Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tips for Administering a Facebook Page

Recently, a friend who administers the Facebook page of another watercolor society asked for my advice on dealing with Board members who were instructing her on how to manage their society’s page.

Because I have so much experience with Social media, and I've served on so many Boards, people come to me and ask for my advice on subjects like this pretty often. Actually, people ask my advice on stuff like this at least once a week. So this time, I’m sharing my response on my blog in the hopes that it will help other Boards and volunteers, as well.
Dear Annie,
As the New Year begins, I have to present why Facebook is so great for our watercolor society.  One of the things that a couple of our members don't agree with is posting of non-members work.  I personally think it is great to have exposure to as many different watercolor artists as possible.  It's growth, continued learning and inspiration.
Another issue that a couple of members have is posting of non-society workshops.  At first, our members indicated that this was something they wanted from our Facebook page.  Again, I think it is great to have the exposure.
These members who don’t like the way we administer our page are new to Facebook. 
Since you were so helpful in the start of our Society joining Facebook, I was wondering if you had any thoughts that could be helpful in explaining the positives of sharing non-member info. 

Thanks so much,
(Annie lecturing on the topic of Art Business at the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society's Annual Meeting)
These problems are not uncommon. I’ve witnessed similar problems with other pages, especially with groups, businesses, and non-profits that are governed by people who lack business and marketing experience. The few people who know how to use FB understand the benefits of using it to reach new markets, whereas the people who are “socially challenged” don’t’ understand the "give and take" of social interaction.
So, here’s a few reasons that may help you to explain to your members how Facebook pages work, and why it’s important to maintain interaction.
A Facebook page that only promotes itself and doesn't interact with others is kind of like a person with a big obnoxious ego. No one wants to listen to someone who can only talk about themselves, and never engages the other people in the conversation. FB pages that are like that cannot grow or attract followers. There are watercolor societies that have pages like that, and they never get any followers, much less do they get "people talking about them" -- which is way more important than likes. If a page only shares information and events that involve their members, then the page is just a duplication of the newsletter, and there is no point in that. No one needs to look at a page to see that information, and they won’t.
Pages can be used for a lot of things that the Society can’t successfully do using their other tools or resources.
  •   Attract new members
  •   Increase entries in shows and exhibits from non-members and new members
  •  Spread the word about workshops and demos to artists outside of the organization
  •  Inform members about other, “outside” beneficial opportunities that they can participate in
  •   Attract new sponsors for the organization’s events
  •   Solicit donations for awards from art supply companies and catalog companies
  •   Provide members with easy access to educational opportunities, such as sharing links to tutorial videos, online exhibits, etc.
  •   Provide members with cost saving opportunities, by sharing coupons and sales flyers for various art supply companies
I like to think of a page as being kind of like a magazine. Nobody wants to read a magazine that is all ads from cover to cover, and a page that only promotes itself is like that. Successful magazines provide useful information that their audience will find interesting and only intersperse the ads sparingly. In other words, artists will visit a FB page that has interesting content – tutorials, opportunities for artists, interesting news articles about the art world, etc. While there, they will also see the posts that promote the club’s activities. But, if the page is just dry boring club stuff that is a repeat of what is on the website and in the newsletter, then no one will go to the page, and the page will not gain the status needed for it’s posts to maintain (much less, increase) visibility in FB streams, and so no one will see any of their posts.
Why it’s important to share:
It’s a give and take world. You want to let others post on your wall and you want to share other posts, because you’ll want that kindness returned when you want your Society’s news to spread. When you have a juried show coming up, you want to be able to post your ‘call to artists’ on the walls of other pages, and you want other societies to share it with their members. Same with your workshops and other events. If your page has a reputation for not sharing posts and events of other Soicieties, then other Societies are not to help you spread your news when you need them too. You want to be able to post your workshop flyers and show prospectuses on the walls of every FB page that attracts artists, and you want all those pages to share your news with their followers. But if your page doesn’t share, like, or comment on the posts of other pages, then they will not do for you, either. Remember that Facebook is a social network. Social interaction is the primary purpose.
It’s a lovely idea to share member news and events on your FB page. But, members need to cooperate, too! If a member “likes” the Society’s page from their page, I can see it and “like” their page right back. Then, their page will show up in the Society’s newsfeed and I can share, like, and comment on their activities. But please remember that I am a volunteer, and I don’t have time to search all the names in the membership directory to try and find their pages (if they even have one) on Facebook. If members want the Society’s page to interact with them, then they must “like” the Society’s page. If they won’t do that, the Society page will not share their news or events or feature them. It’s a matter of making my task, as page admin, as simple and uncomplicated as possible. I am a volunteer, and I will not spend my personal time promoting the individual members when they make the task unreasonably difficult. I will happily share anything a member sends me, or that they post on the Society’s FB wall, or that I see in the FB newsfeed, but individual members can’t expect me waste my time searching for their news so that our page can promote them.
Sharing non-member artwork and events:
I’m all for sharing member’s artwork, events, news, etc., on the society’s FB page, and I do it whenever a member sends me something to share. But it’s equally important to use the Society’s page to introduce our members to the work of other artists. Our members gain valuable information that they can use to advance their skills and their careers, such as seeing what judges and jurors are choosing in other shows, learning new techniques and skills from other artists, seeing the types of artwork that other artists are selling, etc. By exposing our members to a wider variety of art and artists, they can make also make comparisons and more easily identify ways to improve their own work. 
Most of our members want to improve as artists. They want to learn about workshops where they can improve their skills and they want to read articles that give them tips for selling their art. Our members want to enter exhibits and win awards, and they appreciate seeing the paintings that are chosen by jurors in other shows. They want to try new materials and techniques, and enjoy watching artist tutorials on the web. They want new members to join, and they want more artists to enter our shows. The members who don’t want these things are only a small minority. Often it is just one or two members who are afraid of growth and improvement because it could threaten their own standing within the hierarchy of the Society.
In my experience on Boards, I find that there are always a couple of members who fear or don’t understand new things. Change is often scary or threatening to these members, and causes them to oppose anything that is different. Many times they will insist on placing undue restrictions on new amendments that are presented, or they will demand that overly excessive research be presented to them for their approval, or that they be allowed to personally micro-manage anyone who volunteers to do a task.

