I was just reading a blog post by one of my favorite social media gurus, Neil Patel, and it reminded me of the tremendous value of basic interaction in the digital world. By participating in groups, chat rooms, forums, and blogs—and by “participating,” I mean actually writing comments, asking questions, and being part of the written conversations happening there—we let people get to know us. Once they get to know us, they may even start to follow us and become our customers. Sounds great, right? But there’s an art to making friends in the online world. Fortunately, it’s very similar to making friends in the real world. Here are three simple tips:
Go where your tribe is hanging out. Engaging in social media conversations for the purpose of marketing your art means going to the forums and blogs where people who may be interested in your artwork are congregating. Yes, it’s fun to participate in the groups for artists, but unless you’re marketing art lessons, workshops, or how-to DVDs, this should not be part of your social media marketing plan. (Do it just for your own pleasure.) Instead, look for groups related to the subject of your work. If you paint horses, for example, get involved in groups and blogs for horse lovers.
Ease into it and let relationships build naturally. There’s a certain etiquette to social media that’s similar to real-world manners, so let’s start there: Imagine you’re at a party with a bunch of friends, and someone new to the group enters the room. If he’s loud and boisterous, he’ll command attention for a moment, but will people respond well to him? No, he’ll be seen as obnoxious and immature. He’d probably make far more friends if he eased into it, introducing himself around and simply being friendly and outgoing. It’s the same on social media. When you join a new group, start by making simple comments on other people’s posts. Be friendly. Agree with people. Ask basic questions to further the conversation. Act like you’re at a party, and you’re trying to get to know people.
Give before you ask. After you’ve been participating in the group for a while, then it’s okay to start asking for a little attention. Write your own posts. Start up your own conversations. And eventually, make a few comments about your artwork. By now, people will be more receptive to you and will voluntarily support you in your work. Just don’t be too pushy too soon. Look at this post from an artist named Sally Painter (yes, that’s her real name) as an example. Sally paints large floral paintings, so she’s participating in groups and blogs for gardening enthusiasts. Notice how her post is written in a helpful way, simply informing people about an art show that might interest them. Her post is more like a service to them, which comes across as friendly, not demanding. People appreciate this kind of post from a trusted member of the group, but would probably object to a blatant marketing ploy from a newbie.
I know this sounds like it involves a lot of time and effort, but I still maintain that you can do this in 15 to 20 minutes a day. Consistent participation is key. And remember that you are there to make friends—not just to find customers—so keep a positive attitude about social media. Enjoy the journey! Let’s connect!