Thursday, September 29, 2011

social media

When I'm trying to meditate, or breathe my way through yoga, or focus on The Now, I often find myself drifting into a fantasy of being interviewed by Vanity Fair, Ira Glass, Teri Gross, or even Playboy. You know those quick little Q & A's that some magazines do? One of the questions they always ask people is what characteristic is most important to have, and what traits they most value in other people. If I were asked that question, my answer would be "integrity" and "bravery." Playboy bunnies almost always answer "honesty." How do I know that?  I just do.

Of course if I were being interviewed by those people-- and I'm still holding out that it could happen someday-- I would not be asked either of those questions, I would be asked the question I always get, which is, "What is your advice to an artist starting out?"  I've already written a bunch about that topic right here.

I'm always thinking about that question, and refining my past answers, and coming up with new responses. I have a new answer right now.  My new answer to the question of what I advise artists starting out-- or who are already out and on their way-- is to get very skilled at social media.  And when I say "social media" I am referring to the social media juggernaut: the facebook, blogging, and the twitter.  And Flikr, which I guess is social media, but I look at it more as online image storage. And I'm rooting for Google+, which I adopted right away because it is so much better than facebook.  But I'm not going to get into that right now.

I've been trying to write an informative and interesting post about this topic all week, and every post I've attempted totally sucks. There is so much information about social media out there already.  I know I have knowledge to share that is helpful for the artist, but my brain keeps overloading.

 Then, it occurred to me as I was writing a third sucky draft on this topic, that rather than try to figure out what I should write about social media, I should use social media as a way to let you tell me what you want to know, what's helpful for you.  So I set up a discussion tab on my facebook fan page, and then I was promptly informed by facebook that they are discontinuing the discussion tab soon because they think the best way to encourage discussion is by people leaving comments on your page.  That is just one reason why I get so sick of facebook, they are always trying to control how I use them.  So we'll keep it simple by starting the discussion right here in the comments forum.  Post any question, answer, comment, or thought about social media you have below.  Let's get the discussion going! 


  1. Funny, I just wrote an almost complete opposite post about facebook,

    I know it's working for a lot of folks, but I'm not one of them... of course I refused to accept CD players for a very long time also :)

  2. Hi Tracey,
    I agree with some of what you wrote about FB, especially about people who are obsessed with checking their pages constantly. So boring.

    On a personal level, FB is a time suck and I mostly use it to leave snarky comments on the status updates of people I went to high school with. But professionally, I don't see it as a choice between FB and blogging. It has to be both.

    My FB "fan" page is for one specific thing: keeping people up to date on what is happening in my studio. Stuff I'm making, sales I'm running, press coverage I'm getting, how the studio is looking, an engaging question or contest for my "likers." etc. It's not supposed to be interesting the way a blog is, it's very temporal and passing. Only my most hardcore fans and stalkers are going to read every post and keep up with it all the time.

    I "like" the pages of people and companies I'm interested in because that way I get useful information about them that I may not otherwise get. So I give that back to the people who "like" me. People who only read my blog but haven't "liked" me yet are missing out on all kinds of stuff they may be interested in.

    I have some more thoughts on FB but I will let some other people jump in while I stew some more.

  3. I totally get the people that are using FB to promote their work. I have friends that are very successful with it. I just don't do that kind of business. It's all I can do to keep up with the shows I have, mostly because I'm a lazy ass, so if I spent more time working instead of playing I could probably find a good use for FB. I'm just sort of tired of hearing the word facebook come up in my world every single day. It's like people forgot that they had lives before social media or something :)
    It's a great conversation though, I had some interesting comments! I'll check back to see what others think :)

  4. There was life before facebook? :)

    I just want to know how to get more fans on facebook, my numbers have been stuck at around 200 and I even have people drop off.

  5. I think you've hit on a key phrase there Whitney 'temporal and passing.'

    One of the many things that bothers me about FB, and now G+, is that there is no good way to 'tag' things for later reference. There's a reason they call it 'the stream', it flows on by and is gone forever.

    The new 'improvements aren't doing much to help. The new Newsfeed has rendered any attempt to keep track of anyone's posts futile by destroying the chronology.
    I'm on the verge of a massive FB cleanout. My personal page will be reduced to family and close friends only. My Fan page will be for 'temporal updates'. My website/blog is just that- mine. I own it, control it and nobody else can fiddle with it and cripple my communication with the world.

  6. my thoughts on the new facebook changes...Brian is right about the fact that nothing is in order anymore and posts get lost very quickly... i think they are doing this so that the people who are using it for business promotion will be forced to buy advertising in order to stay on top. that is my theory.

  7. "One of the many things that bothers me about FB, and now G+, is that there is no good way to 'tag' things for later reference. There's a reason they call it 'the stream', it flows on by and is gone forever."

