Selling Art Online – Pt 6 – Social Networking

Social NetworkingIt is easy to discount social networking’s marketing viability based upon its perceived usage as a tool to merely keep in touch with family and friends. However, if we look more deeply, we can see that we can substantiate its viability by merely looking at the sheer number of people who utilize it. If we return to our original marketing premise from Part 2 of this series of articles, discounting social media marketing would be a huge mistake. We are striving for maximum product visibility and with Facebook topping 1.19 billion active monthly users at the time of this writing and Twitter topping 230 million monthly users, there is a huge possible consumer base that exists within social media.

For the year 2013, through the use of Google Analytics, I was able to determine that 25% of the traffic that visits my main website is referred from social-media. Of that 25%, 76% are new visitors and 24% are returning visitors. Twitter accounts for about 36% of that figure, StumbleUpon is approximately 30%, Facebook is about 25%, Google+ visitation is 3%, and Pinterest is about .3% but that is because I usually use Pinterest to drive traffic to my Fine Art America website. The rest come from services like LinkedIn and Reddit.

Many of these services use demographically served ads to subsist and because of this, the services have already determined the interests of their user base. When people enroll in a social-networking community, they often supply information that indicates their interests and hobbies. The services also make suggestions to users in the community as to who to follow based upon similar interests. Building micro-communities of like-minded individuals is the key to demographically based product promotion and the work has already been done in this regard. There are many tools that exist within individual social-networks to help aid one in getting product or service information in front of the right eyes and once you become involved in promoting products in this manner, you will be amazed at the framework that exists specifically for this purpose.

Social-network product promotion can be an extremely satisfying experience if approached in the appropriate manner. Because these networks are based nearly entirely around social communication and interaction, however, there are some simple common-sense concepts that can really aid in social-media success.

Utilizing social media over the course of the past 30 years in one form or another has taught me several valuable techniques which have become very useful. Whether it was through a dial-up bulletin-board system, posting in a newsgroup, utilizing forums, or modern use of Twitter and Facebook, there are some simple concepts and common-sense rules of etiquette that apply to them all.

In order to create a successful network of relationships, Internet marketers need to realize there are no shortcuts. Time and effort must be invested in establishing connections. This means communicating, sharing, contributing, and generally participating in conversations. Over time, this investment will reward itself with success. Portraying oneself as being helpful and courteous can go a long way toward building essential long-term social-network relationships. It is important to realize that in addition to building strong friendships, every status update and social-network post is also magnifying one’s presence in organic search results and it is best if these show up in a positive light.

As with any endeavor that involves human interaction, it is imperative to realize that common societal rules apply. One must be polite, thank fellow users for their efforts that aid you, and avoid being rude or condescending. It is amazing what lending a helping hand and addressing individuals by their names in a friendly manner can accomplish. There are always those who utilize these services who just don’t seem to understand that taking a combative polarizing stance on posted topics does nothing constructive, fosters disdain, and is counter-productive to creating solid relationships.

Social media is about conversation and collaborative efforts. Realize in advance that building networked relationships is the key to successful usage of any social environment. Engaging content and presentation of useful information is the key to keeping people returning to your online presence.

Since one is going to be utilizing multiple social-network services in their art marketing endeavor, it should be noted that it can be very useful to realize that even if you are only just beginning the social-network marketing journey, you are still promoting yourself and products. Because of this, it is logical to maintain a consistent presence, or “brand,” across all services. Utilizing the same icon/avatar and user name across multiple social-networks makes it much simpler to find your business. You are essentially attempting to establish a consistently owned identity across the entire World Wide Web.

The next articles in this series are going to begin looking at some specific social-networking services and some of the techniques I have found to be most effective for marketing my artwork and building a follower-base.

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