I’ll be honest here. If I weren’t an artist, I probably wouldn’t be on social media or my presence would be limited. I’m very shy and introverted, and I’ve seen the ugly side of social media. However, while I might complain about social media, I also understand that it plays an integral part in our lives. This is particularly true for individuals who are marketing themselves. Social media has its place, and it’s here to stay.
I’m not writing this post because I’m an expert on social media. Like most people out there, I have struggled building my social media presence. Over the last couple of years, I have spoken to other artists who have experienced the same challenges as me and hearing their stories has helped me put things into a more healthy perspective. Let’s face it, the self-publishing world is not for the faint of heart and there are many days you might feel like you’re working for nothing. There were many days that I would scroll through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and think, “What am I doing wrong?”
Building a meaningful presence on social media takes time, but don’t discount the small successes along the way and never compare yourself to others. As a wise woman once told me, “Compare and despair.” Instead of listing the various platforms that most people are already familiar with, I’m offering a couple tips that might make this part of the job a little less painful. Also, I want to talk about one platform that most people overlook.
Social Media Tips
1.) Prioritize your social media platforms: I could easily spend 40 hours a week just on social media marketing. It’s addicting and time consuming, but most of us don’t have time to just spend on social media. Generally people gravitate towards one of the platforms. Because I’m a photojournalist and much of my work is visual, I tend to rely more on Instagram. I do use Twitter and Facebook, but I use Instagram to connect to those other platforms so that I’m not having to constantly recreate my posts. I go on Instagram every day, but I’ll check my Twitter account a couple times a week. Some people only use Twitter, so I don’t want to completely ignore any platform where I might find useful information.
2.) Make it fun (or at least pleasant): When I follow someone on social media it’s usually because I either know them, I appreciate the aesthetics of their social media presence, or I just really enjoy their posts. As a photojournalist I tend to follow a lot of people in my field, but if there’s someone out there who is putting out cool posts then I will follow them on social media. It makes it a lot easier to engage with others if the posts resonate with you. Commenting and engaging with others is just as important as posting. At first I felt very anxious leaving comments because I was afraid that my words would be misconstrued or cause offense. Thus, I always keep my comments general and friendly. As the saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” We’re all trying to find our place in the world, and when you post supportive or complimentary feedback, your words go a long way. You never know who you might connect with. Social media is just another form of networking.
3.) Understand the difference between Personal and Private posts: I enjoy seeing behind the scenes shot or hearing a little bit about the personal lives of the people I follow on social media. It makes them more personable and relatable. I have very few personal posts on my social media platforms. I’m actually trying to show a little bit more of myself on social media, so that my followers get a sense of who I am as an artist and person. However, I never post anything that I consider to be private. This will vary depending on the individual and the field in which they work. The reason I mention this is that I’ve seen many people get in trouble for things that they have posted on social media, even if it was many years ago. You can still be authentic without revealing everything about yourself. As a photojournalist, it’s important to me that I don’t alienate people from working with me. Also, I have seen individuals attacked online when they reveal something that is extremely personal. It’s impossible to prevent people trolling, but, if you’re looking to avoid unnecessary drama, stick to the topic of your work.
4.) Consider Pinterest as a way to increase traffic to your website and establishing a platform: Very rarely do I hear people talk about Pinterest when discussing social media marketing. Authors are just starting to utilize Pinterest to build brand awareness and advertise. Pinterest works much differently than the other platforms because it’s not driven by the number of followers. I have used Pinterest boards to show aspects of the projects that I’m working on. I also save other people’s pins to my boards. For instance, I have a board called Photography Tips, which includes both my pins as well as other people’s. Pinterest gives you a chance to show a little bit about yourself and what interests you. People who have blogs, often use Pinterest to capture people’s attention and drive traffic to their website. To learn more about Pinterest, I highly recommend you check out Simple Pin Media.
5.) Compare and Despair: It’s easy to start comparing your progress with other people. I once took a course on Instagram, and I didn’t have the same success as some of the other students. Fortunately, I’ve been doing this long enough that I know that others have similar challenges, but the best advice I can give to people is to just focus on yourself. You don’t know what others have done to increase their followers, likes, and etc. You’re not going to gain anything from comparing yourself to others, so just do what you can do and move on to the other things you have on your “t0-do list.” Eventually, you’ll get to where you need to be.