Social media and creativity don’t at first seem to be natural bedfellows. But taking the time to engage smartly and selectively on social can pay off in huge dividends, winning you more fans, exposure, and helping you to make a valuable network of contacts.
Creative people can feel a natural aversion to social media because it’s seen as somewhat inauthentic – an arena where those engaging only put forward the best versions of themselves. It doesn’t have to be that way though, because by participating authentically and showing the real you, you will be actually be much more successful, with a far wider influence and reach.
So what are the best ways to engage on social if you’re in the creative arena? Here are my top six tips for engaging on social media without selling your soul:
1: Be real.
It sounds simplistic but on social media, so many people aren’t. There’s no need to create a slick persona, don’t be scared to let your true personality shine through, warts and all. Include snapshots and glimpses of what your life is really like, including your real opinions on things (as long as they aren’t offensive), and even your quirks and foibles, like that penchant for collecting 80’s Transformers figures. You don’t have to give a minute by minute account of what you had for breakfast, but by posting a few well-chosen glimpses into your real personality you will win more fans who will make a much deeper connection with you. Research has shown people are more likely to buy from someone they feel they know on a personal level, so sharing like this can only help when it comes to selling your work too.
2: Pick the right platform – and focus on just one or two.
Not all social media was created equally, and not all platforms will suit your needs. Don’t spread yourself too thin, there’s only so much time in the day after all. Define what your main aim is first –to make more creative contacts, to find collaborators for a project, to expose your profile to a wider audience, or to encourage sales – and then hone in on the platforms most likely to help you achieve that aim.
Linked In, for example is great for making connections with high level professionals and decision makers (such as gallery owners), but if you want to hobnob with art lovers, win devoted fans, or find collaborators, then a more niche focused site like Deviant Art might be better. Don’t forget the power of Facebook either, as there are hundreds of creative focused user groups you can join to expand both your reach and network of contacts. Instagram is superb for posting visuals and can really help to expand your audience, and Twitter can be effective for fast networking, especially if you make clever use of chats, lists, and hashtags.
3: Show the story of your work – not just the end result.
Instead of just posting the final outcome of your creative project, take people behind the scenes and show them how you got there. Post rough sketches, outlines, photos of each stage, and inspiration boards to demonstrate what was inspiring you and exactly how you came to create your masterpiece.
This is a great tactic to use as it gets people personally invested in the piece, making them much more likely to not only buy, but also follow your future work.
4: Collaborate to innovate.
Collaborating with fellow creative types on group projects can expose you to a whole new audience, win you fans from unexpected places, and stretch your abilities to the max, inspiring you to produce work you might never have done if you were working solo.
Social media is great for organising collaborative projects as it can connect you to a large number of people who have complementary skills. There are lots of different ways to collaborate, you can co-exhibit with someone, work directly on a project or guest blog, illustrate a book, or just share ideas. Apps like Meet Up can help you hook up with potential collaborators face to face but this isn’t always necessary, lots of collaboration happens purely online. A great example of this are Deviant Art’s digital collaborators who work remotely on the same project.
Facebook shines in this area as it offers access to user groups where people exchange ideas, propose collaborations, and share valuable information on a whole host of topics. Just a few examples I’ve seen recently include; opportunities to exhibit, guest blog, or illustrate books and graphic novels, all of which are invaluable ways to organically grow your reach.
5: Consider posting video content.
Unlike, traditional blogging, where you actually have to write something, video blogging is relatively easy to do. It’s also rapidly becoming the number one way to attract more clicks to your posts, as research has shown video posts receive higher attention on Facebook than any other kind of post by about 50%.
If you feel a bit camera shy, you don’t have always have to show your face in order to video blog. You could make a technical video showing how to draw in a certain style and just showing your hands as you work, or do a voice over giving your opinion on someone’s else’s work. You could even create an animated or digital art video to showcase your skills and show off your work at the same time. If you do feel confident enough to show your face though, that’s a big plus, as people are much more likely to want to engage after they’ve seen you talking and moving on a video, as you will seem more real to them.
Video is growing massively and posting video content anywhere, not just on Youtube, is a sure-fire way to win over a whole new audience of fans, friends, and followers.
This might sound obvious but you’d be surprised at the sheer amount of people who just post and expect people to flock to them. You don’t have to spend every minute of your day on social but you do need to engage with people if you want them to check out what you’re doing, follow you, comment and like your posts, and buy your work.
So don’t just be a one man or woman marketing machine plugging your own projects, start discussions with other people, reply to comments, visit fellow creative’s pages, share and like other people’s stuff and make sure that whenever you engage you keep in mind the golden rule – always add value.