Q: How can I learn to use social media to improve and expand my studio business?
A: In the last column, I mentioned that if you're not contemplating retirement in the near future, you need an online presence that includes a website, a professional Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, and a Twitter account (at least).
At the Frances Clark Center—a small non-profit arts education institution—where it's vital to our mission to be current and relevant, we have created a new position for a young, savvy, part-time staff member in social media strategy. Her job is to monitor social media and contribute regular updates to our Facebook page and our Twitter feed. (By the way, if you're not doing it already, please take time to "like" our page on Facebook and follow our Twitter account. There's a great deal of interesting content updated daily.)
Our social media coordinator follows other social contributors, bloggers, and listservs and participates in the online conversation about piano, piano teaching, and piano pedagogy. I work at the Centre for Music Minds in Frisco, TX, where we have contracted a young teacher to spend two hours a week on social media. At the Frances Clark Center, we're connecting with a national and international group of professionals. At the Centre for Music Minds, we're connecting with a local group of parents, students, and potential students. Social media is equally adept at reaching the far and the near.
As an independent piano teacher, working alone, it's hard enough to find the time to plan and give lessons. You probably can't hire a social media coordinator, but I maintain that, if you want to grow your business, a social media presence is the most effective tool available. It's what word-of-mouth used to be. You are a small business and you are an entrepreneur. It is worth scheduling an hour or two a week apart from teaching to develop your business. I want to be clear that I'm not talking about posting pictures of your cat. I'm talking about intentional, strategic use of social media for business and professional purposes.
Start by going online and searching for a phrase such as "how to use Facebook for business." Here are two of the results from the first page of that search, which returned more than three billion results!
Facebook itself provides this overview designed to help you reach the people who matter most to your business. This is a free page with information and support; it also explains paid advertising on Facebook.
This is one of many excellent third-party sites offering current blogs, comprehensive information on advertising, marketing, networking, analytics, webinars, and much more.
In your Google search, you will also encounter numerous articles from highly reputable journals including Forbes and Fast Company. You will find references to printed books such as 500 Social Media Marketing Tips—a book which, by the way, has its own Facebook page.1
If you want to go further, check your local university or community college for continuing and professional education programs. You are likely to find everything from short, inexpensive, self-paced online courses to certificate programs that require multiple courses. Many of them are inexpensive and may only take two or three weeks to complete.
Websites, books, magazines, courses. What have you got to lose? Let's get started.2
1 McCarthy, A. (2014). 500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Essential advice, hints, and strategy for business: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more! CreateSpace Independent Publishing.
2 A useful and brief white paper entitled "The Ten Commandments of Social Media" can be accessed at: www. smu.edu/CAPE/ProfessionalDevelopment/CertificatePrograms/ SocialMedia.