debunking your social media myths: the whys, hows, and whats of creative living on social media

Image by Karen Hallion - click for more info.

As a self-confessed social media fan-girl, I’m still surprised when I meet an indie biz owner who’s not tweeting, facebooking, or blogging.

It got me thinking, and so I put the question out there – “if you’re not on social media – why?”

The responses were really interesting – and not only that, but I kept seeing the same reasons over and over again. Today, I want to address some of these common misconceptions about why people avoid social media.

I don’t have the time

Yes, you do. Saying you don’t have the time for social media is like saying you don’t have the time to exercise, or do your taxes, or meditate – or any one of those other things that you know would be good for you.

The truth is, the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse is simply that – an excuse. When we use this excuse, what we’re really saying is ‘I don’t want to – because I don’t value this enough to give up something else I’m doing instead’ – even if this ‘something else’ is just watching TV (or, in my case, having my head stuck in the novel I’m currently addicted to).

Social media does not have to be time-consuming. Of course, if you let it, it can take over your life – but that’s within your control. You can schedule it in, just like any other meeting or activity, and set boundaries that way.

For example – to maintain an active Facebook Page, you really only have to visit once a day! Spend 10 minutes writing an update, responding to comments, and maybe networking on other people’s pages.

On twitter, set aside 5-10 minutes, three times a day, to get involved. And if you’ve got a smart-phone, even better! Next time you’re stuck in a queue, a waiting room, watching the kids play sport – pull out your phone and spend a little twitter-time.

I’m worried about my privacy

Privacy is a valid concern, and something that is rapidly being eroded in this digital age. However, you really don’t have to share much of your private information to get involved in social media. The most Facebook asks for is your name, e-mail (which they keep private) your date of birth and your gender. That’s it. It’s completely up to you whether you share anything else.

Twitter is even easier – you need to give them your e-mail – the rest can be anything you want!

So, all you really need to share is your name. And, to be honest – if you don’t want to share your name online, then why are you running a business?

If you walked into a brick-and-mortar store and asked to talk to the manager or owner, but they refused on the basis that they didn’t want to tell you their name, would you not be a little confused, and possibly even upset or angry? Would you wonder what they’re trying to hide?

Being authentic – a real person – is part of doing business. If you have a serious reason to keep your identity private, then of course I’m not going to tell you to splash it all over the internet. But at least a first name – or even a nom de plume – is a good idea. And no, of course you don’t have to share your home address or phone number (two things I never make public, myself, just because I prefer to work via e-mail – and some people might think that is a mistake on my part), but you do need to be open and honest about your business.

It doesn’t work, so why bother

It doesn’t work immediately.

I think a lot of people make the mistake of trying out social media for a week or two, only to give up in despair because ‘it’s not working’. Of course not! It takes time and patience to build relationships – just like in the offline world. And relationships are the core of social media.

When I interviewed Jessica Constable here a few weeks ago, she said something that has become my own personal business mantra:

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

The same goes for social media. You need to give it time. But you need to be consistent, too.

Hopping on Facebook once a month is not going to grow your fan base. Only remembering to tweet sporadically isn’t either. It’s about creating, fostering and nurturing relationships, and that takes both time and effort.

This investment in my own business (time is money, after all) has been completely invaluable. For example, my zine, *bespoke* simply would not exist without twitter and facebook. It was created, made and sold via social media – which really, is just a fancy way of saying ‘word-of-mouth facilitated by the internet’.

It works, oh, it does.

I’m just talking to other businesses

I did an – admittedly unscientific – survey of my followers on twitter the other day, because I was curious about this.

I asked: “quick twitter survey, and I’d love a RT if you can spare it… who here is NOT on twitter for biz, but just for fun?

I had 20 replies. 13 of those stated they were on twitter just for fun. And pretty much all of those who responded that they were there for business made the point that they were also there for fun.

You are not just talking to other business. Twitter probably has a higher proportion of business-people than facebook – but the thing about twitter is you choose who you follow and interact with. Facebook – well, think about everyone you know who’s on facebook. My guess is most of them are on there with their personal profile, and use it mostly for fun, and to keep up with their friends.

Oh, and another important point – people who run businesses buy stuff too.

