The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Social Media with Purpose June 14, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Business relationships,Planning,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:40 am

I was shooting some video the other day for one of my clients, and they remarked on my camera, and that they were intending on getting one. I, of course, was excited, and launched into a  monologue about which camera was the best one. But then I stopped.

“What are you using it for? Business or personal?”

Turns out, my client is looking to buy a camera to shoot video for their business.

Why?

“Everyone is doing it.”

There’s so much pressure right now to jump onto the social media bandwagon. Heck, I’m part of the group of folks that are generating that pressure.

If you have a business, arts-related or otherwise, are you missing out right now if you are not participating in social media?

Yes.

But.

I feel like there is so much pressure to get involved in social media that lots and lots of folks are doing it willy-nilly, and with no purpose or plan in mind. Here’s the thing: it’s actually pretty easy to get into. What’s hard is keeping it up, which is why the internet is littered with abandoned blogs, websites, and Twitter accounts.

Part of the issue here is that because these mediums are so new, it’s hard to know what is going to be the right fit for you until you get into it and test drive it for a while. But part of the problem is also that folks are jumping in, because they know they should, but they are not doing it in a way that is thought out and planned.

Insert shameless plug for my book here.

Also, be aware that some tools will fit better for you than others. I have an active LinkedIn account, with lots of connections, and I check it about twice a month. LinkedIn does nothing for my business. But there are lots of people that use it faithfully and regularly, and find it very useful. For me, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog are the areas where I get the most return, and therefore, put the most work into.

What is it for you? I don’t know. Do some research up front on the different social media platforms, educate yourself as much as you can, create some goals for yourself, make a plan, and then jump in.

And good luck.

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An overview of Facebook: Mashable June 11, 2010

Filed under: Marketing with Facebook,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 12:26 am
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No doubt one of the greatest sources of information on social media on the internet comes from Mashable. In case you haven’t seen it yet, this is a graphic that they had put together for Facebook’s 6th birthday in February. Mark Zuckerberg, by the way, who owns Facebook, is only 20 years older than that.

It’s a really interesting overview of the biggest social media phenomenon going:

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Being and artist and a parent June 9, 2010

At Babz’ memorial service a couple of weeks ago, it was mentioned many, many times how, “her kids were her life.” Babz had three children: Aviv, Orpheo and Jordana, and I think, at times, their lives were a little crazy. Babz was a singer with a band, and her kids went with her.

Babz' family at the memorial service. Wendy D photo

It started me thinking about those of us that choose to be artists and parents. What we sacrifice for our kids, and what we can’t…

I have a deep admiration for Christine Willes. I first worked with this talented actress a few years back when she directed a production of Metamorphoses that took place at Pacific Theatre. I was very happy to hear that Christine is going to be in a production that I am doing publicity for that opens Friday at the PTC Studio: Herr Beckmann’s People. When I first met Christine, I was adjusting to my new status as a single parent, and we had some really great conversations about parenting solo and being an artist. Christine made the choice to continue in the arts and to raise her two children. And she did it–by securing quirky character roles in cult series like Dead Like Me and Reaper. Her kids are now grown, but she is a real inspiration.

I am also very inspired by Rachael Chatoor, someone that I met through Babz, but have become friends with on another, deeper level. Rachael is a singer, performer and mother of two children, 6 and 10. Rachael says:

Rachael Chatoor

My life changed when I had a child because I was no longer living for myself.

I did sacrifice for a few years, and as my children grew as I spent every waking moment seeing to them, but later, I learned that I could honour them best by also living my best, most creative life, by chasing my own dreams and leading by example. I do feel that we may sacrifice too much when we only live to serve our children. If we don’t stop doing this then once they are grown and are out on their own, they will wonder “Why isn’t the world serving me”? and they may not be fully able to chase their dreams. If they are never left alone to fill their own time you rob them of the need to create, they just sit there waiting to be told what to do.

