The Art of the Business

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

The Social Network October 6, 2010

I went to see The Social Network last night. Why not, right? It’s a movie about how Facebook got its start, and Facebook is a huge part of my life these days.

But this post is not a movie review. Nor is it a discussion about how much of the film was fact and how much was fiction.

For me, the story begins on Friday night, when Aaron Sorkin, the film’s writer and director, appeared on The Colbert Report. Sorkin confessed that he doesn’t use Facebook, and then said I think socializing on the Internet is to socializing what reality TV is to reality.

Click on the screenshot for the link to take you to the video

I get it. Facebook has certainly changed the way we interact with each other. The question is, is it for the worst?

Certainly, there have been tons of stuff in the news that might support this. Here in BC, there was a recent incident where photos of a young girl who was being sexually assaulted were posted on Facebook. The question that needs to be asked is, how did the person who posted those possibly come to the conclusion that that was cool?

Are we exchanging quality relationships for quantity? Is it better to have 2,000 friends on Facebook, or 200 with whom you are able to adequately interact with?

I have been really vocal on my position on this. As a single parent, and someone who works alone, Social Networking is a life-saver. I love to interact with people, I need it, in fact. But because of the nature of my work and life, the folks I get to see the most are my son and my cats. I get to “check in” with my friends in a virtual way.

This week I had a very powerful expereince. I got to meet Kate Foy in person. I’ve know Kate for two years, and we met via Twitter. We have worked together (virtually) on the World Theatre Day Blog, and had many, many conversations via email, Twitter, and Facebook about theatre and the life of an artist. On Saturday afternoon, Kate and I, along with Lois Dawson, had that conversation around my dining room table with coffee and cupcakes.

That is a meeting that, without Twitter, and without me being on Twitter, would have never been able to happen, and it was an amazing experience.

So, what do you think? Do you think that social networking is making our relationships more superficial? Or is it exactly the opposite? I look forward to continuing the discussion with you in comments below.


Networked Blogs December 4, 2009

As all of you regular readers (thanks, btw!) know, I like to write quite often about technical tools, gadgets and websites that can help make our lives and businesses easier.

The latest one I’m enamored of is Networked Blogs. Introduced to me by Mary Melinski, Networked Blogs is a Facebook application widget that imports your RSS feed onto your Facebook personal profile or business Fan page. Not only can people read your latest blog post, they can use Facebook as an alternate RSS feed, and be updated every time you publish a new post. I love it, because a. it saves me work, and b. it’s introducing my blog to a new audience.

I have created two screencasts to show you how to use this tool for yourself.

Part 1

Part 2

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How to connect your business to others on Facebook November 11, 2009

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Marketing with Facebook — Rebecca Coleman @ 10:58 am
Tags: ,

I recently learned a cool little trick on Facebook that I wanted to share with you.

You can now connect your business’ fan page to other business’ fan pages. You do this by becoming a fan of their page. I created a little “how-to” video. Click here to watch it.

Thanks to @nickkeenan for this one.

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Social Nettiquette September 25, 2009

Filed under: Business relationships,Marketing with Facebook,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:34 am
Tags: ,

Last week, I did a guest post on The Art Biz Blog. Alyson Stanfield has a very successful blog that, like mine, focuses on the business of being an artist, although hers is more geared towards visual artists, while my specialty is theatre. You can read my guest post here.

As a result of doing this guest post, my blog was introduced to a new group of people who hadn’t heard of me before. Those people visited my website or my about page, and a bunch of them followed me on Twitter, or asked to friend me on Facebook.

I think.

I’m not entirely sure, because I find myself in a situation that requires a new-age Miss Manners. You see, since last week, I’ve gotten a bunch of friend requests from people that I don’t know, and have no friends in common with. I have no problem being friends with people who found me through my blog, but I have a strict policy about not being friends with strangers. Even if I’ve never met the person, I need to know who they are before I allow them to be my friend. This is just due to the personal nature of Facebook; I use it for dual purposes. I have pictures of Michael on there that are meant for his grandma, but I also do a lot of business.

So, here’s my suggestion: when asking someone to be your friend on Facebook, take a minute and write that person a little note saying how you know them, even if it is a virtual connection. My feeling is, your friend request will be accepted a lot faster.

