Every once in a while, I like to write about a topic I covered with my college students. One of the most relevant subjects for today’s world is social media and how to use it effectively. We discuss this for quite a bit in the classroom, but here are some quick tips for you to enjoy.
1) Remember that Likes and Followers don’t always translate to dollar signs. This is one of the most important things to understand when it comes to social media. You start a Facebook fan page or Instagram account and suddenly have tons of followers! So why aren’t the contracts and big deals rolling in? Well, that’s because you have to realize that social media isn’t so much about obtaining followers and higher numbers. The point is to nurture contacts and network, in order to create opportunities. So even though you have a thousand people in your audience, if you aren’t taking that next step to really make something out of it, than it doesn’t matter. People are watching, so now what? Do you want to create a dialogue? Put on a group show? Offer to do some special commissions for the first lucky three people who take up the offer? Followers on social media are like tools: you can build something with them, but just letting them sit in the garage isn’t going to result in anything.
2) Your personal pages can be just as important as your “fan page” on Facebook. Imagine that you go to a cocktail party held by a colleague. Lots of people from your industry are there. You spot one important someone and introduce yourself. Great! Good for you. Then you stroll over to the buffet table to get something to nibble on. While there, you start talking to some friends and maybe say a couple of things that could be controversial or maybe even just downright unprofessional (because that important so-and-so is way across the room, so it doesn’t matter, right?). However, other people go to the buffet table to get some food. You don’t even know who they are at the moment, but maybe they had a good lead or connection for you. Well, guess what? Those people left the table with some sort of impression of you that may (even on just a subconscious level) determine if they want to recommend you or work with you in the future.
The point is, even with your “professional” or business page on Facebook and such, you can’t ignore the power of interactions that you do every day on your personal accounts. The Internet makes people way too comfortable when it comes to megaphoning every thought and opinion we may have, and whether you like it or not, your personal presence online does affect you professionally. Whether you are in a social online group with others in your industry or taking a continuing education class at your local college, handle yourself in a professional way that makes others remember you in a positive light. For myself, people that have started connecting with me online for personal reasons have flourished into some great professional contacts.
3) Don’t let Social Media be your only Marketing tool. Social media is like the mayonnaise on your marketing sandwich: it really makes it all come together, but it can’t be the only ingredient. Make sure you aren’t ignoring the rest of your marketing campaign! This may include mailings, press kits, in-person tradeshows, or sending submissions to companies or venues you want to work with in the future. It’s also pertinent to remember that some of the best connections are still made face-to-face. Have coffee with an old instructor. Join a local sketch group. Become a member of local professional chapters if they are in your area. There are probably some great resources where you live, and these things can compliment a strong online social media presence.
Thanks for reading! I hope you got a few things out of these tips for social media and are on your way to reaching your goals. - Lauren