How to Build Your Design Brand using Social Media

Being a designer is not just about having the talent,drive and perseverance for success, but also about utilizing the right social media tools to make sure that your designs have the best chance to become known. This article will take a look at the major ways ideas spread through social media, and the tools you should be employing as an artist or a designer to continue down the road of success.

Understand how digital ideas spread

The spread of ideas is a delicate science, and one you should become accustomed to. You probably already know the most common tools of spreading your business or design, from Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, tumblr and personal blogs. However, an awareness of these methods is not enough; they must be correctly implemented. In the past few years, there has arguably been a shift from a focus on SEO (search engine optimization) to SMO (social media optimization). This means that a focus on effectively spreading your designs across various forms of social media– through posts, shares and likes – is currently the most effective way of creating a digital reputation. Here are some tips to optimize your social media presence.

Downward and Outward Projections

As a designer, you should spread your work with a dual-focused downward and outward trajectory. A downward trajectory represents connecting with fans, clients and consumers. An outward trajectory represents connecting with contemporaries, fellow designers, sponsorsand other professionals. Both of these methods of exposing your work are necessary as they provide different connections. While connecting with fans and consumers will secure the stability necessary for your continued work, connecting with fellow designers will help cement your place as an accepted member of that group. Sources of mutual inspiration should not be overlooked, and partnerships with other designers are a great way of increasing the number of people who are aware of both of your projects.

The Downward Projection

Spreading awareness of your brand and your designs through social media takes an energized plan and the ability to utilize multiple SMO tools. As a general rule, you must post regularly and at the appropriate times. For instance, if you live in Australia and most of your fans are in the USA, then the time difference could have a large impact on how many people see your posts. Luckily there are tools available to you such as tweetwhen.com which reveal to you what days and times you receive the most retweets. This can indicate the approximate time that most people are viewing your content, so it would be wise to stagger posts to this time.

Interact with your followers on Facebook and Twitter. Create groups on Facebook and allow an interchange of ideas and suggestions. The more of a dialogue you create, the better able you are to formulate a brand and image for yourself while still maintaining a personal connection to your base. Use all the tools before you to spread your network, including Google+ and buzzfeeds. Use tumblr to showcase your designs and give behind-the-scenes photographs or provide sneak peeks for followers. Pinterest is best for personal inspiration and to coordinate color schemes and ideas. Work toward creating your own website and link back to it as much as possible when using these forms of social media.

The Outward Projection

Connecting with other designers, artists, producers and those in the business side of design is essential to get your ideas moving. Linkedin may be a bit stodgy for some, but it is certainly a good place start if only because it is the first place many people look for you online in a professional context. On your profile, you should have a picture, an explanation of your design ethos and a link to your blog, tumblr or website. Another method of connecting with contemporaries is through social networking made specifically for artists. Here are some examples:

The Behance Network: This website showcases digital portfolios by professional graphic designers, photographers and illustrators. You can search and explore for new artists and designers, and follow the work of your favorites. There is also a job section where you can search for jobs wanted, or post a job if you require a designer.

Shapeshifters.net: This website calls itself a specialized information agency for the creative economy. The website, which is now under construction, will provide creative business information tailored to individual need.

devianART: This website is free to join, and is broken up by category including digital art, literature, cartoons and film. It is a place for artistsand art lovers to explore and exhibit their artwork. You can set up a profile, create image galleries and get fans, while also collaborating with fellow artists from across the globe. You can even sell your art at the devianART shop.

Use Crowdsourcing as a Method of Promotion

Crowdsourcing works by getting needed supplies, contributions, volunteers or publicity from a large group of people, usually for free. People have an incentive to participate because they either receive an award, raise money for a good cause, or, in this case, because it showcases a deep interest of theirs. Examples of crowdsourcing can be giving out free items with your designs, such as notebooks or clothing, or having people join a contest where your designs are showcased as a form of advertising.

Crowdsourcing is a great way to get feedback (both good and bad) and expose your designs to the public in an easy and free way. Crowdsourcing can also provide artists with the opportunity to experiment with new ideas and designs with very little risk. While of course your reputation and artistic integrity shouldn’t be taken for granted, crowdsourcing can provide honest feedback from those people who willingly participate inthis digital process of review, as these people are participating because they are interested in design itself and not because the project provides any direct benefit to them. In other words, you can trust their opinion.

It can’t be said enough that everyone loves swag. Physically wearing your design in the form of t-shirts, or other clothing items, and giving out these items to family, friends and fans is a great way of getting crowdsourcedadvertising that people can easily get excited about.

Hit the Streets

When promoting your growing brand, focusing on social media is important, but so too is not forgetting the real world. Creating posters, flyers and printed ads is another important method of getting your name out there. Having the right tech tools is essential for this component of self-promotion, and requires a powerful computer with Photoshop and other programs specialized to your needs, as well as a suitable printer and high quality paper. All in one computers are excellent options for this type of work, as they offer a great deal of power and a massive screen, both of which make the design process much easier, and also help you save space in your office or living room.If you do not have these types of tools at home, leave it to the professionals – there are plenty of designers out there who would be happy to help you.With your posters in tow, hit the streets, talk to people, pitch your designs and focus on making connections. While you will be in contact with fewer people than you would be online, regular people are transformed into fans or supporters through a genuine connection with the artist, so face to face interaction is significant.

Go to Magazines and Blogs

Banish your fear of rejection and pitch articles, ideas and designs by sending them to magazines and websites. Don’t expect immediate success if you are an unknown, but keep at it and you may get lucky. A good place to start is by contacting design bloggers or artists with popular blogs and asking about the possibility of writing a guest post. In return for your commitment, bloggers will often allow you to publicize your work and link back to your website.

Another way of getting your designs out there is to search for local charities in your area and contract them for information regarding a partnership. You could, for instance, volunteer to rebrand their stationary or fully overhaul their website. By offering your services for free, you will be more likely to not only receive practice working with clients, but also build your portfolio while contributing to a good cause.

Search for localdesign contests or artist showcases. Be aware of local cultural events and see if you can buy space to display your work. Follow up until you get the answer you want.
Most importantly, stay persistent, tenacious and never give up.

About the Author:
Natalie Smith studied International Relations in Glasgow, and currently works for a digital consulting firm in London. She writes tech and web design articles in her spare time, and also loves trying out new gadgets and reading the entertaining prose of P.G. Wodehouse and David Sedaris, her two favorite authors.

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