I have a Tweet that has sparked a lot of discussion on Twitter :
“Show me an artist that’s on social media and I’ll show you an artist who’s not in the studio.”
If you’re like most artists I know who have done well at engaging in social media, you’re asking yourself the question, “How do I limit the time I spend there, and get back into the studio where I belong?” Many folks feel sucked in or bewildered at the scope and time it takes to research, develop and maintain a social media engagement strategy. Time is our most valuable commodity. It’s limited.
After a few months of working, learning and trying out some things on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, here are my practical tips for being in the studio AND engaged in social media at the same time. Poof. Magic.
1) PURPOSE :: Know why you’re on social media.
Like any business or art exhibition, there is intent and a plan. Know WHY it is that you’re blogging, tweeting, face-booking or on LinkedIn. I have separate reasons for all, but am clear on the purpose of each one as it relates to me as a person, and how I use it for my arts practice. And NONE of them are for commercial sales. I love social media because it connects me to my colleagues, my friends and my family and to meet new folks who can offer a different perspective on life. It allows me to learn, to grow and to offer my own knowledge.
2) SET A TIME :: Get a calendar and USE it!
Purposefully schedule your social media time and stick to it. I use several electronic “assistants” to help me do this. I use iCal to set up times to work on blogposts, Twitter, etc. Things is a great project & task management tool for the Mac, and I use it to set tasks that I need to accomplish within the various social media platforms. Evernote is a huge helper and I use it to organize articles I want to read later and my own blogposts among many other things such as electronic financial receipt filing. I also use some add-ons that allow me to sketch ideas on my iPad and save them into Evernote for later use.
3) LIMIT YOURSELF :: Set a Timer!
Once you have determined when you’re going to engage in social media each day, week or month, actually SET A LENGTH OF TIME and stick with it. I use the Clock function on my iPhone and set the timer. When it goes off, I’m done! I wrap up the article or the time I’m on Twitter and get back into the studio. I do the same for almost every task in my office. Setting a timer allows you to forget about it, and know ahead that you’ve allotted the time and space for creativity, office work and social media.
4) HIRE A CHEAP SECRETARY :: Use Social Media Programs
There are many efficiency programs on the market that get you organized to deal with your work on social media. I use several – Hootsuite and TweetAdder are the biggest ones. I like Hootsuite because I can quickly see in one glance, the various hashtag streams I’m following – who to respond to, what interests me and yes…you can post to several social media platforms from inside the client itself, although I don’t always recommend this. TweetAdder allows me to set up my Tweets ahead of time and to share what I know or have created with my Tweeps.
5) KNOW THYSELF :: Get some religion! Keep Your Best Creativity Time Sacred
I know that my most creative time is in the morning, and so I usually block 9 – 1 every day for studio work. By the time the late afternoon rolls around, I’m fried, kids are home and there are lots of family things to attend to….like dinner! When I need a break during the day, I’ll check in on Twitter and Facebook. Usually mid-morning, at lunch and then later in the evening when family chores are done.
6) GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION :: Blogging IS creative work
I’ve set a creative goal for myself in the past year to write. I spend a lot of time at the easel thinking (and talking) to myself, and so getting those thoughts into writing has been a critical and creative goal. I set two major times a week to write. Not everything makes it into the blog, and perhaps some of it…shouldn’t make it into the blog, but just the act of considering it as creative time, I’ve given myself permission to do it. Erika Napoletano (@RedHeadWriting) wrote a great blog article on this. Read it.
7) ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE :: Be a player!
There’s really no point in engaging in social media unless you’re going to be social. I’m a self-diagnosed introvert, believe it or not. I really don’t like parties, crowds of folks and feel much more comfy in small groups. Relationships are important. Build them. Schedule your time to respond to Tweets and DO IT. Just don’t “set it and forget it”. It’s not about selling as some would have you believe. It’s how we interact with each other. Artists spend a lot of time alone…in solitary confinement, so to speak. Engage with others. Be open. Learn. You’ll be amazed at what is interesting and what folks are doing.
8) SAY NO! :: Set boundaries (and goals) – for yourself and others.
Once you’ve set your time to engage in social media and your time to be in the studio, respect that! Respect yourself and your creative process by honouring the time that you need to be in that space. Setting those kind of boundaries and saying “no”, not only to yourself, but kindly to others teaches you (and them) that this is important and why you are doing what you are doing. Tell your kids, colleagues and your family that this is time that you need to create or to be on social media. Explain to them why. Trust me – they’ll get it.
9) LIVE & LEARN :: Stop talking and start listening!
I’ve seen amazing articles, blogs, ideas, photos, jokes, thoughts….all by “clicking through” on links in Facebook and Twitter. I’m not in this just to spout out what I think I might know. I’m here to learn and listen. Don’t just let it all pass you by. It might spark a thought, a new friend. Heaven knows we could all use a little more “friend” in our lives. I’ve met some very cool folks through Twitter and social media that I would have never met otherwise. Some I’ve even had coffee with and hosted at my studio. Y’all know who you are and I’m grateful for that in my life. WOW. Now THAT is the power of social media. Expanding your family, meeting new folks, caring about what happens in the world by being connected to others.
Isn’t that what art is all about?