Starting with Social Media – The Discussion

I had the opportunity to be one of the experts in a round table discussion on Social Media last Friday with young artists as part of the Realisme event. The other expert, with more claim to the title then me, was Martijn Verver.

At the end of the round table sessions the advice we had could be summarised in to two phrases; “just do it” and “tell your own story”. So much for expertise!

But the discussion was really interesting and some of the questions were really pertinent and I’ve tried to summarise the answers here (with links I hope are helpful).

Behaviour

There is a real and understandable temptation to focus on the technology, to go straight to the tools. But it’s worth keeping in mind that social media is about how you behave online; it’s about connecting people.

1) You need to be yourself online.

2) You can connect to others – even people you haven’t met before. You can ask them to also “friend” or “follow” you. It will take time to build a following.

3) Should it be in English? If your target audience is international then you probably need your content to be in English; but you can rely on visual content, you don’t need a lot of written content.

4) I’m not comfortable promoting myself, how can I use social media? (This came following a discussion of how social media can be your “marketing department”) You don’t have to describe your work in glowing terms; you can just post pictures of progress or inspiration, and say what you’re working on – let others praise you!

5) You may get negative comments – they will probably be outweighed by the positive ones – but be prepared for it. If you have a mature following your followers may defend you, but you may have to decide whether, or how to respond. Generally speaking discussion is a good thing.

Tools

Perhaps the most questions were about the tools themselves – here are the most interesting.

1) Should I use facebook if my audience doesn’t?

Probably not – at least not to address that audience but you, or the gallery you work with, might want to use it to promote an exhibition.

If you’re using facebook think about setting up a separate fan page for your art, rather than using your personal page. ING Art Management has a fan page for example. This means that you won’t be promoting your new exhibition right after lamenting that you burnt the spaghetti.

2) Should I be on linkedin?

Linkedin is particularly relevant for business, so if you run your own company, or are a freelancer you should be on linkedin, it’s a question of reputation.

Linkedin offers ways of sharing content; you can connect to your blog, a slideshare presentation or display your portfolio.

It’s also worth looking for connections via the groups function, which does give you the opportunity to have a discussion in a ‘closed’ group, and the chance to email members of the group.

3) How can I share my work?

There are a lot of different tools out there; the easiest and most used one for images is flickr, on the site you can share your photos – including with a creative commons licence if you like – and you can contribute to relevant groups, or start your own.

Other tools worth considering to store your content are tumblr, wordpress or blogger or posterousyoutube.

Look for “post to many” options on tools, for example I can update my twitter and linkedin status at the same time – in fact I could update facebook at the same time but choose not to. Being smart about the content can save you time.

Content

1) What content can I use?

Profile your work, update this often even if you draw on older works, perhaps saying how you’ve developed since creating that works.

Photographs , poems, stories or articles that inspire you.

Progress updates of your work – this is fascinating for a non-artist, particularly if you’re working on a bigger project

Behind the scenes – take the visitor through the creation of a work, perhaps as a slideshow or a video. This is really time intensive for you you but it would create a piece of content that could stay on your site/blog and be re-used regularly as showing how you work.

Resources

Mashable – good resource for discussion on the latest tools

Problogger – tips on writing, maintaining and thinking about content

PR squared – tips on promoting yourself online

Etsy – great resource of supplies and artists

Cool Hunting – a group blog promoting great design, get ideas on how to present your content.

Style Cowboys – a Dutch site about design, again with great ideas on presenting your content.

The summary of our advice stands – “Just do it” and “be yourself”. On reflection I’d add “connect”; connect to other artists, connect your content, connect your tools (to be more effective). Have fun!

What other tips would you add? Do you have other questions? Add a comment below.

image connection /Sara Lando/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

4 Keys to a Great Briefing

Selecting the right company to work with on a creative project can be tricky. If you work in marketing or communications it’s a skill worth developing; you’ll need it for website development, photography assignments, visual identity development and ad campaigns. Any marketing manager will find themselves developing a briefing several times a year, whether it’s part of a selection process or a new assignment with an existing supplier. I think there are four key areas of information that need to be covered in a briefing; context, aspiration, process and logistics.

Help the potential supplier understand who you are. What are your brand values? Describe your brand personality – if that sounds weird describe who your brand would be if it were a person. Who are your customers – how do you want them to describe you?

Provide visual information, existing brochures and websites, brand and/or photography guidelines – even if you’re moving away from that look, it will help the designers understand your company and the legacy.

What is the big idea?

What is the one message you want customers/visitors to get above all else from this project?

Try to inspire the creatives; you could include songs, images, quotes, words that support your aspiration but; resist the temptation to “spell it out”, too much factual detail at this point won’t get the best out of your creatives. You want them to be inspired and creative – not just implement to the limits of your creativity.

Here’s a great presentation on what should be in briefing from the creative’s perspective.

How do you want to work together? This is possibly the most important part of the briefing, but it rarely gets attention – this is partly because it’s very difficult to assess on paper. I treat the whole process as a test for the company; all contact from the moment the brief is sent to the decision date. Easy ways to get disqualified in this period include; not being able to say my company’s name correctly (yes, it happened even after being told how to say it), being rude to anyone you meet from my company during the process (the Richard Branson approach), or wasting my time (yes, it’s happened).

People recognise it when it’s right though, if your team walk out of a briefing with a potential supplier saying things like “they really get us” you’re probably in the right direction.

I look for four things; do they listen, do they build on our ideas, do they do anything extra and do they get my jokes.

The last one might seem frivolous, but if you’ll be working together intensively for a longer period of time it’s important that the relationship is there. Getting each other’s jokes is one sign that you’re on the same wavelength, and that you might enjoy each other’s company.

Possibly the least interesting for the creative – but very important for the account manager to know! Set out who from your side should be the contact person, I recommend a single point of contact if possible. Explain what you expect to be delivered. State what options they have for presenting those deliverables (eg: we sometimes need to be able to email design examples – so I’ll need a standard format file less than 1MB). State the deadline. Are you paying any fee to support their development work – and is the written off against the costs of the successful company? If the briefing is part of an assessment process then explain the criteria for assessment and how (and when!) the decision will be made.

These details are not interesting for a creative person so I usually set them out on a separate page to reduce distraction.

Keep the document short. If you can’t convey what your company is about and what your brand means in under 200 words then perhaps you need to give that more thought before you start an ad campaign.

There will very likely be a group of people round the table when it comes to the decision, two things worth keeping in the front of everyone’s mind are the customer and the aspiration. It can help to name the customer, in our case we called her Iris,  and then the discussion became “would this appeal to Iris?”

What do you think? Do you recognise these as the four most important keys? What else would you suggest?