Don’t Trust Social Media Alone to Deliver Your Important Message

Some friends will see it on Facebook, most won’t.
Some followers will catch your tweet or your +1 post, most won’t.
Some people will read your email or blog post, some won’t.

©2010 Cheryl Laube, Why. From the "Being Woman” Series III. Archival digital print.
©2010 Cheryl Laube, Why. From the “Being Woman” Series III. Archival digital print, 17 x 22 inches.

Six artists scheduled a one-night-only art show in the boutique hotel just down the hill from me. I know two of them fairly well.
I received an email announcement (bulk blast) from one of the artists about 3 weeks before the event. I added the date to my calendar.
Then . . . silence. I heard not a peep from anyone else.
I looked forward to the event, even though I wondered why I didn’t hear more about it since it was so close to me.
Being the Art Biz Coach, I entered the artists’ makeshift gallery on the night of the shindig and couldn’t wait to tease one of them. “I’m here even though you didn’t invite me,” I said.
Her response was one of surprise. She said she had been talking about it on Facebook for a long time. Of course, she was very apologetic and perplexed as to why I didn’t hear about it from her.

Facebook as Curator

Chatting something up on Facebook is fantastic, but it can’t be your only promotion avenue.
Have you noticed how Facebook decides what they think you want to see? If someone has hundreds of friends, it’s darned near impossible to get to the top of someone’s Home page feed every day.
When is the last time you spent the day going through the feeds of all of your friends and page likes? (Please say Never!)
And when is the last time you really paid attention to invitations for Facebook events? C’mon, be honest.

Diversify Your Marketing Message Delivery

You must use all of the weapons in your marketing arsenal to get attention. This means a combination of social media, email, and snail mail (postcards, in particular).
Very few people will see it in all of these formats, and you’ll be blessed if those on your list act on a single notice from you.
Don’t trust social media alone to deliver an important message. Don’t trust email or snail mail alone, either. You need a combination – a 1, 2, 3 PUNCH!
Have you had a similar experience?

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38 thoughts on “Don’t Trust Social Media Alone to Deliver Your Important Message”

  1. I’ve found that Facebook has become less and less reliable as a means for getting any message I have out. Of the few hundred likes I have on my page only a handful of them respond with any kind of regularity or frequency to my posts. I thought it had something to do with the time of day until I researched how the Facebook newsfeed alogorithm works. Now I just don’t put a lot of stock in FB as a means to share. I do like it for the ability to keep a good conversation going, but someone has to hear it in the first place.
    My email newsletter and my snail mail promotions still work far far better than any of the social media outlets do (after all, these people asked to be contacted and be put on my lists!)

  2. Alyson,
    I couldn’t agree with you more… I’ve come to the same conclusion. That’s why, although sometimes single marketing efforts may “seem” pointless on their own, it’s really the combined marketing efforts that result in sales.
    That’s why I use Facebook, Twitter, Blogging (albeit about other’s work), E-news, and no less than quarterly Postcard mailers with a sprinkling of “Special Event Postcards.”
    I try and penetrate the market in every way I possibly can. Everyone is a potential buyer.
    And, what I’ve learned is that if “I’m not talking about my work,” than “nobody is talking about it…”
    As usual, you’re “right on!”

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      I love this, Michele: if “I’m not talking about my work,” than “nobody is talking about it…”

  3. Very timely post! After talking with a couple of other artists, it became clear that only a small percentage of the people who like a page on Facebook actually even see your posts (according to the stats their Insights program generates). If only 10% even see your posts (because of Facebook deciding what you see?) then Facebook becomes a much less attractive venue for promoting one’s art.

  4. It was just so sad…In 1999 I did a solo show…But really solo, I had to do so much myself…I borrowed my mum’s giant snailing list because well, it was just so big…I got someone to type the addresses, not all, too many, I started with the A s , got tired, then just started picking ones that sounded nice…I knew I had to at least 400 to get 40, or more…When the “this person moved, missing in action , or dead” returns started coming in, I became emotionally overwhelmed…It was half of my flock came back not sure where they are…Now my mother is older than me…But still, where did everybody go? The show was brilliant but I stopped snailing that year…Return to sender address unknown…

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Sari: Aha. The importance of keeping a list up to date. But if email alone works for you, great.

