ALL THIS SOCIAL MEDIA and Still Nobody’s Asking Me to Dance

Why it’s okay if you aren’t Twittering/Facebooking/meta tagging/Stumbling/LinkedIn or otherwise filling your social media dance card this week.

A quick sidestep from social media (Facebook 25 Random Things topic) to social media in general.

Sometimes I beat myself up that I’ve been slow to use social media to promote my art.

Other times I’m glad I didn’t get sucked into the whole thing with “meta tags” and “SEO” and that other crap.

I’m blessed to have a net-savvy husband. (When asked what he does, I just reply, “He’s an internet visionary.”)

He’s not only responsible for my lovely web site, he’s also guided me
on my entire online journey the last ten years.

By that I mean he told me from the start that whatever I said or did online would stick around for a long, long, long, long, LONG time.

From my very first email correspondence, my earliest postings to usergroups, then email lists, forums, blogs and now Twitter and Facebook, I have always been hyper aware of what I say, how I say it, and who I’m saying it to. (Or as Lily Tomlin would say, ‘the party to whom I am speaking….”

I’ve taken advantage the internet gives me to stop and think before I post; to reread what I’ve written before I hit the send button; to consider my flow of thought before I publish an article. I sort through my words to make them more clear. I wait til anger has passed before I react to a snotty remark. I ask myself what my intentions are before I jump into a discussion.

Saying what I care about. Sharing what I’m trying to do. Not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

Telling you what tribe I belong to.

So I’m always amazed at people who flame others on discussion boards; people who spam their entire email list with warnings about AIDS-infected needles stuck in gas station pump hoses; people who try to leave spam on my blog comments; people who think they can boost their web presence over bajillions of other web sites by using clever tags and search terms; people whose only correspondence with me is to get me to buy stuff from them.

Here’s an IttyBiz blog post on why social media is dead.

Naomi Dunford states that broad, untargeted, shotgun-style marketing has destroyed a lot of what used to work with social media.

In a recent telephone seminar, Naomi said, “Integrity is the coin of the internet.” (And we know Naomi’s cool because, hey! she and I wear the same glasses…)

This is what my husband hammered into me from the very beginning, and it’s still true:

People will respond to my authentic self.

And that’s why a boring everyday I-had-eggs-for-breakfast style blog won’t work, too. Nobody cares if I have chickens…

…unless I share with you a valuable story about what I learned when I twisted my knee chasing my chicken.

I don’t care if I have 10,000 hits to my website, or 10,000 blog readers. I don’t care if I have the world’s attention.

I just want to find my tribe.

I want my tribe to find me.

As people come by your online presence, they will either be attracted and intrigued by who you are and what you offer–or they won’t.

People who agonize about manipulating content and tagging to get mega hits are fishing with the biggest net they can find. It’s purely a numbers game.

Maybe with certain kinds of product, that will work for you. But what I what to accomplish is not about a numbers game.

So don’t stress about what the latest social media hotspot is, or how to stand out among 20,000 other Etsy artists. Quit talking about how to drive traffic to your website.

Instead, treat each venue as a way to connect with an audience that would care about you and your work.

Use each venue as a way for the people that care, to stay connected to you.

Do what you can, in a way that is authentic for you and your business. Be who you are. Make the work you are proud of.

And dance like nobody is watching you.

Because then you don’t have to wait for somebody to ask you.

TWITTERING

I’ve just discovered Twitter. Check it out and see if it’s something you’d be interested in. Here’s a good place to find out how it works.

It’s sort of like instant messaging for larger groups of people. Or micro-blogging. Posts have to be super-short–I think it’s 140 characters. But you can post as often as you like, or need. You can follow other people, and other people can elect to follow you.

It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s like a tiny window into other people’s world. Crafted Webmaster Nicolette Tallmadge has interesting things to say about the Twitter phenomenon. (I always find interesting things at Nicolette’s website, and I hope you’ll check her out.

I’ve already found that people who constantly self-promote themselves are kinda boring. That could be an easy trap to fall into! On the other hand, it could be a great way to create instant news or announcements to your customers and blog followers. And it’s really fun to see the smaller details in a friend or family member’s life in real time….

If Twitter is just one more thing on your plate, don’t do it! But if you have a minute to sign up and try it out, let me know how it works for you.

How to Half Wholesale: #7 Network With Others

Networking was the buzz word in the 80’s and maybe you hate the word as much as I do. But it works, so just do it.

By networking, I don’t mean badgering everyone you meet at parties, the grocery store and your exercise classes to buy your work or give you ideas for stores. (That was the bad 80’s networking thing.) That gets hugely annoying fast.

I mean taking advantage of the natural rapport and eagerness-to-help you get from people who already like your work and want you to succeed.

Who can you network with?

Well, one resource we often overlook is our own customers.

They already really love what you do. Hopefully, you have a good relationship with them, and they probably want you to succeed (so they can say they “knew you when.”)

Even if you’ve only done a few small shows, you might easily have several dozen good customers. (Do a few major shows, and you probably have a few hundred, or even a couple thousand customers…. It adds up over the years!) Have you ever asked them if they’ve come across a store where your work would be a good fit? It could be in their home town, or a store they’ve visited in their travels.

Most people are simply happy to help, but if you’d like, you can offer an incentive. If they suggest a store, or introduce your work to a buyer, and you end up with an account, you could offer to send them a little something. This could be a piece of your work, or a discount coupon if your work is too pricey to just give away.

This next suggestion takes a little courage, but what the heck. Try asking your non-customers for referrals.

Sometimes retail shoppers may love your work, but for whatever reason, they cannot/will not actually buy it. Perhaps it’s out of their price range, or they can’t wear metal jewelry anymore (mid-life allergies, dammit) or your work isn’t really their style. They may still be so enthusiastic about your work that they’ll share a store or venue that might work for you.

If you’ve done or are doing a wholesale show, you will have people who are highly interested in your work, but don’t feel your work is a good fit for their store. If you’ve established a rapport, and they seem genuinely disappointed the match won’t work, ask them if there’s another store in their area that would be a good fit. You’ll be surprised how many buyers will help you out here. I’ve even had these buyers take my materials back home with them to show the other store owner. (I think it speaks highly of our industry that we’re all so willing to help each other like this…)

Another good resource is other artists who wholesale. You can do something as generic as ask on a forum you frequent if people have suggestions for you. (This is an excellent way of getting referrals across the country, too.) Or you can offer to swap good store contacts–one of your good customers for one of theirs. This works best if your work and theirs has a similar aesthetic or audience, but is not directly competitive. (Although some artists are so generous, they’ll even help others who might seem to make similar stuff.)

You can even get suggestions from artists you don’t know and have never met. When you’re surfing the net and come across an artist whose work seems compatible with yours, check to see if they sell to stores and galleries. Then check out those stores and galleries and see if they might be candidates for your work, too.

Big caveat here: Just lifting someone else’s store list is a little rude and lazy in my book. They went through all the work of finding those customers, and they offer the listings to help their retail customers. Here are ways to keep this practice balanced and fair:

1) Do the work, and just use the list to do your own store research. Go to each store’s website, and see if they actually are a good candidate to approach. Check out their other artists and price ranges to ensure it really is a good fit.

2) Find a way to give back to the artist. Buy a piece of their work! If that’s too expensive, recommend their work to a store, or send them the info for a potential new venue.

3) Post your own store list, so other artists can do the same. What goes ’round, comes ’round.

Last, if you blog, ask your readers for good leads. It can be a way for them to “give back” for all the good stuff you share with them.

Okay, now let’s brainstorm: Who else could you ask for good store leads?