Direct Messaging on Twitter


Here’s a great post I wrote for in 2012, but deserves a repost because this is still happening. In a future post, I’ll offer a 101 on Tweetequette for art makers and workers, but for now let’s address something that I feel needs some attention – direct messages on Twitter.

For some time, social media marketers have suggested new followers are a marketing opportunity. They have advised businesses, organizations and individuals to send a DM (direct message) thanking the person for following and suggesting they check out one or more aspects of their business on their website or other social media platforms. Often DMs will read something like this:

     Thank you for following! Please check out our webpage


     Thank you for following. Please also like us on facebook

Furthermore, some people have this set up as an auto-send for new followers. There are a few things that are problematic with this strategy.

Firstly, let’s remember that behind these tools and platforms there are real people. No one likes getting an auto response. An automated greeting is disingenuous and doesn’t create a feeling of connection or trust. Just don’t do it. The alternative is to do these manually. Do them once a day or every couple of days. Your followers will appreciate it.

Secondly, asking a new follower to take further action for you is like paying someone a compliment and then asking for a favour. It negates the compliment and makes you and your company look self-focused.

Instead, take this opportunity to get to know your audience. Check out what they are tweeting and comment in a DM about that. If you manage lists (and you should) ask them what list they might best fit into. Use the opportunity to engage –and make it about them.

Another option could be to offer current information not readily available. If you have a new publication or book launch, an upcoming exhibition or workshop, tell your new follower about that. If you have a new app or something new on your website, that’s also something worth sharing. Share that link specifically, not just your main page.


Here are five examples of well crafted DMs:

 Thanks for following David! We are pleased to now be representing Jack Lumber His solo show opens Jan 27. Join us!

Thanks for following me! My next exhibition opens March 18 @AwesomeGallery! Would you like to be on my mailing list?

Thanks for following us Jennifer! Next issue launch is this Friday @CoolBar Come celebrate! Here’s deets>

Thanks for following! We just relaunched our webiste this week and your feedback is welcome. New event calendars!

Thanks for following us Shannon! We’re currently running a contest for 2 tickets to our upcoming art party! Here’s how to enter >

Whatever you do, do not simply ask a new follower to also like your Facebook page. They don’t know you, you haven’t built up a relationship with them and it’s kind of like asking someone if they’d like to buy a second pair of pants – in grey.

If however, you are offering new and different information on an alternate social media platform… ah, but that’s for another post…

If you are interested in learning more effective & efficient ways to use social media platforms and tools, please check out the fall an winter courses I am teaching through the Continuing Education program at OCADU.

LISTEN UP: The Value of Social Media Monitoring

the-gossipsArtists, gallerists, critics, dealers, educators, designers, architects, etc. are all sharing content and talking a lot online, but do they all realize that Web 2.0 is about two-way communication and a big part of that is listening. If you want to increase your sales, raise memberships or get more ‘bums in seats’, take the time to listen to what others are saying. There are two types of listening you can use: reactive and proactive.
maxresdefaultReactive Listening is about responding. It is used for customer service issues, competitor intel and crisis management. While it may not lead directly to sales, it has its place. Just the other week, I was unhappy with the service I got from the photocopying department of a large Canadian office supply store, so I tweeted about it and added something of value for them. (Note that outright slagging a company on Twitter is net-bullying and bad netequette, but more on this in a future post.) Sometimes helpful criticism can work out for everyone. Within an hour of my tweet, I was asked to send my comments to an email address, after which I was contacted by the store. They heard my concern and now my next photocopying job is free of charge. That’s the power of reactive listening. It is the listening and action we take when someone comes knocking at our door.
detective-with-flashlightProactive Listening is great for identifying new marketing and sales opportunities. We can do this easily by setting up search terms in HootSuite or on SocialMention. Choose key phrases which enable you to position yourself as the person with the answer. If someone in your area says, “I’m bored,” or asks, “What’s going on this weekend?” be the answer! Respond with “Come check out this exhibition!” or “I’m having an opening at Gallery X.” Once you’ve established some keywords, you can save them in your Hootsuite stream or SocialMention alerts and check them every few days. Words related to your art form coupled with question words like “who” or “when” will also send people to you and may yield some great results.

