Artists, 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.
Reactive 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.
Proactive 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.