The Artist’s Guide to Using Social Media Professionally

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It’s become a Neighborhood Studios tradition to have Hartford-based Sea Tea Improv give a presentation on social media and networking every year. As you know, Neighborhood Studios is the Arts Council’s award-winning summer apprenticeship program for teens. There are five studio programs where apprentices can gain hands-on experience including film, breakdancing, photography, jazz orchestra, and creative non-fiction. Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and learning how to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms professionally is an integral part of your career, especially as an artist. Social media allows us to build our personal brand, connect with our audience, and collaborate with other artists. Of course, having a professional presence on every platform can be overwhelming. Luckily, Dan Russell of Sea Tea Improv breaks down how to choose the right social media platform based on your form of art:

Photographer, Visual Artists: Instagram, Flickr (I would add Pinterest)

Film-maker, director: Vimeo, YouTube

Musician: YouTube, SoundCloud, Bandcamp

Performing Artist: Though there’s not a single perfect platform to display your performance, Dan suggests being creative. You could use YouTube or include snippets of your work on Instagram.

Writer: Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr. You’re probably wondering “YouTube, really?” One apprentice suggested using YouTube for digital storytelling utilizing photos and film along with narrating. Be creative and the possibilities are endless. Twitter’s 140-character limit helps you hone your writing skills and learn to be more succinct.

All artists: No matter what form of art you do, you’ll want to have a blog that showcases your work. Tumblr, WordPress, and Blogger are great blogging platforms, although Tumblr is more picture-oriented while WordPress and Blogger are better for long-form writing. A blog is a great way to tell your story and share new content to your social media channels to keep your followers engaged.

Remember that the purpose of social media is to be social. Don’t use these platforms to merely talk about yourself and your work. Rather you’ll want to engage with others as much as possible. The best way to do that is to join a community and collaborate with other artists. Dan recommends liking similar artists’ Facebook pages, joining group on Facebook based on common interests, using relevant hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, and utilizing Twitter’s ‘search nearby’ function to find similar artists in your area. Collaborating helps spread the word about your art. If your form of art is really niche and doesn’t already have its own community (either online or IRL), create your own! Sea Tea Improv was founded precisely because no other improv theater existed in Hartford prior. Don’t be afraid to initiate – your success depends on it!

One of the best quotes from the session was from Julia Pistell of the Mark Twain House & Museum and Sea Tea Improv, “You can’t exist without other people. Think about what people need.” This rings especially true on social media where people are more likely to engage with content they find interesting and valuable. Listen to what your audience is saying and figure out how you can complete what already exists. Most importantly, you’ll want to share your best self on social media – everything you post is public and permanent – and many times social media will be your opportunity to make a good first impression.

That’s it for now! Do you have any social media tips to add? Share them in the comments.

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