Social media is necessary for three reasons: showing your value and reach, promoting activities and products, and engagement that creates relationships.
- Showing your value and reach. At its most basic, this would be your numbers of followers, likes, subscribers, people in your circles, etc. The numbers have surface value because they indicate how much reach you could potentially have, and they are considered as an indication of your popularity. A number of these subscribers could be false profiles (spammers who create accounts, people who forget their password and create new accounts while leaving the old accounts in the ether), people who followed you even though they don't know who you are/what you do, and the same one person who has several accounts (aliases, business profiles, etc.). People like seeing these numbers because they're an apparent popularity rating. Your reach extends beyond your immediate circle when you make content public and people share that content with people who aren't already on your social media list. You want to increase your numbers, but you can't stop there.
- Promoting activities and products. If someone hires you to perform in a public show, you are expected to promote that show and help that brand succeed, making the money to cover your fees. If you make widgets, you have to get the word out so people know what you have to offer. (Newspaper ads and printed mailbox fliers are like rotary phones in these modern times.) If you are on social media, you have something to promote.
- Engagement that creates relationships. This is what it's all about - getting people to care about you, your business, your product. You want them to think positively about you. You want to have real, valuable interactions like a real person. Social media fails if it seems like it's being run by robots. You have to engage with followers to create relationships with them. You never know where your next job will come from. If you engage smartly, you create brand ambassadors from your fanbase. These people will bang the drum for you because they think you're special.
Now you know why you need social media. How do you navigate the social media sphere without coming across as a robot or a jerk?
- Be true to your product. Share things that reflect the values and attitudes of your product. If you juggle fire, you can share photos of getting your fire certification from the local fire station, videos of practice sessions, and tidbits about your life as a fire juggler. ("I've singed my hair three times this morning working on my new act. Time for a haircut!") If you make handbags, you can share photos of the raw materials you use, videos of great sewing techniques, and tidbits about your handbag adventures. ("We were asked to create a new messenger bag with interchangeable straps. I think this second prototype will be the winner. Stay tuned!")
- You should post regularly so people who follow you know that you exist, and you should post slices of life. Yes, people want to know about your next show or your new product or your next community outreach activity. More importantly, they want to know about YOU. They want great storytelling and slices of life. Here is a sample:
- Interact with other people and businesses that are in line with what you do. If you make handbags, interact with small businesses that make shoes and clothing designers and models. Interact with boutiques that might consider selling your product, and people who would be potential customers. If you dance, interact with other dancers, instructors, costume designers, producers, and potential audience. Like, favorite, share, and comment on their posts. You don't have to interact with everything they post, but you will have to interact in order to show up on their radar and engage. The goal is to get them to talk back to you. This is how you build social media relationships. Here is a sample:
- Join online groups and tribes where people are talking about the things that align with your brand. Join performers groups in the areas where you perform or want to perform. Join sewing groups. Join outreach groups that support the things that are important to you and your brand. Comment when appropriate, but mostly you should sit back and watch until you feel comfortable saying something. Observe the rules and relationships of the group so you don't put your foot in your virtual mouth your first day in the group.
If you build relationships, you will have people who listen when you have something to promote. Your audience will already like and trust you, so they're more likely to take that next step and support you. Get them to like you so much that they'll part with $20 to buy your calendar or commit to leaving the couch and spending $15 on a ticket to see you perform live.
If you're incredibly introverted and need lots of motivation to post on social media, try this out for starters: two posts per day on every social media outlet you currently have, two likes/shares/comments per day on every social media outlet you currently have. These two posts can be videos, photos, or text posts ABOUT YOU. After you hit those two posts ABOUT YOU, then you can share the event page or flier for your next show. (I know producers will push performers to promote shows. In my experience, they're trying to reach the people who haven't promoted at all without singling them out. If you promote every couple days after posting ABOUT YOU, you'll be fine.)
You're going to be forced to leave your comfortable, introverted shell to have any kind of social media presence. It's called social media, not leave me the hell alone media. It's okay if it takes you a couple hours to like a comment. It's okay if you have instant messaging turned off. You are your own promotional machine, and social media allows you to do that without forcing you to bother putting on pants to get to work