Social Media 101 for Illustrators

As a 21st century creative professional, social media is a tool that can’t be ignored.

The key to using social media effectively is to figure out what you’re trying to achieve with it. Illustrators can use social media to:

  • Interact and make friends with other illustrators & artists.
  • Share new pieces & professional updates with fans, clients and customers.
  • For research, learning and professional development.

There are plenty of other, perhaps more social uses, for social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – but if time is precious and you’re looking to get the most effective results from social media for your illustration business, then you’re going to need to be focused and disciplined.

How To Make Social Media Work For You

The key to using social media tools effectively is to first define why you’re using them and what you’re using them for.

They are simply tools – nothing more, nothing less – so you need to decide:

  1. How these tools can help your business
  2. Which of the available tools will help you most effectively achieve your goals

If you think of them as additional channels of communication, you’ll begin to see that you don’t need to use every single one of them, and that each one can (and should) be used differently.

This means that:

  • You don’t need to set up a profile & use *all* the available tools (like having a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile, a Pinterest account and more), only use the ones which will work for you.
  • Using 1 or 2 social media tools really well is far more effective than using them all poorly.

Where Do Your People Hang Out?

So how do you know which tools will help you most effectively?

You need to figure out where your people hang out. And by “your people” – that could be your ideal clients, your colleagues & peers, your fans or other creative entrepreneurs.

For example, if you’re using social media to connect with your peers, colleagues and other creative entrepreneurs for inspiration, collaboration, research and more, you need to hang out where they hang out online – this is usually Twitter.

However, if you’re using social media to connect with a fan base and keep them up-to-date, you need to be active where they hang out and share information, connect and communicate where they all happen to be – this is may be Facebook, Etsy or even Pinterest.

The answer that is right for you could well be very different from the answer that’s right for some of your colleagues.

As soon as you realise that you simply need to find the right tool(s) for the job and then learn how best to use that tool, social media becomes much, much simpler to get to grips with for your business.

101 Tips

To help you get started, experiment with and get to grips with the most popular social media tools, we’ve put together some basic 101 tips – and, where possible, linked to additional resources (both free & premium) to help you shortcut the learning process.

Twitter 101

  • Add a photo to your profile, don’t leave the default Twitter image – it marks you out as a newbie or a spammer.
  • Customise your background with your own branding.
  • Add your URL – consider even adding a custom “welcome” page to your site for Twitter followers.
  • Start following a few people you already know, find interesting & want to get to know – if they don’t automatically follow you back, keep an eye out for opportunities to start/join a conversation with them.
  • Share interesting links, resources and information – this is by far the most effective way to increase interested and relevant followers, people with whom you’d like to interact.
  • There’s nothing wrong with reaching our directly and starting conversations with people you’re following. Try it – most people don’t bite!

Recommended Resources:

Facebook 101

  • Decide whether you’re going to use a personal profile or a public page – if it’s for your business, a page is often the most sensible option for commercial ventures & self-promotion.
  • Interact regularly and consistently – don’t leave your page empty or leave weeks/months in between updates.
  • Share useful updates, information and resources – not just promotional content on your wall.
  • Encourage interaction and participation on your page wall – ask questions, encourage people to share resources, give feedback, run polls…the more engaged people are, the more likely they are to listen to what you share, when you share it.

Recommended Resources:

LinkedIn 101

  • Use the status update to let people know what you’re up to professionally – it often looks good and is a useful reminder to people of what you do if you use your status to share updates about a latest project or piece of work.
  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups and become an active member on there – they’re not always as active as Facebook pages/groups but if you pick the right ones, they often have a more “professional” (versus hobby/casual, rather than unprofessional) vibe to them.
  • Share your expertise and knowledge and position yourself as an expert in your field by actively taking part in the Answer section of the site.

Recommended Resources:

Get Started Now

If you’d like to get started using social media for your illustration business, remember to take the following important steps, to ensure your efforts make an impact:

  1. Decide what you’d like social media to do for your business & how you want to use it.
  2. Choose the best tools for the job – remember, you don’t have to be everywhere.
  3. Get yourself set up and commit some time to get to grips with the tool before you fully confirm whether it’s the most useful tool for your business.
  4. Be consistent and regular with your use of social media – sporadic use will do very little for your business so you’ll need to commit time to make it work.

And if you’d like to connect with us on social media, Jonathan’s on Twitter here and Lea is on Twitter here.

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