Ok, first of all I apologise, as this article title may have been a little misleading. You see I’m not talking about the kind of procrastination where you stare into space for an hour wondering how does the Iron Man suit fire it’s repulsor rays without any buttons to press? (-click to tweet this) Nor am I talking about the kind of procrastination where you “accidentally” watch an entire season of Lost in a day. I’m talking about a very specific type of procrastination, but one that nearly all of us are guilty of. I’m talking about Facebook. And it’s not just Facebook- in fact ANY kind of social media interaction has the potential to steal hours of our working lives away every single day! But it doesn’t have to be wasted time. There is a way you can can get your social media fix and still be working toward landing your next client.
On almost every type of social media website there is an option available to set up a profile for your business. On sites like Facebook and Google+ your have ‘pages’ that can be set up and linked to your personal account. On a lot of sites you still need to set up a whole new profile but having separate personal and professional profiles is a very achievable possibility as many of them allow you to ‘switch’ accounts once you’ve logged in. By having a profile for your website on these social media sites you’re able to achieve four things:
Now for the purpose of keeping this article at a reasonable length, I’m not going to go through how you can integrate your business into each separate form of social media (because there are literally hundreds!), instead I’m going to focus on a few of the key websites where you can hopefully get the idea and apply it to whichever form of social media you prefer.
The whole thing about being social is that it’s a two way street. You need to listen to the people talking to you and engage with them. But you also need something to say that’s relevant to them, and that can be the kicker. People are checking their social media profiles all day long, I know I’m constantly getting updates on my iPhone from Facebook telling me when someone likes my post or tags me in a picture. The fact is that people expect to be stimulated on a daily basis by their social media. Unlike blogs or newsletters where people can get burnt out by too much content, social media specialises in bite size chunks of information that can be digested quickly and often by your audience. So here’s the main problem you’re probably going to come across with social media, “how do I get that much content?”. Well the simple option is to post about stuff that you find interesting, post links to cool articles that you’ve read online or share posts from other social media sites that relate to your business. This is good because it means you’re building your social media profile as a ‘one stop shop’ for all the top news in your field and visitors will know that by keeping an eye out for your updates they’ll be getting informed on all things design related. To stay up to date with Graphic Design news, I like to follow sites like Design Week, Serial Thriller and From up North, and when I see something I like, I write a quick post about it or throw in a link.
I like knowing that this artists isn’t a demigod who simply ushers these amazing artworks in for a celestial realm.
Now the down side to this is that all you’re really doing here is promoting other people, when the whole point of it was to get YOU noticed right? Well this is why I have a folder of what I call ‘web cards’. Now web cards are simply little pictures of my work (no more than 900 pixels wide) that I collect throughout the course of any project I’m working on. Now I’m not talking about finished projects here, that’s what your portfolio is for. What I’m talking about is stuff like pencil sketches, inks, logo concepts, basically anything that your audience wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to see (obviously you need to check this over with the client, as they may well not want people seeing works in progress- I generally make it a rule only to post things once the project has been completed and delivered). The idea behind this is that it means that every single project you undertake can offer you a tonne of these web cards, and from you’re audiences perspective they’re getting some exclusive content! I personally like to follow artists on sites like Deviant Art, and one of the main things I like about it is that I get the chance to see their pencil sketches. I get to see when things maybe didn’t work out for them and I like that. I like knowing that this artists isn’t a demigod who simply ushers these amazing artworks in for a celestial realm. It’s reassuring to know that they start in the exact same way I do, and I feel closer to them for knowing that. So like I said, I have a folder full of these web cards (I actually keep mine in my dropbox as it means I can update from anywhere) and try to put at least five images up on my social media profiles every week, along with a brief description and that all important link to my website.
Facebook is brilliant for businesses as they let you create a specific page for your business and link it to your personal account. What you can also do with this business profile though is like other designers and design news pages and create a newsfeed for your business that is a constant source of information that you can repost to your followers! Another cool feature on Facebook is the ‘apps’ that you can install on your pages. On the Hunting Town Facebook page I have a couple of really cool apps, one called Network Blogs, that automatically updates my profile when I publish a new blog post and a Newsletter Signup app that lets visitors sign up to my mailing list! You can also sign back into your personal profile and then tag any uploads you’ve made to your clients profiles so that all their contacts will be able to see the work you’ve been doing for them (but make sure you get permission first!).
Twitter is very much based in the now, and doesn’t really offer much by way of a back catalouge of images that followers can breeze through, but it’s still worth using. A cool trick I use for the Hunting Town Twitter account is including hash tags (#) to anything that may be relevant to that particular image. It may not be something that’s trending at the moment, but you never know who it may end up reaching.
Pinterest is still pretty new, but it’s audience is getting bigger and bigger and the fact that it’s heavily image based really lends itself to showing off your design work. This is really where the procrastination element comes into play as one of the best ways to gain followers is to repin interesting stuff. For the Hunting Town Pinterest account I have a whole heap of boards for every aspect of design work that I’m interested in a spend a bit of time every week keeping them updated. I also have a board called Hunting Town Stuff that is full of work we’ve produced at Hunting Town (including the webcards). The thinking here is that people will see all the cool pins we have of everything and click to follow all boards, this way they’re getting updates on the cool stuff we’ve found, but also on the work that we’ve been doing.
Instagram is something I’ve only just tried to incorporate into the Hunting Town social media network, so it’s still very much in it’s infancy. What I have found though is that it can be a massive time saver for updating to other social media websites. Before you post an image to your Instagram feed, there is an option to share the post with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr, which effectively means that if you import one of your web cards and apply no effects to it, you can post it to five social media sites at once! Although, the downside is that your image will be restricted to a square aspect ratio.
You’ll have to accept the fact that some days, whether it’s due to a holiday or your mad busy with work, you just won’t be able to post
Down time is something that will inevitably occur. If you don’t have a body of staff who can take turns to keep your social media sites updated then you’ll have to accept the fact that some days, whether it’s due to a holiday or your mad busy with work, you just won’t be able to post. A nifty tool I’ve found though is something called Hoot Suite that allows you to post to multiple social networks at once. Now it only works with a few of your social media sites (mainly Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr) but you can actually set it to post stuff as specific times. This way, if you know you’re going to be away for a week you can rack up a load of posts all at once and set them to go out once a day until you’re back.
“But what about me!?” I hear you cry, “what about my profile and my friends”. Well, there’s no reason you can’t like and share your businesses posts. I know loads of business owners that do this and it’s nice to see people passionate about their work. I know I field a lot more questions from personal friends who are interested in what I do, than I do on my business profiles. And after all, at the end of the day, you’re network of friends is just as good as anyone else’s. So go ahead and post stuff of on your personal accounts as well! It couldn’t hurt to check out your buddies holiday pictures whilst you’re there though right? Ooo- look! Jon had a new baby, excuse me whilst I go take a look at the photos!Photo Credit to Jan Charles Linus Ekenstam