#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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Being Black and an emerging writer resisting Trump’s America presents interesting challenges.

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Being Black and an emerging writer resisting Trump’s America presents interesting challenges. You’re rising in an industry that claims to value your voice, and want to incorporate your narrative in a bid for diversity and rebellion, yet refuses to employ you.

It’s not a secret to Black writers — both radical and tame — that Editorial and Publishing is secretly thrush with covert corporate racism. You can actually count on a single hand how many writers of color at all are discovered before they’ve built their own platforms to an extent they very likely do not need the assistance of publishing houses who knock at their doors for a handout. Black Writers are seldom employed to use our nuance and navigation of our complicated lives and the translation of our bodies across the human experience — we are mitigated to a specific seat on specific staffs, many without more than one or two faces that look like ours.

Recently, many companies have made a bid for individuals to speak on POC and Marginalized Community-related politics, but rather than being a challenge to involve voices that aren’t heard, we find that unless we have a specific following behind us, we cannot even get a seat at the kiddy table, let alone an entry-level position with very little income.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

I had the irony of sitting in the backseat of an LYFT with a woman who had the fortune of working for a Big 5 Publishing House, one I’ve recently been rejected from for whatever reason. She had very little to say about her previous place of employment that I have not heard about many similar places who pay crumbs and ashes to the POC working amongst them while glorifying the pursuits and agendas of whiter, straighter counterparts.
I didn’t propose that this reflects on the BIG 5 publishing house not employing me, because honestly? It could be that I didn’t fit their no qualifications necessary bylines on the job description, and somehow me — a supposedly radical black queer writer with strong feelings on social justice and politics — didn’t fit their search for a writer who feels strongly about “marginalized communities, politics, and social justice).

However, this conversation on experience in writers is ridiculous in itself, because in a community that voices the problem amongst media being that it doesn’t give POC representation of our narratives or stories in any format, how is it that a Writer of Color is able to have any experience?

How do you have experience when you’re not able to be employed?

Quite easily: by working for free. By allowing yourself to be taken advantage of like this is a greasy Motown recording studio, and you’re looking for sounds that can “Cross-over” without that nasty glorification of the dark-skinned talent who made this art.

Photo by Matthew Spiteri on Unsplash

Black Writers have not had the opportunity to contribute the substance that we deserve to be able to contribute in this new age of digital content. There are platforms, but it’s limited and niched. And if we audace to self-publish: we are punished fo rit by those same Publishers; called not “good enough” for literary pursuits. That’s not to say that it was any better before — that’s to say that the current environment is just a different head of the hydra.

I wish I was the only writer of color — the only BLACK Writer with this issue, but I have counted 15 peers who have hit the same roadblocks, and we have all found our defeat at the hands of a Starry-Eyed White Girl with the Mid-West with a Sylvia Plath button on her backpack and a can-do spirit she wants to impart to the “Poor Blacks” she’s read all about on her friend’s blog.
Your NYU/New School Admission Letter and Democratic Party sticker doesn’t make you better than any of us. It makes you more privileged and it makes you more palatable to the audiences that the Publisher and Editors want money from.

Photo by Andrew Vickers on Unsplash

Ergo, it makes you almost as bad as the Gentrification you’re likely contributing to.

And Yes. I do come off as angry or wrathful in this particular piece/excerpt/chapter about the issues of marginalization I encounter. Maybe, it’s because I’m angry and wrathful, Lindsey?

At one point, I had dreams of working for GQ. As a Fashion enthusiast, a menswear advocate and a lover of a good fashion blog, It thrilled me to find a magazine that fit my personality. It became the thing I marked my career trajectory with.

I had dreams of also working for Marvel, and writing for the X-Men gave me hopes of sharing something with my father who gave me my first comic despite losing him to a mutation of his own genes. I had many other aspirations of becoming an editor — or becoming a content creator — or a novelist. So many things, but each and every industry has found its way to slam its doors closed at Black writers!

Photo by Julian Howard on Unsplash

And the few journals and magazines catering specifically to Black writers, or writers of color, are so congested with writers fighting for their voices to be heard, that it’s a mound of talented individuals clawing at each other to get to the top.

This is not the fault of Black Writers trying to be heard in a world that has silenced us since the Harlem Renaissance: this is the fault of the major companies and corporations who do not want to admit their inherent biases enough to realize that their Diversity initiatives have turned Black writers and creators into TOKENS.

I invite you to prove me wrong: search any of the Big 5 Companies — hell, search any editorial staff that isn’t Blavity or LATINX. Count how many Black Writers are on staff. Expand your search. Count how many Writers of Color are on their board.

Now, look at all “diverse” stories they’ve published. Will you notice a consistent trend among what’s being published?
Will you notice that the diversity initiatives by these companies are heavily white washed or place a glorifying eye onto whiteness in a way that makes them seem “troubled, but by golly — they don’t know any better!”

The particular Blackness depicted in all of these stories and narratives are structured counter-culturally against the issues and culture of poverty and class. You will never find a story of ghetto, slum or hood lifestyles, or even symmetrical comparisons — because the elitism being pushed forward heavily leans to drowning specific kinds of blackness and uplifting the more “tolerable” versions of it by the fault of the publications.

Refer to my Motown metaphor, you will notice a recurring theme in the performance.

“Four young people smiling while talking near a staircase outside a building” by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Diversity is just the newest incarnation of the Mainstream Cross-Over culture of the 1960s — it’s not that original. It’s saying we can only be accepted by an artform when our art matches a certain tone. It’s saying we can’t all make it, so only the ones that they can accept will do it.

