Diversifying Social Media Content
This is a very interesting thing to talk about for me because I'm sort of like anti-social media in a lot of ways so you might wonder why am I bothering to talk about it. Even though I have a very opposite reaction to social media in many ways, I also really love it in other ways and that's the part that I'm going to talk about. So I believe that if we focus too much on numbers and SEO and ways to maximize reach within social media sites then we're really missing a very, much larger point of social media which is that it's about connection. That that is why social media started existing in the first place, if you think back to the very first sites that people became addicted to, it was because we could talk easily and connect easily and not feel alone. And that's why I love social media still. And it's become this sort of like rat race to the end to see who can get the most followers, who can get the most attention, and I get why that's happened. It's happened because it's a really sca...
ry thing to try to run a business and not have people buying things from you. It's really terrifying and I know this because I started out in my business where I was, I had been shooting a year, I was putting my work online, and then I quit my job. And being a 22 year old individual, I thought all I know is social media as far as running a business. So I'm gonna try to run my business on social media. And I had built up a little bit of a following, which I'm gonna keep doing this, when I say following, because I don't like that word, it's a little bit creepy vibes to me but, I had built up a following and those people were encouraging me to run a business, to put my artwork out there. And I started listening and I started growing within that community and it's been because of that growth in that community that I've been able to continue running a business. Now, not entirely. And let me make that clear. My business isn't solely online. I don't only sell to people that I interact with on social media, I have galleries and they sell to people for me that have nothing to do with Facebook and Instagram and stuff like that. But a large majority of the way that I sell my work, be it through publishers for book covers or art buyers and things like that comes from social media. And over the years I have learned how to share in such a way that's very authentic to me, very true to who I am, while also letting people in to my world in a really, hopefully, nice way. And that's what I want to talk about right now is how can we extend our orbit to let more people in so that they actually want to be gravitationally revolving around us. This is a super weird thing to talk about. I genuinely hate talking about it unless we can define it properly. So we're defining social media as what it is. It's social and it's media. Seems weird to break that down but it's meant to be social, we're meant to connect, and we're meant to put media on it and that's what we're doing. I'm not gonna talk about followers and how to get numbers and things like that. People ask me a lot, but how do you do that? Like, I know you don't want to talk about it, but how do you do that? Like there's one thing that I have done to get people to follow my pages. And it's always a very frustrating thing for me because I hear one of two things. One being, fine, don't share your secrets. Like, okay, fine, don't tell me how you did it then. And other people saying well there's no way that you could get a high volume of people to follow you unless you're boosting your posts, unless your paying for things, unless, unless, unless. And all I know is authentic connection. That's all I know on social media. So if I am posting something online it's because I feel a deep connection to what I'm posting and I want other people to know that. Now, there are times when I have to advertise something or announce a workshop or announce a gallery exhibition and I don't like making those posts and they freak me out and I feel really weird about it. And that's just a personal problem, of course, of not having the confidence to do that. But those aren't the posts that are getting the interaction, those are not the posts that people are coming to to say, oh, this is why I follow you online. It's not because I'm advertising a service that I have. It's because I'm sharing something that has nothing to do with a service that I have to give. So we're gonna talk about social media in a couple of different ways and if you want to follow along with social media and revamping your way of posting, we have a workbook for that. And this is something that I put a lot of time into just to really bring this back to what it should be, not about numbers, not about any of that but building an organic reach and being able to connect with people personally. So, you know how I get really creeped out and I hate talking about numbers and awards and stuff like that, when you're teaching a class like this you just have to sometimes. So, just as my proof to you, so that we can talk about this and I don't just sound like a hippy who's telling you to just go connect with people, I've built my reach up over the course of many years. I started sharing my work immediately so it's been eight to nine years that I've been sharing what I do. And over the course of that time, I've had lot so different people come through. A lot of people saying I'm unfollowing you because I don't like this and other people saying, oh, but I love this, I'm gonna follow you. And it's been a mix and every single day about 200 people unfollow my page, just to give you a sense of like, I'm not just gaining followers all the time. There are a lot of people dropping off daily, every 24 hours. But over the course of time, I've been able to build my social media following up to over a million people following my channels. And almost that much on Facebook alone, not through paying for posts. I've only paid for one post just to advertise an event I was having and that's it. And there are lots of factors that go into this. There are lots of reasons why that may or may not have happened. And I'm not saying aim for a certain number but I want that to be the proof that you don't necessarily have to pay for your posts. You don't necessarily have to follow the numbers really closely, do anything in a certain way because organic reach is really the king of social media. That's what's going to push you ahead of other people more often than not. Okay, so the point is that we're growing our impact on social media, we're not trying to grow our following. Because when you focus on impact on social media versus following, what you're doing is connecting more deeply with people and the more deeply you connect with people, those are the people who are more likely to actually purchase from you and support your business. So that's what we're going back to. Now there are two ways of speaking about social media. There is content and there is organization. What I mean is you've got to create the content that you're going to put online and then you've got