Let’s talk social.
When you enter the online business realm, it’s practically impossible to not get overwhelmed by all the “things you should be doing”. Of course, they’re not all worth your time. And, also of course, what’s worth your time may not be worth another business owner’s time (or even another artist’s time) and vice versa. Because most of these “things you should be doing” are marketing activities. And the success of each marketing activity? Is entirely based on your customers.
But that’s another blog post for another time. Today I really want to dive into social media, which is one of those “things you should be doing”.
Why should you be using social media?
Yes, I know I just finished explaining that “things you should be doing” might not be things you should be doing. But I want to give you the biggest reason people use social media: you can reach thousands of potential customers, all over the globe, for very little money or even none at all. Social media is a fantastic tool for a business on a budget.
The downside is that social media takes a lot of time, not just how much you have to do on a daily basis to keep up with it, but also that it’s a long-term marketing strategy that doesn’t bear fruit right away. The timing is different for everyone, but it usually takes at least 6 months of consistent social media activity to build enough of a presence that people start buying from you. If you’ve been at it longer than that, don’t feel like you’re behind – for many people it takes years! Like 2 or 3 years! And that’s once you know how to work it properly. This is not an overnight solution. If you’re looking to get noticed today, social media is unlikely to be your best bet unless you have fantastic connections you can leverage to get a wider social audience than you can on your own.
Which are the best social networks?
Now that you know the biggest pros and cons to using social media, we can talk about actually implementing the strategy. The most popular networks are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The next tier is LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. Everything else is down from there. I always tell my clients to start with ONE network. That makes it much easier to see whether or not the network is working for you so you can move on quickly if it’s not instead of continually pumping time and energy into a strategy that’s not helping you.
How do you pick?
Take the top 6 I mentioned above. Narrow down based on a few criteria:
a) does it look interesting to you?
If you’re not into it, you won’t use it. And that is a failing strategy.
b) does your target market spend time there?
If your market isn’t using it, your efforts will go unnoticed. And that is a failing strategy.
c) can you produce the right content?
If you’re terrified of going on camera, for instance, you’ll never make YouTube videos and you’ll never be present enough on that network. And that is a failing strategy.
By the time you’ve answered those three questions, you’ll probably find yourself with only one or two networks. If it’s two, just pick whichever looks the most fun and get started!
If this part is super confusing to you, I usually recommend just starting with Facebook. It’s got the widest demographics, so you’re most likely to find your market on there if you don’t know who your market is yet.
Should you even touch the others?
Yes. It’s best to set up a profile on every network that remotely interests you. This does three great things.
a) it reserves your chosen name so no one else takes it
b) it gives you extra Google ju-ju
c) it helps more people run across you and be able to find your website
Make sure you use the same profile photo on every network so people can recognize you across the board. And if you can, use similar colors or banners so your branding carries over when people hit your website. Some social networks make this easier than others.
Are you super busy?
Most social networks now have tools for scheduling your posts ahead of time. This allows you to work in bulk (a system I recommend for as many different areas of your business as possible actually) and plan out lots of updates ahead of time. Benefit? You aren’t constantly checking your social media accounts. And you don’t flood your followers feeds with 6 posts in 3 minutes – people hate that. And you still stay present for people so they see you come up in their feeds, even when you’re on vacation.
There are bunches of tools and it does depend on the social network you’re using (YouTube doesn’t even have any scheduling capability). But here are some places to start:
Edgar (paid, but very unique and useful)
Facebook’s built in scheduling tool (free)
I recommend spending an hour at the start of every week (or 2-3 hours at the start of every month) loading posts into your tool. Then you should spend 10 minutes a day (5 in the morning, 5 at the end of the work day) popping in and checking on your social media network. You can also add your tool’s extension (a button on your internet browser) or cell phone app and create new posts when the mood strikes you during your day – this is especially good for pictures or other website’s blog posts. When you do your 10 minutes checking in each day, you are replying to people who are talking to you, getting in on conversations with your market where you can add something interesting, and sharing other people’s posts. Anything else is not using your time wisely.
How often should scheduled posts go live?
It’s different for every target market, but I think 3 times a day is usually a good starting point. You can also use the statistics sections of social networks or a tool like Tweriod to discover when your followers are on the network and active and tailor your posting schedule to this data.
How do I get followers?
Getting noticed is the basic concept behind getting followers. People have to know you exist. You can do this in a bunch of ways. Here are some:
a) follow people you think would be interested in your art
b) post interesting content that your current followers will share
c) tell friends and family about your social account
d) cross-promote your social networks so people follow you on all your social accounts
send people from your website to follow you on social
Don’t do that! The point is for people to buy on your site, not go play around on Facebook!
f) connect with larger businesses on that social network and get them to mention you
g) let your customers know they can follow you there
What do I post about?
You want a good balance of promotion (new pieces, exhibitions, etc.), behind-the-scenes (photos of your studio or works in progress, what’s inspiring you, how you spend your day, etc.), personal touches (life outside the studio, other interests/hobbies, etc.), and other people’s content (blog posts and articles that would interest your market, cool photos, funny cat videos… whatever would be exciting to your target market). This balance makes you a much more captivating person to follow on social media. Just as if you were at a party and you wouldn’t only talk about your newest paintings, on social media you also want to balance what you talk about. It makes you multi-dimensional, interesting…. human.
What if I want to take my social strategy to the next level?
I know it sounds cheesy, but once you start to see some traction (and sales!) from your social networks, you’ll want to do more with it. And doing more doesn’t necessarily mean posting more. This is when you want to consider paying for advertising on the social network that’s working well for you. Not all the networks have this ability, but several of the big ones do and it’s worth a look. If you research the best methods, this can cost you very little (just a couple dollars a day for as long or as short as you want it to run) and bring you lots of new followers and even sales!
Should you hire a social media marketing manager?
This question has a fuzzy answer. See, you never want someone to do your social media for you who isn’t involved in your business enough to understand why you make art, to be able to describe your art, and to be able to connect with your target market. So hiring a big social media firm would be a bad idea. But taking on an employee or a solo independent contractor who understands the art world and will take the time to know you and your art could work. You want them to speak like your brand when they post on social for you. The other key is to acknowledge it’s not you doing the posting. It sounds silly, but when you deceive people on social media, it really ruins your reputation. Better to just be honest that it’s a member of your team, not you directly.
Let me know in the comments so I can help you get the most out of the time you spend on social media.