A Plumpish Proportion by SSG Robert Stewart. Photograph.
I thought I would kick off the year by turning a common misconception on its head and completely shocking a few of you. I’m going to tell you the truth about social media marketing. Ready?
“Social Media Marketing” is a dumb phrase.
When we develop new technologies, inevitably companies want to turn that new technology into a business promotion. It’s only natural that the hot new thing is where a budding company (or an established one) wants to be to get new customers. So the same has happened with social media, of course. You can’t open Facebook without seeing a sea of advertisements, both on the sidebars and in your newsfeed!
And it seems like you’ll never be able to successfully market your art with social media unless you can discover whatever crazy formula those big-name companies have that is getting them all this interaction on Twitter. In fact, I was talking with a friend the other day who has a decent following on Facebook. She’s careful to ask lots of questions of her fans and post frequently without badgering. She picks topics that are interesting to her customers. Yet every time she visits her business page – crickets.
With many of us experiencing similar frustrations, it can be hard to know what the next step is. But I’m going to tell you right now, we just need to change our perspective.
Social media isn’t for marketing. This bears repeating:
Social media isn’t for marketing!
Social media is for nurturing a tribe (that’s Seth Godin‘s term there) of fans who love you and will continually support you. If your goal is just to get more sales, then there’s absolutely no reason to keep up with social media. Just set up a profile on each network so people can discover you (and make sure it links back to your site). And then leave it. Focus on real marketing. Focus on getting in touch with people who will buy your paintings or knitwear.
And there is nothing wrong with that approach. But I know a lot of you are thinking that sounds icky! If it doesn’t feel right to you to just go after sales without actually relating to your customers… well then, let’s talk solutions.
Rethink social media. Imagine social media as a place for all your fans (that loyal tribe I mentioned) to gather and interact with you. They can talk to you and ask you questions, they can talk to other fans, they can post relevant material for everyone to see… they can even post pictures of your sculpture placed on their mantle for the world to see! This is not a world where those fans want to see constant posts about your art and your gallery shows. Nope, it’s a world where they want to spend quality time with you. Yes, they want to know about your new work and events you or your art will be at. But they want the focus to be on your relationship with them.
When you focus on these relationships, you’ll create fans who are excited to continually purchase from you. In fact, you’ll be able to skip steps in the purchasing process! You won’t have to have each customer buy something small before they will buy something mid-priced (before they’ll buy something that’s an investment). They’ll feel like they already trust you and already know you. So they’ll buy that investment product from the get-go. They want to be a part of the community you’ve created. So create it for them!
So I know you’re now thinking, “well how do I get customers then?”
You can still find them by building this online community (in addition to traditional marketing efforts like advertisements both online and physical). When you have a community of fans that is rallied around your business because they like you and they trust you to deliver quality, they’re going to do a lot of the promoting for you.
And if you let this perspective set in, you’ll realize how much happier you’d be if you spent time interacting with people who love you and your art instead of putting together yet another ad campaign. You’ll drive more quality customers to your work (hello repeat buyers!) and you’ll have more fun doing it.
What do you have to lose? Give this perspective a shot and ditch the phrase “social media marketing” in favor of building a loyal tribe of fans who make the marketing process more effective and more fun!