Does the sound of social media have you feeling lost? Does the thought of adding yet one more task to your marketing efforts leave you cold?
As a small business, we’re the backbone of America’s economy and it’s our job to ensure that our current customers and new customers know that we exist for their enjoyment. Fortunately, social media (new media) is a relatively easy task and affordable for the bootstrapping entrepreneur. Better yet, you can do this on your own terms and in your own time.
Welcome to the 21st Century of Marketing.
Not Your Father’s Marketing
Think of social networking as another tool in your marketing tool box –and it’s growing. Social media provides creative businesses like yours, with online access to current and future customers and allows them to connect virtually across miles.
Web 2.0, the latest generation of the Internet, allows small businesses and creative entrepreneurs to interact and engage directly with customers, enlivening traditional print advertisement into a one-to-one personal service.
Simply being active on the social media platforms can help build trust that today’s customers are looking for and lets you directly engage with your biggest supporters. Remember, 78% of people trust recommendations from other consumers and one of the best ways to get those recommendations is through direct engagement (Neilsen, 2007).
How does this effect you?
As a creative entrepreneur, people love knowing they’re interacting directly with you, the artist, and social media enables us to readily connect. Begin building and maintaining your persona & brand as an artist or gallery through one or several online tools establishes trust in you as an entity.
InstantBenefit: Even if you’re typically shy, you can still make connections
As an artist building her next series of painting, you can still meet and respond with your fans on your own time.
The savvy creative entrepreneur knows to go and grow where their customers are and, you’ll discover that social media platforms are very low-cost way to establish a meaningful dialog with customers.
QuickFact: There are 152 million U.S. Internet users (comScore)
This means at least 3 out of 4 American friends have some access to the Internet and use social technology almost daily.
Many artists and galleries shun social media because they dread the idea of getting hate mail and the result being an unrecoverable damaged reputation. The actuality of that happening is pretty low and when it does happen, there are several positive and low-key ways of allaying the incident.
QuickFact: Unless you draw attention to yourself by say, summoning a huge apology, no one will really take notice -they have other things on their mind.
Build, Protect, & Grow Your Reputation
In addition to your Web site, consider enlisting a number of popular social media tools as key components of your marketing program to augment your online presence. Blogs, videos, and social networks are a powerful combination and play to the strengths of small businesses by fostering meaningful relationships through links to other sites, resources, and people.
Social Media can help you build a presence and generate new ways to be found easily. And online opportunities are typically less expensive than traditional marketing, but you should be aware that they often involve more planning and time-intensive work. Shifting money to social media to augment your traditional print advertising budget will allow you to:
- Reach to new customers
- Build Buzz About You, Your Product, and Your Service
- Manage your brand’s reputation
Social Media Community & Tools
Social media can take many different forms including blogs, forums, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video.
QuickFact: 6.8m people aged between 15 and 24 visited social networking sites in June 2009, up 13 per cent year-on-year and roughly in line with increased usage of the internet overall by this age group (comScore)
The fundamental categories of social media include:
- Communication: This includes tools such as blogs, micro-blogging, social networking, social aggregation, and events. Examples include, WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Friendfeed, Upcoming, and Meetup.com all of which allow you to find and link to other people and activities. Once linked or connected, you can keep up to date with that person’s contact info, interests, posts, birthdays, etc.
- Collaboration: Includes tools such as wikis, social bookmarking, social news, and opinion sites. Wikipedia, Delicious, StumbleUpon, GoogleReader, Digg, Reddit, and Yelp are examples of some of the applications that are available.
- Multimedia: Includes tools such as photo and video sharing, audio and music sharing, and livecasting. Flickr, Photobucket, YouTube, Vimeo, Ustream.tv, and Last.fm are all sites that allow you to create, upload, share videos, photos, and music with anyone and everyone.
- Social Bookmarking: Includes sites such as Delicious, StumbleUpon, & Kaboodle to help you find and bookmark sites and information of interest. You can save and access your bookmarks anywhere online and choose to share them with others.
- Reviews/Opinions: Includes sites like epinions and ask.com where you can learn what other consumers think of products and services.
- Entertainment Includes sites like Second Life, The Sims Online, and Miniclip for game sharing and entertainment platforms.
As you can see, there’s a plethora of opportunity to get involved -choosing the right set of tools for your position and goals is left to the next discussion.
Next article: Where to Start
Here’s to Cultivating Your Creative Independence