Let’s Talk Tech
The Social Media Monster
I get a lot of questions from CMN members about social media: how it works, what it’s good for, and why it’s considered so essential in the marketing world.
As with most monsters that live in our closets and under our beds, social media becomes much less terrifying when examined more closely. Indeed, embracing its use can open up a slew of opportunities and a wonderful exchange of new ideas and perspectives. To that end, I have created a short survey focused on four of the most popular platforms around today. Explore the one that sounds most interesting to you. You might be surprised to discover that it serves you wonderfully in your career and your life.
I have excluded Facebook from this guide, as it is one of the most widely used platforms and I am assuming that most of you have some experience with it. Also, due to relatively recent changes, Facebook has made it difficult to get much exposure without paying for advertising, so it is less relevant to those of you trying to find ways to get your work in front of a wider audience for free. While I recommend having a Facebook page for your group or brand so that you can be found, I think there are other platforms where time spent growing a presence is more likely to get you the exposure that you are looking for.
What it is: An online news and social platform, where users can write and read 140-character “tweets.” Due to the character limit, tweets are carefully crafted and to the point. Unlike Facebook, you don’t have “friends” nor can you control who sees what. Tweets are always public. This is an important factor to keep in mind. There are numerous stories, like this one, of “private citizens” tweeting something and making a much bigger splash than they could have ever imagined. While you can message someone privately on Twitter, this is a feature that is used infrequently and can only be done if you “follow” each other.
- Twitter is always live and public so you can tweet the same information several times over an extended time period. The transient nature of the medium means you always have a new audience.
- The brevity of tweets makes them easy to digest, so it’s a great time passer. I often use Twitter while standing in line.
- Due to the public nature, you can actually reach large organizations or public figures. This has been especially helpful with large corporations. It has become common knowledge that if you complain to or about a brand like Delta, Sony, or Nabisco, they are very likely to respond.
- There are many programs out there that can help you automate tweets in a way that seems natural and that you can control, meaning that you can maintain a presence on Twitter without having to actually be on Twitter all the time. See Kayte Deioma’s article in the Fall 2015 issue of PIO! to find out more.
- It is easy to include photos or article links in a tweet and provide an eye-grabbing image or point your audience to more information.
- Tweets have a language all their own that can be intimidating.
- Anything that needs to be said in more than 140 characters will be hard to share, though some users elect to use serial tweets to extend their message.
What it is: Pinterest is meant to be your virtual corkboard. You can pin websites and blog posts relevant to something you like, want to try, or are inspired by on different boards. These boards will have themes like “Food I want to make,” “Crafts I want to do in my classroom,” or “Ideas for my wedding.” While you can use Pinterest privately, keeping your posts public will make them easier to find and share by your demographic.
- Pinterest is very popular among teachers and moms—groups that are important to children’s musicians!
- The visual aspect is appealing, and you don’t have to come up with any well-phrased comments for attention. People with your taste will eventually be guided to you by your pins.
- You can generate content or choose to curate it. Many Pinterest users become popular for their ability to find and collect unique ideas, highlight crafts, or share teaching materials or strategies.
- Once your interests are established, Pinterest will send weekly posts of pins that speak to that theme, making it even easier to engage.
- Because of the craft-heavy nature of many of the boards, it can be tricky to figure out how music belongs.
- You have to spend a considerable amount of time pinning in order to grow a following.
What it is: Instagram is a social media platform built to share photos and videos. It is especially popular among visual artists and models. Content can be shared both publicly and privately, and you can make your account completely private so that you have to personally approve any new follower.
- As with Pinterest, you don’t have to worry about pithy phrasing or jokes with Instagram. The visual is all that matters.
- There are many tools available within the app to enhance your pictures.
- A smartphone with a camera is all you need to get started.
- It can be tough to apply your work as a musician to Instagram. However, many musicians have active and successful accounts. Check out kids’ musicians Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. They use Instagram to tell a visual story about their days.
What it is: One of the most widely viewed and used platforms in the world, YouTube is for videos. Pages can be public or private, and you also have the option of “monetizing” your videos in order to receive revenue from advertising.
- YouTube is simple and doesn’t come with lots of extra language to learn, like hashtags and tagging. Just shoot a video and upload it! Please refer to my column “Adventures in YouTubing” in the Fall 2016 issue of PIO! to find out more.
- YouTube is one of the fastest growing networks for children’s content in the world.
- Making videos can be intimidating for newbies.
- It takes a combination of work, knowledge, and luck to get noticed. And luck is the most important factor!
Each one of these platforms make it possible to reach a wider audience. Each one comes with its own quirks, lingo, and rock stars. With nearly all of them, you can control how private or public you want your activity to be—but given that you’ll be exploring these platforms with the goal of getting the word out, I’d suggest staying as public as possible. One thing all these platforms will do for you, even if you aren’t very active, is make you more accessible. One thing they all require is time.
A few parting tips:
- Seek out other users who share your interests, or whom you find inspiring. Learn from them and apply what you’ve learned to your own account.
- Communicate with other users. I’ve made real-life friends from Internet-only beginnings!
- Expect to use the platform at least a year before you gain anything like a substantial following.
- Post consistently to see best results.
- Have fun!