  5. A few years ago I did a show where the promoters were really hot on the idea of using mostly social media and saving money on post cards. It was not a very good show. The next years a combination of advertising was used and the show was much more successful. You’re spot on with this post.

  6. In many ways, this is Marketing 101, but it’s so easy to get all excited about one particular marketing channel that you forget the others. In this case, it’s Facebook. It is merely one channel out of many. Alyson is right: you have to have a MIX of channels to/by which your message is broadcast. Make sure your message is consistent across the board, but be sure to employ as wide (yet targeted) a distribution as you can. That’s the hard part. 🙂

  7. I’m still wondering though what you need to do if you have done the post cards, the emails and Facebook, but still don’t know if anyone will show up? Facebook has really gone downhill when they changed things to where they decide who sees your posts. I used to get all kinds of responses, but now hardly anything. I’ve wondered if doing a reminder message would be appropriate. I feel like I’m bothering people as it is.
    I have a show with 5 other artists coming up next week, the 9th, for the Ovarian Cancer Alliance Fundraiser and hope their advertising will also bring people in.
    I hope you can make it Alyson! (This should count as number 3 invite.) 😉

    1. Nancy: You mean you already invited me twice?
      I’m unlikely to come to a fundraiser, but I don’t recall receiving other invites from you.

    2. I checked, and my email newsletter you are not on like I thought, but I did send a personal invite (event) on Facebook, plus posts on my wall (which I don’t expect too many to actually see for the reasons we’ve already said.) You probably have so many it’s easy to understand not seeing one.
      I understand the fundraiser thing though. Who wants to spend money to go to an art show unless you want to support the cause. I was asked to do this and it’s a a win/win for artist and the people doing the event. The artists sell their paintings (I’ll have 26, plus prints) and we then donate a portion to the organization. We both make money and I can write off my actual donation, not just the materials used!

  8. Although i live by my Day Timer, some people’s schedules also dictate only last minute decisions. I like to send out a day-of text blast to my local contacts too asking them to spread the word and come celebrate with me after the art opening.

    1. Kirsten: Yes! That last-minute thing really works. That’s when I get the most sign-ups for my classes, too.

  9. Most people skim FB very lightly. They are overwhelmed with the barrage of social media. I promote through my monthly newsletter. I’m new to twitter, but hoping to build a following. I’m dubious about it’s value. I still use snail mail for my bitg events. Like you siad, you need to use many methods of reaching buyers, including the odd phone call to your faithful supporters!

    1. Edwina: I really like Twitter for timely news. But I get good feedback for my work on Twitter as well.

  10. As my Facebook savvy has grown over the years, I see more and more that it really is a “social” network. It’s great for getting feedback from friends to boost our gentle artist egos, and it’s an easy way for people to find us online and take a quick gander at our work or learn more about us. I find it works best as a referral mechanism to coax people over to our proper websites.
    I recently did a solo show and labored through the long snail mail guest list for the opening, so I know it can be a daunting task. I decided to crosscheck every address I’d accumulated over the years and discovered that most were inaccurate. Thanks to online address sites and hours of sleuthing, I was able to pin down most everyone and send real invite cards including my website info. I also placed cards in strategic locations in town.
    The results were stunning. I had a great turnout, a terrific time, and sold paintings. You know what? None of the people who bought paintings were connected to me online. So go ahead and chat up your event, but a real card makes a difference. Don’t we all appreciate holding and looking at a personal invitation?

  11. I was happy to read this post as I have been questioning the emphasis on social media for marketing ourselves. I’ve long wondered how anyone could ever keep up with news and events unless they were glued to their computer to watch the constant stream of tweets and posts. Great post.

