The Social Media Merry-Go-Round

How are you getting on with social media. Do you use it socially? For attention? Or are you using it as a tool for running a business?

I am rethinking how I use the internet as a business help. Because it’s not helping. It currently eats into about 80% of my downtime from work (so I’m still at work right?) and doesn’t produce results in equal quantities.

Here’s my roundup of why I think we’re doing it all wrong:

Facebook

Personal Facebook is one thing. If you’re happy losing your evenings on cat videos and pictures of other people’s expensive meals out,  that’s cool. Business pages are quite another thing. Thanks to Facebook’s new ‘pay for advertising’ strategy your page probably isn’t reaching many people. Because why should you have reaches for free? I’ve certainly seen a huge fall in activity on my page despite me posting more on my timeline. Don’t think the powers at Facebook aren’t responsible for this. I have never found work through Facebook. I use it as a portfolio page and I have it linked to my other social media pages but that’s definitely all it’s good for. As if to defeat the object of using it, it’s a good dumping ground for links from other sites such as Instagram, Purpleport and anything off the news. But nobody responds. Reduced circulation or is nobody interested? I suspect the former.

Twitter

Twitter is generally where all my Facebook page links end up because I have linked the account to save me the arduous task of having to actually go on Twitter. People who use Twitter generally don’t use Facebook so it’s handy to have both. But does it achieve anything? Not sure. But it means people who only use Twitter know I am still alive.

Instagram

I had an Instagram account ages ago, and like Tumblr I couldn’t understand the point. But everyone told me this was the place to be so I’ve revived my account in the last few weeks. It now eats into most of my evenings as I upload behind the scenes as well as final images from shoots and commissions and design work. Whilst I don’t find Instagram very user friendly, apps like ‘Repost’ and ‘Instafit’ deal with silly cropping issues and sharing posts from other people. I’m getting lots of responses to posts here but is it selling product? Not yet. But I do like the way I can personalise my business down to human level by throwing in a few selfies, garments being manufactured etc etc. And of course I link it over to my Facebook page, and thus Twitter. Round and round and round.

Pinterest

Less of an interactive social media site but a fantastic resource if you are a creative putting together ideas and moodboards. You can set up private folders for creative teams so a photographer for instance can set up a private board, fill it full of the kind of thing he wants to create at his next shoot and then add his team ie model, MUA, stylist, hairdresser etc and everyone can see what direction it’s going in. As a designer and stylist I find it useful for dropping in ideas and themes I might want to try. I also have a design folder of my own work in case I inspire anyone else. Clients also use the site so you might pick up new work from here but it’s less likely. Comments and messaging are useful additions to the site making interaction between users easy – something Instagram doesn’t allow and Twitter which of course does everything in 140 characters or less.

LinkedIn

A place to put your CV. People who you have never met will endorse you based on images you upload and everyone will try to link to you. I have no idea what the point of LinkedIn is but I’m there. Because you need to be everywhere right?

Purpleport

You will only know this site if you are a photographer, model or connected to the photography industry in some way. Whilst model websites get a bad wrap for being all tits and arse this is the best place for me to be. I get 95% of my paid work from this site and I have loads of industry contacts and the set up is pretty usable. For a small subscription I get an unlimited portfolio and people actually comment and add. You do need to have a tough skin though. The forums can get quite bitchy (mostly the men, no surprise). I try to be constructive in my comments and avoid arguments. But interacting on the forums does increase your traffic and introduce you to potential new clients because not everyone trawls through the listings to find people. One comment you make might be enough to attract your next paying client. Thankfully designers/stylists are rarely on the receiving end of bitterness so I haven’t had most of the horrible experiences others seem to endure. Models beware. It is however a site for everyone so there is some really shoddy work on there. Just sift through. Which is quite easy to do. And no pictures of anyone’s dinner. Now there’s a change!

ModelMayhem

MM died a long time ago. It’s like Purpleport only with less traffic and noone willing to pay for anyone’s services so it’s a bit of a waste of time if you’re trying to make a living from your talents. I have tried belonging to various other platforms. Most of them are geared specifically to models, photographers and retouchers and I feel it’s just another website I’d have to maintain if I joined any more. Anything I’ve missed? If you have a recommendation for industry websites let me know!

Company website

For a modest sum I pay for a website hosted by Create which is just the best thing ever. You know you’ve made it when you have a website, made by you, that you can update whenever you need to. It’s yours. I do like how I can put everything I have into one place and it looks professional, clean and it’s free from the diatribe on other people’s timelines. But does it get me any work? Well if you type ‘Falcieri Designs’ into Google you will see I am here, there and everywhere and my website is right at the top of it all. But that’s the benefit of picking a unique name As for other searches, well that’s a bit sketchy. I’ve got to the top of page 5 on Google search is you type ‘fashion designer manchester’. Which isn’t bad I guess when a lot of what’s above me is university course pages and big retailers. But there are smaller stylists and designers higher up than me and learning to understand how SEO works is important if your website is going to do its job for you.

Etsy/Ebay

Ebay priced itself out of the market a long time ago. Etsy became it’s cheaper replacement but I got sick of everyone trying to haggle rather than just buying product. And massive price increases over the last 5 years at Royal Mail mean overseas sales are very hard to secure. I may give Etsy another go now that my product line is more streamlined and targets a different market since I knocked doing reenactment wear on the head. I know Etsy works for some people and I don’t run a fully automated shop on my website yet so it may be a useful add on.

WordPress

As a writer, for me, this is the only site I need. I began on Blogger back in 2010 and transferred over to WordPress thanks to a days taster session at a post Uni Enterprise scheme I had won a place on in 2012. I am not an incessant blogger. I just don’t have the time. I write when I need to not because I feel I should or because I am crazy for hits. Whilst the site can be a bit hit and miss (some of the updates have made some things really tricky lately) it is a valuable addition to my online resources and I can share everything straight to my other social media sites. Writing at length is great for putting the words behind my images. As a designer and stylist explaining how things came about is imperative. I enjoy telling the stories behind my work, the good and the bad of running my business.

In an ideal world I would have someone doing the sales side of things for me. I find it uninteresting enough to not get enthusiastic about. And whilst I have had openings to sell on other platforms I just don’t have the stock or the capacity to produce reams of garments to stock online retailers. My garments are one offs. Perfectly unique individual dresses often made without patterns. Some of them I wouldn’t even know how to recreate. Each one is very special and so I need to find a special individual way of selling them.

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