By Carlos Serrano
I’m going to break the fourth wall for this post, because it’s so avant-garde. Okay everyone, let’s “rap” as the kids say these days about social media. At this point, it’d be safe to assume that fair amounts of you are using some type of social media platform, whether professionally, personally or both.
By now I’m sure the more experienced students have a very clear idea of how to use social media to market themselves ad their work. If you’re not experienced, there’s a good chance you’re still doing it, you just may not recognize it.
For example, do you ever post your work on a blog or on Facebook? You may think you’re only letting your family and friends look at what you’re doing in your classes, but you’re also getting your name out there.
Maybe one of your friends ends up meeting someone who needs certain talents. Your friend, thinking back to the work you posted, suggests you. Bam, possible job opportunity.
I’m not going to say that it’s always that easy or that you should put all your eggs in one social media basket, but it’s a powerful tool that you should know how to use. For this post, I’ll go over the four biggest social media platforms that you’ve likely heard of: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. I’ll look at their strengths and weaknesses and give an introduction to using them effectively.
Facebook: Arguably the most well known and used of the four websites I’ll take about, Facebook has become synonymous with the term “social media.” From fan pages to fully animated 3-D games, Facebook is still a hub for the majority of people and is a good way to begin making your mark in social media.
There are a couple of ways you can use Facebook to promote yourself. The obvious one, which I mentioned briefly, is to just post your artwork to your regular profile and share it with people you already know. This isn’t a bad idea, but you could take it a step further. Facebook allows you to make pages for businesses.
“But Carlos! I’m not a multimillion dollar business!” you say.
Well, good news, you don’t have to be. If you’re a freelancer or have a small studio, you can still create a page and use it to advertise your business. You can even use it as your homepage if you’d like. The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t open a regular Facebook account in the name of your business. You’ll be shut down very quickly, and that’s just not fun. The Facebook Police might get you.
What you have to remember about Facebook, and really that applies to pretty much all the websites featured in this post, is that you have to be careful with the images you update. There’s quite a scare among artists that uploading pictures to Facebook is risky business, as far as copyright is concerned. To that all I can say is to be vigilant, and careful. Read the Terms of Service (I know, I know, we all love to skip it, but we must.).
Maybe search for your favorite artist, studio or company and see if they have a page. Check out what they’re doing and take a page out of their Facebook. Pun very much intended.
Twitter: Compared to Facebook, Twitter is a much less daunting task for those of you who don’t want to go through the trouble of setting up a page. Starting to tweet is easy, all you need to do is to open an account, play around with settings like your profile picture, profile background, etc. and you’ll be ready to go.
For those unfamiliar with Twitter, think of it was a Facebook status update restricted to 140 characters. It’s true that a lot of people look down on it for it’s apparent irreverence and focus on inane subjects like “What I had for lunch was…” However, it’s still a very powerful promotional tool, if you know what to do.
Obviously, try not to go with tweets about what you had for lunch. It can be funny from time to time, but you have to be confident in what you’re saying and its value. Your Twitter account is there to act as your voice on the Internet, remember that. It’s important to give any potential employers or clients a feel for your professionalism.
Don’t think this means you have to be boring or stuffy or anything. You can make witty or weird tweets as much as you want, if it fits your voice and your brand. The trick is to compose your tweets in a professional manner, especially if the Twitter account your using is for your business/art.
The downside to Twitter is how easy it is to fall into the trap of writing boring tweets. Don’t be afraid to go a day or two without updating it if you don’t feel like you have anything to say. Forcing thoughts to come out will result in a strained tweet and a blow to your brand.
You must also keep in mind that most of the time, having just a Twitter won’t be enough. If you have a Facebook page, you have your work as well as your status updates, and it keeps everything well-rounded. On Twitter, even though you can post pictures, you don’t have that structure. You’ll have to have an existing website or portfolio that you link people to.
Above all, be confident, follow people related to your industry and participate in the overall conversation.
Tumblr: Ah Tumblr, crazy, crazy Tumblr. Recently, Tumblr has become the new big thing for people looking to share their art and thoughts in a fast-paced, relaxed environment. It’s actually a really popular social media platform for artists, because of one thing in particular: reblogging. With just a click of a button, people can reblog, or repost, your Tumblr posts to their own page. From there, people that follow them can do the same, and so on and so forth.
Make a popular enough post, and it can be reblogged and liked thousands of times over. But before you go rushing off to Tumblr and start posting all your artwork, take note. You probably already do this, but make sure your art has either your signature or a watermark of some sort. While reblogging does show who was the original poster, it gets less and less noticeable the more people reblog a post.
Still, Tumblr can be a very fun platform to use. While you should still keep in mind that you’re representing your brand to potential customers, the atmosphere is generally relaxed and welcoming, with a focus on fun. If you’re looking into setting up a sketch blog or anything that’s not too serious, consider Tumblr.
Pinterest: The new darling of the social media world, Pinterest is an interesting concept. Built around the idea of sharing pictures, Pinterest takes its core design from the idea of pinning things, obviously.
After making an account, you’re able to create boards to hold the things you pin. You can then browse the website, search for something in particular and pin the picture you find to one of your boards.
However, I would advise you to be cautious with Pinterest, perhaps more so than with the other websites I’ve talked about. It’s very easy for someone to pin your work to their boards without giving you any credit. While Pinterest has instituted new policies to try and curb that practice, there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen.
Pinterest is still a new website, and it’s going through a transition stage as more and more people join. My advice would be to get situated on other sites before taking the plunge.
To be fair, there’s a lot of other ways to build an online presence, from personal websites to blogs and everything in between. However, these four sites are an integral part of many people’s online experience, and by using them to their full potential, you have the opportunity to reach a wide audience. So, get out there and socialize.