Social Media: An Introduction

By now you have heard that Social Media is an essential tool that every artist must use in order to be successful. You may be overwhelmed by it. What is it exactly? How can I use it effectively as an artist? What is it for? Will I make money with it? These are questions almost everyone asks.

What Is Social Media?
Put together these two words and you will have somewhat of a definition.

Social
This refers to our instinctual need to interact and communicate with each other. We like to be in groups of like-minded people to share ideas, thoughts and experiences with.

Media
This refers to electronic, digital and paper platforms that we use to connect. This includes magazines, newspapers, fliers, brochures, postcards, phones, television, computers, mobile devices, video, social networking and more.

The thing is that when you put these two words together they refer to media that is specific to creating personal interactions and communications that may or may not lead to various types of relationships. This is now specifically a term that refers to digitally based media.

The prime reason that social media is so effective is that it is built on a 2 way interaction. As a pose to a one way communication. A one way communication is advertising – a newspaper ad, a radio ad, a billboard. It presents your message to the world. The response some advertising might be seen as an invasion. Especially if you’ve ever heard those ads for car sellers with guys screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s annoyingly effective but most of us want to turn it off and will walk in there with a not so favorable review that we’ve determined before we even walk in the door. It might even keep us away.

Social Media is a “conversation” that runs from real time (like Live Chatting) to being available when people have the time (Social Networking, blogging, pod-casting, email, etc.)

One of the prime keys to success with Social Networking is listening and responding. For example on Facebook simply reading the Newsfeed and clicking “Like” and “Commenting.” Being what’s commonly known as a “Warm Contact.” Opening accounts and leaving them static not only alienates your audience but they are ripe for hacking.

Word of Mouth
This used to be person to person and meant that one person would communicate information about you and your art to 20 people because all of their interactions were face to face, or voice to voice (phone). With Social Networking the average person can reach up to 2000 people in a matter of minutes! You can maximize this by staying true to yourself, doing everything with complete integrity. If you don’t, people will see it in a heartbeat. It may surprise you how fast that can happen.

You will create relationships, build trust and be really THERE when people are ready to view your work, because you are listening and communicating in a direct, immediate way. You can turn followers or contacts into buyers and buyers into collectors. They will follow your artistic life, be fascinated by it and spread the word about you. They will even attend exhibition receptions. They will “Like”, “Share”, “Favorite”, Re-Tweet”, “Forward” and more.

That said Social Media is not a magic wand that you will wave and it will take care of itself. It will take a few hours to set up your accounts and then a few minutes a day or a few hours a week to keep up on it. It’s fun! You will create relationships! You will meet people that share your likes and interests.

Before you approach it, however, you should have a strategy and I will address how to go about that in coming posts. Stay tuned!

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