Welcome to Submit Saturdays, a year long series of articles in partnership with Squarespace. As part of our ongoing series of advice articles, this week we hear from It’s Nice That’s social media manager Simon Smith. He offers advice on how to get the fundamentals of using social media channels right and what to consider when promoting your work.
Social Media – the land of the selfie, symmetrical breakfasts, puny pugs, motivational quotes and terrifying face-swaps. Alas, it’s all to easy to form a negative view on the cliched forms social media can take, but let’s take a step back and consider this: as creative people we have the biggest opportunity of all to use these channels in new and interesting ways. If you think very carefully about how you harness the capabilities of social media, it can add to the foundations of your career.
There’s no doubt that social media can be confusing – not a day goes past where someone hasn’t cooked up some new theory about how to gain thousands of followers or what to do to win over Facebook’s algorithm. It results in a disorientating experience for creatives who are trying to showcase their work in the best possible way.
So what’s the trick? Well, in short, there isn’t one. But it’s the often overlooked basics that will help your craft a credible social media presence. The tips below should help you along the way.
1 – Personal Vs Professional Persona
If you have a public facing account which you use to showcase your work, you need to remember you’re going to have a whole load of strangers, and even potential clients, looking at your feed. Do people need to see you passed out in a bathtub alongside your latest work? Probably not. So you should consider setting up an account separate from your personal feed where your creative work lives. Heck, we’re not saying make your work channels impersonal – everyone appreciates a selfie from time to time – just no bathtub stuff, yeah?
2 – Be Visible
If you have social media channels, make sure people can find them. It’s a simple trick which is all too often forgotten about. You see those little social icons at the top of our website? People click on them all the time and if they like what they see, they follow It’s Nice That. So make sure you make your channels visible on your website – much like you can on Squarespace – add them to your email signature and maybe even get them tattooed if you’re really dedicated to the cause.
3 – Channel Selection
Do you have a serious output of visual work? Instagram is for you. Do you have something to say on the impact of graphic design in the modern day world? Get yourself on Twitter. Social media channels, although forever evolving, still serve specific tasks. When it comes to setting up channels sit back and consider which one will really work for you. It could be all of them, if you really have the time to maintain such a feat, but often you’ll find sticking to one channel might be the most effective way to go about showcasing your work.
4 – Keep On Keeping On
It’s a common sight to see barren Twitter profiles and Instagram feeds untouched for months, and this can look a little off-putting; especially if you’re trying to get your work published or seeking commissions. If you’re not using the channel, hide it from public view, and maybe even consider if you have the time and resources to keep that channel going.
The hard truth is you’re not going to gain a massive amount of followers overnight, unless you create something that goes viral of course. Keep your feeds flowing with content and slowly you’ll start to pick up followers who really like what you do.
5 – #Hashtags
There’s a rather large misconception that adding 50 hashtags to your posts is going to result in some postive gain. Sure, you might pick up a couple followers, but who are they? Are they really interested in your work? You need to consider the sheer volume of people that might be using certain hashtags too. Adding #illustration or #design to your post will ultimately have no effect – a drop of water in a vast sea of tweets and posts.
Hashtags are best used when tapping into a specific conversation, an event, or a project which relies on curating a collection of work and ideas. You might want to consider creating a bespoke hashtag relevant to the content you are creating, and you want to be really nifty, add your social feeds into your website.
6 – @Mentions
There are thousands of websites and social media channels which showcase creative work on a day-to-basis, and unfortunately some of these platforms are awful at properly crediting work. Mentions on other social media channels is the most natural way to gain followers, so if you see your work published without credit, have a polite word. The same principle applies if you have collaborated with someone, if you share a credit or acknowledge someone who has worked on a project, it is more likely that your combined presence on social media will generate a bigger response.
7 – Be Human
It’s all to easy to forget: at the end of that “like” there’s a thumb that tapped it, and that thumb is connected to an actual human being. When you’re posting work to your feed remember that you’re connecting with someone. You should communicate in a way which would make sense if you were sitting right next to them. It’s always a good idea to talk to people who comment on your work , and even comment and encourage the people you follow too. Because, well, that’s the human thing to do.
8 – Confrontation
At some point you’re going have some form of comment that challenges your work, and there’s a variety of ways to deal with it depending on the situation. Are they clearly a psychopath? Report them. Are they aggressively stating you have done something wrong when you clearly haven’t? Ignore. Have they made a good point, but are seeking confrontation? Get back to them, and suggest taking conversation to a DM or maybe an email. Are they being polite and have raised a legitimate issue? Comment back politely and do your best not to enter a heated battle of words.
9 – Collaborate
The whole reason social media exists is because it has given people the ability to connect in ways which were previously impossible. This can really open doors to finding like-minded creatives. Remember to use these channels as a tool for discovery as well as to showcase your work. No doubt you’ll find someone who might be able to work with on one of your projects.
10 – Follower Growth
We all want impressive follower numbers, there’s no shame in that, in some cases having a large following can be an attractive asset to a brand or platform who may want to work with you. But remember this: it is the quality of your followers that will make your channels much more impactful over quantity – having thousands of followers is in no way a measure of the integrity of your work.
The most effective way to grow an following is a natural and organic way – don’t rely on tricks and gimmicks to get people on your feed. Instead follow the tips above, showcase your work in the best possible way, do something weird and wonderful, and most importantly, do what feels most natural to you.
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