Navigating Social Presence in Social Media - Lacey Clifton

Navigating Social Presence in Social Media

San Luis Obispo Social Media Instructor, Lacey Clifton, gives local artists advice on building advocates for their art within the community through social media.

Facebook, Vine, Twitter, DeviantArt , Vimeo, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Google+, Instagram, Houzz, Dribble… social media channels are in every niche and new ones seem to pop-up overnight, which is dizzying for even the most nimble of small business owners, let alone the lone artist.  Like many small business owners, local artists did not go into business because they enjoy running the operations side of things – they went into business for themselves to do what they love.  But it’s important to earn a living while doing it, too, right?  And so you may find yourself wearing the hat of your own marketing agent trying to navigate the rough seas of social media.  Not to worry – I’m here to help you with a compass and map.

The Compass –

To go anywhere, you must first establish your direction, right?  Social media marketing is about building a community around your work first and foremost.  It’s grassroots marketing in the digital age which means it’s about creating advocates for your work out of those people in your community.  Advocates will support you with their presence (and sometimes money) and give you those valuable word-of-mouth referrals to build your community even further.  This means your North Star, the point at which you aim, has to be your social presence. 

To build a social presence online isn’t about being on every platform in existence.  If anything, that strategy will only dilute your efforts and push people away from advocacy.  To have a social presence means people feel like you are in their lives and that takes character, location, and repetition

  • Character:  Establishing character is usually the easy part for artists as it takes creativity and finesse.  Think about your art.  What is your style?  What is your voice?  Is your art inspirational and uplifting?  Does it spark insight or provoke thought on societal norms?  Are you the revolutionist or the pacifist?  You’re going to use this to develop your brand character which will attract certain people to it by nature.  For example, if your art is a catharsis for rage, your voice is expressive and may use swear words with strong emotional speech.  You’re going to attract people who have a need for expression with that. 
  • Location: I advocate for what I call “the preferred platform” in social media marketing.  You have to be where your audience is.  Continuing on my example from character, if I am someone who seeks expression in their lives and is comfortable with public profanity, I’m probably not utilizing LinkedIn (which is popular with chief-level executives - I’ll get to this in detail with the map).  If you build your social presence on LinkedIn, I’m not going to pack up my social media luggage and move to LinkedIn just because that’s where you are.    You have to build your social media presence where I prefer to be.  Once you’re there, I’ll be more receptive to your messaging and can be a better advocate.  Chances are, your audience will be better at utilizing the social capabilities of the platform they favor than you are, and that’s OK.  Let them use their skills to spread the word for you because if it’s their preferred platform, they’ll be doing so as part of their enjoyment of using the platform.  Your skills will grow in time.
  • Repetition: All businesses struggle with this element.  You have to show a commitment to being active; it’s how your audience knows you’re there with them.  If I log into my preferred platform on a daily basis but I only see you posting once each month, I’m not going to feel like you are really a part of my social media experience.  It’s also really easy to forget about someone who only posts once or twice each month.

The Map –

Now that you have some direction, let me give you a map.  Each social media platform serves a unique purpose – if they were all the same they wouldn’t all survive.  So each platform has a unique audience who has different expectations and demands from their platform experience.  I could never cover them all, but I can fill you in on some that will most likely serve you as an artist.

  • LinkedIn: I’ll start with this one because I mentioned it earlier.  The people here are the decision makers for larger businesses.  They also have the highest average annual income of any other social media platform.  LinkedIn is my favorite platform because it is a great place for business-to-business networking.  It might work for you if you are interested in commercial projects or having your art hanging on the walls at banks. 
  • Facebook: Still most popular with the masses, Facebook has turned into the Yellow Pages for businesses.  Unfortunately, Facebook also has some of the tightest restrictions on businesses.  The average business page post is only seen by about 3% of the followers of the page.  Yes, you read that right – 3%.  While it is possible to break that average (it actually isn’t hard if you have a strategy), most small business owners are not willing to make the effort.  You should be on Facebook with your art, but it isn’t best as a stand-alone marketing plan.
  • Pinterest: This is a very visual platform, so art can do well here.  Pinterest’s audience tends to be the stay-at-home mom and it very popular with crafters and the DIY-type of person, so while Pinterest can levy Etsy sales, more people tend to save a Pin as inspiration for their own art than to buy yours. 
  • Instagram: I don’t often recommend this platform because Instagram is frequently under legal fire (if you attend one of my social media workshops in San Luis Obispo, I’ll tell you a few interesting stories about this), but if you haven’t had success with Instagram yet, you probably know someone who has.  Artists and health-related business owners do very well in Instagram.  It is a visual platform, like Pinterest, but builds a sense of community better and the audience is much more interested in your art done by you than making their own.    
  • Houzz: If you make art for the home, even if it needs to be a home with really big wall space, you need to be on Houzz.  It’s a platform of interior design and the users of this platform like to share posts to other platforms (like Pinterest) without you even asking them to.  A lot of what you’ll see here is upscale décor, so don’t be afraid to showcase your best pieces. 
  • Dribble: Like Houzz, the audience here is happy to share what they love.  But instead of buying a piece of art seen on Dribble, you’re more likely to get a commission for something else.  This is also a great spot if you’re a graphic artist. 
  • DeviantArt: Said to be the world’s largest online art gallery, this is a good place to build a portfolio if you don’t already have one online.  Remember to watermark your art because DeviantArt displays large, high resolution images without any protection from the ol’ right-click-n-steal trick – I suggest watermarking everything or take photos with substantial backgrounds.  It can replace building your own online portfolio, but it doesn’t do much else for your social presence other than wide-spread free sharing. 
  • YouTube: In a way, I’m saving the best for last with this because YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine.  So while everyone talks about search engine optimization (something else I teach), you have to be just as concerned about your presence on YouTube as you are with Google, but YouTube can build you advocates whereas Google just builds you web traffic because you can have a social presence on YouTube (yes, there is Google+, but that isn’t the same thing as Google search). 

What you do with these social platforms is going to come back to your compass.  Share things from the perspective of your character and let your guard down.  People advocate for those that they feel a connection with, so show us your art in progress, give interviews in a video, ask for an answer fan mail… the sky is the limit when you follow the path of your North Star.

About the Author:

Lacey Clifton has a background in performing arts and is an award winning author, artist, and social media expert.   Since 2009, Lacey has been implementing dynamic media strategies for small business owners, national non-profits, and global corporations through major social media platforms along with blog, email, and SEO administration.  Lacey provides training as well as full-service marketing through her business as Chicadita, but her passion remains in teaching others and she is nearing completion of a Master’s degree in Instructional Design.

Lacey Clifton
Lacey Clifton
Lacey Clifton