderful things you can share on your blog that are
impossible on a traditional website.

Tip: Frequency is key if
you want to continue to have visitors. To socially engage with your
devotees online, 3-5 posts per week is a good number to plan for.
Crafting a personal editorial calendar will also make it easier to
summon great ideas. Also, to make it easy on yourself, you could
dedicate a different topic to each post on separate days. These should
include things that are educating (what you do), entertaining (how you
do it), and enriching for your readers in order to and keep them coming
back for more. For example:

  • Monday—Inspiration Found on Weekend Field Trip
  • Wednesday—Behind the Scenes in my Studio
  • Friday—Finished Art Project

Facebook
Facebook
is one of the best tools available to go and grow where your customers
are, and it’s growing everyday—more of the key art buying demographic
are spending their time and attention on this adaptable social
networking tool. As a result it only makes sense to seek out guerrilla
marketing opportunities in on Facebook to promote your business and
engage new fans and customers.

QuickFact: Facebook grew from 200 million to 250 million in just over 3 months
QuickFact: Among 14 key new media tools, Facebook leads by 24% in sharing.

Facebook
strategy: Create and keep a separate personal page and Fan Page. By
keeping the Fan Page strictly focused on the business, one doesn’t risk
tarnishing one’s own brand.

Tip: If you decide to use Facebook
as a hub of your Web presence, be sure to take advantage of the free
tools available. The Wall, Galleries, Discussions, Videos, Events,
Polls, Notes are just the beginning of creating an enriching experience
for your fan base.

Video
YouTube is becoming a new
marketing channel for many companies and more people are watching
videos to see product demonstrations to help with their purchasing
decisions. Videos are a great way to present to your consumer time and
again without feeling the pressure of performing live where a single
slip of the tongue or misspoken word can cost you a sale.

QuickFact:
YouTube was far and away the top online destination by video streams,
with more than 6 billion total streams during the month, and more than
95 million unique viewers on YouTube.com in June 2009.

Video
strategy: Peppering videos throughout your social media platforms will
also give your brand vitality and possibly create a viral buzz. People
love to be entertained, and video is a great channel for that.
Exploring features and benefits of a product, demonstrating a DIY
project, or vlogging on the daily life of an artist captures attention
more quickly than text.

Tip: Each time you upload content to a
specific site (i.e. video on YouTube) also pull the video into your
blog, website, Facebook Page, even Flickr to showoff your new idea.
Cross-pollination is key because not all of your enthusiasts visit all
of your venues.

Twitter
As a micro-blogging tool, Twitter (among others) is another vehicle to connect and manage your brand online.

QuickFact: Growth rate of Twitter from June 2008 through June 2009 was 1928%, reaching 21 million monthly users.

This
unique tool only allows 140 characters to make your point, so be sure
to use highly targeted phrases when you’re looking to connect with your
product or service’s online audience. Micro-blogging will definitely
make you a better, more concise writer.

Twitter strategy: Make
sure your messages (called “tweets”) work out of context and ask
yourself if your tweet has value. Use conversations already in progress
as content inspiration. It’s a good suggestion to compose an idea list
of topics that might be of interest to your followers that include:

  • Your New Blog Entry (include link)
  • New Art Posted in Your Store (include link)
  • Photos of Your Work-in-Progress Art Project (include link)

Tip:
There are several automated tools to augment your social media
experience. Schedule your automated business-like tweets on a recurring
basis so that you don’t have to remember to do it yourself. Scheduling
automation allows you to continue to conduct your online relationship
on a personal level.

A few repeating topics include:

  • Thanks for following me! You can find more info on what I do here (insert link to site)
  • Top 3 Reasons to join my club (include link to site)
  • Personalized messages to your followers at specific times (include link to promotions)

Flickr
A
photo sharing site, Flickr is another way to broaden the reach of your
art. Upload, edit, organize, share, geotag, and make products from your
photos all through this new-media tool.

QuickFact: As of June 2009, 3,600,000,000 photos are archived on Flickr.com

As
with many tools, Flickr is free to upload and host your photos. The
site also has an annual fee service that allows one to create more than
two categories. This can be advantageous for the creative entrepreneur.
Additionally, one can create password  protected categories—great for
works-in-progress and client related material.

Friendfeed
As
a sharing service, Friendfeed also serves an aggregator for all of the
social media tools you have employed. It is a good idea to claim your
name on Friendfeed and then pull in all of your tools by adding them
within the feed. Due to the most recent purchase by Facebook,
Friendfeed will now become a more powerful and valuable search tool.

Social Marketing Strategy

These
days, one must use technology to remain agile and Social Media tools
can help you get ahead and stay in the game. Understanding your target
market will help you better understand what tools you will need to
successfully engage with your customer. When you know your goals, you
can build your strategy around them and prevent getting overwhelmed by
the very tools that are supposed to help you.

Design a strategy will enable you to:

  • Measure visiting traffic
  • Measure the effectiveness of your content long tail
  • Hold you accountable for content

Sharing,
growing, and engaging through trial and error is part of being the
creative entrepreneur. Continuing to listen, engaging in dialog—not
monologue—and collaborating, is the reward of staying in business.

EC (LISA) STEWART
is an award-winning designer and illustrator with a degree in  Graphic
Design and Fine Arts from Western Michigan University. She’s held a
variety of positions including display artist, interior designer,
accessory buyer, and print/Web designer before starting ECStewart
Design Studio in 1998. In addition to the agency, she has returned to
her fi rst love, illustration, and now her CalligraphyPets form the
foundation of the ECStewart Collections, an expanded line of pen and
ink illustrations. She finds inspiration in travelling, indulging in
her hobbies that include photography, painting, illustration and
relaxing at home with Andrew and their three cats. Visit
www.ecstewart.com.

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