Introducing A New Creatabot Contributor – Helen Hanson

We have another contributor! Helen Hanson is from Doncaster and is an all round creative who will be writing about many different subjects. I asked her some questions so that we could all get to know her better…

So what is your creative background?

My creative background has involved art in one form or another from cake making, rug making and cross stitching to ceramics, stained glass windows and painting. I have always had creative flair and have a Masters in Multimedia and Education and am looking to start my Doctorate in Social Media and Education in September. I have been involved in e-learning and love learning new software and looking at alternative ways of using technology. I work in a College which gives me lots of opportunities to experiment with new technologies and learn techniques with my students and really bring out their creative side and transferrable skills around technology and software.

I have an addiction to learning new things and playing with technology. I am also a traditional artist using oil paints and pastels and experimenting with a different range of image manipulation packages and then mixing my art mediums to create different creative art pieces.

Who inspires you both locally and universally?

I am inspired by lots of different artists and love to see the different art works that are now coming through on my Twitter feed as well as on Facebook and these have inspired me recently to get more involved with my own art work and produce some digital pieces rather than just the traditional artwork that I have always created.

I have an open mind which can get very over inspired by what I see around me in everyday working life and have got to the stage that I have so many ideas that I now have to create a list to make sure that I don’t forget some of the things that I have seen and what I would like to experiment with. Time is my biggest issue as the days are not long enough and burning the candle at both ends seems to be becoming a traditional pastime.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

I would like to be able to have time to myself to be selfish and just do what I wanted to do rather than life itself having an impact on my time. I would like to be able to spend all my time being creative and creating pieces of art work in the sun with no time constraints. We all need dreams and hopes to aim for and something to look forward to and make plans to achieve to keep us improving and moving forward.

Can you recommend a creative website you love?

There are so many to choose from each with their own different views and perspectives on life. Deviant Art is a brilliant collection of pieces as well as 500px and Planetvisions.com. I am currently enjoying social media like Twitter, it gives me the opportunity to create an interactive list and categorise some of the feeds and interesting people that are sharing their art work, blogs and websites. I would not have met Creatabot had it not been for this aspect of Social Media.

You can find Helen on Twitter @hansonhelen

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Working For An Indie Record Label – Part 4: Making Sense Of Social Media – By Luke Crook

So, one of THE most important parts of being successful either as a band, a label or even a brand is how you connect with your fan base and demographic. Despite what people say, there are pretty much 2 major ways of getting in touch with your fan base to let them know what’s happening, Facebook & Twitter. Most of the courses I end up on are either about Social Media full stop, or have a massive section dedicated to it.

It’s all about social media. You can’t get away from it, try as you might. The problem is, both the main social media platforms operate completely differently so different strategies are needed. Twitter never changes. 140 unadulterated characters of text to use and abuse as best you can, tag people in it and share that Instagram photo of your dog with your sunglasses on (don’t deny it, we’ve all thought about it). Facebook allows you to present music, videos, photos, competitions and all sorts of lovely things internally (you don’t have to leave Facebook to see them), but the buggers keep changing the format every 4 months, and by the time you’ve worked it out, they sweep the rug out from under you and change it all. Not to mention all their restrictions on advertising inside the website. Don’t put anything in your bands cover photo that tells someone where to buy a product. Facebook will take your page down without telling you. By all means say its out or available though! They do however have some insanely good (albeit slightly 1984/Orwellian) marketing devices. We’ll get to that later.

There are, of course, other ways of engaging your fans. That lovely website you spent £4k on development and that amazing feature that no-one else has done yet for example. The problem is, you’ll find it very quickly becomes a holding page for you to link to from your Facebook/Twitter account (We were actually talking about this in the office after I wrote this). However, it is an amazing way to archive your work and keep things neatly organized in a way that other places don’t. A good example is your gig list. Myspace makes it looks ugly in my opinion and that puts people off reading it. Keep it on your website, drive a bit of traffic that way and lay it out in a way you would like to see it. It’s your website after all!

