4.19.2016

Over-Promoting on Social Media


If you read my last post, you are already aware that I launched a podcast as a part of the brand new Premier Dance Network. Since that launch, I have had some very exciting things happen. At this very moment, Pas de Chat: Talking Dance is listed as "New & Noteworthy" on the iTunes charts ranking #49 in Arts and #63 in Business. We have had a few hundred downloads and I am really, Really, REALLY excited about it! Of course, I am happy to share this excitement (and continue promoting) on my social media networks; which range from Facebook (my most heavily used) to Instagram (next down the list) to Twitter (my least favorite). And, initially, I saw a mirror-reflection of my excitement in the number of likes, loves, and comments on my accumulating podcast postings. Then, perhaps, the most exciting thing of my launch week happened. Dance Magazine wrote up an article about both my podcast and my sister podcasts (which even included an image of me dancing). In my thrill and happiness, I shared this, too. As I sat back waiting for the scroll of likes to appear on the locked screen of my iPhone, nothing happened. A few minutes passed and making the assumption that there must be something wrong with my connectivity, I opened my screen and tapped on that trusty blue "F" app to see how many notifications I had. None. And nearly 24 hours since I posted, 6 likes. What happened?

I am no stranger to the string of events that happened yesterday. Each time that I have launched a new project (like this blog), I have to remind myself that there is a fine-line between sharing something exciting, using social media as a tool for promotion, and over-saturating my feed with excessive impersonal, promotional content. I have gotten pretty good at the wildly obscure balancing act that is engaging social media. But even experts like myself can fall victim to the circumstances they study and understand.

When I first started using social media back in the days of Myspace, these self-producing content systems seemed like the next best thing to living in the same house with all of your friends, old and new. It was engaging, quick, and direct. And being an artist at the young age of 21, who had lived in 5 states in 5 years as I finished out my training, it was a great way to stay in touch with my peers who also scattered across the country to pursue their passion and art. Once I got spammed off of Myspace and opened the pages of Facebook, I felt that it became even more personal. At one point, I remember watching the news and listening to a story about how social media was beginning to be used as a marketing tool for certain target markets. I remember turning to my Danya and saying, "I can't imagine Facebook becoming one giant commercial." Well, those days have arrived and passed. And for the most part, it is us every day people creating those commercials.

Today, most social media sites share two things. The, sometimes, facade of a personal connecting of people with people and the reality of providing a platform for free (or inexpensive), personalized marketing. Content is most often curated based on complex, mathematic algorithms. We are no longer connected to others and their content completely by choice, but instead see friends content strained through a network of computers that make complex, programmed decisions. Manipulating this system into thinking that we were completely in charge of what was coming to us, opened up the doors for users to see carefully curated content and marketing. Whether promoting a cause, spreading awareness of an ill friend's GoFundMe, or kick-starting a brilliant entrepreneurial idea, people started noticing that they could use social media sites to promote most anything.

I never wanted to use these web sites and apps to promote an idea, a product, or even myself. But then I found myself suddenly without a job and needed to make things work quickly. Once I came up with the idea for this blog, I reluctantly began posting my writings in my feed. I remember the first day that I introduced Life of a Freelance Dancer, I didn't have as much of a following as I do today and my posting received a small amount of excitement and attention. Over the next week, I posted about this new creation of mine, multiple times. And slowly, but surely, people that once seemed quite engaged in my daily musings became disinterested. At one point, I remember posting, "I promise that this is the last time I will promote my new blog this week, but you should check it out," and seeing a friend comment, "Oh, Thank God!" I had a feeling that I was over-promoting, but at that point I knew for sure.

What is one to do when they have a great new project and they want to garnish excitement or support from their friends, family, peers, and acquaintances? By all means, don't be afraid to promote on all of your social media channels. But remain keenly in tune with the response that you get from your networks. If your first post gets 30 likes and a handful of comments, maybe give it a day or two before posting again. If you see the number of responses declining rapidly, even to your regular, non-promotional updates, you are likely posting too often about your project. If you find that you have overreached your friend's promotional limits, step away from sharing for a few days and get back to posting personal content. Remember, like me, most of us first joined these social media networks to connect with our friends. Get back to the basics and remind your friends that they are connecting with a person, and not a business or salesman/saleswoman.

My Instagram Feed
There is no set guideline on how to promote different projects or causes that you are a part of on social media. The challenge of using these apps and networks is that you have to constantly remain aware of the reaction you are getting on your feed. Spikes in excitement don't last for long. But if you notice that the volume of likes, comments, clicks, shares, etc., that you usually get begin to fade to silence, reconsider how you are approaching your marketing and promotional techniques. Remember, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond were first and foremost created to connect people to people. If you forget this idea, you may lose one of the greatest sources of support and excitement for your art, work, and self. Your Friends. While you may get a financial or career reward out of it, your dividends in friendship may take a hit. So, don't make the same mistake as I did this past week in a blind leap of excitement. Follow my simple rule for social media success. Post. Pause. Post Again. Happy social media-ing and good luck on using these amazing networks to help you reach your goals and greatest successes!

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