Social Order

I wonder how the famed artists, illustrators and designers from days gone by might feel about promoting their work through social media channels. Can you imagine how the notoriously brilliant artist, author and fellow-introvert Dr. Seuss might have felt about it? Somehow I think he would still have great fun with it all. Clearly someone who came up with such memorably playful lines to entertain kids for generations would be able to lighten up about it. Or maybe he’d just hire someone else to do it for him.

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
— Dr. Seuss

An introvert often considers socializing an option. An introverted business owner considers it a much more strategic necessity. In either role, a lot of thought can go into the planning and oftentimes it needs refining and redefining. As many a business person is apt to do, this introvert has found herself in that process of late.

Since social media has come into play for businesses, it can feel like a wonderful gift and time-saver to share a message with the mere click of a button, especially in contrast with recent times when social media wasn’t even an option available for businesses to even consider. Its advent obviously created a new order and the way we use it keeps changing.

Today, few successful business owners can broaden their audience without a social media presence. It’s no longer considered a wise choice to be off its channels. For very long anyway. It’s certainly a crowded and fickle place to be though.

In particular, artists are able to share their work with the world now and get instant feedback through the number of likes and comments. At its best, we can gain new clients. At its most challenging, the response may sound like crickets. The algorithms can be elusive but they can also create great new connections.

For someone who manages their own social media, there can be a lot of guesswork that goes into what followers and connections will respond to despite our best research. Sometimes there is seemingly little reward when algorithms change and trends fall away. Nevertheless, finding the perfect post is a perpetual process of experimentation, observation and education that continually needs refining, much like building relationship skills.

Fortunately, the same social network we rely on for promotion also provides multiple online forums for artists so that we can tap into the wisdom of others experiencing some of the same challenges and successes. It’s a gift to have complete strangers with huge followings freely share their wisdom.

Recently, I gave myself a mini break from social media and found it to be rather liberating. Scheduling posts, checking on followers’ responses and what those whom I follow were up to online, all in the midst of getting the paying work done, can be quite a juggling act. It was a little uncomfortable at first to break from it all—like I was putting some of my hopes and aspirations for my business on hold—but ultimately it was a relief to find more room for the real live social network of phone conversations, lunch meetings, outings, business networking events and so on with clients, fellow creative types and old friends. And of course the decision to end the mini-break was always readily available.

In my mini break, I discovered some great new projects with great new clients—one of which was through a friend who follows my posts on social media. I also started some personal projects, met new friends and acquaintances, and even learned new skills through video conferencing.

Time and again it has been proven to me that the face-to-face (or even just voice-to-voice) connections are where the greatest things happen. It’s an art that I don’t want to lose in a time where it’s seemingly getting more difficult to truly connect. We can easily forget that others have their successes, milestones and hardships behind the email exchanges and the social media postings until we learn about each other’s lives through actual conversations. This more real connection also invites an exchange of questions and answers that don’t come as easily through digital means, whereby building a foundation for more meaningful curiosity and its creative results.

During those face-to-face connections, I discovered people were still seeing examples of work previously posted. The algorithms of social media attempt to lure us back in. Taking that break was a good idea but I’m back at it, renewed and inspired to find my own personal happy balance.

Postings on social media continue to be important, especially as someone who works in a solitary setting (which the introverted side of my personality thrives on creatively speaking). I somewhat jokingly call social media my proverbial “water cooler.” Just as important, it helps lay the foundation for establishing and reinforcing my ever-evolving brand. I am a creative type after all—that evolution is part of the flow of my business model and the best way to announce a new skill or share a new style.

Streamlining promotion and communication is of course important in business but I’m happy to know the human connection is still available. It’s one of the many things I love most about running a business. Let’s discuss it sometime!

Theodor Geisel (otherwise known as Dr. Seuss) spent his workdays ensconced in his private studio, the walls lined with sketches and drawings, in a bell-tower outside his La Jolla, California, house. Geisel was a much more quiet man than his jocular rhymes suggest. He rarely ventured out in public to meet his young readership, fretting that kids would expect a merry, outspoken, Cat in the Hat–like figure, and would be disappointed with his reserved personality. ‘In mass, [children] terrify me,’ he admitted.
— Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking