ADVERTISING YOUR WORK USING NETWORK MARKETING
By the Practical Artist
There is a lot of talk these days out there about using social networks to market your art. You can certainly reach many people with your message, but simply reaching them is not good enough; you need to make them want to buy your stuff. One of the key ingredients in successful social media marketing is creating “social authority”. When you establish yourself as an “expert” in your given field or area you can become an authority (someone others listen to). You can establish yourself by writing on-line about stuff you know about. Your field of expertise doesn’t necessarily have to be art because if you want to sell, you will need to reach outside the sphere of artists you know to your target audience. It is a funny thing, but having social authority in one sphere will give you authority elsewhere; just bear witness to all those celebrities who endorse presidential candidates and influence public thinking!
Because of social media – and the direct/indirect effect of social media marketers, the buying public is more likely to make decisions using what they read and see in social networks, but only if they hear about it from someone they trust. This is the reason a focused, carefully designed social media strategy needs to be a basic part of your marketing plan. At its best, network marketing is very similar to the multi-level marketing plans used by home based businesses such as Avon and Amway. The key to the success of these businesses is that everyone connected has some type of positive incentive to promote the products. The positive incentive can be a good feeling or something physical. The first step in using social media to market your work may be uncomfortable for you, but do it anyway: Ask friends and family to spread the news on their networks about your products and then DON’T FORGET TO THANK THEM IF THEY DO THIS!!!!!! You might consider offering a free product or discount (preferably something that can be sent on-line) as a reward for helping you. Perhaps if you are selling a painting, a small print (8×10 or smaller) of their choice, etc. If you are selling a book, offer to do a neighborhood reading, a book signing at a venue they choose with a percentage of sales of the book going to the charity of their choice. These are just ideas, I’m sure you can come up with more.
Social Networking sites are shaped to allow internet users to connect with each other. The primary types of social networking sites service groups, i.e. former school classmates, a means to connect with friends (like Facebook and Twitter), etc…; most of these sites also feature a recommendation system linked to trust. Most social network sites are web based and provide means for users to connect over the internet via e-mail or instant messaging. Because most networking services do run on “friend recommendations” it can be difficult to create a network of buyers if you are not already acquainted with them. If you want your message about your art to be picked up and sent “viral”, you must create a message that is both interesting and attention grabbing.
Viral Marketing, Viral Advertising, Or Marketing Buzz refers to promotion practices that use pre-existing social networks. The goal is to create viral messages that attract people with high social networking potential (SNP) so that these people will tell everyone about the message. It’s like a game of gossip.
As a rule, three basic conditions must be met for your communication to go viral. 1) A “go-between” or “transmitter” must pick up the promotion. There are three types of “transmitter” required to change an ordinary promotion into a viral one: market devotees, social hubs, and salespeople. Market devotees are among the first to be exposed to the promotion and transmit it to their immediate social network. Social hubs are people with a large number of connections; they often know hundreds of people and can serve as tie-ins between groups with different interests. Salespeople receive the promotion from the market fan, amplify it by making it more relevant and persuasive, and then send it on.
2) The promotion must be memorable and interesting. Only promotions that are both will be passed on to others and spur viral marketing. Making your promotion more memorable and interesting (or more infectious) can be a matter of minor adjustments.
3) The environment needs to be favorable: The timing and context of your promotion takeoff must be right too. If there is something much more interesting going on like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami a few years ago, your chances of getting a competing promotion out are poor.
Question: how do you find people who do these things? Chances are you may already be a member of a social hub. Is there any one person who seems to be very active with a large circle of friends? Ask them for help with your promotion. You have to put in some time developing on-line relationships. It will be necessary for you to express some type of interest in what they are doing so that they will reciprocate. I am not advocating spending hours on the net; in fact, just the opposite. However, you will need to be able to make a connection with them on some level. Keep your communications short and only respond to stuff that actually interests you because a phony interest can be easily spotted.
Want to know how effective you are? Here are a few free social media monitoring and measurement programs and tools. I haven’t used any of these so I don’t know how easy they are to use or how accurate.
How Sociable? A simple, free tool that measures the visibility of your brand across the web.
Addict-o-matic A nice search engine that aggregates rss feeds, allowing you to see where your brand is lacking presence.
Socialmention is a social media search engine, offering searches across blogs, and microblogs with a social rank score.