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Get Social: What to NOT Do On Social Media

By Mary Alice Franklin
ART TIMES Winter 2015

Ute Fendel and Cornelia Seckel outside the Cologne Tourism Office

In the world of social media, sometimes what you DON’T do can be even more important than what you do. Knowing the best practices for the most successful audience engagement is important, but your hard work can still come crumbling down with one wrong move. Don’t worry: we can work through this. In past columns, we have gone through some best practices to instill in your social media efforts; now let’s review some practices to avoid:

DON’T: Post without editing:

You don’t need to be an editor to post engaging information. That said, you don’t want to appear lazy or unprofessional either. For many consumers, your social media accounts are a first impression, so you want to put your best foot forward. Looking and sounding professional are key factors in keeping these consumers interested. Of course, you can have a conversational, friendly or fun tone to your “voice,” but it should always be well-written. Colloquialisms are fine, but grammar and avoiding typos should be top priorities. Always reread before hitting that “post” button. Don’t let auto-correct take control – you never know what you’ll end up with!

DON’T: Post without thinking:

The news and media can play into the effectiveness of your posts a great deal. Imagine if you had posted a painting of a gun on the day that you were unaware of a mass shooting being covered in the media. The reaction from your followers would likely be negative. Even if you are someone who doesn’t like television or spending time browsing websites, you must find a way to always be aware of what’s going on in the news.

On the plus side, being aware of trending topics can also help your social media efforts. Connecting your work to relevant time-sensitive stories can help you to present more robust information. If it happens to be “National Orchid Month,” why not post your orchid photograph? Just remember that, even though it is great to connect trending topics with your brand, being opportunistic amongst tragic news is not the way to do it. For instance, during the unrest in Egypt, Kenneth Cole posted “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online." Clearly, this insensitive idea backfired. Countless brands, even giant corporations, have gotten into hot water for this very reason.

You should always review what you post, but especially during times of tragedy. Sometimes, even unrelated posts can be read the wrong way and come off as insensitive. The bottom line is to always be mindful of what you are posting, for better or for worse.

DON’T: Not have any social media accounts:

Having social media accounts is an indicator that you are serious about your work. Having an online presence is important. When curious about a brand or business, most customers do two things: Google and check social media, and not necessarily in that order. When a brand doesn’t have a social presence, often they aren’t taken as seriously. So, excuses like “I’m too busy,” “I choose not to be on social media out of principal,” “It’s just not my thing,” “I’m doing fine without it” and “I like to be different” are all fine personally – but when it comes to growing a brand, there are no acceptable excuses. You may be among the special few who don’t “need” it, but it’s still preferable to have it. For those who aren’t lucky enough not to “need” it, you don’t have a choice. If you want to grow, you need to be on social media.

DON’T: Leave your profile incomplete

If people find you on social media, they often want to know more before deciding whether to follow your accounts or before contacting you for a sale. Your accounts should be complete. It should have a profile photograph that perfectly represents you and your brand; a description that gives an accurate depiction of your work, mission and the reason you create art; a link to your website (you DO have a website, right?); the location of your business, if you have a physical studio or gallery; and relevant updates indicating any new works or upcoming shows. Many people would rather get their information straight from the brand’s “mouth,” and see what others have to say about it. Studies show that social media greatly influences their shopping decisions. This way, if someone visits your account after meeting you at a show, browsing your website, seeing a friend’s social media post or otherwise, you want them to have all the arsenal they need to fall in love with your work and mission and take the next step of following you on social media, visiting your new exhibition or buying your artwork.

DON’T: Use other artists’ work without crediting them

Copyright infringement is a serious matter, and artists should understand this more than anyone. Using someone else’s work without crediting them is not only morally wrong; it is misconduct that is eligible of legal action. It is a lovely gesture to support another artist by helping to give them exposure, but when posting someone’s work, give them the same respect you would want: ask permission or post a source that leads back to their website.

DON’T: Neglect engagement

Posting and then ignoring that post is like walking into a room, making a statement and then walking out before anyone responds. The whole point of social media is not exposure or sales; it is to be social and engage your audience, which in turn leads to those other benefits. Post what you think will interest your audience, sparking a discussion, as long as it is relevant to your work. When people comment, respond. Be a part of the conversation.

Mary Alice Franklin is a Writer and Social Media Manager with an arts and culture focus. She currently works at ArtsWestchester and as a freelance writer and social media contractor.

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