7 Steps for Not Being Terrible at Social Media: A Guide for Creatives
We live in a Social Media age, and that shit ain’t changing anytime soon. As many old-way naysayers still exist spreading that “Sxcial Mxdia doesn’t matter!” rumor, there really is no denying that artists, now more than ever, need a prolific digital footprint to stay afloat.
Whether you're a painter, a musician, a writer, a designer, a photographer, or really anything in the creative field, it’s likely that social media is a huge tool for you to get your work out in the world and of course “network” (quotations explained later). The only problem? Many people either just don't know how to use it, or still consider the practice arbitrary like we're still in the MySpace age or something.
As such, being a Content™ Marketing™ Professional™, I wrote a guide for all my internet illiterate creatives on how to probably navigate through this new era. It may seem challenging at first, but together, with hands clasped tight, we can get through this. With that said, lets begin:
1. Quality over quantity.
In a world where memory only serves as quick as a timeline refresh allows it, it's always tempting to want to share work just to feed that innate insatiability that all artists have. You know the one -- that little haunting voice inside of you that silently moans, "you're falling offfffff," "you ain't shiiiiiiiit," "no one remembers you exiiiiiiist," the one that returns whenever you haven't dropped something in a while. We all get that, and with the job of having to be active on social media, the voice doesn't help at all.
Gucci Mane and Lil B may have set a precedent in art-making by popularizing the trend of inundating audiences with material after material after material, but I can assure you of one thing: you're not Gucci Mane or the Based God, and no, that shit will not work for you. Whether it's a painting, design, song, video, whatever it is you do -- if you're putting it in the world, make sure you truly believe in it and want that piece of work to flourish. And by flourish, I mean NOT just putting it out for the sake of having something out.
Instead, the best thing to do is to realize this: one good piece of content will outlast thousands of half-assed projects. If you're working hard on a song, spend those extra days and weeks polishing it and making it the best you can; give it some breathing room and come back to it; get the opinions of those you respect. Want to optimize your chances of garnering great reception? Figure out how to give that one piece of work legs so it can run on it's own. That means devising a well-thought out roll out (video content, pitching to writers beforehand, giving a behind the scenes look at how you made it, etc) and presenting it to the world in the most professional way possible (artwork, choice of platform, etc.).
That's what quality is about, and I guarantee you it'll shine through the bullshit.
2. Know when to post.
There's a common mistake artists make when trying to navigate social media (especially after algorithms fucked the whole game up) and that is working under the assumption that time does not matter when announcing their shit, and let me just say upfront: it's wrong. Even with all the "You may have missed:" ass displays that pop up on social media sites and Instagram's ever-changing out-of-whack timeline sequence, I can assure you knowing when to post your work is essential to making it prosper.
First, stop posting your shit on a Friday night. I don't care who you are, there's a very high chance I and the majority of people in this world also seeking escapism will not be home to listen or read or truly appreciate your piece of art. Nothing wrong with Fridays, as those are actually traditionally high-traffic days, I'm just saying that to say this: be realistic and think about your audience.
If you cater to a young crowd, I can assure you weekends won't ever be good, with a particular emphasis on the evening and nighttime. Want to cater to anyone in the human race? Don't post your shit when everyone you're trying to reach is asleep.
Of course, getting your best results is always dependent on what platform you're using and what audience you have. Experiment with different times and different days and look into your analytics and see what created a spike in engagement / views and what didn't, and then after jotting that down like a true methodologist, apply that shit.
For us at The Travelers Club, we've learned to stick to the weekdays for all of our posts, with early mornings and afternoons being the best times to update our feeds. In my mind, I imagine those who are getting up early have the time to browse, and those freshly off work are also equally as eager to waste time on their phone.
As for big announcements, we always try to stick to Tuesday or Wednesday evenings because 1) the weekends are notoriously terrible 2) we promote live music events -- meaning everyone who wakes up Monday morning feeling like post-weekend trash is now on a newfound mission to detox and enrich their lives, and as such, won't give a shit about going out. Which leads me to my next point...
3. Identify your audience.
If you want to connect with people, you have to know who you're even talking to. In the Content™ Marketing™ Industry™, this is referred to as creating customer personas. In other words, really think about the crowd you want to attract, or analyze the audience you may already have. How old are they? What is their favorite activity? What music do they listen to? Where would they go out to for fun? Are they single? I heard they fucked their girl, is it true? They gettin' money, you think them -- aight, nah but fr, really sit down and think about who these people are.
Once you get a solid grasp on who you're trying to attract, cater to that mold. Fit your social media management around their online behavior and tastes, which doesn't mean compromise who you are as an artist or person, but instead understand how you can align your posting habits and content around that audience to optimize your engagement.