Picture 1

Another solution to this problem would be for me to start a fan page for my blog. That would clearly separate the business from the person.

Does anyone know if Miss Manners is hiring?

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More Facebook updates September 14, 2009

Filed under: Marketing with Facebook — Rebecca Coleman @ 9:46 am
Tags: , ,

I gotta hand it to the Facebook people–they are listening, and they are trying to keep up. You may have noticed that FB is looking a little different these days–on Sept 5, they went through yet another redesign.

Over the last little while, they’ve been introducing more and more features to help people who have businesses to better connect with their clients and potential audience.

Facebook to Twitter:

While many Twitter applications allow you to post both to Twitter and to your Facebook status, now Facebook allows you to post to your Facebook status and Twitter, if you have a fan page for your business. Click here for the link.

@ Replies on Facebook:

I’ve noticed people using the @ reply (which is standard on Twitter) on Facebook, as well. It doesn’t work in the same way–if you use the @ on Twitter, Twitter lets you know that someone has directed a comment at you. Facebook does not do this. If you want to have a conversation with someone, you basically have to monitor it yourself. However, Mashable reported last week that you soon will be able to @ people on Facebook. Click here to read the article.

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The loves and limits of Facebook, Pt 2 June 10, 2009

Monday’s post was about setting up a group for your business on Facebook. Today, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of creating a Fan Page.

Why a Fan Page?

In the grand scheme of things, a Fan Page is probably much better for business than a Group. First off, you can really distance your personal self from your business on Facebook. Any emails or invites that you send out from your group will be specifically from you, and have your photo attached. Any emails or invites sent from the Fan page will come from the name of your Fan page, and the icon will be whatever image you choose for your Fan page. The second great advantage that a Fan page has over a group is that you are not limited by the number of fans you can have, whereas a group will limit you to 5,000 (like personal friends). Fan pages are indexed by Google (groups are not) and they also have metrics build in, so you can view your page view stats. All pretty useful stuff if you have a business (and if you are Facebook, helpful to sell PPC ads).

fan page

Creating a Fan page:

Start by clicking on the “Applications” menu in the lower left-hand corner. Now click on the option marked “Ads and Pages.” In the upper menu of that page, click on the link for “pages,” and then look for an oval that says “+ create page.”

Click here for a step-by-step tutorial.

Once your page is up and running, you can add things to it, similar to adding widgets to your blog, to customize it, and allow for a better experience while your clients are on your page. For example, you can add a discussion board, your Flickr stream, etc.

Once your page is up and running, you need to get people interested in “becoming a fan.” You can invite your own personal friends in a similar way as with setting up a group (except it’s called “Suggest to friends”), and you can, the same as groups, create events to which you can invite the members of the Fan page. However, it is more difficult to do bulk invites with Fan pages than it is with Groups. You should use the URL of your page on your website, blog, and outgoing email signature, as well, to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to connect with you.

Business applications:

As limited as I know Facebook can be, I still see it being very useful as a business application. If you don’t have a blog (and even if you do!), it is a great place for people in your community to connect. They can post comments on the wall, connect with other people who like your business, and it gives you the opportunity to be in touch with them, and let them know about upcoming events. This is all quite painless and doesn’t take up much time, if you have already done the prep work and created the infrastructure. As long as you are giving them good stuff, and reasons to come back and check, they will. And, knowing that 200 Million people (and potential clients) are currently on Facebook makes its potential nearly unlimited.

Ugly vs. Vanity URLS

Facebook just announced yesterday that, as of June 12, you will be able to have a vanity URL. Let me give you an example: here is my own personal profile URL on Facebook: Ugly, right? I could never say to someone at a networking event, “look me up on Facebook, I’m” There are ways (mostly using a redirect) to make your URL more customized and pretty on Facebook, but up to now, it’s been only in the realm of those who are fairly technically inclined (which I am not). As of June 12, however, I, along with everyone else, will be able to have a Facebook URL that will be similar to their Twitter URL:

Thanks for listening, Facebook. Or being intimidated by Twitter, whatever works!

