Social Media

Social Media is related to art for me because it is how I discover new avenues in which to write about things in my blogs, meet others, and in doing so, help promote my business.

I hosted the EWES (Enterprising Women Entrepreneurs) — my business group last week. It had been rescheduled due to the snow. The fact that we had a large group despite the inconvenient travel means (the snow pile up is still limiting parking on my street) is a testament to how traditional networking is important and maybe folks were just going stir crazy being housebound. I didn’t fully count but there was a large group (for my house) of talented ladies in attendance, including Mary Douglas Drysdale and Jennifer Sergent (DC by Design), both of whom had not been to my home before so I was trying to be more tidy than usual.

After the introductions, where there was a lot of valuable feedback for what everyone was doing, there was limited time for me to give my talk on Internet Networking: Social Media and How it Can Help Your Business. Fortunately, I had notes and here they are summarized. Hopefully they will be a useful foundation to follow + in posting them here, this article also helps to link all of these avenues together. Making the connection is important. I will continue to update as we add more links.

Initial Steps to Internet Social Networking & Web Presence for Business:
• Think every bit of printed marketing material can go digital — Static (becomes) => Dynamic
• Actual physical presence through networking events => Social Online Networking through Social Media

It’s all about sharing, discovery, learning from others –>exposure
1) Business card=> website & pic wk portfolio, customer reviews > direct contact
2) Meet & Greet & Cocktail parties => Facebook Fan Page
3) Resume => Linkedin (professional Facebook)
4) Twitter for business (see below) — like blogging on speed
5) YouTube — way to be personal & instruct. demos — post your work in action

Within each of these TOP 5 online social media outlets, are tips for better social interaction, exposure, and larger marketing pools than just present physical networking provides.

––Using my website, blog, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. as an example for all these points below—-

1) Website (www.casartcoverings.com) + (www.ashley-spencer.com)
Google Services: Profile*, Local, Merchant Center, AdWords, AdSense, Alerts
Google Analytics — tracking and monitoring and SEO (search engine optimization => getting known on the Internet and getting first search ranking)

Slipcovers for Your Walls Blog (casartcoverings.com/casartblog)

Blogmakes your rather static website even more dynamic with a minimum of 3 posts or more a week to substantially drive and increase traffic to your site. This takes time and commitment, so don’t jump in unless you’re willing to do the research & commit. (Resource for first time bloggers  = About.com)

casart_social-butterfly_ArtIsEverywhere

• Brand yourself *with a favicon that shows up in the browser url icon (ours is a our blue butterfly)
• Tracking Plugins: Sitemeter, Alexa, Technorati, Blog Catalog (Blog Rankings), BlogTopSites — further track and help you monitor dynamic blog and increase SEO and help you get found through internal searches.
RSS feed so people can subscribe and also email subscription box
• Links to other blogs (Blogroll) + within posts thru text and pictures
• Use Trackbacks w/in each post to let others know you’ve linked them
• Comment on other blogs (using your blog url and website email)
Link Within installs software to link each posts to visuals of other posts
Sociable = icons or widget/ buttons that folks can click on to tag/post to be recognized on other Social Networking Sites (too many to list: StumbleUpon, Delicious, Kaboodle, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Digg, Reddit, Sphinn, Newsvine, Mixx, YahooBuzz, …..over 95+
Google Friend Connect — *uses a gravatar (avatar icon) to visibly follow blogs, get noticed, see who others are following, follow them; they will follow you
eBlogger account + others to show your gravatar (visual) when commenting

Being in the Interior Design Market we’ve also joined /added these Social Networking sites:

Houzz — Flicker for Interior Design Fanatics

Modenus — new site for Design Sources to Inspire. We’re under Brand for Wall & Window Decor

Olioboard — new site for expressive mood boards to design, discover, & uncover the mood of a space. We’re under the Wallpaper category

Archello — new site for your connection to Architecture

Curbly — DIY
Yelp — kinda like Angie’s List for nationwide businesses
Sample Board Online and Kaboodle — both allow interactive style boards and product tagging
Kudzu — like an Angies’s list for the home merchant market
ApartmentTherapy.com — Interior Design Commentary covering 6 markets:
Decorati — for Interior Designer match ups

Design Bump — bookmarking site for design

HomePros — yelp + decorati

Stylehive — Connecting Stylish people with Home & Fashion

Note: through my ArtIsEverywhere blog for www.ashley-spencer.com/ArtIsEverywhere/:
• a marketing co. in Chicago wants to hire me as their art agent for series of upcoming events for their hip client. Who knew they’ve been reading my posts?
• A lifestyle writer has contacted me to be a part of her book on murals.

