Where is your flock? Do you know where to find them? Do you know where they will be next week? My flock is mostly hanging out on Instagram right now - it's where over 50% of my sales are made - but there are changes happening in the Instagram world that might mean my flock migrate to another social media platform in the future, and I don't want to be left behind. Why is it important to know all this? Well, we are all social creatures my lovely - we are designed to function best in community, supported by other like-minded folks and being supportive of others.
Personally I LOVE social media - I'm a born community builder - and in my mind, the internet is the best thing that ever happened for artists and makers. We now don't need any third party to judge our work, to say whether it's good enough to grace their walls, their pages, their festivals - the web allows us to create our own flock, our own gallery, our own magazine, our own store, our own futures! It's amazingly powerful. However, there is a shadow side to everything and social media is no exception.
Sometimes social media is really un-sociable.
Do you know what I mean? Sometimes the relationships seem fake or superficial. People ask to be my "friend" when I've only met them once - in fact, sometimes I haven't met them in person at all. That's odd to me - I'm a naturally shy person and it takes AGES for me to make "real" friends. I prefer dealing with people face to face where I can see their emotions in their expression, not in a little character. So in a world where we are asked to react with an emoji and are judged by the number of "likes" or "followers", how can we build meaningful relationships? If we run a business, how can we connect with customers without seeming sleazy or pushy?
I don't have all the answers but I'd love to have a conversation with you about it, so here are some of my thoughts to get the dialogue started:-
1. Stop counting the sheep
Social media is NOT a numbers game. It doesn't matter if you have 5 followers or 5,000 - it matters that the people you DO engage with are interested in you and you are interested in them. We are building a community, not an autocracy.
Remember my last blog post about the brain only coping with 150 friends? You can find it HERE if you haven't read it. That's what I'm aiming for - 150 meaningful relationships, I can't cope with any more!
2. Don't buy sheep
That girl on Instagram who has only posted 10 times yet has 10,000 followers - how does that happen?! It's amazing how many folks don't realize that many of those mega accounts have been bolstered by bought followers - yes, people do that! Don't be tempted, you risk putting a hungry eagle into your lovely flock of starlings.
3. Beware the self-styled social media expert
How do you spot one? They will promise you a 6-figure business within a ridiculously short amount of time IF you sign up to their expensive coaching programs. They bamboozle you with jargon...lead magnets, sales funnels, conversions. They are addicted to making free webinars in order to draw you in! I am the first person to say, "get a mentor" and especially get help in the areas you need support. Just make sure your chosen mentor speaks your language, doesn't sell you unrealistic promises and offers you some one-on-one time since there is no magic formula that works for everyone.
4. Don't forget the CO-
There are a lot of co- words in this blog - community, conversation, collaboration. Social media isn't about YOU, it's about your audience, your customers, your clients and what you are able to give them.
It's about the co-creation of a community, working together to build a relationship that is meaningful for everyone. Your flock will quickly get bored if the conversation is all me, me, me! In the early days of blogging this was common, and I was guilty of this too - "look at my art, here's another picture of work in progress, here's another..."
It's fine to share your work but make sure you are having a conversation - ask questions, encourage engagement - exactly as you would do if you were sitting across the table from a friend.
5. Don't accept every invitation
You know when you haven't been invited out for ages, and then you get three party invitations all for the same night? So you try and figure out a way of getting to every event - not wanting to let any of your friends down - but the evening just becomes really complicated. Your friends are annoyed because you have to leave early - or arrive late - and you feel stressed and don't enjoy yourself at all. Ever done that?
Well, trying to be on every social media platform is exactly the same! It's stressful, exhausting and unnecessary. Focus on where your flock is and let the others party elsewhere.
Does this resonate with you? If so I would love for us to continue this conversation.
If you want to build a meaningful online community, learn how to give value to your own flock of followers, get tips on finding and keeping online customers, then click the picture below to sign up for my latest course and end your social media frustrations.
Let's put the "social" back in social media this month! Aim to give back to your community instead of posting about your own news. What can you give of value? A snippet of a new book? Some advice on a painting technique? A great recipe? An invitation to meet you? What would be of benefit to your flock?
Best of luck with that and don't forget to include me in your offerings :)