Hel Y'al .. Heres the article I was asked to write for Guise Magazine to discuss the importance of using social media as a creative... have a read!
To Tweet or Not? By Patrick Jack Whelan - Costume Designer & Stylist www.patrickjackdesigns.com
Whats your twitter name? Are you on Instagram? Do you have a website? Oh my God you HAVE to join Tumblr... have you heard of Pinterest? Oh, and do you use LinkedIn?
These are all questions we hear more and more often in our world overrun by social media. It seems every week there’s a new app coming out to share images on or a new fangled social media site to be updating.
Having been working as a Costume Designer and Stylist for the past eight years, I've come to believe that in this day age, us creative folk need to have a strong social presence to succeed in our industries. Word of mouth and a good reputation are no longer enough. Employers, clients, colleagues and fellow costume/fashion fanatics want to see your work in all of its glitzy glory. That might be to check out your credentials for a job, see current examples of your work, even see if you have your own fan base (yes, a fan base.) Or perhaps fellow costumiers/stylists want to see their competition(don't deny it - we all do it).
Whether we like it or not, having a visual presence online is vital to building a career as a designer or any artist for that matter. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying without a website you will fail but I bet you'll find a lot more success if you have a well-established virtual self. Networking plays a massive part in a creative's life (as most of us are freelancers) so why not use the power of the web and social media to help you do so?
There’s no doubt about it, building and maintaining your presence online does take time, but once you've done the initial leg work its pretty easy. You're probably thinking, on top of your busy working schedule(designing, buying, altering costumes 'til 4am, 16 hour shoot days, breaking down scripts, meetings, editing photos, etc etc.. , you also have to make time to update your digital self. Scary? It doesn't have to be. We now all have the ability to connect to the cyber realm via our phones at the click of a button or the tap of a screen...
Your website is your calling card.
It's usually the first stop for any interested employer as there they can gauge whether you're suitable for the job. Some fellow designers I know have their websites built and run for them. That’s fine if you're willing to pay the money, but remember this does then also restrict the control you have and how regularly you can update it.
There are so many great providers online now to, allowing you to "Build your own Website" and they really are pretty easy to use. I use MoonFruit, there are endless options to play around with, and you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. Other providers are; Mr. Site, Wicks, Photo- Deck, SquareSpace - the list is endless. Play around with trials and see which one suits you best. Plus, most of these website providers offer predesigned templates if you don't want to start from scratch. If the task is still quite daunting to you, my suggestion is get someone, ideally a friend in the know(they are cheaper!) to help you build the site and teach you how to update it, then it's still in your control.
Make sure the site tells viewers what you do and the services you provide on the first page. Then within your website (ppeaking from a designer's point of view) you should really have an up to date CV, gallery, blog and clear contact details (usually you can set up an email account through your website provider e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org).
Twitter is like the Pandora's box of the social media world.
Does anyone really understand it? All I know is, its probably one of the best(if not the best) online tools for self promotion and networking. It's a way of connecting with clients and fellow creatives. I have been approached about several jobs in the past via twitter - so it definitely works.
Use twitter to share what you're up to, discuss which production you're working on, who you're working with or just to simply voice your opinion.
A powerful way of getting your posts seen is to use hash tags (#). These magical symbols suddenly allow your little tweet to be seen by thousands more people. Use them well and virtual doors shall open.
With Twitter and most of the apps we use on a day-to-day basis, they can all be linked together to share things quicker. Cutting down on the time you spend in the cyber world. If you look online you can find application like HootSuite and Tweetdeck, allowing you to link your social media profiles together for easier viewing and updating and scheduling in your posts in advance. If you know you're going to be busy on set all day, schedule in a tweet that morning, then you won't have to do it on the job.
Another great feature is that your app feeds can be embedded onto your website, making yourself and the services you provide more accessible to a wider audience and client base. Obviously it's up to you how active you are in the virtual worlds, find out what suits you. I have my twitter feed on my homepage. But if you prefer you could simply put a link button to take your website visitors to that particular page.
Instagram is my favourite app.
Why? Because it's all about the imagery! We creatives are said to generally respond better to more visual stimulation, and I for one will vouch for that. Plus it's an excuse to take pictures of pretty things and play around with filters! AND now you can also create videos: which is a whole new level of fun - especially if you're left with time to spare on a job.
Similar to twitter, you can use hash tags to promote and share your posts. But unlike twitter, within in the Instagram app you can choose to share your post onto other applications like twitter, facebook & Tumblr(I'll touch on these later). This is another way to condense the time you spend "socialising".
Instagram is also a wonderful App for self promotion of your work. For example, a make-up artists can post pictures of the faces they have recently painted, stylists can promote brands they have borrowed from or hair stylists can upload a "how to" video on the latest celebrity hairstyle trends.
Facebook is probably the app we all know the most about as the majority of the worlds population has a profile on it.
In my experience, the advice I would give would be to keep your profile private and not use it as a form of public promotion. Instead, set up a Facebook Page which you can use for business and promotion. They are easy to set up but you need to decide if it is something that you personally will benefit from. For example a Facebook page is something that could benefit a you if you're setting up a company dealing with alterations or even bridal wear - it's an app best used for businesses. Photographers also seem to benefit well from a regularly updated Facebook Fan page.
LinkedIn is basically the professional Facebook.
With the increased popularity of the site, it has become more common for employers to view a potential employees' LinkedIn page. This is because friends, colleagues and companies can endorse a person for their skills, acting as both CV and reference. The more endorsements you have, the more successful you appear to the outside world.
The whole idea of the site is to expand your professional profile and to help you reach others within your industry. It's also brilliant for people seeking a new job as LinkedIn will send you "Recommended Jobs" based on the skills-set you give them and your previous work experience. When inputting your work experience you can link each job with the said company you were employed by(as long as they are on LinkedIn too) which can only help promote your work and skills further.
LinkedIn is worth setting up and it doesn't need very much upkeep, only when you want to update what you're working on. It's well worth having a presence on this particular network, especially as a fee. One last thing you should know about LinkedIn is that it tells you which other members have