The Pickaquoy Centre, in Kirkwall, was the venue, and what an amazing facility this is. Everything from sports to arts, with a hugely helpful and friendly staff, it was a delight to turn up at 8.30am on this overcast Wednesday morning to find everything ready to go. I also have to recommend the homemade shortbread, that kept us all going in the late morning.
The second workshop went down well again, and like the Inverness workshop, there was allot of discussion and conversation about the merits and return on time social media provides makers, artists and the heritage sector. While there are huge benefits from using social media, in terms of developing different and possibly new relationships with your current audience or your potential audience, social media also allows you the opportunity of presenting a human face and personality to your brand. However, with so many social media and social networks available the real question is ‘Where do I find the time to do all this?’ and ‘What is the real benefit, how can I see that this is making any difference?’ What needs to be stressed is that like all marketing strategies, be it posters and leaflets, exhibitions or your web presence, marketing is something which you need to consider as part of your craft or business, rather then something you bolt on as an extra, as something of an necessary evil. Let’s face it, none of us would be able to do what we do, sell artwork, put on performances and shows, keep museums and heritage centers open, if it wasn’t for public interest and ultimately audiences and customers. So if your public sits at the heart of what you do, and why you do it, then marketing and promoting that work should be as central to your day as making sure you have the right materials to create your work.
Back to the issue of Time and Effort. Previously marketing was a task you set aside a week or two to concentrate on, then once your marketing and publicity is confirmed, printed and distributed, you could then sit back and wait for the customers and audiences to arrive. However the way we schedule and implement marketing today has seen a shift from the focused 2 weeks to marketing everyday. Social media particularly requires input on at least a daily basis, which will obviously seem like more time and effort spent, without the immediate and obvious impact or effectiveness. Facebook have since introduced an Insights page, a basic analyzer for your business pages, with Twitter you can monitor the impact of your conversation by charting your hashtags, with youtube you can clearly see how many people have viewed your videos on a daily basis, and with similar analytics to Facebook, you can analyze who your viewers are. So social media is developing to include the necessary analytics that businesses and organisations need to identify whether a strategy of social media is worthwhile or not really worth the time at all. But by focusing strongly on the impact; time versus effectiveness; we are in danger of forgetting what social networks are about and why we, as well as our audiences use social networks.
Social networks are just that, communities of people coming together to find out and keep informed, in an informal way, of the news, events, activities, thoughts and conversations had by the businesses, organisations or artists that they want to know about. Remember your Fans on Facebook or your Followers on Twitter, have consciously decided to follow you, to not only keep up to date with your activities and news, but also to show their loyalty to what you do. These are not just fans in name, but most likely in nature too. What other marketing activity enables you to have direct conversations with your customers or audiences in real time, when they might be on the other side of the world? And with the nature of social media, people feel more at ease in having those valuable informal and social conversations, so use your social media and networks well, and you can elicit information from your audiences or potential audiences which you might not have been able to gather using the more traditional e-marketing techniques.
Ultimately, social media is something you embrace or not, you need to use Facebook like a Facebooker and Tweet like a Tweeter to get the most out of these platforms…if your still not sure, your not convinced, then just give it a go, you can’t do any harm by experimenting.