So when I asked for advice on networking in social media, it's no surprise that he had a wealth of information to share, but what struck a chord the most were these five tips on how to effectively build relationships online:
1. Never Sell
"If you push your products and services, you will drive people away," says Bill. Instead, "give information that will help solve their problems, and make them better informed consumers and customers".
When it comes to your art, solving their problems could be as simple as:
- offering decorating tips to best showcase the pieces you create;
- sharing packaging instructions to help your art collectors pack for a move;
- showing them how to dust or care for the art;
- teaching them how to select art for their friends, family, and colleagues;
- easing their concerns about hiring you for commission pieces by walking them through a current commission you're working on;
- providing tips about insuring the art;
- and so on.
2. Listen To What Is Said
"Listen to what your fans are saying," advises Bill. Then "respond by providing the answers and information that they need and want."
It's not enough to send your art buyers to a FAQ page, informing them that the answer to their questions can be found there, you need to let them know that you personally care about them as a buyer, and as a collector. Respond to their concerns with a brief answer, then explain that you provide a more detailed explanation on your FAQ page.
Another thing to keep in mind is that as an artist, you have a good understanding of the materials you use, but your art collectors may not. Take the time to educate them whenever you're asked, "What does that mean?" Because the more informed they are, the more likely they are to appreciate the piece you've created, and the more likely they are to buy instead of trying to "make it themselves" or look for a "cheaper artist".
3. Ask For Interaction
"Asking questions allows your fans to engage with you. Ask for feedback on products, services and company interactions," Bill continues. "It encourages people to share and it creates a give and take environment."
Asking questions doesn't have to be intimidating, or show vulnerability. In fact, questions can range from the simple, "What do you think of the piece?" to the more complicated, research based question like "When buying art for the favorite person in your life, what do you look for?"
Other types of questions you can ask are:
- If you were to order a custom piece of art today, what would make the buying process easier?
- Did you know that you can get low-cost reproductions of my art at ____?
- What is the one thing that you hate about buying art?
- What is the one thing that you love about buying art?
- Three things every art collector should have in their collection are ___, ____, ___. Can you think of anything I've missed?
Just remember that it's not enough to simply ask a question, you need to be willing to respond to the answers provided… to show that you're taking a genuine interest in what they have to say and that you're not simply asking a question to fill space.
4. Include Images And Video
"Facebook changed to the timeline format because images and video matters," says Bill. "Telling stories with visuals is far more effective and memorable, so if you want to improve your chances of having your posts liked, shared, or commented on, include an image."
There's no rule that says you can't recycle information, so go ahead and share the same photos you shared on your art blog in your social media networks. After all, there's a good chance that a good portion of the people in your social networks haven't even seen your art blog.
But if you want to share something new, pull out some of those photos that never made it to your art blog and use them on your Facebook page to create new—and never before seen—content.
5. Have Fun And Be Consistent
"Social media is about sharing and discussing… about being social," says Bill. You don't have to be all business all of the time, "it will drive people away." But you should be consistent, and post regularly, so that people will want to come back and continue to interact with you.
Follow these five tips and you should have no problem building a loyal fanbase that communicates with you on a regular basis and recommends your art to their friends.
© Alyice Edrich, All Rights Reserved. www.alyiceedrich.com
* This article first appeared on The Dabbling Mum eMagazine.