Also, lets not forget the newsletter. Now this is still pretty effective, just don’t ever look at the stats, they’ll depress you. If memory serves, the average for people opening the email sits at about 9% and the average people that actually click a link in your newsletter is about 2/3%. Most good newsletter systems will give you a link to your newsletter too, so you can share it around to people to read in their browser. Some will even allow you to link up your Facebook or Twitter (Starting to see a trend here yet?) so you can spread the word further. Completely customisable from layout to content, its yours to design and make.

Now the major advantage of Facebook is the marketing aspect. No other social media does it as well, so if you’re looking to make some money and sell some product, its the place to be. Their marketing ability is spectacular, if not slightly bloody scary. The beauty of it is, is that you can spend as little as you like on it. £5, see how it does. If it does well, pump some more money in. If it doesn’t, you’ve only spent a fiver. You can tailor it to a fine point too. Target people that like similar pages. Show the punter that their friend likes that page too. The scariest aspect of it though, is the way you can target advertise through keywords. There’s a little text box in the Ad’s section where you can tap in keywords that, if people mention it in their status, relevant Adverts will start appearing in their news feed. “Oh fudge, I broke my bike chain” will soon become a little square box on the right hand ad feed saying “Cheap bike repairs in Chatham”. Incredibly clever, but a bit creepy at the same time. (It’s worth mentioning that you can turn all of this off, but it’s a bit of a ball ache (surprise surprise). It’s your privacy, think about it.)

So there’s a bit of an intro into Social Media. You might notice its heavily Facebook based, but that’s where you have to most control over what you can do. Twitter is much more to the point, so it’s fairly straightforward. Facebook is where you’ll make money from driving sales.

Oh, a few final things in this whirlwind social media ride, which were in fact my point in writing a blog on the topic.

There’s a technique that has various names but I’ll call it The Rule Of Thirds here. It’s very simple, and will prevent you losing followers and likes (although its rather difficult to mass unlike things on Facebook. Another advantage…). Don’t constantly spam your demographic with messages to buy your wares. People will quickly grow tired of this, especially Twitter followers (Twitter followers are much less forgiving than Facebook Followers. They tend to be a lot savvier and will drop you like a stone). So the trick is to make roughly every third message a marketing one. Buy the album, get my tour tickets, blah. Every third is also a minimum. I try and go for every five or six personally. Don’t forget to reward either. Free tracks or posters or a personal video of the band saying “HI WERE ON TOUR!!!!!  *cough*to support our new album*cough*” work very well, people love them, and are technically marketing without shoving it in the consumers face. Also, keep it relevant and not stream of consciousness type barrage of messages.

Which leads me into my final point. Keep it personal. If it sounds like you are directly talking to that fan, they’ll like it more. Now, for a label or a brand I can appreciate that might be a bit tricky, but for an artist its imperative. Make it first person. I can’t stress this enough. You do NOT want to make it sound like someone is writing your tweets for you. Don’t con your fans. One of them will work out that you can’t have tweeted that, because you were either onstage or being interviewed live. They are much smarter than you think. If it is someone else doing it for you/them, set up a little system that lets the fan know when its you and with its you’re assistant (E.g. Tom Cruise. His Tweets end TC, his teams end TCHQ…I think. You get the point.).

So there you go. A quick, scatterbrained take on social media. Feel free to leave any questions below and I’ll try and dig the answer out of my seminar notes! I’ll come back later with another article about social media thats a bit more targeted, but this should (hopefully) get you moving in the right direction.

By Luke Crook

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“The Dreamer and the Doer” Mini Biography of Kevin Proctor

Kevin Proctor speaks to Creatabot about how he came to be involved in film production and became director of the web series “Self Centered”. Kevin Proctor is the ideal example of how to work your way up the ladder within media using your own initiative. Hopefully by learning more about Kevin’s past this can help to inspire others who would love to work in production. Continue reading