Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Tweet or not to Tweet

I read this post by Megan Auman on Crafting an MBA and it dovetailed with a post I've been wanting to write on my own blog.

The same way artists ask me if they should Open an Etsy shop, people also ask me if they should use Twitter. And the answer is always subjective. But here is why I use it and what you might consider before deciding if Tweeting is something you'd like to do.

Do you enjoy using technology?
I love the internets! I can't get enough of online everything. I should have a smart phone, but then you'd probably never get me to talk to you again without me saying "OK but first listen to what this person just tweeted!" It's bad enough now with access to a computer and being able to text tweets from my old-school cell phone. My husband is very patient with me.

Do you enjoy being social online?
I used to love the Forums on Etsy, but then I realized they were very repetitive and people got into weird fights and it was a downer so I stopped going there. For me, Twitter is like the forums, but if someone is weird or bums me out, I can unfollow them and I won't see their posts anymore.

Do you have a business?
Having a Twitter account allows you to be a human in real time online. By which I mean that folks who are interested in your work would probably like to know a bit more about you. Since Twitter is a conversation, followers have an opportunity to see a bit of your personality.

I know I have blurred the line between my business persona and my real self on Twitter, and sometimes I worry about appearing unprofessional. But I haven't pulled back behind a locked account or made two separate accounts yet. I guess I am willing to take the risk of alienating some people who might have considered buying from me until they found out I'm a progressive liberal who firmly believes in gay rights and supporting National Public Radio. I guess I just gotta be me!

Does Facebook make you sad?
I know this is not everyone's experience, and a lot of people use both Facebook and Twitter equally, enjoying the variations of both social networking sites. But I am not a fan of Facebook. I don't know why it is, I feel down every time I dip in, so I rarely visit. I claimed a Fan Page, but I never developed it.

When I first joined Facebook I friended everyone who requested it. Then I realized these strangers now had access to pictures of my nieces on the beach, ick! So I whittled my friends list on FB down to people I actually know (or have known online for years and years). I understand what vendors are getting out of the Business Page experience on Facebook; conversations, interaction, exposure to their customers and fans, but I am just not there yet. I'd rather use Twitter and Flickr and blogging to communicate.

Do you want a peer group?
When you work for yourself there's a good chance you will feel isolated at some point. I'm lucky to have my studio at Western Avenue Studios where I have a terrific collection of friends and fellow artists to bounce ideas off of. I get excited about their projects and it's excellent just to have other humans around. But I know you don't all have access to a group of individuals with your same job. Twitter lets you connect with a bunch of other YOUS. You can find out what other people with your job are dealing with, succeeding at, struggling with. And the possible solutions to your own dilemmas. It makes the world smaller and friendlier.

Do you want to get to know people in your own town?
I'm no shrinking violet, but I have met more people in real life by first making contact with them on Twitter than I ever realized I would! People in my own city with whom I might rarely cross paths but who shop at the same stores I do, walk the same streets. And so what if you did pass someone in the stairway of the parking garage? Would you really take the opportunity to get to know them? Certainly not. But because of Twitter, I know that guy in the stairway is actually Ed, he lives one street over from me and his wife likes reading! So I say "Hi Ed!" and he says "Hi Liz!" and we both win at being humans in real life. The local connection is vital. On Twitter we all talk about traffic, weather, what is that parade going by my window right now? It's like the walkie talkies I had as a kid, except back then no-one was out there to answer my 10-4 good buddy.

For all these reasons I use Twitter! I try to be a good twitizen. I don't post link after link to my Etsy shop items, that is so spammy and tedious. I interact with people who talk to me even if I don't follow them. (Except spam-bots which I block). I re-tweet links I think might be of interest to my followers. I try to provide relevant or funny content. I click on people's blog posts when they link to them. I occasionally promote people I admire, we are all out there helping each other is how I see it.

So is Twitter for you? I don't know, try it and see! Tip: I know you need to follow and be followed by some critical number of people (not sure how many) before things get interesting and you don't feel like you are tweeting to an empty room so don't give up right away. And if you follow me, say hi by using an "at reply" (@madeinlowell) so I can get to know who you are. Sometimes I can't keep up with new followers and people get unintentionally lost in the crowd.

Do you use Twitter already? Any unanswered questions? Please add to this discussion!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gifts from the heART!

Tomorrow, Saturday, February 5th, from noon to five, Western Avenue Studios is hosting First Saturdays Open Studios. I will be there in studio A305!

In addition, thirty of us artists banded together to offer a fun promotion called Gifts from the heART. Pick up a postcard at the entrance to the building and carry it around with you. When you come across a participating studio, gather a heart sticker. When you leave Western Avenue, drop your be-stickered card off in the box outside the loading dock on the second floor of the A Mill to be entered into a drawing!

Collect 10+ hearts and be entered to win a $25 gift certificate. Gather 20+ hearts and be entered to win $50 gift certificate. Get all 30 hearts and enter to win a $75 gift certificate!

I have been replenishing my stocks from the holiday shows and adding new colors of old favorites. Hope to see you!