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Written by Gregg A. Masters, Director of Digital Media Strategy/CEO Xanate Media

In last July’s issue of “the Illustrators Journal e-zine we considered the range of what qualifies for inclusion in the ‘social media’ domain, since it is considerably more than FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube. In this column we’ll consider the question of how widespread is the use of social media both in general and from the stand point of the arts in particular.

Two recent news items help frame both questions.They include: ‘Social media is growing at a freakish rate’ courtesy of Ragan’s HealthCare Communications News, and ‘The Tangled Web: Social Media and the Arts’ a report commissioned for the arts community by Theatre Bay Area.social media growth chartAs far as the rate of increase in the use of social media, this user timeline graphic paints the strong uptrend across all demographic groups. Even the 65+ cohort is on the rise, spiking from a modest 7% in May of 2008 to 26% (almost a 5x increase) though May 2010. Odds are the share has only grown since then.

To no one’s surprise the highest market penetration is the 18 -29 years old segment which is trending from 67% to 86% utilization for the same 24 month horizon. In the middle are the rest of us. Clearly the general picture is one of sustained market penetration and increased utilization by members of the various social media platforms.

The picture of where membership is growing is broken down in the graphic on ‘Social Media Visitor Growth’. The “king of the hill” is FaceBook which reigns supreme with 310 million daily unique visits, followed by some surprises of lesser known networks or social media communities. Also, with one in four Americans viewing a YouTube video clip daily, this picture begins to give you a feel for our growing appetite video content consumption. The dark horse in this race, seemingly with an insignificant share of the market is Twitter. Don’t let this relatively small slice of the whole fool you! Twitter is a very powerful social media tool, and is growing exponentially as well. Last of all is the mention of LinkedIn which is gaining popularity in professional circles’ as the ‘go to’ network of choice for job hunting or business prospecting purposes, given LinkedIn’s IPO this year.



The key take away?
Understand that social media really isn’t an amorphous mass of something to fear, but a
collection of tools that can be orchestrated in such a way to help you get your product,
message or service in the stream of conversations pertinent to your art or business niche. Do not fear participation! Again, as mentioned last month, start with twitter and follow this imple 5 step process:
• Listen to others you’ve elected to follow
• Learn from what they are saying (stay away from promoters, or look what I can do types)
• Engage via @replies direct to what they are saying
• Support their content via Re-Tweets; and
• Always remember ‘QTIP’ (quit taking it personally).
So in the next 30 days, take these two steps:
1. Step into one social media ‘theater’ (I suggest Twitter, but it’s your call).
2. Determine to move up to the next level of participation in the conversation.
For example, if you already have a Twitter account, see if you can seek out and engage
in a community or hashtag discussion of interest to you, i.e., #art, #metalsmith, or any
other ‘TweetChat’ that may apply to your situation.