You may have noticed that I have not written here for the past few months. I want to tell you about what I’ve been doing! This semester I am completing a research project on how social and new media technologies are affecting choreography in the dance world.
I have been working the past two months with a group of six dancers to create a 10 minute performance/installation which explores Facebook as a virtual space and method of communication. The piece incorporated projections, live interactions with social networks, and a choreographed flash mob that was organized through Facebook and Youtube. I’ll put some clips from the performance up soon!
Being a dance major with six months left before I enter the real world of graduated folks, I am constantly asked “So are you going to dance professionally next year?” When I say that no, in fact I’m planning on working in social media strategy, I generally receive a look that can be characterized by a mixture of surprise, interest, and pity. “But how?” they exclaim! I could go on for hours on how dancing has prepared me extremely well to do almost anything (maybe not molecular biology), but instead, I’ll leave you with five things I learned in the past few months from choreographing a 10-minute dance.
After I calmed down a bit, I started to think about how the choreographers could have possibly organized their mobs. Most of these types of flash mobs are backed by large marketing firms with big budgets for some kind of a commercial. However, with the power of social media, anyone with a video camera and a social network can organize a flash mob. In just 4 days, I got 30-40 people to be part of my dance and learn two minutes of simple choreography.
I’ve written about 5 Ways Facebook Can Help Promote Your Event, and this performance let me put those methods into practice. With three nights of performances, over 330 people viewed the dance piece. By collaborating with other dancers in the flash mob, I was able to harness the power of their networks as well as my own.
Part of social media strategy is creating interactive campaigns in order to reach a specific goal. In a sense, that is exactly what I have been doing these past few months. I worked with a team of six dancers and two visual collaborators to deliver a message to hundreds of viewers. We thought about what was relevant to our audience, put together a final product (or dance) that addressed those ideas, and delivered it to them.
Social media is that thing right now that everyone uses but most people don’t really think about. We take it for granted that we can effectively stalk people we haven’t spoken to in four years or chat with someone online while sitting three feet away from them in real life. Making something viral is about capitalizing on something that no one has noticed or paid much attention to yet everyone knows is true.
To do this, I had discussions with my dancers about some of the things we all do on Facebook that are actually pretty bizarre (unfriending someone?). We then incorporated those things with both live movement and visual projection into the dance.
In order to prepare for this dance, we researched how individuals use Facebook and how Facebook profiles grow. I had each of my dancers start from scratch, create a brand new profile, and spend ten minutes a day on it. We collected information on how they were using the site, who they were interacting with, and what kinds of observations they made. This rich source of information helped us shape the dance so that it was both accessible and engaging to a wide range of audience members. I think the best compliment I received was from one of my professors who only said, “I’m totally going to friend you when I get home.” Awesome.
The message I’m trying to send is to be creative when it comes to your learning. There is no one way to go about your education so be sure to look for opportunities in places you wouldn’t expect. For me, that place was choreographing a dance piece.
Photo credit: All photos by Teague Hopkins.
Industries are in a period of flux and college grads are facing the worst job market in years (sorry!). Traditional media is failing and the poor economy is forcing companies to re-define themselves. As David Carr puts it, “[The] feeling of age, of a coming sunset, is tough to avoid in all corners of traditional publishing.”
So what can you do? Stay informed.
The rules of the game are changing, so when it comes time for a job search, interview, or a deal with a new client, you have to show that you really know your industry.
It easy to get so overwhelmed with the amount of information out there that you end up shying away from it instead of learning from it. Think of social media as an opportunity to learn rather than an obligation.
I am interested in how independent creative minds can use social media to build communities, brand themselves, and ultimately increase sales. So, I followed leading creative minds on twitter, asked questions, read blogs, wrote blog posts, shared links, and got hired to consult by an independent artist on her web design and social media strategy. If I can do it, then you can too.
Do this today:
1. Subscribe to 5 blogs in your industry. You need to know the key players and discussions in your industry if you want to be competitive in the job market. Check out AllTop to find trending topics of interest.
2. Organize Your Blogs Using an RSS Reader. I was going to write an entire post on the greatness that is RSS, but Mashable and Personal Branding Blog beat me to it. HOW TO: Choose a News Reader for Keeping Tabs on Your Industry and How to Use RSS To Strengthen Your Personal Brand.
If the internet age has proved one thing, it’s that if you don’t keep up, you will be left behind. Progress waits for no one.
Being able to tell a good story is a notably powerful marketing tactic. A compelling narrative is something that people will tell their friends, tweet about, write about, and most importantly: remember.
Lives are a continuous narrative with a series of beginnings, middles, and ends. You can harness this inherent appreciation of story in your own personal social media strategy. When thinking about personal branding and self-promotion, there are a few things you should always keep in mind.
People may trust facts, but they remember stories. The object of a good story is to elicit some sort of emotional response from your viewer. Emotion is closely linked to memory and higher levels of attention. What were you doing on the morning of September 11th, 2001? I bet you remember where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing. People remember stories because they are channels that spread the emotions contained within them.
Your most unique quality is your own personal story. No one lived your life but you. Spend some time thinking about how you got to where you are today. Make a list of a few key events that shape your art. Knowing this story, your story, will help focus your audience’s attention on what is special and different about you. You have competition, so why not promote your most distinguishing quality?
Reality shows do this all the time. American Idol’s Carrie Underwood was the country girl from Checotah, OK (population 3500). She used her rags to riches story to appeal emotionally to audiences. Branding not only helps you focus your attention, it helps your audience relate to you and your work. I don’t advocate choosing a niche or archetype that you can “fit” yourself into. Instead, identify the unique elements of your own narrative and incorporate those into your brand.
The perspective of your story is just as important as the story itself. You can weave a compelling narrative without mimicing the insanely inspirational stories that you see on Oprah or the heart-wrenching clips from Extreme Makeover Home Edition. In fact, people are fairly cynical about manufactured drama.
By contrast, Dave Barry became one of the most celebrated nationally syndicated humor columnists by collecting and commenting on the absurd extremities of his own life. He built such a supportive community that he was essentially able to crowdsource his column from the absurdities that other people sent him. Almost every single item in his annual Holiday Gift Guide was submitted by a reader.