Social media! This should be a cakewalk, right? After all, I am not only a Millennial (I cringe at the use of that word, I know) but also a former social media intern (yes, it’s a real job, Mom!) for two organizations. But now I have to craft my very own social media strategy identify target audiences for my project. Suddenly this isn’t as fun as simply sharing my favorite Mental Floss article. (In case you’re wondering, it’s this one.)
My project targets three groups: residents of my hometown, art lovers, and World War II history students.
I’ve probably explained it before, but I intend my project to be a gallery of photographs of artwork created by Gordon C. Mannix, a soldier from my hometown of Plainville, Connecticut, who died during the Battle for Normandy in 1944. Gordon was originally written about by a member of the 2013 “Price of Freedom” class, so I was unable to write a biography for him. Because my high school has an award named after him, I still wanted to learn more about him, so I’ve been in touch with his niece. I knew from Gordon’s biography that he was a very talented artist who was supposed to attend Parsons School of Design on a full scholarship–until he was drafted into the Army by Uncle Sam. Besides feeling devastated that Gordon’s life ended when he was 19–younger than I was when I took this class in 2016–I was deeply saddened by the idea that his artwork would never be seen, never be in a gallery. When I met with Gordon’s niece last year, she allowed me to see his beautiful sketches, and I knew that Gordon was even more talented than the complimentary descriptions.
The idea of showcasing his artwork germinated in my mind, but the art was old and drawn by someone who never had the chance to become famous. After going over potential ideas for final projects for this class, I decided that this project was the perfect chance to give Gordon’s work a chance to be seen by a larger audience. With his niece’s permission, I have taken photographs of his drawings. While they are not of the best quality, I do have documentation of almost all of his work, which provides multiple perspectives on Gordon’s interests.
I am the kind of person who would spam everyone’s inbox with a link to this online gallery, but I need to use a strategy that doesn’t get me blocked by everybody. Let me break it down group by group.
Group 1: Citizens of Plainville, CT
Since the reason Gordon and I are connected is because of my hometown of Plainville, I think it’s an appropriate target audience. While nobody in Washington, DC, knows what or where Plainville is, it’s not small enough for me to go door-to-door and tell everyone about this project. (Besides, that would kind of go against the spirit of the project, right?) Fortunately, that means it’s sizable enough where I might be able to get more traffic than expected, even if I just pull in 10% of the town. (I’m being very optimistic, but oh well.)
Group 2: Art Lovers
Very broad, but since Gordon is an artist, and since most of my descriptions will focus around what’s in the drawings/watercolors/comics, I’m sure there will be an audience out there who is just focused on the aesthetics.
Group 3: World War II Historians/Enthusiasts
Though Gordon and I both lived in Plainville and went to the same high school, I discovered his story because of my class on the Battle for Normandy. Other students in my class would be interested in such a gallery, but I dare to dream a bit bigger and maybe get people who are just interested in World War II history in general, specifically on providing biographical details for the names in every WWII ABMC cemetery.
To reach these audiences, I plan to create new Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. I don’t think a blog is necessary in this medium: the gallery serves the purpose of what a blog would. I could feature some of his art on this blog here, but I feel like that would do Gordon a disservice, to have his beautiful drawings next to my terrible puns and rambling thoughts. So no blog. No Pinterest, because I’m not selling his artwork–that would just be wrong.
Facebook would give me the most reach. It is also the easiest way to target people that I know personally who might be inclined to share this page with people who belong to my target audiences (as well as others!). Facebook has the most users, and of the three platforms I plan to use, it allows for the longest posts, allowing me to go into detail explaining his art.
Twitter may have the character limit, but it allows me to reach organizations that I would have no hope of reaching otherwise. Our local newspaper, The Plainville Citizen, is more likely to see a Tweet mentioning them than if I tagged them in a Facebook or Instagram post. It also has the farthest reach potential. Since most Facebook users have some privacy settings, the posts could just end up bouncing around the Plainville network, not reaching any other groups. On Twitter, things can go far because of the power of the Retweet. It is also easy to accumulate followers on Twitter, since users are quick to follow you back on this platform more so than Facebook.
Instagram is the most specific platform for this project. A platform that is photo-based seems to be a natural platform to showcase artwork. The only downside to Instagram is that links within posts aren’t available (yet), so users would have to go to the profile page and click the link in the bio, which can be a lot of steps for a person on the internet.
Since a lot of Gordon’s art consists of fashion sketches, I’m thinking–especially on Instagram–of using the hashtag #OOTD as the template for my messages. I can describe the outfits that Gordon has designed, much as an Instagram celebrity touts what she is wearing that day, from hat to shoes to everything in between. Twitter will probably follow in the same vein, but messages cannot go into detail. They’ll contain only the barebones of details of an outfit: hat, jacket, pants, heels. It’s better than having me list out the color and style of everything: no one wants to read a 7-part Tweet if I’m not a celebrity. Remember: Twitter is more about reaching out to people rather than curating exceptional content. On Facebook, I’ll pitch the message of remembrance: this is how we can remember Gordon. Gordon was more than a mortarman; these drawings more accurately display who he was, what he was interested in. The end goal of all these messages is one thing: share, share, share! I’m not doing this to boost my SEO; I want Gordon’s drawings to be seen, to be appreciated. They have always been appreciated by friends and family, but I want to show new audiences his work, since that’s what he deserves.
I can’t possibly run these social media accounts forever; interest dies down eventually, especially when there is a limited amount of content to post. I think doing the bulk of the posting for a month after the gallery’s launch date will be the best time to draw people’s attention. As much as I’d like everyone to see these drawings, I don’t want to crash my website, and I’d also not like to set my expectations too high, as I know internet apathy can be just as strong as internet rage. If I can get to the point of having 50 followers on each platform, I would be very happy. (I have no idea if I’m setting these goals too low or too high, Dr. Robertson!) I don’t know if I can make these profiles into business accounts without, you know, being a business. Otherwise, I could use fancy analytics to measure my reach, but I think it’s best to stick with standard accounts and measure reach through followers. Another good indicator is if each post is shared at least twice. (I say twice since I know my mom will probably share it, and I feel like saying “once” would be cheating.)
I’m trying to combine what I’ve read recently with what I’ve learned in the past year and a half, but I hope this social media strategy works, as I think the goal of getting as many people as possible to see Gordon’s artwork is worth sending out a Tweet, posting a photo, or pasting a link–and much more.