There, I said it. Social media isn't the source of our problems, but rather a reflection or amplification of them.
This isn't a post defending social media. I kind of hate it. Opening Twitter usually means I'll be in a bad mood for a while. Instagram is a time travel machine, hours can go by and I don't do anything but scrolling, double tapping, and responding to comments. And Facebook... oh, Facebook.
Look, I deleted my FB account twice in the past and uninstalled my Twitter and Instagram apps from my phone more times than I can count. I don't like social media.
everyone is there
But today, it's what we have. It's where people spend most of their time when they aren't sleeping (I was going to add working, eating or #1 and #2 in the bathroom, but no, just sleeping), and it's the best way to communicate with them.
Everyone is there. My mom is there; she doesn't read this blog though. Go figure.
are you even X if you are not on social media?
I discovered a lot of the artists I love and follow on social media. Seeing other people's work is inspiring and can improve your art significantly.
Of course you can have just a website (or no online presence at all) and still be an artist, have customers and make a living. But it'd be much, much harder to get there today that way.
Likes, comments and follows make these social media apps and networks addictive. You always want more. It also makes art a competition - and it should not be that way.
But we can't control this. There will always be someone who thinks you are better or worse than others in your field because of the attention you get online, the ratings of your TV show, the money you make, the car you drive. You name it.
Getting mad about it won't fix anything. Funny enough, we see people tweeting about how bad Facebook is. Or how awful Snapchat can be in Instagram posts. Or everywhere about how awesome the new shiny social network app is compared to the old ones! (two weeks later, no one is using the new one).
a like is not a customer
Another common complaint is how difficult it is to convert a follower into a customer. What's the point if they won't pay me for what I do?
Easy: if they see your work, if they like it (not the virtual like, but the traditional one, when we used to like something), then they might pay you for your services, or share it with someone else that will... or nothing at all. If no one sees your work, only the latter can happen.
I like Picasso but still don't own a single piece from him.
how to social media the right way
I'm the worst to give any advice about this, but let's try.
Don't delete your accounts, don't uninstall your apps. Post once a day, once a week, once a month, whenever you want. But restrict yourself to just a few minutes when you do. Set a timer (seriously!).
You could even take one day a month to schedule all your social media posts for the next thirty days.
Make the decision yours to launch the app: disable those notifications.
your platform first
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Focus on your own platform, your website. Use social media to share and reach those who use it, and to learn and grow as an artist.
Please don't focus all your energy on "building a following" on a social network: you'll end up with a following that won't follow you anywhere else.
Get to work and build a website that reflects who you are. It doesn't have to be perfect from day 1, you can improve it over time.
As with everything else, common sense is required for social media. You need to take control. As long as you are the one dictating the rules, social media can be a very powerful tool to reach people and show your work to the world.