Online friendships aren’t ‘real’ – why would I invest the time in them?

Wow, I have to really, really disagree with this one.

I have made some of the most wonderful friends ever through social media.

There’s a little saying that goes ‘facebook is where you keep in touch with the people you knew in high-school – twitter is where you connect with the people you wish you knew in high-school’

I talk to my online friends every day. My offline ones who aren’t on social media? Pretty rarely.

Social media allows you the freedom to make connections with your ‘right people’. The people who ‘get’ you – the people who know what it’s like to love the things you love, and to do the things you do.

In the ‘real world’, people might join clubs; they make new friends via old friends; they might randomly bump into someone one day and just hit it off.

It’s exactly the same online. The only difference is you build a relationship before meeting in person! Or, perhaps you never will – and that’s okay.

I don’t think that makes relationships any less ‘real’ or authentic. Yes, of course there is the rare person who pretends to be someone they’re not… but that happens offline too. Conmen and dishonest people have existed for millennia.

I’m not about to let that stop me from the potential to make lifelong friends and invaluable connections.

I would rather spend my time making more stuff, than wasting it on the internet

If you’re a crafter, artist, photographer – or any other sort of ‘maker‘, then there’s no getting around the fact that if you’re not making, you don’t have anything to sell!

However – you can make the most amazing widget in the universe, but if only you know about it, what’s the point?

Being in business means finding the right balance between working at your business and working on your business.

Marketing should be a central part of your business, because without it, you simply won’t have a business!

Personally, I spend at least – if not more – than half my time working on my business – marketing, planning… networking.

So, my answer to this would be that either one without the other won’t lead to a successful business, and that you need to both market and make.

Have you heard another argument against the use of social media?

24 thoughts on “debunking your social media myths: the whys, hows, and whats of creative living on social media

  1. Hiya Jess – I agree that the things you’ve listed here are pretty much representative of people’s disinclination to ‘do’ the whole virtual networking thing, but I wonder if the main reason is basic fundamental cave-man style FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.

    Those of us who can remember the days before televisions had remote controls, or microwaves were in every single kitchen, or mobile phones were the size of a set of Encyclopedia Britannica, may still feel that little prickling of fear when it comes to new ‘stuff’ on one’s computer. I didn’t grow up in the digital age, like my kids have done, so it took me a while to get into it. But now I’m here, I sure intend to try and make the best of it!

    1. Laura, that’s a great point! I think that does play a big part in why many people are keeping their distance from social media. I can only hope they give it a go and realise that there’s nothing to be scared of!

    1. Joyelle, I’ve heard a lot of folk who are comfortable with one say a similar thing – and the truth is that facebook and twitter are very different – and they serve different purposes.

      In my course I outline the hows and whys of both media – and the fact that people are often more comfortable with one or the other. But a combination of the both really is best. Facebook is brilliant for building a specific community, whereas twitter is brilliant for building the ‘brand of you’ across the board (I speak as one who has a lot of different projects going on!)

  2. Facebook and blogging are definitely part of my plans as I work towards launching my business, but for some reason, Twitter just doesn’t appeal to me. However, after reading your post, Jess, I am going to go back and look at it again with more of an open mind. Thank you!

    1. Emma – that’s great news! Anyone who hears me talk about this will realise what a fan I am of twitter, I love to see new people come over and try it out :)

  3. Great post – thanks Jess. Yes it has taken me some time to get all the aspects of social media clear in my mind and what each of them represent for me. Here is my very simple analogy that helped me put them into context.

    Website – a book
    Blog – chapter in the book
    facebook – a paragraph in the chapter
    twitter – the first sentence of the paragraph alternated with a bit of bio

    With all of them I have a meaningful story.

  4. I must agree, some business men thinks social media as a medium for marketing ones business is an effort wasted. What their primary concern is the ROI in which in our case it is what you “a marathon not a sprint” which means it takes time to reap what you saw. Its a good way also to establish connections to your future clients, tats what socializing is for.

