Our first class on social media for artists happened last night. We were originally scheduled to run from 6 to 7:30, though there was a small mix up with the newspaper that resulted in a published start time of 5. Thankfully most interested folks contacted us beforehand, and could be given correct times, but I admit to curiosity about how many people might have gotten turned off by the idea of a two and a half hour class.
Setup was pretty simple… I set out the iPads and lesson handouts on a table, and handed them to folks as they came in… as well as offering them my business card, with assurances that they could contact me for one on one assistance if they needed it, after the class was over.
We started the class by talking about exposure, and why this matters to an artist; since most of the audience were professional, rather than amateur artists, the topic didn’t need too much elaboration. I immediately broke out a few YouTube videos, to showcase what the real success stories of modern exposure might look like. My initial plan had called for using the Piano Guys, a set of relatively famous performing artists, but I hadn’t set things up correctly with the AppleTV and the room’s sound system (I realized afterwards I’d just forgotten to turn the sound system’s power on), which made those videos less than impressive, and I switched instead to showing a couple of making of videos… one of a sculpture, and the other of a hobo nickel.
Hobo nickels, by the way, are a cool sculptural art form, where you carve away parts of a small denomination coin, to modify an existing design, or create an entirely new one. Nobody in the audience had heard of it, so after the aside about what it was and it’s origins, it really drove home the point about exposure I was trying to make: At a 120,000 views on that making of video, there’s no doubt the artist has achieved a level of exposure everyone in the audience found enviable, despite specializing in a niche art form that most people haven’t ever heard of. The first sculpture video, of course, at more than a million views, is success on a scale most people couldn’t quantify.
From there, we launched right into talking about Facebook, and the other social media sites I’d planned to talk about (Instagram, Pinterest, DeviantArt, Behance, and YouTube itself). Facebook ate up about 20 minutes just on its own, showing the various tools that could be used to engage with the audience… and then showing the marketplace that it has, where things could be bought and sold (including the artist’s work). No one in attendance had known that was there, or an option, and everyone had a lot of questions… not all of which I’d prepared notes for (such as how was payment submitted and received).
Instagram was originally going to get only a brief mention, because we have an entire class dedicated to learning it coming up… but the audience had a lot of questions about hashtags and how they should be used, so we ended up spending more time there than I had originally wanted. This was when I realized I’d not really thought about twitter and how it should also be part of their social media strategy… I’ve adjusted the lesson plan for any future running of the classes to specifically mention it should be included.
Once we started talking about Behance and DeviantArt, a lot of people had questions about licenses and copyrights, and how those worked with the sites. I was able to answer most of these, but it was pretty clear that intellectual property rights was a topic folks might want to discuss at length… maybe, at some point in the future, we can bring in experts on the topic.
All in all, it was a successful class… all the audience members said they felt they had learnt something useful, which they could apply to their own social media plans.