Saturday, January 26, 2013

What is Social Media? — Its Importance to Artists

In reading through various newsletters I receive I had the good fortune to come across a blog post on New York Artists by Barbra Drizin, a Social Media Tutor, Trainer, and Manager for the “Ready-to-be-Tech Savvy,” Her post is one of the best I have read on the subject of social media especially for artists. The rest of us can benefit too. I share it below.

"SOCIAL MEDIA is a well-used catch phrase, but what does it mean to artists? One meaning is the difference between marketing your work to hundreds or to tens of thousands.
First, let’s define Social Media. We know that “media” are tools for communication…like the newspaper, radio, and television. “SOCIAL MEDIA” makes communication social.
Social Media does more than deliver information like a one way street: it allows us to become content managers and producers, and to create, share, exchange, and engage with our community in previously inconceivable interactive ways!
Social media technologies take on a vast variety of forms. They include blogs (which are like online newspapers where readers can also comment on the topic discussed), internet forums  (online discussion boards where questions are asked and answered by others), podcasts (downloadable multi-media digital files), video (many of which are shared on YouTube), newsletters (done via email through an email program) and photo sharing, music sharing, and social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
The first step to successful social media marketing is defining your BRAND.
An artist’s “brand” is not just a label, a logo, or a signature. It is one of the most powerful marketing tools an artist can have. Defining what is unique and notable about your artwork reinforces awareness and achieves long-lasting recognition.
Jonathon E. Schroeder (School of Business and Economics, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK), writes in his paper, “The Artist and the Brand” (published by Emerald Journal of Marketing, Vol 39 No 11/12, 2005):
“Artists offer exemplary instances of image creation in the service of building a recognizable look, name, and style – a brand, in other words. Successful artists can be thought of as brand managers, actively engaged in developing, nurturing, and promoting themselves as recognizable ‘products’ in the competitive cultural sphere.”
Mr.  Schroeder continues:
“Warhol provides a stunning example of the artist as brand – he was extremely articulate about his ambition to become famous — and his work reflectively comments on brands and consumer culture. Warhol’s contributions to branding are many, and he remains a hot brand almost 20 years after his untimely death…Warhol’s career was largely about producing the ultimate consumer good — oneself. Celebrity, brand, superstar, artist, genius — Warhol reveled in mechanisms of fame. Warhol mastered images”
After the artist decides what his/her brand is, the next step is to understand the top social network technologies and use them to the best advantage to highlight their brand.
I explain some of the social media technologies and networks below:
Blogging is one of the best ways to get your art found by search engines, and provides excellent content for your social marketing activities. Be active: write about new work, promote new shows and openings, and offer a behind-the-scenes look at your creative process. Readers love personal insights!
Wikipedia defines a blog as, “a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. The term blog is a shortened form of weblog or web log. Authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called “blogging”. Individual articles on a blog are called “blog posts,” “posts” or “entries”. A person who posts these entries is called a “blogger”. A blog comprises text, hypertext, images, and links (to other web pages and to video, audio and other files). Blogs use a conversational style of documentation. Often blogs focus on a particular “area of interest”, such as Washington, D.C.’s political goings-on. Some blogs discuss personal experiences”
As an artist, your blog will represent you.
Email newsletters get the “word out” big-time. Newsletters are a form of direct mail that may include news about your artwork, upcoming shows, open studios you may be having, inspirational thoughts, special offers on your artwork, etc. They provide an excellent way for artists to market their work and their brand.  There are various email marketing services you can subscribe to (ConstantContact, VerticalResponse, MailChimp, AdMail, etc.). They provide templates for the newsletter, which can be shared with social networks. You invite people to read your newsletter and they can opt-in or opt-out. I suggest if you decide to write a newsletter, publish it weekly.
Facebook is like a backyard barbecue: you communicate with your friends, show photos and videos, discuss what’s happening in your life and your business, and share thoughts and ideas.
You do this by “friending” people who become your social network. Then, you can make posts (entries) of your “status” (what you’ve been up to), which are seen by all of your friends or friends of friends (if you choose to do so). Your social network can grow to hundreds and thousands of friends — certainly a great way to get news around or share photos and videos.
