As artists, we all have a message we’re trying to convey to the world. Whether you’re a sculptor, a filmmaker, a singer, a writer, or whatever else, we all have some type of art that we want to place in front of others and say, “Hey, this matters. Please pay attention.”
We’re sort of like little chihuahuas yipping away at our intended audiences, hoping someone will glance our way. (No offense to chihuahuas.)
Unfortunately, if we’re all trying to catch attention, then we’re never paying attention to anyone else. So, the harder we try to self-promote, the more people are turned off by what we’re doing. No one enjoys being around someone who talks about himself all day long.
I know that I struggle with this mode of thinking. It’s not that I’m setting out intentionally to focus on myself through channels like Twitter and Google+. In fact, it’s because of my unintentional behavior that I’m not taking the time to focus on the artistic community around me.
To combat my unintentional behavior, I’m creating a challenge for myself. (I’m such a goals junkie!)
For every social media post that I create, I will respond to 3 other posts for the next month. (I’m marking this on my calendar even as I write it in order to make sure I follow through.)
Each time I tweet, I’ll look for three other tweets that I can either re-tweet or respond to. On Google+ and Facebook, I’ll looking for posts to comment on. I’m not necessarily looking for other artists to respond to. I just want to make sure that I’m encouraging and growing the community that I’m already a part of.
Community Is EVERYTHING for the Indie Artist
In this age of constant communication, it’s not really the number of friends / followers / fans / connections we have. It’s the amount of engagement – of real conversation – that we’re having with these folks.
As indie artists (or small businesses, or non-profits, or whatever small organization you want to place here), we don’t have the big budget to think of just trying to get our message out in the old school forms of advertisement like billboards and television ads. Even more modern forms of ads like search advertising or Facebook ads are still costly.
If we are going to speak to the world, it won’t be through our dollars. Our communication happens through the strength of our relationships. Our community helps us all.
Think about it. When artists ask you to tweet a message or share some information on their behalf, do you do it? It probably depends. Do you like this artist’s work? Did you connect with this artist in some way?
I’ll be honest, I’ll share someone’s info when I have a real connection with that person even if I don’t think it’s the most amazing art ever given to humanity. I do it because I care about the person who made the request. That care didn’t become because of more advertisements or more requests for retweets; it came because of a real connection on some level. Whether it was the art itself or a chance to chat with the artist, the bond is authentic.
More information about this concept: check out a book called The Thank You Economy
(affiliate link) by Mike Vaynerchuk if these ideas intrigue you. Vaynerchuk approaches it straight up as a big practice, but I really believe the ideas are pervasive enough that they will truly affect the way we communicate in our society.
Are You Up for the Challenge?
Do you want to try out the challenge with me? Leave your Twitter or Google+ info in the comments, and I’ll see you in the social sphere!
Photo courtesy of Michael Holden