(Annie conducting a Business Marketing seminar for Lousiana Watercolor Society)
It is the Board’s responsibility to stop members from using passive-aggressive control tactics like these or others to manipulate the organization. As responsible Board members, we must not permit a minority of our membership to dictate how we conduct business, nor can we allow them to undermine the hard work of other members that is advancing and improving our Society. The unreasonable demands of a few members must not hold the entire Society hostage, nor keep us from serving wishes and needs of the majority.

posted by Annie Strack @ 10:45 AM   0 Comments

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New Paintings!

My Open Studio event was a huge success last weekend, and I've decided to make it a regularly monthly event! My Kennett Square Studio will be open to the public every 1st Friday from 10am - 6pm. Everyone is welcome to come and watch me paint, and artists are welcome to bring their own supplies and paint with me! Or you can just come and chat, hang out, and network with other artists. Here's a selection of paintings that I finished up in the las couple of weeks...
Rain, 12x16 watercolor, $125.

Marsh Humidity, 12x16 watercolor, $125.
 Stormy Beach, 18x24 watercolor, $295.
Clouds, 12x16 watercolor, $125.
Tropical Beach, 12x16 watecolor, $125.

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:12 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Artist Tips: Caring for Watercolor Brushes

Watercolor brushes are much more delicate and expensive than brushes used for other types of painting, so a little extra care is needed to maintain their usefulness. The most important thing to remember is to never store a wet brush upright, with the brush end up. Moisture can soak downward, into the handle, and cause the handle to expand. That in turn will loosen the ferrule and cause the brush to shed hairs, peel the paint off the handle, rust the ferrule, and shorten the usable life of the brush. Only store brushes upside down after they have completely dried.

I store my brushes according to use. I prefer long handled brushes when painting oils in the studio, but I use short handled brushes when I paint en plein air because they take up less space in my pochade. My watercolor brushes are stored in a separate vase.

To keep my brushes in perfect condition, I rest them on a sponge to dy them, with the handle end elevated. The sponge wicks the moisture out of the brush, away from the handle and the bristles and prolongs the life of the brush.  You should never let brushes sit in water or any cleaning solution because you never want to let moisture soak up deep into the ferrule or into the handle. With proper care, you can expect some brushes to last for several hundred paintings!

posted by Annie Strack @ 2:58 PM   1 Comments

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