  5. As an Artist, I agree with you Jess that marketing and social media are very important and sometimes overlooked. It’s just pretty difficult to try to manage everything.
    I have no idea how you keep up with all your projects. Every time I’m on Twitter I see your stream is a never ending flow of interesting comments and links. You don’t happen to have a clone do you?
    I guess it just boils down to being super organized and focused. Another problem for us creatives LOL

    1. Ali, I’m blessed to do this full-time, and work from home. So my computer is always right there! I make a habit of popping on twitter and facebook whenever I’m working on the computer – so it’s really become a habit for me!

      Though, I do shut down social media occasionally when I need to really focus on writing something!

  6. Brilliant post! I was just planning a blog post to try to convince makers here in France to use facebook, as there seems to be some resistance among artists, and other people too. Many are against it as just another American ‘import’ ready to take over their lives, instead of using it as a tool to connect. I still find twitter difficult to get the hang of, though.

    1. Laura, that’s an interesting point! It’s quite funny, on an Aussie TV show last night there were a pair of American singers, and at the end one of them said “you have facebook and twitter here, right?”.

      Oh dear, you should have seen the hashtag stream light up on that one! They may be ‘made in America’ but they are truly global tools these days.

  7. It’s not that I need convincing to use social media. My ‘social muteness” has more to do with gah! shyness. I’m a loner and I find it hard to put myself out there, espeically when ( and I get that feeling waaay to often) I think that nobody will actually be interested in my blog post/ fanpage update etc.

    1. Alexandra – you may not believe me, but I am a total introvert. Put me in a room full of strangers and I’ll be your typical wallflower.

      The thing about social media is that you can take it at your pace. I can get online, talk to some people… but there isn’t the pressure to respond/interact that you get IRL. You have time to think before responding, which takes that pressure off a bit.

      And it’s something we all struggle with – everyone wants to be liked, and it’s scary to put something out there!

  8. Alexandra and I seem to be the same boat….I tend to be very shy and more of a listener than a talker. I really don’t consider to have the gift of gab at facebook and twitter are intimidating for me.
    With that said, I am also consider myself courageous so I have decided to jump in and see what happens!

    Just last night I created my facebook fan page ( it actually felt good going out of my comfort zone) to go along with a giveaway that i’m sponsoring. My hope is that I can share what I do on a broader/larger platform and connect with people one on one in a more personal way.

    I need 25 likes to get my own domain name…so any one who like to help by liking my page…I would appreciate it!!!/pages/Natural-Glam-Jewelry/160641733996534

    Big Thanks!

    1. Hey Candi, your page is looking great, well done! Just a quick note for you and everyone else – make sure to NEVER host a giveaway on your FB Page – it’s against the facebook terms of use and could get your page shut down.

      All you need to do is host the giveaway on your blog, and put a link to that on your fb page, to get around that :)

  9. Thank you so much for using my art, and linking back to my Etsy store. This article hit home, I am struggling to get my art career established, and am utilizing every social networking and art site that I can. Etsy, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Deviant Art, RedBubble, Society 6…it is exhausting, but I can see it slowly starting to pay off.

    1. Karen, your work is lovely, thank YOU! And I love this point – “it is exhausting, but I can see it slowly starting to pay off.”

      It takes time. No way around that. But it DOES work, and the longer you’re in the game, the better the results!

  10. Great post Jess! I know it works as I definitely get more on-line traffic, sales, etc when I am active with my social media. And I totally agree with you with the real friendships that come from it.

  11. FANTASTIQUE Jess, FINALLY gave Twitter a go yesterday and I’m kinda hooked…knew I would be, hence why I held out on this last form of Social Media but my ‘clever cookie’ friend Lisa Walsh encouraged me with an ‘oh-so-gentle’ nudge…& REALLY it’s all FREE…so how can you put a price on gaining such a diverse audience…the only cost has to be your time…

    1. “the only cost has to be your time…” – exactly! And considering how much money some people are willing to invest in advertising, why not spend a little time instead? 😉

  12. I don’t know what I’d do if internet friendships “weren’t real!” I have met and gotten to know (both online and in person) so many awesome people. Social media has only made the process somewhat easier, sometimes faster, definitely more specific, and just as fun. Of course, it never hurts to be careful (people do unfortunately lie on the internet), but that’s no reason to abandon it altogether. Such great tools, all at our fingertips!

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