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The Loves and Limits of Facebook, Pt 1 June 8, 2009

It’s been a while since I wrote a post on Facebook. Simon and I have been working with one of our clients lately, and that work has lead to much research on the limitations of what Facebook can do. We wanted to share some of our findings with you, because this information appears to not be widely available. When I sat down to write this post, I quickly discovered that it was too much to cover in just one post, so today’s post will focus on Facebook Groups, and Wednesday’s post will focus on Facebook Fan Pages.

Facebook is not set up for business

Here’s the greatest limitation of Facebook: of all the social networking  sites out there, it is the most social. What that means, is, that as a method of keeping in touch with your old high school friends, your college roommate, or your kid’s grandma, it’s the best.  It has morphed and changed to help people with business, and is, to some degree, successful in that regard. But there are still many limitations, the most major one of which, is, you can’t really be on Facebook, unless you have a personal profile.  Many people in business that we work with don’t want  to have a personal  profile, they only want a page dedicated to their business. It is possible to do with a fan page, but more about that in a later post.

Starting a group

I regularly create group pages for my clients. If they are planning on doing more than one theatre production, I recommend it. If you are not planning on having a series of events, then the group is probably not the right tool for you. A fan page may be better suited.

To create a group, go down to the left-hand bottom menu on Facebook, and click on the icon that looks like two people. This will take you to the application to create a new group. The first page is basic information, the second page is website URL and image for your facebook icon, . Next, you go through your own personal contacts and invite people to join the group. ONLY invite people that you think might be interested in joining, don’t spam all of your friends. Give that a week or two, to allow people to check thier invites and accept or ignore your invitation, then reassess where you are at. It’s really important to start this process well in advance (a couple of months if you have it) of your event.

WTD group


Next, reassess. How many people do you have in your group? If you have over 100, you are getting there. If you still have under 100, you need to do some more work. Put a link to the group on your website, or send out an email to your newsletter list inviting them to join. It might help to sweeten the pot with an incentive–a draw for free tickets or something of the like. You have to prove that you are going to be offering value through your Facebook group. It can’t just be some dead group that a bunch of people will join, and then forget.

If you still need to build up your numbers, send emails to key people in the group, asking them if they wouldn’t mind going through their own personal friend lists and asking people that they think might be interested to join. This can help to boost your numbers in a short amount of time.

Post your event

Now you’re ready to post your event. Because you created the group, you are its administrator. You will see a menu on the right with a bunch of options, one is “Created related event”. The first screen will take you through all the nitty-gritty: times, dates, a short blurb, etc. The second screen will allow you to upload a photo or image, and set security settings (I usually disable the “allow members to upload photos and videos” option, although you want them to be able to post on the wall. Use your own judgment for your specific event.) The third screen is where the magic happens. If you scroll down to the bottom, you will see a button that says “Invite members of (group)”. Because you have done your prep work, you can now invite every member of your group (whom you know are already interested in what you are doing, otherwise they wouldn’t have joined) to your event.

This feature is specifically the one great advantage that creating a facebook group has over creating a fan page.

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State of the Union: Social Networking March 23, 2009

Okay, so I’m no Guy Kawasaki. I’m not even close to Seth Godin.  But some interesting things have happened over the last few weeks, and I wanted to share them with you.

imagesFirst off, Twitter just celebrated its third birthday. Originally used as a device for co-workers in the same office to talk to each other, Twitter began in March, 2006, at a company in San Francisco called Odeo. At last count, Twitter users worldwide are thought to be somewhere in the range of 6 Million.

facebook_badgeSecond, if you are a Facebook user (Facebook is the number 1 social media application in the world, right now), you’ll notice that they have rolled out a new interface. This is partly because Facebook tried to buy Twitter in November last year, and was unsuccessful. So, they have changed their interface to be more Twitter-like.

myspaceThird, I have given a couple of talks on social networking over the last couple of weeks, and I have been asked the question “what about My Space?” My response is always the same: if you are a musician, you should have a My Space page if you are a musician, otherwise….

What does all this tell us? Well, first of all, Facebook would not have tried to buy out Twitter, unless they saw them as some kind of threat. Their current redesign is further proof that they are worried about Twitter’s rapid growth. My Space is a good example of this. In June 0f 2006, My Space was the most popular social networking site on the internet, but it was eclipsed by Facebook in April 2008. My Space is now primarily used by musicians, which I think it is perfect for. Facebook, meanwhile, is sweating over Twitter’s growing popularity.

