Today the question came in the form of Instagram on the Business for Flow Artists group, but the question is relevant no matter which platform is in question: Should I make one?!
I don’t think there is a single answer to that question. I’ve read articles that indicate that as we spread our marketing efforts too wide, we lose efficacy and the effective numbers seem to be 1 main vehicle for marketing and 2 side ones. Ultimately, that doesn’t help determine which ones make the most sense for you and your business.
Flow arts are a little funny because your target market varies depending on what you do. If you’re a maker, your clients are people who already play with or want to play with tools. If you’re a performer, your market is people who want to hire artists. If you’re an instructor, your market is students who want to learn new things from you. When you do all of those things, your market is pretty broad and varied and thus, it can be tough to have one forum specific enough to cover all types of markets because what might be inspiring to a product user isn’t necessarily the same as what is inspiring to someone seeing a performer, and vice versa. Similarly, what proves efficacy as an instructor isn’t demonstrated by good flow in performance which can confuse the issue for the consumer you’re trying to reach as well.
Therefore, it is important to ask yourself some questions before considering any platform like Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and even sites like YouTube (where I have a channel for performances, a channel as a practice v-blog, a channel for educational videos and even a channel with a few videos on makeup application) — or making any other marketing business investment (time or money wise) for that matter. Here are some great questions I like to ask in my business analysis:
- what is my intended outcome in doing this?
- what will I gain?
- how much time will it take?
- what other resources will it require?
- what will I have to say no to in order to say yes to this?
- how will I make that time in my schedule?
- what is the ROI I hope to get from it?
- is there any evidence (and what is it) I will gain anything?
- for what interval of time will I run a trial to gather ROI statistic?
- what information is relevant to understand to measure my success?
Not all of these questions will be easy to answer and your answers may well change in a few weeks, months or years — both as you change, your needs change, your business skills change, your audience expands and technology evolves. Still, it remains true that if you’re starting an Instagram account because you want to share videos to get feedback on technique that’s very different than doing it because you want to make money. If you’re an instructor sharing, it’s possible to get more clients from it. If you’re an artist who performs looking to book more clients from your friends who are following you, Instagram may not be the best forum for that result. Understanding contextual relationship to the experience, at least from a business standpoint, makes sense to me.
Put differently, if you’re not making this investment, what will you do with that same time? How does it compare in terms of meeting your short, mid and long term objectives in your life, career and with your company (if you have one or want one)? Would it garner you more ROI? I think these things matter, whether you’re embarking on a new Instagram account, considering picking up a mailing list or doing flyer handouts.
The thing with social media that muddies the water is that there is a social element to it that didn’t exist so much with old fashioned marketing methods. Handing out a flyer isn’t really a “social event” but handing out a virtual flyer, which might be a meme or a video or some other more interactive and fun thing than a black and white ad on a piece of paper, tends to lend itself to the “time suck” that is social media. Thus, along with considering what you’ll gain from it, you have to account for what the investment really includes.
If you’re lucky, like me, you’ll combine the two. This article started as a 435 word comment on a thread on Facebook which I got sucked into accidentally while I was supposed to be writing. I turned it into a win — get my writing done, publish an article and answer a question — which is great. But if the social aspect only pulls you farther from your goals, that is important to consider. I’ve found it requires enormous discipline to use any social media account effectively when you use it for both business and socializing because of the bleed over between the two. It can be both a blessing and a curse.