How does she manage as a single parent who is out gigging on weekend nights?
I have a great village, there is one free room in my house and I have given it away to a room mate who exchanges child care for it. I also am lucky to have lots of family who will take the kids if I have out of town shows.
For a slightly different (ie: male!) perspective, I talked to my old friend Bart Anderson. Bart is an instructor in the acting program at VFS, and will star with his old Ryerson buddy, Eric McCormack, in Glengarry Glen Ross at the Arts Club opening July 22. He is also dad to Louisa, and his wife, Hillary, who also works at VFS, is pregnant with their second child. Congratulations, Bart and Hillary!
Here’s what Bart says about parenthood and being an actor:
Life has changed dramatically since Louisa was born… to the degree that I’ve forgotten almost all of it!! Gone are those Friday nights home alone, exfoliating, snackin’ on Doritos, watching a movie and wondering when I’d meet that special gal. My life was ready for an overhaul and I welcomed all of it!!
The struggle to keep alive, financially has amplified, and the focus quickly shifted to creating stability (or the illusion anyway). And the love… there is so much joy and love in my life. That changed how I see it all: a bit more compassion and clarity of purpose.
I don’t do as much of the non-paying work I used to before having a family. I would get involved in things knowing there was no money, for all the reasons we do as actors. I’m more selective now. I love collaborating with friends and the students at VFS, I do these kinds of projects when there is time. Hilary is an actor, director and works in wardrobe as well. and we make sure we continue to do projects we feel passionate about.
How do they juggle childcare? Creatively!
We have Louisa in daycare Monday to Wednesday. Hilary has Thursday off, and I get Friday  off from VFS… we have our weekends and our weeknights to play!!
It can be tough being an artist and having kids. But every single person I spoke to echoed the same sentiment: it’s worth it.
How about you? For those of you out there that pursue an artistic life and have kids, how do you manage it? What have you sacrificed? Do you have regrets?

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WordPress adds Reblog button June 7, 2010

Filed under: Blogging,marketing with blogs — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:46 am
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I was working on a post the other day, and I noticed this:

So, I immediately started doing some research to figure out what this new thing was.

At first, I thought WP was jumping onto the Facebook bandwagon, and making “Like” buttons available to us self-hosted WP bloggers. But it has nothing to do with Facebook (other than the fact that Facebook has now made the “like” thumbs-up stamp of approval the newest, biggest thing).

In order for you to have a “Like” button on your blog, you must have a WP-hosted blog, and you must be signed in to your account. Now, if you are out in the blogosphere and you come a cross a post you really like, you can, well, “Like” it. This feature is akin to “starring” something in your Google Reader–it highlights that post for later. I often “star” posts in my Google Reader that I think I might like to repost or blog about later. Now you can do it without Google Reader, or without having to bookmark that post for later. At a later date, you can simply go to the “Like” menu, and if you pull it down, you can click on “posts I like” and they’ll all be saved up for you there.

The second part of this new feature is that it gives you the ability to repost that post. You simply click on the “Reblog this post” option in the drop-down menu, and WP will repost it to your blog, giving you the opportunity to add your comments.

WordPress is, essentially, helping us WP users to spread the WP love more easily. The Blogosphere has always been based on sharing and reposting, but this new feature may make it even easier to do that.

Only time will tell if it proves popular.

Click here to read the original announcement from WordPress.

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Facebook and the Myth of Privacy–Guest Post by Simon Ogden June 4, 2010

Filed under: Guest post,Marketing with Facebook,social media — Simon Ogden @ 6:22 am

By Simon Ogden

When Facebook began its relentless grind towards establishing itself as the central hub of the internet I was just about as skeptical and reactive to the idea as they came. Despite being what is now commonly called an ‘early adopter’ in the world of social media – in my particular niche of the independent arts world, anyhow – it took me quite a while to start a Facebook account. I had jumped into blogging as soon as I could decide on a topic, and right after that I was tweeting away despite the scorn and derision of those around me who were sure it was just all “I like pie, nom nom nom” and nothing else, but FB seemed to me to be a bit insular. Now that I’m on it I get the use of it, of course, but I still think its worth as a business tool is limited to mostly client and fan support rather than growth and outreach, due to the fact that it remains the one network client best suited to keeping published content – our thoughts, pictures, opinions – reigned in to the smallest amount of audience. Our “friends”. It remains the insular paddock of the internet.

Maybe this is why so many people are losing their minds over the topic of Facebook “privacy” lately. Let’s put some perspective on the matter.

You’ll notice I used quotation marks around both the words “friends” and “privacy” just then. This much-misused literary device is used here not to emphasize, but to denote ironic detachment. This, dear friends, is what the post-modern digital age of instant communication has done to these two words that heretofore described our most dearly-held rights from the early days of our respective childhoods. “Friend” no longer means those seven or eight people that you feel most comfortable around, it also means those 371 people that you “added” to your account. And “privacy”? Well, whatever that term used to mean, it doesn’t quite shoehorn into a life spent a great deal of online.

It is important for everyone who uses a computer in order to access the World Wide Web to get clear on one very stark reality of that choice: nothing, absolutely zero % of what you put onto the thing, is private. Sorry. If someone wants to get information on you badly enough, and you’ve put it on a computer somewhere, they can get it. The internet is, in fact, fueled by accessibility. This, in a nutshell, is what is causing a gigantic wave of panic among some Facebook users when they hear that privacy settings are being changed. Again, and again, and again. I see the backlash everywhere, mostly in my news feed from my Facebook “friends”. “Boo, privacy changes, identity theft, instant personalization, boo, (copy and paste in your status)”, on and on. There was some media attention recently on a group that started a “Quit Facebook Day” movement, (note: it is estimated that 31,000 out of the current 450 million Facebook users quit Facebook on May 31–Rebecca) saying in the opening paragraph of their web site:

Facebook gives you choices about how to manage your data, but they aren’t fair choices, and while the onus is on the individual to manage these choices, Facebook makes it damn difficult for the average user to understand or manage this. We also don’t think Facebook has much respect for you or your data, especially in the context of the future.

