Sunday, August 7, 2011

Social Media, Blogs and Google+ Invitation

There was a time, (not so long ago) before my artistic friends became regular Facebook users when I would tell people about my blog and I would have to explain what a blog was and what I was offering on my blog. I can remember being at an art league meeting and telling other artists about it and no one had ever read a blog and many people didn't even know what one was.

When I first got on Myspace, LinkedIn, Youtube, twitter and Facebook hardly any of my personal artists friends were on any of these sites and didn't understand why it would be such a great asset as an artist to be active on social media. About a year after I joined Facebook, I sent out invites to everyone in my email contacts and to all the art league members, with very little immediate response. When I went to the various art league meetings the following months people would ask me about it and one of the main questions I got was; are you selling art from it. The answer (at that time) was no, that is not the purpose of it.

Within three months of my major email send out of invites to other artists; at least 25% of them had joined Facebook. Within 6 months at least 50% of the artists had opened a Facebook account. Even so, very few were active on it, some didn't even have a photo uploaded until months after they set up their accounts. Whenever I would run into any of the artists, they would want to know more about using Facebook or they would say they opened a Facebook account and didn't understand what the big deal was. I continued to explore social media and joined many sites. (some are now defunct) Eventually the art community came to embrace Facebook and continued to tell me how much they enjoyed reading my blog. One of the great features for an artist, musician, writer or other entrepreneurs is the ability to create pages and develop fans such as I did with my art and blog.

Fast forward....
Now, almost all the artists I know are on Facebook and there is a better understanding of how we as artists can benefit by being on Facebook. We can post our artwork to the world, on a site that gets considerable more traffic than a solo website without having to know html or hire expensive designers. We can keep track of the people we meet and the events we hear about and get invited to. We now have easier access to each other, galleries, museums, art opportunities and the person that makes the decisions, then we ever did. You can actually get to know a gallery before deciding if you want to work with them and they can get to know you as well.

There has been a lot of buzz about Myspace being dead and artists have tended to flock to Facebook much faster and in larger quantities then Myspace. However, back in the days before Facebook; Myspace gave us a glimpse of what could be and showed us how we could create a space uniquely our own and get the word out about anything we wanted to share. It also gave us the opportunity to be anonymous and took down the barriers of connecting with other artists through out the world. It opened the world up for artists with all it's possibilities. I still have a presence there as a large part of my artwork is created with musicians. MySpace has a system for sharing and promoting your music which is easy to use and better than most other social media other than Social networks created specifically for Music, such as ReverbNation and NoDepression, and a multitude of other such sites.

There have been many social media sites, some created specifically for artists, that have been here and are now gone. Youtube has added a social networking aspect to their site and I have enjoyed using that. They also allow you to share videos, to other social media accounts.

Two going strong forms of social media are twitter and LinkedIn. Both have a different twist to how they work and an emphasis on different areas that can be applied to an artist's life. If you are busy but want to say something briefly, you can make a 140 character statement on twitter and anyone that follows you will get it. You can also follow other artists, galleries, museums and various news media. It offers a quick way to scan the news and to share your news. LinkedIn and BranchOut have a primary focus on the business side. LinkedIn also has art and other groups you can join; which can lead to discussions, jobs, sales, promoting events and increasing contacts.

I have been writing this blog for over 4 years and in that time, I have seen many artists starting their own blogs. Many of the artists' art blogs focus on the artwork they are creating and their target audience is usually slanted toward creating awareness of their own art creations. Artists come to social media and blogging with a wide array of styles and various skill levels. This reminds me of one rule I learned in a creative writing class; "write about what you know." Perhaps, your art teacher said something similar; "paint what you know."

Google has now created Google+. It is the latest social media tool and you cannot just join it; you have to be invited. Right now it is in beta testing mode and pretty basic in it's overall look, really easy to learn. I have been a member almost as soon as I heard about it. One of the best features it has; as you invite people or as people connect with you; you can add them to various circles. You create the names for the circles yourself, so when you are sending messages out you can target the groups that would be most interested in whatever you are posting. It also is easier to keep track of who you already have shared with, than other social media. This in itself makes it a great marketing tool.

I am allowed to invite only 150 people I want to tell you about it here and if you are interested in receiving one of the invitations, email me (click on it, to do so) with your email and I will email it to you. Because it is a Google based product, if you have multiple emails (like I do) your best option is to use it with your gmail account.

Yours Truly,
Jean Bourque

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