If you are keen on listening to specific industry news and updates, set up a Gmail account for capturing Google Alerts. Scrub through these every so often. This will keep you on top of what’s happening with a specific topic and also give you great content to share with others.

Proactive listening can also be about identifying who will be at which events. Look at your events on Facebook and see who is attending. While you’re at it, you can also post on the event page saying you are looking forward to going or add value by posting a link about the event. This lets others know you will be attending and increases your visibility on Facebook. Likewise, on Twitter, when a gallery or artist tweets about an event, retweet and add you are looking forward it or to meeting them. An online introduction or “eIntroduction” can pay off when meeting in real time. If you are already at an event, tweet about it and post a photo. Search the event custom hashtag (if there is one) or the venue to see if others are talking about it. This too can be a very proactive way of making new connections.

When considering your marketing material, listen to how people are talking about you or others like you and emulate that language. A great example of this comes from Vaio. The original campaign for their new laptops focused on bit and byte data as though they were describing a car engine. After listening to their Twitter users talk about the colour and design of their newest products, they shifted the ‘engine descriptors’ to the bottom of their marketing material and moved design-based language front and centre. This increased sales immediately.

So, the next time you’re sitting around wondering how to sell a painting, get a dealer, increase your memberships or get more people out to your event, hop online, set up some search terms and start looking for those looking for you …even though they don`t know it yet.

NEW Summer Social Media Course @OCAD


Writing about social media and teaching workshops for artists and cultural organizations for three years has taught me a lot about the social media marketing needs of artists, musicians, designers and cultural organizations. It has been rewarding to work with visual arts and cultural institutions to develop social media policies and implement strategies and watch the ‘a-ha’ moments when possibilities are created. I have had the pleasure of participated in panel discussions about social media and the arts and have met some really smart people alone the way. It may then comes as no surprise to hear I’ll be the instructor for one of OCAD U’s newest Continuing Studies courses beginning this May.

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Social Media for Artists & Designers is a four week affordable course for any artist or designer who wants to know more about using social media to raise awareness of their practice, turn engagements into work or sales opportunities and continue to reach even greater audiences through various social media platforms.

There are only 20 spots available and half of them are already filled. For $250+GST, you can not beat the value of this four week course. If you are interested, you can read the full course description and register here.

Feel free to contact OCAD U’s office of continuing studies or email me if you have any questions.


VIDEO: My TOP 5 TOOLKIT Suggestions for Neighbourhood Arts Network

Back when I was the Social Media Director at Akimbo, my good friends at Neighbourhood Arts Network asked me to participate in a night at the Gladstone Hotel, talking to young artists about best practices for self promotion using social media. While we were there they asked me to jump in front of the camera and offer my top five tips for using social media. Here’s what I said:
I look at everything as a potential learning experience so here’s what I learned from participating in this event:

1) It is harder than I thought to sound smart on camera –especially in one take.
‘ Ummm…”
2) There were a lot of people who needed the information I knew.
3) I love teaching people new things.



I am co-hosting an Akimbo TweetChat with Jacquie Severs from The Robert McLaughlin Gallery on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 1pm EST. This month’s topic will be: PUBLIC ART.  More info…

SOCIAL MEDIA: Keep Your Eyes On The Prize


Wonder what you should be posting on Facebook? Or what you could be tweeting? You’re in good company. There are lots of people promoting themselves through social media. Some are more successful than others. Before you put your next art opening on the cover of your brilliantly designed Facebook fan page timeline or utilize the custom background on Twitter to promote upcoming events, it’s important to step back and think about your goals. I’ve outlined ten to consider when developing your strategy.

1. Generating awareness. Let others know you have something to offer. This can often be combined with your other objectives. Point to media coverage, blogs and interviews, photos and regular programming and special events.

2. Draw a trail. Cross promote. Point to online content on your website. Mention art festivals or conferences where you have a booth. Suggest a private studio tour or other special event you are attending.