2) Facebook Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/casartcoverings)

Our Group Page, on the other hand is fine but is outdated because we were primarily using our (FB) Fan Page for recent news http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=57790034921&ref=ts
• Need to have an account and personal and/ or business Page in order to administrate site. My sister, Casart coverings partner and Marketing Coordinator, set this up through her account and business page. I do not manage this, as I do not have a Facebook account. (There is just so much one person can do.)
• Where most folks will find you beyond Internet searches & Google
• Doing this allows anyone to become your “fan” and follow your posts
• The more fans the more popular and more people want to fan you
• Typically this is reciprocal — scratching each other’s backs
• Post photos and blog mentions + Twitter automatically — in one click–>Facebook
• When you fan other entities — all shelter magazines, you’ll hear news here 1st
• Way to get their updates and yours to them, as Facebook updates regularly

How to do it:
-Develop a FB Page NOT a Group. You want Fans not Members.
-A Page will allow fans a Group will not
-Suggest your Page to ALL of your friends
-Ask them to do the same with their friends
-Post as many pics as possible — visuals draw & keep interest.
-Fan other pages through your Page and they might reciprocate
-Respond to all comments left on your page => fans like this interaction
-Link your FB account to your Twitter account.
-Anything you post on FB gets tweeted => and saves time (Applications>Pages)
-Place an Ad on FB
-If possible use the gravatar/ icons for each social network. These visuals stand out + brand.

3) Linkedin
http://www.linkedin.com/companies/casart-coverings-llc
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyspencer
• Professional version of Facebook
• Create Individual and a Company profile
• Post job experience on personal page, make public (excludes contacts)
• Area to post what you’re working on + Facebook, Blog + Twitter posts
• Updates get sent to all contacts weekly
• Connect with others you know, get introduced to their contacts
• Search for others in your field
• Search and learn about companies
• Search and post jobs
• Join groups through other contacts’ info and searches and comment in & follow forum discussions — this has been the most beneficial resource. Through it, and requests to link, I’ve been connected to a wallpaper rep and distributor.
We had a surge in our website traffic recently due to 2 discussions, one on Architects & Interior Designers asking, “What part of the Design Industry are you in?” This thread was started in 2008 and has over 350 responses,  all responses that I can search for marketing and since I posted, they now know about us. 2nd discussion on Interior Design asked if anyone was using Twitter to post their links so we could all follow one another, which we are doing 77 comments in 2 months and still going strong. I get notices when anyone posts something new. I send these to my sister who follows them on Twitter and Facebook and is able to review their contacts through these vehicles.

4) Twitter (http://twitter.com/casartcoverings)
• Allows you to “tweet” short phrases & links to bring attention to your business
• You can “follow” numerous others and they can follow you — bringing popularity and curiosity and exposure to your business.
• You can tweet others, even those you may not know by commenting on their posts. This is a less formal way to get introduced, directly.
• You get up-to-the-minute mentions of others are doing — important for us learning about what is going on with magazines and designers. It’s the “inside scoop” to what may have been otherwise a private email or phone conversation between parties “in the know.”
• These tweets can be set up automatically so they are 16 character teasers to your blog, which then gets folks to your website.

How to do it:
-Sign up for an account
-Tweet at least every other day
-Post urls (website addresses: http://….)
-Follow many and they might reciprocate
-Don’t tweet meaningless things – followers will drop you
-Try and use your actual brand name in your tweets
-Retweet something that you like.
-This tweets another tweet that your followers would like to see.
-Accept ALL followers except those that are clearly not in your industry or are in the Porn industry.
-Some follow just for numbers so be wary

5) YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/CasartCoverings)
• Even bigger now that Google took it over
• Where folks go to learn and or be entertained
• Film and post demonstrations, interviews, humor — things to help explain and personalize your business.
• Folks will see in a search + put link on website
• Folks can comment on what they see and rate your videos if you choose
— option to review before these are posted
• Tracking to see how many folks watch, their dynamic (by what the watch) & from what location they watch your video — all helps with marketing

A few other social networking sites to mention/ how they work:
Good overview explanation video: http://socialcreeper.com/
1) Wikipedia & WikiAnswers — we answer questions and this gives our url link exposure
2) Issuu — interactive catalog viewing of files. We have used on our Press page where folks can comment/rate and bookmark for others to see.
3) Delicious — interactive bookmarking site:
4) Stumble Upon — works the same way but for any media and a great way to “stumble upon” new discoveries based on what you find and like in your tagged items and subjects of interest. Can connect with others this way as well
5) email circulation and eNewsletters can be shared. Use your website+ as your signature
7) Google Buzz w/gmail = their version of Facebook. Like twitter w/followers
8.  Surveys can be posted and encourage participation (survey monkey)

