Working as a Creative? Here’s how to use Social Media

We all know that creatives can use social media to promote themselves and their art. But you have to ask yourself...

HOW DO YOU DO IT? 

Well, imagine this... 

You're a social media professional who often goes on trips to Baguio. 

But frankly, the magic is lost. With the traffic, nosy tourists, and rapid urbanization, you long for the days when the City of Pines isn't as congested as it is.

But one night, one of your friends Ardi , invites you to look at a different side of the city. You agree. After all, you're tired of the umpteenth visit to Burnham Park, Mines View, and all the other places tourists congregate. Also, you're sick of looking at your friends dancing to the tune of Tala. 

More...

So after going to the Night Market at Harrison Road, you head to a pre-loved bookstore at a walking distance. Ardi tells you that the owner, Maricar Docyogen, is a friend of his. You're not really into old books, but since you want to see something different, you follow. But once you enter the shop, you're surprised that it's not just any book shop. It’s an art haven! The owner herself made helping artists her advocacy.

Aside from the intriguing selection of used books, the paintings on the walls give it a unique ambiance. 

At the back of the bookshop, you see three individuals. One of them sits as he looks at a painting that he most likely created. The other two are having a discussion. 

The youthful-looking one who looks like he just graduated from university is Tor Sagud. He just published his first book entitled "Igorotak", this is a visual guide to the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras. The one wearing a beret is Gerald Majic Asbucan, the founder of Gripo Comics. They are both comic book artists who have published comic anthologies that relate to the Cordilleras. 

The other artist, the one looking at a framed painting, is Silvino Dulnuan. He spearheaded the creation of what is by far the largest mural in Baguio, the Pamana Mural. Recently, he also leads in the rehabilitation of the city’s iconic Lion's Head in Kennon Road.   

Ardi then invites you to a jamming session at Ki'kan House.

Over a bucket of beer and some tasty food, you watch the musicians and the singers create amazing music.

First comes the band Grupong Daluyon. Their rendition of classic rock staples mixes confidence and relaxation into one powerful sound. You'd be surprised that their vocalist Christopher Donaal is also an accomplished lawyer. He, along with the band, creates something that both soothes and empowers you. 

Next comes, Mantra X Makina. Led by the sultry and sensual vocals of Sensi Garcia, they deliver powerful eclectic vibes that remove the cloying stain of pop music from your mind. And honestly, the sound is both electrifying and chill. 

Finally, out comes July Rain. She's a local singer-songwriter who sings an original creation. You become surprised at the power that comes from this lady's petite frame. You're blown away that such an all-encompassing sound can come out of her. 

You come home to your hotel room, tipsy. Not because of the many bottles of Red Horse Beer you've finished, but because of the art and music that you've experienced. But not just that...

The following day, Ardi invites you to meet some more artists. People like Hermie Bruno, Ged Alangui and Fredi Agunoy. They are accomplished in their craft. They're some of the most excellent individuals you've met in your travels in the city. 

You may not know it, but Baguio City is the first UNESCO Creative City in the Philippines. And the artists and musicians you've met are just a drop in the bucket from the numerous creatives in the city.

In fact, two very important national artists live there. The first is Benedicto Reyes Cabrera. Popularly known as "BenCab", he is arguably the best-selling painter of his generation of Filipino artists. The other one is Kidlat Tahimik - the Father of Philippine Independent Cinema. He currently creates amazing art installations and owns business establishments, like Ili-likha and Oh My Gulay! that are influenced by art. 

In fact, you've stumbled upon another reason to love this city. Because it's not just the elevation, cold weather, and tourist traps. You've seen how endearing the vibe is when it comes to art and culture. 

And because you found another reason to love this city, you tell your enthusiastic friend Ardi that you'll do your best to support him in his advocacy. You want to help artists in his town promote the arts through digital marketing and social media. 

But again, you got to ask...

HOW? 

Now consider this. What you're going to do to help Ardi in his quest will not only support the artists in Baguio city. It will also help creatives who have their work presented online. 

So let's look at how we're going to promote creatives using social media. Starting with... 

THE EXACT NUMBER OF FANS YOU NEED TO GET TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE AS A CREATIVE

Let's face it, a creative not only has to master their craft. The challenge of the creative is this...

Staying faithful to their creative calling while earning enough to make a living. 

Which means they also have to promote themselves. Because in the end, their promotion must build their fan base. Because their fan base will help them make a living. 

Why? 

A fan base not only helps them sell the products of their craft. They also promote the creative in their turn. We can say that fans are one of the creatives reason for being. 

But how many fans do you need? 

According to Kevin Kelly... 

"A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author—in other words, anyone producing works of art—needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living."

So creatives, to live comfortably from the earnings of their art, should find at least 1000 true fans. 

Now don't get me wrong. Getting to Beyonce levels of fandom is a fantastic thing. But the level of having 1000 true fans is much more achievable. And not only that, with the help of social media, it's a possibility that it can be done in a shorter time. 

