In the article 5 Rules for Artists Using Social Media by Devon Hopkins of Stillindie.com, Devon starts by saying “Social media literacy is an essential skill for all artists to master. And by social media literacy, I don’t mean being able to create a facebook event, or tweet about your breakfast, or add friends on Myspace. I mean being able to effectively use social media to self-promote and create a lasting, active community that will continue to support you.”
I absolutely agree. Understanding and utilizing social media tactics is a vital skill for all artists, creative designers, community managers, entrepreneurs, public relations professionals, students and more to understand and master.
Here are five important rules Devon says to follow and what I have to say about each:
1. Don’t lead with tools, lead with relationships: Devon makes the point that you don’t build relationships and get a lot of followers and fans by sending out just promo material 20+ times a day. It’s more important to build relationships through conversation and involvement. Talk to your fans and create conversation through questions and ideas. People are online to talk to other people, not just read links you send out.
2. Use tools as an aide to build community: Community = loyalty. While you shouldn’t lead with tools, it is important to use them to develop your community and yourself as a thought leader. Community starts with conversation then leads into your other tools and products.
3. Tell your story: Devon said: here’s an Indian Proverb that goes: “Tell me a fact, I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. Tell me a story and it’ll live in my heart forever.” People always remember stories. In my personal experience, people want to see a person rather than just a brand logo. People want to know they are talking to other real people. Tell your story and get personal!
4. Create an incentive for users to come back: If you are posting and sharing the same things everyone else is sharing, people will not remember you and you will not be successful. The key is to be original and have original content. Create reasons for people to come back to your sites whether it’s a discount, a series of blog posts, breaking news, the latest products, etc. Your consumers need a reason to come back so give a reason to them.
5. Don’t sign yourself up for more than you can maintain: It’s not a competition of how many social media sites you can be on at once. Devon said, “Having 8 different profiles on various media platforms won’t do any good for you unless they are all well developed and updated frequently.” He is absolutely right. Most people and artists will not have time to update 8+ social media accounts. Focus on 1-3 accounts you know you can maintain and frequently update. If you aren’t updating your pages, people will notice and they will think you don’t care or you aren’t doing anything new [not a good image!] So make sure you know how much you can handle.
Devon also notes that you should never hire someone to maintain your social media profiles. I disagree with this. If you hire interns or someone else and train them in social media and train them in learning about the company, I think you can let them update your social media profiles if you do not have the time to do it. It takes some training and practice, but someone else can get to know you and your company and you can send them exactly what needs to be posted.
Lastly and most importantly: Building community, making a personal connection, and actively engaging your audience is not only important, it is necessary to set yourself apart from everybody else. Be authentic and be yourself.