9) Digg — social bookmarking site

For my art business, I use:
1) ArtSpace through FauxForum = Like MySpace for artists
2) Photobucket = Sharing photo site and way to post these on ArtSpace
3) Slide.com = Videos from photos and to post on Artspace and share

Photos:
1) Picasa (Google based/ Casart photos)
2) Flickr (Yahoo based/ Casart photos)

Music:
1) MyFlashFetish — to search and add songs and share with others if you wish
2) SingingFish — same as above, another search vehicle and can post on ArtSpace
3) Fileden — has free storage for these MP3’s and feeds into ArtSpace
4) LastFM — great way to locate new music based on what others are finding
5) Pandora — another social media site for music lovers

Literary:
1) LibraryThing.com — way to save and share books
2) Amazon.com — writing reviews gains you exposure
3) Google Reader

Other Resources:
1) Social Media Tools 101: http://www.interactiveinsightsgroup.com/blog1/socialmediabeginnersguide/social-media-tools-101/
2) About.com (blogging section)
3) ProBlogger.net
4) Consider using Social Creeper — catch all for social media management.

© C. Ashley Spencer
Check results by googling Casart, Casart Coverings ArtIsEverywhere, Ashley Spencer (not the porn star or actress) :-0 !

Feedback is welcome. Have a blog?, please comment.

Note: With all these measures, our website traffic has increased over 75%. Hey, we’re patting ourselves on the back because we did all this without a marketing company. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but you can do it too. It makes marketing fun and a way to meet new people and learn new things. Discovery happens daily.

Finally, I’ll leave you with these popular YouTube videos by Socialnomics author, Erik Qualman about the Social Media Revolution and how it’s changing business marketing + I like the song, Right Here Right Now by Flatboy Slim. They are great examples of viral videos. Enjoy!

Art4Others…Art with Heart

In 2006 I was involved with a group of talented decorative artists and artisans who gave freely of their time to transform a house, under the guide of Adrienne VanDooren, who founded the concept for The House That Faux Built. It was a big success, the first of its kind and a wonderful coffee table type book was produced. All the proceeds went to funding the building of a home through Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans.

Finally, the house has been fully funded and the construction has begun. Now artist can give back another way, by becoming involved in the onsite project and hosting events in their own hometown for this effort. Delighted, I’m happy this project has come to fruition as I’m from New Orleans and after speaking with Adrienne while working on the Faux House project, she agreed that she could put the efforts directly toward helping New Orleans. In the process, I forwarded emails about this to my mother. She in turn contacted Adrienne and low and behold she ended up editing many of the chapters of the book. Everyone involved in the initial project has a vested interest in making sure that the house gets built and has the creative vision we all had for it.

Due to my current business commitments and because I’m in Alexandria, VA, I won’t be able to be on site in New Orleans to help, so I’m passing along this information as a way for any artist or organized folks to get involved and help see this to completion. As Adrienne describes it is the artists’ version of “We are the World.”

Here’s where they could use your help:

•     Artists and volunteers for Nola (New Orleans, LA) and international projects

•     Sponsors

•     Regional Project chairs to coordinate projects for Habitat and Animal Rescue in their locals

•     Publicity in your local area ref your involvement

•     Help getting the word out via your email list/website

•     Painted birdhouses, doghouses and paintings for auction

The onsite project, A begins in New Orleans on November 1st. These are the other things that will be taking place:

1. Artists working on the “Habitat House that Faux Built” in New Orleans
2. Multiple Murals being painted in New Orleans to celebrate the cities rebirth
3, An International birdhouse /doghouse painting contest/auction for SPCA Animal Rescue-NOLA-we need artistically painted birdhouses sent to New Orleans for SPCA Howling Success Auction to be held Nov 14
4.  Concurrent community projects across the nation and internationally in support of Habitat and Animal Rescue

More information can be found on their Facebook link:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Artists4Others

The Art4Others Art with a Heart Project is chaired by Lyna Farkas and is scheduled for November 1-14, 2009.

I think of New Orleans as the City of Love and so might Persephone’s Bees. Silly video (reminiscent of the Beatles Yellow Submarine days to me) but good song to Kick-Start the Weekend. My favorite one of these that directly pertains to New Orleans is Complicated Life by Chris Maegden of the New Orleans Bingo Show.