3. Launches and event announcements. Any change in your artistic practice? Anything new in your business? Changes in your institution? Launching a new service or initiative? Announce it! Include media coverage, external blog reviews, or any third party endorsements. Or create a special interview, video or a blog about it.

4. Establish needs and wants. Social media is valuable if you are offering something new that is not already out there. Listen to your audience. If you hear of common concerns, position yourself as the answer or point to academic or critical papers who point to you.

5. Comparison. What have you got that they haven’t got? Consider your points of differentiation (POD). Highlight reviews, surveys, or blogs that compare you favourably to others.

6. Positive associations. Connect with people, organizations, curators, or critics who like what you do, your gallery, or your organization –  engage with them online to create a positive impression in the mind of your audience.

7. Form/change opinions. More and more people are seeing the value of social media to create or change public opinion. Show that opinion has changed. Point to external blogs, articles and critical papers or to other media coverage.

8. Influence influencers. As you post, tweet, and blog, you will connect with people who are influential. They might not be traditional media figures, but they often have a successful rate of call to action. Engage these people and motivate them to re-tweet and repost your offerings. Invite these influencers to your events or suggest they try your service.

9. Drive action/traffic. Instead of pointing generally to your website or inviting someone to see everything you have to offer, tease them in by suggesting something specific. Highlight a unique in-venue or online event. Give them special online offers or direct them to new content, interviews, or blog posts.

10. Establish or regain trust. Trust goes hand-in-hand with establishing or changing opinion. Use social media to shine a light on positive aspects of your business or practice. It can also be used for damage control. Point to third party endorsements and articles. Or emphasize your – or your organization’s – outreach programs, highlighting your community involvement through charitable events, sponsorship, etc.

This blog post originally appeared on on March 24, 2012.

Your Page Likes My Page

Here’s a Facebook ‘LIKE’ tip:

This tip is for those (and there are many) who use Facebook for promotion of their artwork, gallery or arts organization. As individuals, we all know that we can LIKE a page on Facebook, but did you know your art organization or gallery PAGE can also LIKE another organization, artist or gallery professional page? Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to your organization or professional PAGE, click ‘Use Facebook as <your professional page>’ and find other pages to LIKE.

2. When you are finished, be sure to go back to your professional PAGE and return using Facebook as you, otherwise you’ll keep using Facebook as your professional page.

Why should your page like other pages?

Your page liking other pages is a great way for your organization to create positive associations with or endorse others in your professional network.  Your gallery or art organization page could like:

• your artists’ pages
• your member pages
• organizations from where you receive funding
• organizations that pertain to your business

In effect, it builds a network on Facebook.  You can see what’s happening with these pages on your page news feed. To see this, go to your page and click to use Facebook as <your professional page> again. Then click on Facebook home in the top left. There you’ll see a feed of only other pages your page has liked.

Join the conversation!

You can’t comment on a Facebook page as your page unless you first like it. Also, by commenting on a page as your page you can increase the visibility of your page, thereby creating opportunities for your page to be a thought leader and increase more likes on your own page.

Switching between your personal account and your professional page is a great way to keep your personal interests separate from your organization’s. It will help to weed out what your family or friends are doing from what important updates are happening with the organizations or people you deal with professionally. And your page’s news feed will only show updates on the pages you’ve liked.

Want to see which pages like yours?

Under your number of LIKES on the left side of your page, click ‘like this’. Then, from the dropdown menu, select the Pages tab. You’ll be able to see all the other pages that like yours.

The best way to increase the number of pages that like yours? 

Start LIKING!  When you like a page, leave them a note on their wall (if it’s active) and tell them you liked them or comment on their postings. These interactions are often reciprocal. Depending on an organization’s social media policy, they may or may not LIKE you back, but chances are they will if they have some professional association with you or your page.

Try it out!

If you have a page, log into it and then go to my Facebook Page and LIKE it! Leave me a comment to and I’ll defiantly check out your page!