But what is a true fan? 

Kevin Kelly adds... 

"A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the superdeluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the T-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans."

When all is said and done, a true fan...

  • buys everything you ever made 
  • shares your work with everyone they know 
  • is dedicated to your purpose and your message 

But can you really make a living with just 1000 true fans? 

Well, you can make a living doing what you love, even if you aren't famous. 

Here's an example. Suppose you're a musician who created an album and merchandise for one year. All in all, after costs, you will gain a profit of $100 for merchandise sold to a customer. Now imagine selling this to 1000 customers who consider themselves your true fans. That would give you an income of $100,000! 

Sure, it's not as astounding as an A-lister musician. But it's enough for you to make a living. And what more, your true fans will find ways to bring in more true fans. 

Aspiring vlogger Mariane Mendoza told me this... 

"As someone who only recently started vlogging despite the influx of content creators and mainstream artists on Youtube, I don't feel scared or intimidated. I believe that if I engage well with the people who have been there with me from the start--my family, friends, and colleagues, I know I'll be able to slowly but surely build my following. It's evident by the fact that they are always the ones to share my posts even without me asking them to do that. It's good to have a goal of reaching a million followers, but everyone got to start somewhere. Take care of your first few followers, because they'll help you reach your other "true fans."

This means you have to build up your fan base. And with the help of social media, you can do more than just send letters.

So... 

HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR 1000 TRUE FANS USING SOCIAL MEDIA? 

Well, it goes with three steps...

  1. Understanding Your Identity And Your Audience
  2. Setting Clear Goals 
  3. Leveraging Social Media

Let's start with ...

UNDERSTANDING YOUR IDENTITY AND YOUR AUDIENCE.

You see, one of the challenges a creative must face is keeping his or her identity while being profitable and marketable. A true creative wants to be true to her or himself. They don't want to "sell-out."

That's why understanding who they are as individuals and artists is key. They need to know who they authentically are. Granted that it doesn't happen overnight, they're art will suffer if they don't know who they are and the audience they reach out to. 

Which goes to the next point. They have to know who their audience is. They have to understand what they need and, if possible, position their identity as artists to fulfill those needs. 

If they can, they can use the framework of Blair Warren in his one-sentence persuasion, which states...

"People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies."

Then they would have to ...

SET CLEAR GOALS 

Of course, an artist who knows himself and his audience isn't enough. The creative should also set clear goals that will help in elevating himself in the process. 

This means understanding two kinds of metrics that he or she has to use in setting his goals. 

These are the lagging and leading metrics

Let me give an example to explain this. Suppose you want to sell 100 more copies of your book. That's your goal. This is the lagging metric. This is the end result of your efforts. 

But to get those 100 books sold, you need to do specific activities. It could be a meeting with several partners. Or perhaps creating daily posts in your social media pages. These are leading metrics. These are the efforts that you have to do to get to your goal.

In a nutshell, you have to identify what you want to get and the activities that you have to do to get it. 

Finally, you bring it all together by ...

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Now that you know who you are as an artist and who your target market is, you can leverage social media. 

You have to know that in using social media, you are doing the following activities...

LISTENING. This is where you look at the trends, your audience, and your competitors when it comes to your art. In social media and digital marketing, this is known as market research. 

INFLUENCING. This is where you connect and have a conversation with potential, casual, and true fans. It does not usually mean having one-on-one conversations. It means creating content that will attract, engage, convert, and build loyalty with the people you want to have as fans. In social media and digital marketing, this is content marketing. 

NETWORKING. Nobody ever succeeds alone. Aside from your fans, you need to find people who will become colleagues, encouragers, advocates, and rivals. These people will help you rise up in your field. They will also help you reach the audience that will love your art. This is called making strategic partnerships. 

SELLING. Finally, you have to be able to sell the creations you produced. If you played your cards right in the first three steps, the selling would go smoothly. And who knows, even your true fans will sell for you! 

Of course, you have to consider the platforms to use. 

This could mean the following: 

  • Facebook Profiles and Pages 
  • Instagram 
  • Twitter 
  • LinkedIn 
  • TikTok 

One of my colleagues Yumi, who goes by the handle @itsyumi_, highly suggests using TikTok for creatives. 

At the moment, she has more than 446,000 followers on this platform, which is currently the 4th downloaded app in the world as of 2019. As a content creator, she has done her best to understand the platform and the trends within it. She also knows the mechanics of how to use it. 

She knows the power of promoting a personal brand using this medium. According to her,

"Today is the best time to use Tiktok, though it already has many users. It gets competitive. But guess what, as long as the video is creative, you can get lots of new followers and engagements."

As creatives, you can benefit from this. 

Now, looking back at the creatives of Baguio City, they can, of course, benefit from getting their 1000 true fans. And no doubt, other creatives will too. 

Boaz Moldez

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