to organize that content properly so that it reaches the right people at the right times and so on. And that's the kind of thing that isn't maybe as much fun to think about but I will say that even though I'm telling you it should be organic and do whatever you want and connect with people, I do spend a lot of time thinking about organization of my content. What types of content I'm putting out, how far apart I'm spacing it, times of day that I'm posting it, which sites I'm posting on, so we're gonna talk about those things as well. Now when it comes to content we have visuals. So, we're all photographers, or least many of us will be. And we all have very clear visuals to share. But do we have a clear message to share? Now, a clear message is as important as the visuals and we talked about this with writing for our work. The message needs to be as clear as the visual that you're putting out there. It's very daunting to read something that doesn't seem to be making sense and you're sort of scanning it and you're like, what is this person trying to say? Make sure that that message is clear. Use your keywords. Now, when we talked about writing, we also talked about keywords. And we could all probably pull out a few keywords that we would like to use in our writing to put on social media. My keywords might be curiosity, joy, it could be, journey, story. These are all words that I would use again, and again, and again, so that people reading my social media come to expect that my posts will be about those things. It creates expectation and people love that because we're creatures of habit. So we all want to be able to get online, go to that person that we love to follow, and see that they are still posting things that we love from them. And that happens through keywords and a clear message. Writing style. Just something else to consider when you're posting. And we did talk about this during the writing segment. So, writing style, what is your style? Are you being consistent with that style? And caring. I wanted to put a picture of a Care Bear here but, just imagine there's rainbow coming from my heart. And the reason why I wrote this is that I get a little bit frustrated sometimes on social media if I see someone posing a question or I respond to somebody and I notice that they're just never interacting with me ever, like at all, in any way. And then I see other people who ask a question and everyone's answering and they're responding or they're at least liking the comments or in some way acknowledging that somebody is interacting with them. It's like being in a room right now, you know, if I walked up to you guys and I was like, hi, I'm Brooke. Oh, thank you, that was really nice. Like, that would have been pretty bad, right, if you had just not responded to me. So that is how I see social media. If I'm gonna go up to somebody and I'm gonna ask a question, I would expect a response. April, how are you? Oh, good, she's great. Okay. So we're acknowledging each other because that's what humans do. And if you don't, then you're probably not very nice. Right? Like, if we're sitting in a room and I say, hi, how are you, and you just stare at me and walk away, well that'd be terrible, wouldn't it be? So caring. And then varying your content. How do you vary the content that you're putting out there? In what ways can you diversify the content so that you're keeping people surprised? So that people are still interested in what you have to say. I follow a few artists who I used to love so much and now, over the years I've noticed that everything looks the same. So much the same that I'm like, I'm bored of it though, I want to see something new, I want to see them evolve as an artist. It's so nice to be able to see that work but so much of the same thing gets boring to watch. Now organization. So we've talked about content, how do we organize the content? One way is to work on a schedule and you might be very opposed to this, depending on how your brain works, how you like to work, others will not be. And this could be a matter of scheduling your posts so that it posts at a certain time and you can prepare your content. I personally don't like to do that. I love to be there when I'm posting so that people see that I'm interacting with them right when I post. And I don't stay all day. Like, after 30 minutes or so I'll navigate away and go do whatever I'm doing for the day. But at least at first people can see that I'm there interacting so that it's a community and not a one-sided thing. Schedule. Choosing themes is, to me, part of organization. I know that it's really a part of content but to be organized with your content it's really good to come up with themes ahead of time. Themes being ideas, overarching ideas, that you can put into your posts so that each one has a specific takeaway for your audience. Now, it doesn't have to be a takeaway like this is two plus two is four. You know, it doesn't have to be like a concrete thing. It could just be, okay, the theme of today's post is creating joyously. And then you'll write something based on that. And when you can really center in on what you're trying to say, what you want people to take away from you, you're way more likely to create a post that people engage with. And then follow-up. So will you be there to actually answer questions or talk to people or just let them know that you're around. So do you have time scheduled to follow up on your posts? If not, that can be okay, I'm not saying any of this is concrete, but I really believe that part of what helps build a social following is being able to show up for the people that are there for you. It shouldn't be one-sided. There should be a lot of reciprocation going on in this relationship. So will you follow up. And then how do you choose your sites? How do you choose what sites you're going to put your content on? Now, I've tried a lot of different social media sites. I have been on probably like seven or eight different places where you can upload a photo, leave a caption, get comments, stuff like that, the usual. And I find myself, at least personally, I have the mental capacity for two. Like two solid sites. And that's just me. Maybe you can do all of them. I see people posting to like 10 different sites at a time and I'm like, wow, I don't know how you're doing that but I cannot do it. So, right now, my sites are Facebook and Instagram. And that's where I focus my energy. So you might ask why. Why those two sites out of all the sites? Well, it has shifted over the years. It used to be just Flickr, then it was Flickr and Facebook, then it was Facebook and Twitter, and now it's Facebook and Instagram. And it will continue shifting, I'm sure, nothing stays the same. I know we like to all get in a tizzy whenever a site changes something and we're all like, ugh, how can we cope with this? But it will keep changing and our, the way that we interact with those sites will change, and we'll keep evolving. So why do I choose those two sites? For me it's about how you're relating to your viewers. I find that on Instagram and