    I think that's the power of it though, and it shouldn't try to be anything else. It's always being refreshed. I don't think FB or G+ updates should be things that one would tag for later reference. If there's a link you are interested in you can always bookmark.

    Let us not get bogged down on how FB sucks-- we all know they forgot how to do their job-- but how to leverage what it is.

    Writing the engaging FB post that people respond to is what makes FB work for businesses. I try to focus on these things when I FB:

    1-images of new work that I'm making or work in progress, I think people really like pictures.

    2- info on studio sales and online coupons. I like to do "FB only" coupons, and these always generate sales.

    3-questions for my fans, such as their opinion on my newly designed website or their ideas on name for new vase. People love to chime in.

    4-link to the blog when I have a new post or link to my monthly newlsetter, this brings me tons of traffic.

    5-sometimes press coverage, though I have found people have the least interest in this type of post.

    I think all of this stuff falls under the headline of temporal and passing.

  8. You're funny Tracey. I don't think you could be considered a lazy ass.

    Just got on FB last week and a few friends said they felt the shift in the time space continuum when I signed up. I'd been putting it off forever because I didn't think I needed another time suck. I've mostly ignored my personal page AND pottery page pretty capably this past week, so I don't think time sucking will be the issue. It will be making the effort to use it to connect and promote. When I get in the habit of making the effort, the plan is to use it for new work and work in progress pics and link to the blog when updated. We'll see how it goes.

    I'm on G+ (neglecting it too)because a friend invited me and it's pretty quiet, probably because I'm too shy to circle people I don't know. I think I might be social networking dork.

  9. Whitney - I completely agree, the tools don't suck as such, it's when they're used for things they were never meant for.
    Both are great for updates, engagement, feedback. But when I see people trying to blog on them, I cringe a little.

  10. Facebook and blogs have been pretty easy for me to connect people to my work and I think fairly essential for me promotion-wise, however, I feel as though I'm missing out on the conversation that's happening on Twitter. I don't really 'get' how to use it and I haven't been great at following anyone's tweets either. I also am not keen on clicking through to links unless there is an image or info that grabs me so a random url beside a twitter feed is not cutting it for me, and yet, I think that's really how to make it useful.
    Anyways, keeping up with pinterest, Instagram, facebook, a blog, and the occasional newsletter seems promo-savvy enough, or is it?? I sometimes wonder if the visual over-load out there is becoming a little redundant and people are constantly searching for the next thing to consume online. I wonder if blogs and facebook are slowly on their way out like websites have been in the past year or so.

  11. I am also flummoxed by twitter. I keep reading how it is like a blog, but in 147 characters (or whatever it is). But I resist spending any time on it, following links or the conversation.

    The reason why I continue to tweet is because it brings me a ton of traffic. I can watch my view numbers click up if I post something that is listed in my Etsy shop. I have no idea how many sales Twitter generates, but I have to believe that eyeballs equal sales.

    I've been very lazy with developing a Twitter strategy. I mostly just let it feed off my Facebook postings, sometime throwing in some extra. I would love to know if anyone out there has one.

  12. I've found that posting to my FB and FB Fan page brings me new customers. I sometimes post new Etsy listings on both sites and often those items sell pretty quickly.

    I like the idea of having contests and coupons on FB. Might have to steal that.

    I have not gotten into Twitter too much either. I don't have that many followers maybe if I tried I'd get them.

    It seems to me that most of the people who are reading my blog are potters. I'd like to change that somehow. Lots of my FB Friends are potters too but many are not, as with my Fan page. It's these people I want to reach and if they Share my posts then it's reaching more people (their Friends etc) So FB actually has more potential to reach a wider audience than my blog.

    Hope you get some more comments here. I'll check back again. Thanks for the discussion.

  13. I don't get twitter either... I mostly use it to post new etsy listings. I read sometime ago (no clue where) That diehard twitter's get irritated when others only post things like etsy listings etc... I guess that makes me an outcast :o).

  14. I'm not keen on Facebook, but it is useful. I think if I didn't have a business to promote I'd probably would have stopped using it by now. I use twitter way more just because I like how fun and flexible it is, its so easy to start conversations with people.

    I've not really got into Google+ I have an account but I just dont know many people using it. Maybe its taken off more in the states?

  15. Wow, so many people against Facebook.I love it! In the space of three years: Facebook has reconnected my hubby with his 30 yrs ago high school buddy and we started a rock band. I started selling paintings of mine and now have a successful business, thanks to my art fan page. I connected with 2 friends I had never met, who knew my friends but not me. I learned about a local, comedy show by a famous, local comedian, which inspired me to get into comedy last summer and now I've been doing stand up for 3 months and am in talks to do an art opening, stand-up gig. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!