Originally posted on

The Art of Social Media

Presenting to first year Ontario College of Arts and Design University students recently, I asked them if they knew the difference between a public gallery and an artist Run centre, the difference between a gallery collective and a commercial gallery – questions that mostly elicited blank faces. They didn’t understand each venue will have different relationships with the various players and, in turn, a different relationship with the public. What I learned was the general public as a whole and those new to the arts often can’t differentiate one from another and don’t have a very good understanding of the differences in the moving parts in the industry. They need something to help them along.

Enter Social Media, the new great and wildly flailing appendage of many a marketing department and communications gang, often tossed to the intern to take for walks and clean up after its misdoings.  How many followers do you have? How many fans did your page get today? What’s your APP?  All these questions have made many professionals, artists included, cringe and run away. There are those though, like in any industry, who are championing this new and quickly developing tool –and that’s what it is, a tool – and they are finding a lot of success with it. Beyond baseline marketing, they are learning to use it to connect with a new and younger audience or an audience which, because of geography, would not otherwise be able to engage. These people have quickly learned through trial and error that, as Dr. Lynda Kelly from The Australian Museum says, “It’s not about how many followers or fans you have, it’s about how many engagements you are making.” Currently, big public institutions are trying new ways to engage their public with this new reach and allow the public access to its objects and information.  Incubators and collectives are still using it predominately as a marketing tool, but along with artist run centres, the day isn’t far off when these arts entities will find each other and interconnections in multi-space collaborations will happen with the end result bridging geographic barriers like we’ve never seen before. This is where some magic will happen.

I’ve heard complaints many times from artist run centres and arts organizations set outside the large urban centres how they often feel excluded from the scene.  I imagine an art landscape where rural artist run centres can participate in debates happening in urban centres, and visa versa, instead of reading a transcript of them later. I imagine residencies happening collectively online. While some may feel there is no replacement for ‘being there’, we must adapt and give opportunities for engaging, not currently practiced in the arts arena, giving voice to the audience itself.  Once we harness these new connecting tools we can focus our attention on the next great breakthrough. I believe it is the role of the artist to be a visionary.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn, Youtube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Google+ Websites and APPs are just a few platforms being used and online dashboards like Hootsuite have proven to be a great way to both manage workflow and monitor who’s saying what.   It’s not about selling ME ME ME – successful social media is about sharing and the collective ‘WE’.       

Another great concern for many in institutions is this idea of a plural social voice watering down the perception of in-house expertise. An expert is an expert and if an institution has an expert in some field or some expertise in the industry, why not share that with an audience?  Arts institutions have a great opportunity to create a space where the public can access that knowledge and connect with that information or expert. A great rule of social media is:  If you teach someone something; if they learn something from you, they will come back. 

While social media first came into hard play on marketing turf, it has quickly stretched its wings – and what a wingspan it has. Institutions traditionally heard as a singular voice now can have many voices and instead of it being a port for information export only, it can be a conduit for ongoing two-way communication. In this new structure, institutions can learn from listening more and broadcasting less.

Is it just a numbers game? If an art dealer, curator, gallerist or administrator is stuck in the mindset that it’s all about the sale, membership or getting the visitor into the venue, then they can always look at this as just another lead. More importantly though, is to recognize that an electronic audience is still an audience. If the numbers are adjusted correctly to include these interactions, one is able to better demonstrate that an electronic visit is still a visit. Again, it’s about interactions.

As in most industries, there are financial bottom lines and limited resources. Even more so than other industries, the arts are often susceptible to budget cuts.  Institutions that exhibit art and others who help fund art projects are always trying to make the dollars stretch to keep things moving along. With dollars tight, social media can be used as a marketing tool with a much greater return on investment than traditional media like television or paper ads.  I defer to a mantra from the Australian Museum which is: Don’t work twenty percent harder, work twenty percent differently.

Social media as a viable tool will advance and change and grow.  Arts organizations and arts workers are aware of this and are scrambling to figure it out. They are talking about it and they are asking questions of themselves and of their audience – they know they need to harness these tools if they are to succeed in this newly defined landscape. These are all good signs! It’s in the discovery stage and it’s changing the game.

Originally posted on