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Stepping In the Social Media Squared Circle

I have always been interested in sports and entertainment. With my nephew recently discovering the live action soap opera that is professional wrestling (marketed as sports entertainment), I thought it was the perfect time to revisit what I watched as a child (World Wrestling Entertainment) and review their social media presence.

I stopped watching the then-WWF as a teenager for a time because I felt they were always slow to adapt to change. To my surprise, their social media presence is apparent right on the front page. There are links and logos for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter prominently featured on the front page. The Twitter page gives links to all of the wrestlers’ official Twitter accounts. I would be very curious to see if the performers are required tweet in character or not. I actually think it is a great opportunity for a newer performer to connect with fans. Characters live and die with fan support, so this could be a great way for a performer who may not get a lot of television exposure to stay in eye of the fans. While their website offers their own video player, I think it is also important to utilize YouTube. I think having a personalized YouTube page for WWE’s brand offers fans the opportunities to potentially embed videos to their own blogs.

I chose review the WWE’s social media presence because I feel it was always an industry slow to adapt to change. While they never really outright inform fans each broadcast, it was long been accepted that the events are staged and results are predetermined. It goes to show the importance of social media. Even a traditionally “sheltered (in terms of other working with other media)” company like the WWE realizes that there are more ways to connect with fans rather than just using their website. It provides a new way for both fans and performers to interact with fans, in ways that “real” sports does not officially adopt.

What About Design?

Web designers are always on top of the latest trends. When I do a search on social media and graphic design, I see that a lot of great work is being done in terms of designing logo, templates and favicons. However, I don’t see an abundance of interaction within social media. Blogs whose feeds I subscribe to include You The Designer, 2expertsdesign and Logo Design Love. All they really have are infrequently updated tweets on their Twitter accounts. What can I learn from this?

My Own Social Media Squared Circle

Like the WWE’s undercard of talent looking for a break or fan reaction, I think it’s important to stay on the forefront of social media, even if I’m not a publicly traded sports entertainment company. How to do this?

Twitter
I find that the more I tweet, the more followers and blog reads I receive. I recently blogged about the relevance of the OBEY Giant artwork. I personally found the topic interesting (did I mention that I watched wrestling as a child), so I posted an offbeat tweet about it. To my surprise, I received a fair amount of feedback. However, I don’t always check Twitter as religiously as others, so when I go weeks without a tweet, I notice I’ve lost a few followers. Clearly, the advantages (especially for an upstart professional) outweigh the disadvantages. I’ve learned to tweet items relevant to your blog and not post with a course agenda to them. Unless sending a direct message, I want my tweets to sound authentic. I tend to never read a tweet from a peer that posts “Assignment 5: Post 1.” We all have writing requirements, but its important to continue to attract outside followers with similar interests. Now the key, is to hold their interests.

Facebook
I do not consider Facebook (at this juncture) to be a viable means to reach my audience. As someone with a personal account, I don’t feel comfortable promoting my brand to friends and family at this stage. To gain notoriety and success is the dream of any graduate student and should (or optimistically when) this occurs, I would feel it is appropriate to create a Fan Page.

LinkedIn
I find that LinkedIn is sometimes in the shadow of the other social media giants, but is also important. While not as informal in tone as my blog posts, I think it is important to show the client where I have been in my career and also read recommendations on my work.

YouTube
YouTube is the next realm of social media that I want to take more seriously moving forward. I have already posted a link to my DesignSource project and YouTube will be a platform to not only post tutorials, but perhaps a video slideshow of my portfolio. Perhaps not necessarily YouTube, designer Dave Werner utilizes video to describe his work in an extremely effective manner.

I think most of us (even you wonderful baby boomers) have come to accept social media as the norm and not a fad. For an upstart trying to make a name for myself, it would be foolish for me not to try. Of course, I can go on about this…now to make it happen!

Midterm: A Blogetery Proposal

Have you ever visited a graphic design blog? The first hits on a Google search will land you on the pages that give you tutorials and examples of logos or typography. These sites, while being helpful, have always left me wanting more.

“Graphic design is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, abnormality, hobbies and humors.”George Santayana

I couldn’t agree more. Beyond Photoshop, there has to be more to design. That is what I seek to uncover in this blog.

What Is Blogetery in Motion?

