I remember many years ago when a director friend told me about Facebook. At first, I resisted using it. I was already on Myspace and thought, “Why do I need to also be on Facebook?” First of all, I really didn’t feel like doing the extra work. And second, I am a pretty private person, so I felt like getting on another social media site would mean revealing personal information about myself that made me a bit uncomfortable.
It’s pretty funny to look back on my resistance now: Today, if you don’t have a Facebook page in the entertainment industry (and most other industries!), it’s like you don’t even exist. And now, of course, there are more social media tools out there than just Facebook and Myspace; there’s Twitter and many other platforms that help you share your thoughts and gifts with people all over the world. But how do you decide which sites you should be using? Do you need to be on all of them? How do you decide which ones are going to be most helpful to spreading your mission and purpose and connecting with others?
Let me ask you a question: What is your field, and what are you trying to accomplish?
The truth is, if I was not in the entertainment industry, I probably would not have a Facebook page. And if I did, I would only have a private one that I would use to share news with family and close friends. But because I must use social media to spread the word about my music and mission as an independent artist, I know I need to present myself well on every site I use.
I will admit that when I first started using Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, I had a really hard time juggling them. I didn’t know which sites would be important, so I just looked at the most-frequently-used sites and investigated how many people were on them and how each of them would benefit me and help me accomplish my artistic and professional mission.
I often talk about how we all have many opportunities available to us and thus a lot of choices in our lives. But let me tell you something: As an independent artist, if you want people to know who you are and what you do, you do not have a choice when it comes to using social media; you must use it.
Managing your presence on Facebook,Twitter and others can be really overwhelming, but these sites are a true blessing if you use them properly. Promotion costs for a book, CD, your artwork or any other service or product can be astronomical. But social media is free! Yes, there are some add-on services and other options on Facebook and other social media sites you can use that cost money. But for the most part, the only thing you need to do to get up and running is to set aside time to build your pages.
Currently my top two social media sites are Facebook and Twitter and I have had great experiences with these tools. I am also going to go back in to My Space to update my old profile to reach out to those that still like to play on MySpace. They help me reach out to people and spread my joy, music and light around the globe. I also just recently started using LinkedIn, and I have found it to be another excellent addition to my marketing efforts. I have had some wonderful people contact me through the site that have presented professional opportunities and even bought CDs from me. I have also started to use Instagram a little bit. My feeling is that everyone likes pictures, so this is a simple and easy way for people to check me out in a glance and see a fun, visual representation of what I’m doing.
The bottom line is, if you are an artist or any kind of independent contractor or entrepreneur selling a service or product, in my opinion, you must be active on social media sites to be visible and also taken seriously. People will often check you out on Facebook and your website to see what you are up to and if you are credible. And your Facebook page and website don’t even have to be elaborate. So, if you don’t have the money to afford fancy Web design, all you need is a few details about your business and your mission as well as some relevant contact information, so people can reach out to you.
I personally get a lot of work and sales through social media and my website. People visit both places to find out about my services, my CD and to learn more about my personality and philosophy. Because I have photos, video, a bio and a list of previous jobs and clients visible on my website and Facebook page, by the time a potential client calls me, that person is usually pretty much ready to book me.
So, let go of your fear and embrace social media! It can be a beneficial, free tool to use that can help you connect personally to others and spread the word about your unique gifts and everything else you have to offer.