This week I taught a workshop for Arts Council members in Morganton, NC, on Social Media for Beginners (I shared the lessons I teach in today's Explorer Note, which you can get here). And at least a few times a month someone asks me about Twitter or Facebook and if they should be using it (maybe because of all those Social Media endorsements on LinkedIn?).
Here's the short answer: NO.
No, you do not need social media if…
…you don't have a website or an online shop, where someone can click through and buy your goods.
…you don't have any other part of your customer path. (You can't answer the question, “What action do I want my Right Person to take?”)
…you sell your work in person, at your studio or at craft shows.
…you are so busy with paying work, you don't have time to do anything else.
…you have 0 customers. (Stop worrying about Twitter followers and focus instead on paying customers.)
…you sell wholesale (yes, your buyers may be on Twitter, but I bet they're there to interact with their customers, not their vendors).
…you just aren't interested.
…you haven't clarified your business objectives. (You can't answer the question: “Why am I using this?“)
Social media is not the solution to your business problem.
It is not going to quickly improve anything (in fact, it's going to take time to build an audience, time that might be better spent on building a community of buyers.)
Social media is a tool. Like a hammer is a tool. If your problem is “I need more art on my walls”, a hammer can help make that happen…but you also need to buy and frame art. The tool isn't going to do that for you. And if you have a leaky sink, the hammer won't help.
Don't get me wrong, I loooove the community I've built via social media. I had the courage to quit my job, cheered (in real time) by friends on Twitter. Instagram is my favorite. I'm warming to Facebook. I keep track of recipes on Pinterest. I wrote an entire chapter about using online tools effectively.
But no matter how much I love it: it might not be for you, right now.
You might benefit more from spending your time building relationships with customers, finding new customers, or showing up in person.
So, darling, this is a giant Permission Slip – If you do not want to jump on the newest (or oldest!) social media tool, you do not need to. Your business does not require it. You are building a business to live in, for years to come, so make it a comfortable one!
This week I've worked individually with an author launching a new book, an artist trying to find motivation, a knitwear designer launching a new pattern book, and a writer creating her next online course. Due to this pesky time-space continuum, I'm closing the loading docks on new solo-sessions in about a week. If you want to talk about your social media strategy (or your book launch strategy), you can buy it now and schedule it any time in the next 6 months. (I'm booked through September and most of October, I have about 3 spots left in 2013.) I'm not sure if I'll ever open these up again, except for Starship members, so I wanted to warn you!