Facebook, I can relate in a way that's more personal and allows for long-form communication on those sites. Twitter for me doesn't really allow for that very easily. Flickr tends to have a lot more technical people in my experience, people asking how did you do this, what was the shot with. Whereas on Facebook and Instagram, I find people really opening up about themselves and sharing very deeply personal things. That's just my experience. So that's where I focus my energy. Why? Because my business is based on personal community. I want to attract a really lovely community around me so that I have support and I can give support and we can inspire one another. Another photographer might be totally different. They might be very interested in talking about lights all the time, and that's okay. But you might choose your sites differently based on that. There are two types of posts that I can see most commonly on social media. One is visual stimulation and the other is intellectual stimuliza-, stimulation. I always say stimulization, it's really bad. And these two types of posts are both good. I don't, I'm not at all trying to say be intellectual or only post eye candy or something like that. But they're definitely two different ways of attracting attention. One is to post something that's visually, very attractive to people right away. Whether it's something really bold about the image or something that is just really eye catching or fun or imaginative. So there are lots of ways to post something visual and if that's your goal, good. Post as much visual eye candy as possible. The opposite, or rather something that could accompany your visual eye candy is intellectual stimulation. And that's usually something where you have to stop and look further at the image where it's going to sort of ask the viewer to take a step into their world a little bit deeper than the other one would. And I like to do both. I'm not saying like I always am intellectual or I'm always trying to catch people's attention. It definitely varies. So with visual stimulation you probably want a large image because that's gonna catch people's attention. You want it to be simple to digest. Let's just be honest, if we're going right through Instagram, we're gonna stop on something that looks simple and nice. Like if it's really confusing you're probably gonna be like I don't have time for that. At least that's what your subconscious brain is saying and you just keep going. And does it make you feel something? Like, do you immediately feel like wowed by it or something emotional because of it. That's how I judge my visual stimulation posts where I'm really looking at the image and saying does this have a lot of depth or is this more eye catching? Sometimes it's both. Now, with this image, I would argue that this is a little bit more eye catching rather than having a lot of depth. And that's because I created this as a commissioned image and it was fun and I thinks it's beautiful and I really like the image but it's something that will (snap) make people stop because it's very simple to look at, very bold, very graphic, it has really strong light coming in, and it's weird, right? Like, she's floating and some people wouldn't expect that so it'll really stop people and make you look at it. And I would challenge you to choose your site, whatever your personal favorite site it, mine is Instagram right now, to just scroll through and in about 30 seconds as you're scrolling just stop on the top three images, images that really catch your attention. Because we should be learning a lot from one another online. I really think there's so much to learn from just looking at the people that inspire you and figuring out why they do. So if you do this, which images catch your attention personally? They'll probably be different from somebody else and that's okay. But write down the attributes that really make that thing, make you stop and look. So if we talk about intellectual impact, something having a little bit more depth to it, you're probably gonna see that the post doesn't have a lot of links so it's probably not gonna be something that's trying to sell you on something or funnel you into a new place. It'll probably have a clear message or an opinion that somebody's trying to share and it'll be eloquently written or at least written on brand. So let me clarify. Eloquent was probably not the right word but sometimes it will be, sometimes it'll just be really specific to whatever that person is doing. And it'll probably share some honesty. But aside from the writing, the image will probably have some depth to it as well. Now this is a very simple image and I would actually say that this picture is both eye candy, or at least like eye sour disgustingness, something. I don't know. And it's also intellectual in that you have to really look at it and ask yourself how do I feel about this and what is the artist trying to say. So I would recommend that you do the same thing as before, just scroll through your favorite social site and choose just one post that you actually feel connected to. See how long it takes you to get through that scroll, to see when you actually find something that's meaningful to you. Because I was doing this the other day and it took about two minutes of scrolling and just like reading and scrolling and reading to find something that I felt like oh, this was really worth my time to read. And I think that it's just very simple to post something and think, oh, this was fun, this was fun to post, this is relevant, this is this. But is this going to be truly relevant and important to your audience? And again, I'm not saying that everything that I post is like that but it's good to think about and to recognize that people will engage with you on a deeper level if you're doing that. So then what is your impact? Okay, if you're posting on social media, what impact are you having? I'm afraid that we don't think about this too often and the reason is probably because social media makes you feel like it's a very selfish thing to do, to post on social media, and that's why I'm trying to change the way that we talk about it a little bit so that it's not just about what you get from the people online but how can you impact those people right back? So what are you trying to convince people of? It's kind of a funny way of saying this but what are you trying to convince people of online? Because trust me, it's probably something. Whether it's you're trying to convince people that you've taken a beautiful photo, you're trying to convince people that blue is the best color, you're trying to convince people that their emotions are worth exploring. What are you trying to get people to understand? And then how do you want to make people feel? This is that question that has come up so many times in the course of this class because I believe that art is meant to be consumed if that's your intent as the artist. And if you want people to consume your art, then you should think about how do you want to make people feel? What is the way that they might absorb this information?