It’s troubling, and unless these companies are willing to confront this directly, they are hypocrites.

And there is very little as disgusting asa liberal hypocrite.

#TRENDSETTER: CONGRATULATIONS TO ‘STREET SERENADE APPAREL’’s GIANNA ROSS @ the #WCWFashionShow

#TRENDSETTER, Fashion

By: Steven Underwood

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#Wcwfashionshow set it off with Gianna (or Gia, as she is affectionately called)’s ode to the Streets.

Yesterday, New Jersey native, Gianna Ross, released her street inspired collection for Street Serenade Apparel. Her line focused on the dynamic looks of rap, hip-hop and black culture, celebrating the fierce nobility in our nouveau noir generation. The bold Centenary University Alum’s showcase stunted, featuring several of her sorors as models for her collection.

“Heart Beat Of The Streets”

An ode to the Streets, Culture, & the People that arose from it. Using the streets as our muse & embracing our journey, from the ground up🥀✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

Do what Janelle Monae said: Femme the future and follow her Movement!

IG: streetserenadeapparel

IG (Owner): Gia_lizz

Like, Comment and Follow for a close look at this artist’s journey!

#INSPIRE: LOVE FOR GQ

#TRENDSETTER, Articles, Non-Fiction

“I want to be an authentic, unapologetic warrior for black culture and the culture of the street and how it moves. My thing is most importantly to change the narrative of the black race. I can’t relate to anything that isn’t about that.” — Love, formerly Sean Diddy Combs, for GQ April 2018.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from his shoot. Got any favorites? Comment below!

#LISTEN: KISS THE BOY BY KEIYNAN LONSDALE

#TRENDSETTER, Music

By: Steven Underwood

Listen to LEGEND OF

TOMORROW’s Keiynan Lonsdale’s newest single about love, happiness and acceptance. Keiynan Lonsdale is not only known for playing Kid Flash/Wally West on THE FLASH, but coming out as bisexual earlier this year.

For other versions, head over to http://keiynan.com/

Like the song? Comment below!

#DEADPOOL: DONALD GLOVER LEAKS FANTASTIC ‘DEADPOOL’ SCRIPT VIA TWITTER

#TRENDSETTER, Articles, Culture

By: Steven Underwood

“For the record: I wasn’t too busy to work on Deadpool.” Tweeted Donald Glover, moments before dropping a 14 thread false pilot episode, featuring topical jokes such as Sanaa Lathan biting Beyoncé’s and Tekashi69’s (lack of) rap skills. This BOMB dropped just after Glover and his brother parted ways with the Deadpool animated series, where “differences” in creativity were cited. (Pictures below).

After reviewing the script, Glover stated that it was likely his “different” approach that scared away the prospectively lucrative deal.

By different, I of course mean Black.

What do you think? Do you agree Sanaa Lathan bit Beyoncé’s face? Where do you imagine Gambino’s series fitting in? Comment below

#INSPIRE: Natalie Masanet

Articles, Fashion

“I studied English literature and Japanese at the University of California, Los Angeles, because I thought it would be very important to be able to communicate… There is nothing more off-putting than a piece of writing that is misspelled or grammatically incorrect.” – Natalie Massenet on the importance of her writing background as a entrepreneur from THE TEEN VOGUE HANDBOOK.

Did you read Natalie Massanet’s interview in the TEEN VOGUE HANDBOOK? Comment below what you thought!

#ICONIC: RIHANNA THE COVER OF VOGUE PARIS

Fashion

Liking Rihanna’s style from the Vogue Paris cover? Comment with your favorite look and where you hope to see the singing-songwriting mogul next.

#LISTEN: BLAQUEWORD’s SUNDAY SIT BACK PLAYLIST

Articles, Music

Sit back and enjoy a little vibe while you scroll through some more social media savagery.

//tools.applemusic.com/embed/v1/playlist/pl.u-11zBX83HKW2428?country=us

Like, Comment and Subscribe! Don’t forget to subscribe to our Patreon here for exclusive content every week!

#STYLEHITTER: Balenciaga’s ‘TRIPLE S’ Sneakers Are Just Expensive Sketchers

Fashion

So, how isn’t this whole “Sketchers are ugly and no one with self-respect over the age of 10 should be wearing them, except white suburban fathers and sex offenders” about class and elitism?

Balenciaga released what even GQ, the premiere magazine for men’s luxury fashion, called “ugly” and suddenly it is lit to rock something audaciously like this:

 

#NYFW: 5 Stages of Grief

Fashion

NYFW come and you ain’t go? Well, that’s on you love. I ain’t got tickets, but I do know the pain you going through.

First, it starts with the phase I like to call: REALITY. You look at that calendar and realize despite the promises you made last year, you did not in fact save or request tickets for Fashion week.


Second, you BARTER. You look through your contact list at every friend, family member, or Fashion blogger you met at an odd party you weren’t invited to but crashe dro network. No ones came through.


Third, You hunt. So now that you can’t finagle in by favors, you’re going to want to look for any and all ways to push through that Versace designed ceiling into the promised land. You get to searching for all off-brand Fashion week events. The ticket prices beat you back down to reality. You’re poor. You’re sad. You’re pathetic. 


Fourth, you break down in agony. How could you have forgotten? This is your fault and you know it. You don’t deserve Fashion Week. You are a churl, a peasant and this event is for the Fashion Gods. 

Your friends eye you like you’re trippin’. They’re concerned not for you but for their clout hitting numbers as low as Trump approval rating following four natural disasters in a row.


Finally, you ease on down. You sit and open your IPhone and settle down on some good ol’social media: where you can watch the highlights in peace. You promise yourself you will go next year.