If you notice your audience responds positively to articles or dope interviews, try sharing them every now and then. If you notice your audience responds to event sharing or artist spotlights, bookmark them and post it whenever you don't got nothing to personally share on your end. It keeps those eyes engaged, strengthens your connection, and creates another avenue for you to create dialogue with your supporters.
(Also at this point, as I'm writing this, I'm starting to feel like one of those trash ass marketing guru dudes, so let me interject with Rule #3.5: don't be a fucking robot. Take this advice and apply it however you can, but also please continue being human, i.e. show transparency when you can. Nothing is worse in the digital landscape than a social media "personality" who ends up sounding just like another weird ass artificial marketing bot. Okay, back to the list.)
4. Don't be scared to network. Just don't be an idiot.
To be honest with you, many (if not most) of my greatest friendships and business relationships have started from the Internet or social media apps. It's weird to think that something that only physically exists within a tiny screen can have such an insane impact on your life, but fr fr, if used correctly, you can really unlock a whole ass world of opportunities that otherwise would've never existed without the app. Of course, if done right.
With that said, let me get this important rule out there: don't be a fucking leech. Not just that, don't even approach anyone with the possible future intentions of being a fucking leech. As someone who deals with that shit on a daily basis, I can assure you most people can sniff that shit off the rip. Don't spam links, don't ask for favors without an established rapport, don't hit someone with a vague "let's work" message.
If you really admire someones work and hope to work with them in the future, give them a follow, send them an email (IMPORTANT, DM'S AREN'T THE MOVE UNLESS 100% NECESSARY) and let them know how you really feel. If you want to get coffee and just have a chat for advice, nothing wrong with it. If they don't respond then they don't respond, but I guarantee you someone will.
For example, one time when I was 20, while in the midst of a wild existential crisis, I sent an email out to Rob Hagey, founder of the now-defunct Street Scene festival (if you know, you know), and just told him straight, I love what you did, let's talk if you ever have time, yadda yadda. To my surprise, he hit me up a couple weeks after and we sat down, we talked, I learned a lot, and after gaining many opportunities and meeting many friendships in between, we as The Travelers Club are here as a result. All because I found dude on Facebook.
Twitter, especially, has become a great resource to connect with people across the world. You know someone, someone you know knows someone, you connect with that someone, that someone connects you with someone, you by chance meet a mutual of all those someones. It's complex on paper and takes years to develop, but when a real mutually-beneficial friendship does blossom, it's crazy to think it was all done through a stupid app. If you're open and genuine, it'll happen.
5. Understand each platform's nuances.
One of the most important things you can learn -- and which you probably already know, but may not pay much mind to -- is that all social media platforms are equipped with their own idiosyncrasies, and as a result, you gotta treat 'em all differently. What you would post on Facebook (and when you post), may not be the same for Twitter, or Instagram, or whatever other platform you use.
For example, Twitter is a great place to share content from your website, articles, things you're into or just random musings. Likewise, Facebook is great for engaging with people through similar musings or asking your audience questions that could spark a conversation.
On the other hand, if you flood your Instagram with random bullshit like notepad screenshots, meme reposts, or that thirtieth sunset picture, then I'ma guarantee you you're either getting muted or, if the person is soulless enough, that hard 'unfollow'. If you may not have a clue how to navigate through the differences, it's always good to check on accounts from people or brands you look up to and take some notes.
6. Keep it consistent.
It took me a long ass time to learn this, especially after a 25 year love affair with procrastination, but foreal: consistency is key.
It may not have to be your artwork, but if you plan on running your creative project as a business, you have to keep some sort of consistency alive, either through the sharing of external content, personal updates, or anything in between. That doesn't mean being a slave to daily posts, as I know how anxiety-inducing that work can be, but even learning to master consistency via a content calendar is worth looking into for all creatives wanting keep up an active social media account.
For examples of apps that can help with creating content schedules, you can take a look at some free services like Kapost, SocialCast, Marketing.Ai, and Buffer. If you want to keep it simple and clean though, even just using your Google calendar to provide yourself weekly reminders can work wonders.
Personally, if I know I'm not trying to deal with social media for a day or two, I'll just go on Facebook and Twitter, get some new posts, previously used content, and outside articles and schedule them up to run for the next few days and just let it rock. As for actually scheduling, we mostly rely on the social media apps themselves, with scheduled Facebook posts easily being done through the website, and using the Twitter Ads mode for scheduled tweets. Read here for a detailed instruction on all that good stuff.
7. Be yourself. Unless you're uninteresting. Then hire someone to make you seem interesting.
Aye, sometimes you may just have nothing to say and there ain't nothing wrong with that. A little budget never hurt anyone and I know plenty of people you can hit up. Go ahead and prosper regardless.