Blogetery in Motion is my (somewhat) witty take off the phrase “poetry in motion.” Where is the motion? Well even though this is a blog, I am always moving. Moving towards a graduate degree, becoming a better graphic designer and forging a successful career. So many blogs give “10 Ways To…,” it seems like a lot of people in the creative field have everything figured out, right? Graduating with a bachelor’s right in the midst of the recession, everybody talks about success, but few seem as though they talk about how they got where they are. Whether it is trying my hand at drawing as a small child or just trying to work with a client who happens to be a good friend, these are some of the stories that separates this blog from the rest.

Humanizing The Job

Don’t get me wrong, some blogs are informative and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I appreciate a personal touch. Working in non-profit, if there was a donor that worked with me, I would leave a handwritten note. Just to show them I appreciate them.

Until they ran out of credible artists, VH-1 milked the show, Behind The Music. People enjoyed the journey of music artists both good and bad. Am I living the life of Motley Crue? No. Do I think my life and journey is constantly interesting enough to share? Not always, but it humanizes my job. The goal is to have the reader understand my point of view and to “pull the curtain back” of my job and give a fresh perspective. When I say pull back the curtain, I mean talking about design in ways other bloggers do not. I want to bring a level of authenticity from someone who is still maturing in the field.

Online Presence

A Voice – I have had experience writing for blogs that I never really had the intention of growing. It was a way to find my voice and create a tone. While I am still evolving, I do feel as though I have developed. I feel most “at home” sharing personal stories relevant to design, but now I am ready to also share my take on design concepts and trends.

Twitter - In the increasing interactive world we live in, it is important to have multiple platforms for your voice. Twitter, is used on a semi-regular basis (though not overkill for a follower) as a way to announce new blog posts, revelant links about design or just saying/retweeting a witty joke. I chose the name @JonBlogetery to create a sense of continuity between Twitter and Blogetery in Motion.

Other Avenues – I use LinkedIn as a way for clients to post recommendations (which I am currently building) and to link up to an online portfolio. As far as an online portfolio, I am currently creating a Flash version of one (via wix.com). The ultimate goal is to design my own page, but I am still in early stages of learning html and Drupal (which will be something to blog about). Also, I am looking into designing my own background to reflect the theme of the blog.

The Blog – This is where my online presence resides the most at this time. As of now, I do post and tweet under a pseudonym, but would change that when my professional portfolio/website is up. I am also going to put a description of the blog below the title, to make it clear what the blog is about.

Lessons Learned

“If Ernest Hemingway, James Mitchener, Neil Simon, Franck Lloyd Wright, and Pablo Picaso could not get it right the first time, what makes you think that you will?” – Paul Heckel

Get To The Point - In the past several weeks, I have posted well over 20 blog posts pertaining to design. The initial goal was to systematically start off with my history with design, then move into the field at large. Sometimes we get so involved in our own history, we fail to remember that not everything we post, resonates with the reader. I have always liked what I call the “slow build.” In a movie, the story is set, you have some background on the characters, and then the film hits the ground running. A future goal in the blog, would be to get the core of design. Recent blogs like Trading Ethics for a Design, Find Inspiration, Not Theft and Visual Metaphors have reflected this approach.

Never Be Content – The great work of other designers is what motivates me to get better. The same can be said of writing. I did go into my blogging experience thinking I had an edge, since writing was a passion in my youth. The ability to win over a reader that otherwise would have no interest in the subject is a big picture goal here. I want to be good, really good. Not just in my design, but in how I articulate that in my writings.

Goals

“Stop looking at yourself as a designer, and start looking at yourself as a deliverer of ideas.” – Stle Melvr

Whether it is finding your niche or just being stuck in a rut, I want people that, even if they avoid Photoshop, walk away thinking of a relatable experience, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with design. Blogetery in Motion is meant to entertain, but also inform. Why listen to me? I have a great passion for sports, comedy, music and movies, none of which I intend on pursuing for a career. I could write about those topics, but I feel I would be cheating the reader and myself. With design, the creative well never runs dry and it’s a big part of what I want to do.

Not All about the Benjamins

I have done my share of pro bono work in design. After all, working in the non-profit sector for 3 years gave me some connections, although not always with the deepest pockets. I have also had some clients that didn’t pay me at all. At the end of the day, I want some compensation for my time and efforts.

I realize, I’m no Andy Warhol, so having the options of picking and choosing who and when I work is not always an option. At this point, the freelance jobs I have are mostly to build experience and credibility. So if money isn’t pouring in, what is my compensation?

