#THECRAFT: 6 Things Artists Need to Know About Social Media

Art, Articles, Essays, Non-Fiction

By: Steven Underwood

What’s Güd?

A lot of you guys have been asking me for advice on this pro-art thing so I decided why not turn this into a series?

Today, we will be covering social media in this steadily rising landscape. All artists know that exposure is important, but how to use it is kind of a hit-or-miss. What’s SEO? Are metrics important? Should I have a high follower count?

Read sweet babies. Let me guide you.

  1. Twitter vs. Instagram: social media platforms are as diverse as they are specific in execution. The main question artists ask is what they should be on? Maybe you know you should be on social media, but you’ve heard conflicting success stories about both. Essentially, it’s important to look at these mediums for what they prioritize. Writers have gained a lot of success on Twitter due to its idea and written based format; careers are literally defined based on how successful your thoughts are and that’s why it’s so important to apply this to your work. Instagram is far more visual. Just think about it, we’ve all heard the term IG model before, not Twitter Model. Brands and clients pay more attention to what they can see on a platform designed to make what you see better! Graphic designers should pay special heed to this, but not too much. Twitter has a need for Design as a form of meme generation and gif processing. I hear the older folk asking “What about Facebook?” Eh… Facebook as a brand is good for getting news out, or posting updates, but you can get better reach with these other two. It has a use, but as a support to these other two formats.
  2. Network Groups: Networking is 80% of the job. If you don’t know anyone, you won’t get far– no matter your talent. In writing, this means you should be hunting for the DM group chat on Twitter and doing whatever you can to stand out and participate. This includes online Forums and FB groups. Keep your name in their mouthes and betaread! Giving criticism and doing reviews for other writers will not only get your name out, but that translates into more Social Media advocacy. Followers are closely watched by publications. They matter! What matters more is if your posts are being shared by others who might have a larger network than you, or if you’re interacting with someone who has a better standing socially. This doesn’t mean be fake, or lie about what you review, but authentically these people share the same passion you do. The rest is simple to iron out. Visual Artists on IG should go to Meet-Ups, and frequent groupchats as well. Also, don’t be afraid to spam!
  3. Metrics/Avoid Purchasing Followers: This is a big one, and it isn’t top priority because now most people know its bad. Essentially, your follower count is only as good as a Thesis statement in an essay: it’s vital, but not as good as your body paragraph. Metrics are fat superior. For Example, my twitter account @Blaqueword, boasts a pretty 1k in followers, pretty average. However, my impressions range into the 40,000s. How? My followers are frequent and avid users and my tweets “go in”. Basically, more of my followers interact and share my content AND they have a larger follower count than me (boasting 100 active followers with a blue check mark works out soooo well). As long as I use this, my posts and shares will always guarantee me an upward trajectory! However, purchasing followers works out worse for you. If your followers are all not interacting, clients/brands will notice and hold it against you. It makes you a creative catfish. Sure, they should be interested in you because they like your work, but that’s not a good bottomline. They want someone who can guarantee sells or interest. You just don’t. Organically generating followers always works out.
  4. Scheduled Posts: This is probably the most difficult feat. Staying on top of your social media is important and draining. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough hours in a day. Well, not postinf frequently enough in one day can drastically harm your impressions and therefore your metrics. If every 10,000 impressions gets you 2 followers and they afford you 300 bonus impressions with whether they like/share your posts, you miss out on a lot of potential reach. But, being online limits how much art you actually get to do. Ergo, scheduling. For @Blaqueword, I use Hootsuite. It allows me to not only schedule posts, but knowing my analytics, I can better understand what I should be posting about via knowing my audience. CMS (Content Management Systems) is an important factor in all of this. Know your tools of your craft (or pay someone else to).
  5. Analytics: SMM or Social Media Marketing is all about knowing what your numbers are. This is categorized in so much. For instance, my IG: @Blaqueword holds a humble amount of followers. However, I can increase my range of likes and follows by applying posts at the time specific audience members interact. Most of my followers are from Columbus, OH and like Culturally mindful content on Fridays at 9 PM. So, I post those things at the exact time AND include hashtags to appeal to those groups! Starting off, this is difficult and requires a lot of base-setting. You’ll end up using random hashtags just to see which stick and which do not, but it is a necessary step, so if you’re self-concious about a step, feel free to delete and try again. After all, if you failed that means no one saw, right? (Wrong, god and Beyoncé saw, but they forgive you)
  6. Hire a Writer: Not a self-plug, though I do run several Social Media accounts for brands at a retainer fee. You need to know your medium well enough to pull this off and most of it involves proper writing technique. Writers thrive on social media because we can coordinate our thoughts for the platforms. If you can’t, it’s going to take a lot of footwork to get Followers to fall in. And, honestly, that means you’re depending solely on luck. Don’t do that. If you are incapable of reading trends and knowing what to say at the moment, you probably won’t get a tweet that sticks like grits. Take it from me, a man with 7 viral tweets under his belt, knowing when to say the right combination of words is key!

If this all sounds very business-like, welcome to Art: it’s 60% business. You just got to know how to play it to your advantage. If

Any more questions? Comment! I’m happy to answer.

