Firstly, I have to thank my friend Nicola Williams (@Made_By_Daisy) for prompting me to write on here tonight. I’ve been in a very odd, uninspired mood all day and certainly didn’t feel ready to blog anything this evening! She persuaded me to get back online and simply write something relevant to my practice, so here goes!
It’s also worth mentioning that Nicola is also sharing my sense of adventure with social media recently. We’ve both started to read up about how online platforms such as Twitter and Instagram can be used productively for artists to promote their work.
I joined Twitter less than two months ago and only because my brother (@zoojar) had suggested it as a great way to show off the head-art that I create every day! Instagram swiftly followed, and I began tweeting and instagramming my make-up drawing and sketchbook doodles. The number of followers I’ve been getting was actually quite surprising. It never occurred to me that people would actually be interested in what I draw! I realised I needed to read up on social media in more detail, especially as I’d heard how useful it can be for artists.
Naturally there are teething problems while exploring social media. My brother warned me about creating too much ‘noise’ on the various platforms. What he meant by this was tweeting too much, or posting too many times on Facebook. Initially I had my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all linked, and there were times when my posts would appear twice on people’s Walls. The last thing I wanted was for people to block me from appearing in their newsfeed after being deluged by my posts! (Sadly I think this has already started to happen, but you live and learn I guess) This situation was brought to light after an aquaintance openly admitted to blocking me from her feed because of my excessive posting!! I felt a bit despondent and reluctant to use Twitter at this point; until Nicola came to the rescue again and said that there would always be people who don’t want to stay and listen. She said I should focus on the ones who stick around despite my ‘noise’, as they’re the people who are more likely to be interested in my work in the future. So I carried on regardless…
I’ve since tried to manage my accounts better, and also try to post at specific times, with updates no more than twice a day. I’ve also started refraining from posting inane, pointless comments on Facebook (not that I was in a habit of posting things like “I really fancy a cup of tea” or “West Wing was so dull tonight. Bedtime now.”) Being more social media savvy has actually made me reconsider how I use all of these social networking sites.
If I were to give out any advice from what I’ve learned so far, I’d say you should use each social media site differently according to what you want out of it.
With Instagram, it’s kind of an informal arena where you show off photos of stuff you’ve made, or beautiful/interesting/arresting images of stuff that inspires, that you think others may also like. It’s a really direct way of communicating with people because there’s very little text. It’s usually my starting point (I’m a visual artist, after all) and is the place I usually post from to other places such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s also worth spending five minutes each day scrolling through posts by other Instagrammers and following people who might inspire you, as there’s the chance to share what they do with others too.
For Twitter, this is a more formal, business area for me, especially as you’re limited in characters; you have to be focused and direct. I Tweet and retweet posts that reflect my practice in positive, professional ways, such as what organisations and artists are doing that is somehow connected to my own work. It’s like being at a trade fair and exchanging a few words with a potential client or employer, that might lead to positive connections later on. It’s easy to forget that the Tweets go out to all your followers and at first I would Tweet things that I would have actually preferred to have been between me and one other. When I see Tweets that say “Beautiful day today!” or “Eggs for breakfast, mmm!” they make me cringe! These sorts of comments seem more suited to Facebook, where you’re allowed to be silly, personal and carefree. So a big rule for me when using Twitter is keep it focused, succinct and relevant to your practice.
Facebook is like a big park or club where you’re meeting friends and acquaintances. This is the place where you add personality to your brand or practice. If your followers have access to this, it’s usually because you’ve engaged with them in real life at a social engagement, even if it was only a one-off meeting, I feel like there’s more freedom to be yourself here, and comments about daily life, holidays and social happenings are more appropriate. It’s also a great place to post things from Twitter and Instagram (as well as from blogs like this) to direct people to your omnipresence online!
Finally, using a blog like WordPress feels like a great place to voice opinions and ideas, as well as offer advice to others about what you’re doing in your life and work. It’s actually been a very cathartic experience for me to do this tonight, and even if no-one else reads this, it’s been productive for me to write out my thoughts on social media.
So my last bit of advice about social media would be to blog something alongside your posting and photography, even if it’s only a few lines from the contents of your head. You never know who it might reach or how it might help you with your own questions about online interactions.
Happy blogging everyone and let’s hope my next post isn’t too far away!