I have talked to a lot of people about Twitter over the last few weeks. Most people say the same thing–they feel like they should be on Twitter, because it’s so popular, and they hear about it all the time, but I also hear that people are unsure what to do when they join. Often they feel overwhelmed by the amount of noise going on, and are unsure about Twitter’s value to them.

Whenever I get a new follower, I like to check out their Twitter page, and if they seem like someone I have something in common with, I’ll follow them back. I’ve been super busy these last two weeks, so yesterday, I batched the nearly-100 new followers I’d gotten over the last couple of weeks. When I look at someone’s profile to see if I want to follow, I’m looking for a few specific things: a picture, a fully-filled out profile, a website. I will also glance at their last few tweets, and see if any of them present value: links, blog posts, information.

It was a bit of a wake-up call: not that many passed the test. It started me wondering: if someone stumbled over my Twitter page, and judged it on my values, would they follow me? Maybe. Maybe not.

Twitter is young, and there has been a lot of talk about how to take it to the future. Monetization, for example. For me, it’s my goal to use my social networking ability and my skills as a marketer to help people to begin to create a social media marketing plan for themselves or thier business, because this is an area that I see is sadly lacking.

So stay tuned… plans are in the works. And you’ll be the first to know.

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Facebook is your friend September 28, 2008

Originally published on April 30, 2008 on The Next Stage)

You could not possibly be a bigger holdout than I was with Facebook. I resisted joining for a really long time. I thought “why do I need yet another time-waster when I’m online? I already check my email obsessively, do I need to have the temptation to be checking Facebook all the time now?” But, like most other people, finally I gave in. And yes, spent way too much time at the beginning updating my profile and searching for friends. But then I started to realize what a powerful marketing tool Facebook was, and now I use it at least half the time for that purpose.

In case you’ve been in a cave this past year without television, radio, internet or newspapers, Facebook is an online social networking tool. It’s free—basically what you do is sign up and get yourself and account. Then you get your own page, or profile, where you can put information about yourself, what colour socks you like, what you had for breakfast, what your dog had for breakfast. Then, you create a network by asking people to be your friend. Once someone is your friend, you can message them, send them virtual gifts, URLs, that kind of thing. Facebook also has groups and events that you can create or join. If you create an event or a group, you are its administrator, and that gives you the ability to message all the members of the group. It’s fantastic stuff.

A few words of practical advice about Facebook. First off, I wouldn’t encourage you to create a group unless you are pretty famous, or you have something quirky going on (I belong to “If Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea kissed me, I’d be a happy woman”, for example). You can also create fan pages, but again, I’d steer away from that unless you are Great Big Sea, or a decent-sized corporation.

What I do is create an event for all of my clients. Because my work tends to be rooted in dates (show runs, etc), creating events is perfect for me. It allows me to upload all the event information, pictures, and videos, URLs for media stories when they come out, and I am able to message anyone who said they are or might be coming.

If it’s your first time creating an event, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Be really, really careful about your dates. While you can go back and edit a lot of things on your event page, the dates you cannot.
2. Make your event accessible to the “global” Facebook community. I once made it available just to the Vancouver network, thinking that anyone from out of town wasn’t going to come to see the show anyway. But not everyone (even people who live in Vancouver) belong to the Vancouver network. Tricky…
3. When you invite people to your event, encourage them to invite their friends.
4. Know that only your opening night (or the first date you have on your event) will show up in the updated information on your Facebook account. After that, if someone wants to find your event, they will have to search for it. However, you can still message people during the run of the show to let them know it is half over, closing Saturday, etc.

Facebook is good for other kinds of artists, too. Musicians and filmmakers can upload videos, photographers and visual artists can make photo albums of their work. Dancers and actors can upload demos and trailers.

A word of caution: as with everything on the internet, be careful about how much personal information you include. Don’t have your home address up there. A lot of people I know don’t even have their email address. Make your privacy settings high, so that people have to be your friend (ie: authorized by you) to see anything on your profile.

Facebook is a lot of fun. But it can also be a great way of getting the word out, and building a buzz… And yes, I will be your friend, but only if you mention The Art of the Business.

So, until next time, here’s to more bums in seats everywhere…

For a downloadable or streaming audio podcast of this article, click here.