Steven Underwood (@Blaqueword) is a writer from Columbus, Ohio, where he reigns supreme as the original Urban Bohemian. He received his Bachelor’s in English: Creative Writing and now wanders fiction shelves employing his academic powers to investigate where it says exactly that Black kids can’t be wizards.

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#TRENDSETTER: KASHMIR.VIII

#TRENDSETTER, Fashion

By: Steven Underwood

Cop a bold hit of Black Magic for your accessory drawer from Kashmir.VIII digital shop at KasmirVIII.bigcartel.com

#NOWLISTENING: to COLE TURNER by Foxx Tailored

Culture, Music

A beautiful R&B and Soul EP by Soundcloud artist, Foxx Tailored, produced by YellowSynth, Copta, HCM, Cosmic Beatz, The Martianz, Tokyo, Mantra, LAVI$H JAX, P. Soul, Ajet, Nish, IGNORVNCE, and The Boy. It holds inspiration to the hit WB series, Charmed. Listen and see where you can spot where!

If you like the sound, don’t forget to comment, like and share!

#BLACKBUSINESS: Black People You Should Pay

Articles, Fashion

By: Steven Underwood

Everyone talks about supporting Black Businesses until it is actually time to pay for the things from a Black person: especially for fashion. In the past, location was the issue, but in a digital age like the one we live in now, it’s hypocritical to pretend we can’t. That’s why over time as a professional windowshopper and a certified citizen of Black Twitter, I have compiled a list of places and people who you need to run the check to:

#TRENDSETTER: ZEL, 21, NEW JERSEY

#TRENDSETTER, Articles, Culture, Fashion, Fiction

Steven “Zel” Vasquez, 21; Graphic Designer, Cover Artist, Fashion Blogger

IG: Sayitaintzel

Inqueries: Byzelclo@gmail.com

“It’s BYZEL”

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Black Culture is about intersection, and Zel’s art is no different. Crossing the decadent fashion of rap culture with digital graphics, Zel is forming a career by making the unexpected a statement. While most would think a digital artist focuses less on physical presentation, they will be surprised to find Zel pays as much attention to what he is wearing, and how he feels with it as he does to the tools of his trade — a sentiment someone like me, who feels aesthetic conveys as much as a written word, agrees with.

Zel’s Inspirations could come from the very artists he designs his concepts for: such as the subtle festive street looks of ASAP Rocky, or the maddening lost outlook of Kanye West. There is an approach to his graphics and designs that always feels familiar, yet vibrant and distinct like a splash of color on a monotone backdrop.

 

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Even though he attends school far out in the boondocks of Hackettstown, New Jersey, he where style takes a backdrop to the salt-pillar lifestyle surrounding the college, he still maintains he isn’t simply Steven Vasquez — but the artist who creates: Zel. He appreciates the power of attention and detail on a t-shirt, in footwear and on a Mac book screen.

Whether it is a custom fit, or a digital concept for his favorite artist’s albums, Zel maintains a bold, elegant and sharpness. His art continues the trend of true Black Boy Joy.

For graphics and designs, well, BYZEL, reach the artist at byzelco@gmail.com or at his IG: Sayitaintzel.

#TRENDSETTER: mufaro limited, Cincinnati, OH

#TRENDSETTER, Fashion, Non-Fiction

By: Steven Underwood

Product Rating: 4/5

Ohio has a lot of inspiring artists walking the scarlet pavements, and even more inspiring black businesses. On the suggestion of model, Brandon Watters, I decided to look for one instead of supporting some white enterprise and feeding the capitalist agenda. I still ended up feeding the capitalist agenda, but I also ordered one of my new favorite tops.

Mufaro’s boutique is a collection of largely unisex East African-inspired streetwear. The founder, Mufaro (IG: mufaro_ltd), is a Zimbabwean born designer from Cincinnati, Ohio who was featured in numerous fashion shows including the Ankara Miami fashion week, the RAW Artist showcase, and the Emani +Mufaro Expose in Dallas, Texas. Mufaro LTD.

But, even with these ventures under his breath, I only really needed to know he was an Ohio artist, and I leapt right into his site and put my coin into his purse.

I ordered the Dashiki Extended Shirt/Skirt ($60.00). A neat black long sleeve with a flowing skirt covered in Zimbabwean-inspired print and three zippers on either side and up the tail. It is a unisex piece that men can wear as an extended tee (which I do), or as a skirt.

Photos courtesy of Mufaro LTD homepage

Ever since I collected the shirt, I have worn it exactly five times, and it has never failed to impress. It’s infinitely versatile: suitable for numerous occasions and makes a very clear statement about what I am about. I get compliments and unlike when I usually try out something new in my style choices, I don’t feel any bit of self-consciousness and hyper visibility. The one issue that I encounter is that many of the western-inspired styles that frequent my closet do not – or cannot really match the design choice. But, I enjoy a challenge; and this outfit gives me a challenge to own my own unique style – because style should never come easy, especially when you’re doing it for yourself and not for the power in the brand.

The design is beautiful, and the only real difficulty I had with the end product was a trouble with the stitching that came undone on the inseam when stretched just a little too much when I pulled the shirt on. Still, the product is beautiful.

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mufaro limited New line imagined by Zimbabwean born Mufaro (male) Based in Ohio (Cincinnati) Inquiries|mufaroltd@gmail |Ankara Miami fashion week www.mufaroltd.com