Is Facebook good or bad? That is the question among many it seems. Our ever-suspicious artist correspondent and advocate, Rice Freeman-Zachary evaluates this question from both sides. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to publish an art book filled with your professional pieces or whether you just want a way to promote your wire jewelry patterns–as it turns out–we think Facebook is good for you. Just be careful with some of the games. Too much Farmville may not be good for anyone.
For a while there, I suspected that Tonia Davenport, my editor for Living the Creative Life and Creative Time and Space, was secretly a recruiter for Facebook. She kept telling me that it was important for artists and authors to be there, and I kept thinking of the stories I’d heard about people who signed up to search for their Best Friend From High School, got sucked into one of those games where you leverage your friendships for power, and were never heard from again. Ever. I suspected their mummified bodies were found, months later, still sitting in front of their laptops, logged onto their home page. Important? Eh.
As usual, though, Tonia was right. It *is* important for us to be on Facebook, and in the years since I signed up, there have been many times when I’ve (perhaps grudgingly) had to silently thank her for the nudge. If you’re thinking that Facebook, along with Twitter, is just a huge, mindless time suck, think again. Not only are these both ways to stay in touch with family and friends and to let people know what you’re doing, but there are solid, sensible business benefits, as well. Don’t believe me? OK, here you go:
1) First, as Tonia reminds me, it’s fun. If you’re going to do social media marketing by getting your name out there, it can at least be done in a place where you can keep up with friends and students and people you’ve met at art retreats and street shows and gallery openings. I mean, why do marketing in a vacuum, right?
2) It’s efficient. Rather than trying to contact a lot of people individually, you can reach them all with one post.
3) You can share photos, videos, links, updates, messages–all in one place, so you don’t have to log into and out of half a dozen different platforms.
4) It’s free. Always a good thing.
5) There are already-established communities there, so you’re not reinventing the wheel.
6) And the #1 reason for me: many people don’t check their email every 3 minutes like, um, some people I won’t mention. They may not even download their email to their computer and may only check it online once or twice a day. If you really need to reach them right away, you may be out of luck unless you’re friends on Facebook or following each other on Twitter. I’ve found that sending a message via FB is the fastest way–and in some cases, the only way–to reach lots of people it might otherwise take me days to contact.
You don’t have to spend hours playing games or following links. You can make contacts with people and respond to them, and you can interact as much or as little as you want. The same is true for Twitter. I just got off the phone with an artist whose flight was canceled in a city where I know someone who might know someone who might–well, you get the idea–and all because I read her tweet about a canceled flight. I don’t goof around on Twitter, but it’s great for finding ways to connect with people I know, re-tweeting their good news, offering suggestions for everything from a good brand of gesso to an online source for sketchbooks. To find out more about Facebook and Twitter and how they can be a really good thing for you, be sure to keep up with Jen Cushman’s Creative Insights, her regular column here at CreateMixedMedia, where she talks about online social media.