I don’t think the person who wrote this has much respect for your ability to understand things, nor for your ability to decide what is and isn’t fair. The site goes on to suggest that if Facebook continues to adapt to the ever-changing rules of online engagement and make changes, then it will make the internet somehow “unsafe”. Elaboration isn’t offered, just the vague assertion that harm will come to you. It’s pretty blatant fear-mongering, but it is a fairly concise summation of most people’s privacy concerns with the site. “We’re not really sure what all these changes mean, but we’re pretty sure they’re Evil. Why can’t they just leave it alone?”

I do not share these concerns. But I had no misconceptions of the reach of my social media presence from the git-go, so that probably helps. It has honestly never occurred to me to put something on the internet that I would be ashamed of, or that would compromise the security of someone I care about. It seems there are a great deal of people whose stress level would be helped by adopting this policy. And they should probably let go of the sense of entitlement that lets them use someone else’s program and then dictate to them how they should operate it. The people behind Facebook aren’t evil, they want to make some money by providing a handy service. The price you pay to take advantage of this service is that they target some ads towards you based on your freely provided information, like pretty much every other company on the planet. That’s it, that’s the extent of their evil plans, yet some people insist on treating it like they’re one step away from coming for our children in the dead of night. Do you really care if the name of the city that you live in is floating around the internet? Or that you like horses? What are these people putting out there that they’re so scared of it falling into the wrong hands?

I believe the very concept of losing control of their personal information, no matter how insignificant or banal, is what they’re terrified of. These people are not ready for the world of new media. The way we deal with information has changed forever, never to return. And it happened very fast; speed is a byproduct of technology, which is now the world’s hottest commodity. We reside in a new age, one built upon a foundation of sharing and collaboration facilitated by electronic networks, and it is built upon the rubble of the old paradigm of hoarding information and a doomed “us against them” aesthetic. We have nothing to compare it to, because information has never been shared like this before, in the history of mankind. If the vehicles of this revolution – like Facebook and twitter and email – make you uncomfortable, opt out. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing just because they’re doing it. Everyone else probably isn’t as worried as you are about somebody overhearing what they say when they’re out in a public place.

Besides, you can always see for yourself how well you, the average user, understands Facebook’s privacy controls.

Simon Ogden is a playwright and blogger (The Next Stage) who currently resides in Victoria, BC. We miss you, Si!

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Emotional Branding June 2, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business relationships,Marketing Ideas,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:30 am

On May 26, I was invited to attend Convergence 2010 Digital Marketing Trends and Tips-an annual conference put on by Cossette Communications, as part of Vancouver International Digital Week.

I was most affected by Marc Gobe’s keynote address, and wanted to share some of his points with you. Marc is the authour of Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands with People, and works with some of the world’s largest corporations to create engaging brands. His business is Emotional Branding.

Marc started by saying that many brands want to force themselves into people’s lives, and we are finding it oppressive. People want authenticitiy: to talk to people inside the company,  behind the brand–they wnat to have a deep emotional connection. In order to build a solid brand, you need to stop pushing and start engaging.

The distance between brands and people is collapsing. In the past, some executive in the upper floors of a huge skyscraper would make decisions about the brand: what it would look like, how it would be advertised. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. Consumers are driving brands. Because of social media, and because of this new era of transparency and connection, we are able to tell companies what it is that we want from their products. It’s very powerful.

People are talking to each other about what products and services they like and don’t like. If you are the purveyor of one of them, you’d better get in on the action, or you are going to get left behind. And it doesn’t have to be that challenging: the social media economy is horizontal, which means that we, as small businesses or artists, even, have the same marketing opportunities as large corporations. In fact, Marc argues, it can be more difficult for larger corporations to adapt quickly, giving smaller businesses the advantage.

How do we engage our audiences emotionally?

  • Keep in mind that we are dealing with an audience of empowered consumers.
  • These consumers are looking for innovation in how we market to them.
  • The new media ecosystem: STOP PUSHING–START ENGAGING.
  • We need to redefine our leadership. In the past, it was a “talk down” approach: forceful, and telling people “you need this, this is good for you.” Now, we need to figure out how to inspire our consumers.  Again, as artists, creativity and inspiration are our stock in trade.

I’m still processing and thinking about all the things that Marc talked about, and I’d like to read his book, as well, so there may be more posts on this topic forthcoming. In the meantime, for more details, you can visit Raul’s Liveblog of the keynote.

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