    1. Thanks, Deb. I think it seems emphasized because we’re all learning about it and, therefore, trying to figure it out together.

  12. I agree with your assesment of social networks. This year I am doing direct postal mail outs as my focus along with my html newsletter, my retail studio and my web site. A four pronged approach. I am using rack cards, mini biz cards, and over sized image post cards as marketing materials. I always inlude my url on the edge of the postcard image. That discourages them from framing it as a reproduction. I want them to come to the studio and buy the real painting.
    linda blondheim

    1. Linda: My thoughts are that someone who would frame a postcard would never purchase the real painting.

  13. In June 2011 I had my first solo show at a gallery in many years (after a long hiatus from studio production). I worked really hard to get friends,etc., to the opening night via the gallery email list and postcards, me sending out postcards, my email newsletter, facebook, and twitter. I also posted pics of the opening on my blog and facebook the next day. I also kept a running list of who came. Then I followed up with personal emails to those who coulndn’t make it to the opening to see the show during the two months it was up. The turnout ended up being great during opening night and during the run of the show! The show also received a nice review by one of the local critics and I was featured in a local lifestyle magazine. Unfortunately though, the sales were not what I hoped for and I was disappointed by that. The work was priced appropriately. So, right now I am trying to find some other venues for the work….’cause the shelf life is about three years before it’s considered “old”.

    1. Christine: It was your first show in a long time! Give yourself a break. You did everything right. Just keep at it.

    2. Thanks Alyson for the encouragement… and for all of the good info your blog and IRBITS provides…..often the effort involved in propelling my art/career forward really feels like climbing an unending mountain! Luckily I don’t always feel that way!!

  14. grrrr if I had a dollar for every time someone referenced something they posted on Facebook I would be a billionaire. I do make a conscious effort now to go to the Facebook events and read through them and download the events to my calendar but yeah I don’t like that either promote all over just not one place soo true
    great post and reminder for all

    1. Stephanie: You mean people saying “Well I posted it on Facebook. Didn’t you see it?!” I hear that grrrrrr. Although mine isn’t an angry or frustrated growl. I just feel bad for the other person that they don’t understand.

  15. yes, I am starting to think snail mail and email ARE the way to stand out – ha! cuz people just don’t seem to use them as much anymore – and it’s a little treat to have something fun in the inbox! I get good response from people with these formats, especially my newsletter.

  16. Facebook has an addictive quality, so it’s easy for me to see how people get to a place where they feel like it connects them more than it actually does. I finally had to create some rules for my own use as I was giving too much time and thought to it. I’m sure it’ll become less useful as I engage with it less but am willing to accept that in exchange for the focus I’ve regained which feels like a gift. Thanks for posting about this.

  17. I so Agree!! I have been wondering ‘why am I doing this? I cannot do all the social media, Faceboook seems the easiest, but all the same people are in touch instead of all my 1200+ best friends responding to my posts and events. Yes I do not either!!
    I’m needing help, will be jumping on board as soon as my schedule is cleaner…next week? Thank you for the affirmation.

  18. I hardly ever see much of anything on facebook because I don’t spend a lot of time there and apparently, the things I’m interested in (Alyson’s page for example) never get shown to me. Twitter turned out to also be more noise than signal for me as well. I’m hoping Google+ does not end up like these but I’m still not using it much.
    A few years ago I set up a show and along invited 3 other people to do it with me. I sent out postcards but also talked about it on my blog and facebook. The showing was very good connsidering it was one evening during the week when the economy was pretty much all that was in the news. Sadly, I didn’t make a single sale (thankfully, the other ladies did – well, one was The Soup Girl and who doesn’t like soup?)

  19. I’ve always appreciated a post card mailed to me. I can stick it on my fridge with a magnet and keep getting reminded of the upcoming show. I also love finding postcards at the coffee shop, or better yet, at the doctors office, oil changing station or anywhere else where I’d have to stand around and wait. And postcards can be printed very cheaply these days, as long as you get the design done in a timely manner.

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