Recommendations

Especially working with folks that pay next to (or) nothing, this is a must. I referenced LinkedIn a few times last week and this is a great forum to have the recommendations showcased.  I have tweaked around with the idea of my own website for awhile now (I really should have one), but having my own testimonial section would be a necessity for me. It adds credibility to my work, especially if the client loved the job.

More Business

It’s obvious, yet true. The goes together with networking. Most of the jobs (freelance or otherwise) have come from a referral of a happy customer/co-worker. Especially when things are going slow, it’s important to have a wide network of clients. I have also tried to expand my network with other designers. If there is a job I can’t do or is a bit out of my realm (web coding/animation), I will refer them to someone I know can accomplish the task. I know sometimes designers can be a bit cutthroat when hoarding clients, but I think its good practice to play nice. You never know when you might need a favor.

Links

Especially when creating website or logo design, getting a “Site designed by…” somewhere on the clients’ page is a big plus. On the other side of the fence, I have asked clients (even for my ICM 502 design class) if I could use logos I have created for clients. This was a slippery slope, as I have worked for a national organization (they sometimes frown on that sort of thing), but if I’m permitted, it helps showcase all of my work.

Overall, I will never scoff at a good payday, but especially starting out in a competitive field, you have to be pragmatic. I learned to take on whatever jobs I can, but also try to get the most out of the experience beyond my asking price.

Staying On The LinkedIn Path

In my last blog regarding LinkedIn, I talked about the differences in professional versus personal voice. The aspect that they both share is honesty. I don’t really “beat around the bush” here or on my LinkedIn account, although the tone is treated more like a resume. I included my freelance design work, as I have had a relatively steady stream of projects. I was not crazy about having to name the freelance work as a “business,” but no sense in shortchanging yourself. With that said, below is a link to my account:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanfaccento

Things To Fix

I would not be honest, if there were not things I would like to update in my profile moving forward. Obviously, more connections would be beneficial. Unfortunately, a lot of my greatest workplace “advocates” are not on LinkedIn, as they see it as yet another social media site, as I once did. This also affects my recommendations. I only have one for my graphic design skills, but certainly I will request from my former co-workers. Also, a good ten years of my work experience was spent in retail and nobody from those jobs are LinkedIn yet.

Final Thoughts

As I progress in my career, my LinkedIn account will only get stronger. It goes to show me, that while I have plenty of Facebook friends, I need to do a better job of networking and maintaining business relationships. I keep the LinkedIn url on my resume, as I hope that someday, it will replace the formal resume altogether. Feel free to leave any suggestions for page as well.

LinkedIn or LinkedOut With The Audience?

I begrudgingly joined LinkedIn last summer. Thoughts of starting up yet another social media page did not seem like a task I wanted to undertake. I was relieved that I did not have to put much creativity in the page. LinkedIn is strictly business. Professional photo and information only. Clever tweets and Facebook photos are not required.

To Scratch or Not Scratch the Surface

This blog and Twitter are different for me. They are ways for me to explore my creativity and scratch beneath the surface of who I am. What’s the surface? The surface is LinkedIn. It is my 9 to 5 life. The site has a Twitter/status update option, but I choose not to use it. I find that most people just announce when they are getting back from a trip or attending a seminar. LinkedIn provides the voice I would want to convey at a job interview. It is the book I expect you to judge by its cover.

Voices in My Head

To really know me is to know a healthy dose of both “voices.” There is my blog/Twitter voice, which sometimes funny, honest and likes to tell stories (and ramble on). Then there is my LinkedIn, professional voice. This is the same voice that sends out Outlook emails and dresses business casual.  It is quick and to the point with facts I would want a potential employer to see. I think it is important to separate the two, as I wouldn’t want to get too casual with a professional audience, but I also would not want to talk to my audience here (you, the loyal reader) in a rigid fashion.

Linking Together

My blog is listed on my LinkedIn page. I look at LinkedIn as an online, straightforward resume. People that would look at my page may scan it quickly, but if they wanted to dig deeper, I’m comfortable with this blog listed there. I will just not go as far as to say what I would post on this forum on my LinkedIn page. With that said, for my next post, I am going to explore my very own LinkedIn page, as I am editing what I currently have. Does it do a good job of promoting my professional “brand?” Is it boring, bland or “corporate” compared to what you might read here? We shall see…