If you are an artist and want to market your exposure to the public, I highly recommend maximizing your presence with Facebook. Facebook has personal pages and business pages. A Facebook business page is now a necessity for artists. It’s free, easy to use, and gives you access to create, inform, and engage a community. You can even network your Blog (attach your Blog to be seen on Facebook). This is done through the “Networked Blog” App. You can find this App by searching for it in the Facebook Search Bar and then import it into your Facebook page.
For a professional Facebook Business page, make sure to add the Facebook Business Page Tabs that Facebook supplies: Photos, Likes, Notes, Events, and Videos (pictured at the top of this blog post). The “Notes” tab is used like a Blog and allows you to add “key words”. Write about one of your paintings, your inspiration, your process and attach a photo. Facebook allows you to add Custom Tabs. There is room for twelve tabs.
Consistent and effective posting keeps you in front of your audience. Photos are the number one content strategy.
LinkedIn is like going to a networking event, where you wear “business attire,” share your resume, present your projects, get leads, look for jobs, promote yourself, and join Groups that can assist you in reaching your goals.
Joining LinkedIn Groups in your profession and target market is one of the most powerful benefits about Linkedin.  Groups can have thousands of members.  One post about your artwork or one photo can be viewed by thousands of collectors, curators and gallery owners.
LinkedIn allows members of groups to be seen by other members. This allows you to add them as valuable “connections”. These connections become part of your larger network. You can view all of your connections and market your brand to them gaining greater exposure.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile optimally presents you and your brand.  There are new “apps” on LinkedIn where you can add projects, files, and pictures.  You can also set up a Company Page.
Twitter is like attending a cocktail party, where you “flit” from person to person, offering bits of information and news.  “Tweets” are limited in character count. Short, important bits of information are usually the best tweets. It is a great tool for building a following and promoting your art.  The best way to get started is to search for relevant people or businesses to follow.  A great benefit of Twitter is the ability to “tweet” pictures and links. If you’ve engaged many followers through your social media marketing campaigns, hundreds (maybe thousands) of people will get your tweets.
Pinterest is the newest addition to the arena of social media site presence.  Here you create virtual bulletin boards. You name your bulletin board, give it a description, and then “pin” pictures to it. Take advantage of Pinterest. This visually oriented social site is a great way to display your work. When you set up your profile, make sure you include keywords and your website address. Pinterest is searchable, and you can describe each pin clearly. You can even customize a link to point to your website or a page you are promoting.
According to market research firm First Research, there are over 5,000 art dealers and galleries and more than 250,000 fine artists in the US.
While art may be your business, there is often a wide chasm‚ between the creative process that makes a great artist or a sophisticated gallery owner, and the marketing process that drives branding and sales.” (American Express OPEN Forum)
Darius Himes, Assistant Director of fine art photography Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco states‚ “Artists need to embrace the fact that both their work, and they themselves as artists, are brands that must be marketed.”
It’s worth it to get savvy and learn social marketing techniques that will help you achieve your objectives. Your mission is to get “out there” — to get as much exposure in as many platforms as you can.
If you have an individual website, it is crucial that your website be highly ranked on search engines. If it isn’t, your job is to get on as many highly ranked online galleries that you can. Read the artist testimonials. Find out if the online gallery you are interested in incorporates social media marketing as part of their artist membership plan. New York Artists Online is one online gallery that features and promotes your art in many social media platforms. This allows you more time to do your art!
  • Social media marketing allows the artist’s brand be seen by hundreds and thousands of people in a very inexpensive way.
  • The artist’s brand becomes known in many social media technologies and platforms (blogs, forums, newsletters, video, podcasts, photos, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest. etc.). IT IS ONE OF THE BEST WAYS FOR ARTISTS TO MARKET THEIR WORK — numbers can reach into the tens of thousands with the click of one button…But be aware, it’s crucial that social media be personal as well as business. A big part of Andy Warhol’s success was due to his many personal lunches.
  • Technology is becoming the chosen form of communication in today’s world. We are becoming a “paperless” society. It is important for artists to get on board and learn social media marketing skills
  • Last, but not least, Social Media is a great way to learn, have fun and meet people."