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Grey Cross Studios
1920 4th St, New Orleans , LA 70113
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Where Rules Can Backfire on Social Media - Artists Thriving across Social Networks (Updated 07-13-16)

We've seen it time and again where a social networking site will impose rules that while on the surface may look wise but end up causing them to lose members rather than gain them. I don't think we mind following rules that are well thought out and and are applied to make the communities better, but often a rule that has no wiggle room ends up causing damage to the network. 

Take for example  Instagrams shutting down of artist websites due to what they consider pornographic materials. One artist posted a shoot taken of a woman breastfeeding their infant. It was not meant in a pornographic way and the artist stated that it was a study in bonding and posted with the permission of the women involved. Yet instagram shut the artist down. 

Facebook is notorious for shutting people down when they don't like their screen names. I speak from personal experience on this one where Facebook shut my account of nine years down because I refused to verify my screen name with them by showing them ID. My partner had exactly the opposite occur. As a well known writer using his own name for his facebook screen name, facebook shut him down for impersonating himself. 

Now I am sure there are very good reasons for some of these rules. Bu without any kind of explanation process and to just shut a person down is no longer just a matter of switching social networks. In my case facebook removed nine years of my artistic virtual life, reputation and history. 

Face it, the new frontier of social networking can be challenging and in many cases can effect not only our personal lives but our professional lives also. 

Now I often take time to explore new social networking systems. I try them out and I in turn recommend them to my expanding audience or warn people off from them. In smaller social networks if enough people do this it can effect them adversely. It may not effect a huge monster like facebook or instagram but it can most definitely effect the success of smaller networks looking to build a clientele. 

One of these over the past year that I raved about often was a network called Niume. Here I can honestly say I had found one of the best social networking sites for artists and creatives and once I'd tested them out a bit I recommended them often and was pleased to see my posts paying off through this site even though it had not nearly the audience of the bigger sites. Its interface was beautiful and was geared towards a visual impact and not just through text.

Over the year or so I used them I began making them a regular stop for showing new work. For each article like this one that was posted on my main blog, I would cross post it to the Niume site also. After about six months I began posting occasional exclusive content to their site also and to recommend them on a regular basis to artists beginning their own social networking to promote their work and ideas. 

Then one day I had a post removed because one of their rules states the following:
No blogspam: When reposting from other blogs try to copy the entire content. You should quote your sources but click baits are not allowed.
Now I am not an unreasonable person. I can understand that they want to create exclusive blog entries on their site and that its counter productive to post links to other blogs. In my case I would post the first two paragraphs of the blog article and then a link to read more. And in exchange I was building an audience that was learning more about the art world and being an artist.  But because of this one rule without any ability to consider whether my blog links were causing a problem to their site or a benefit they removed the article with a warning not to do so again in the future. 

Well you know Niume, you shot yourself in the foot. Rather than get the benefits of exclusive content and the promotion of their site to other artists to build their membership numbers, they've now lost those benefits. You may not consider one lone artist as much of a threat, but I guarantee that if 25 other artists start using the site due to recommendations and those artists recommend others, then you start to make an impact. 

It is a fact that new social networks need to be conscientious of these facts and they above all need to listen to their members when they say that a rule needs to be rethought. Of course I never received a response to my own comments made directly to the email received on the rules violation, and sadly I did not expect to receive one. 

So I suppose this article is in direct response to never even receiving a "thank you, we will consider your thoughts" message back. and a warning to other artists that my previous good recommendations are sadly now reversed.

Will I consider Niume again the future? Yes but only if they rethink this rule. I have a thriving blog with a lot of information that can benefit other artists and I am pleased to share that on Niume, but only if they consider for a moment that not all blog links are going to pull business away from them. 

With the rising incidents of artists having work removed and accounts closed on Instagram, Niume would potentially be a great alternative for artists and photographers. I can only hope that they will change their rules to take us into consideration which the larger networks seem to fail at. 

Consider your social networking carefully. This is how artists promote themselves in the present. By choosing networks that can enhance your work and reputation you have the ability to create a name for yourself in a way that was never before possible. 

And if you don't think social networking makes a difference, consider for one moment this graphic. 

These are my stats as of the writing of this article for my Twitter account. This reflects 28 days of stats on viewing impressions for my posts on this one social network. It sits at 377,400 impressions for the past 28 days. I've had this number up as high as 700,000 in a 28 day period. That means that I can hit an audience on just this one social network that can surpass a half million people. Now consider that I post and work with at least 5 other social networks and have a blog that reaches an audience of an additional 500-1500 people a day. That means that I can easily put the Grey Cross Studio name out to a vast number of people worldwide. Social networking works. It can make you go from a nobody to a well known personality IF you do it right and you choose your social networks wisely. 


PS: This article will be posted in its entirety to the Niume site. It will most likely be my last post on their service, sadly so. 

UPDATE 07-13-16

First I would like to thank Francesco Facca the founder of Niume for responding personally back to my thoughts in this article. First I will post his response in full and then my thoughts regarding that response after. 

Hello Grey, first let me thank you for taking the time not only to post on Niume over the past months but also to explain your frustrations with the site in such a reasonable way once they arises. I am sorry we didn't answer your email, we receive many of them and sometimes some do fall through the cracks, we will try to be more attentive on that. However, I am glad that you wrote this post as it gives us possibility to explain our position and point of view publicly and to create a constructive conversation with you and other Niume users.
Now, to the main point. We understand that you and many other content creators on the platform have your own blogs where you created a great inventory of content, perhaps sell your work, and you want to promote these pages rather than Niume. We have no problem with you promoting your own page, adding link to your products, books or channels.
What we do try to avoid though, is to create yet another social media where the content is hosted somewhere else and our users need to click away from the site to find the entire information of what they started reading. We are putting a lot of effort into creating community where members effectively support each other, not only by posting their work but by engaging in discussions and sharing their fellows member works and we believe that this is only possible if the entire content is hosted on the platform. 
We understand that you may have economic reasons to drive traffic to your blog and we are working really hard to implement systems so that you generate revenues from your work also when it is posted here on Niume. They will be ready in the next months but in the meantime I encourage anyone to post the links to their books, etsy stores or whatever you use to monetise your content. All we ask is that you don't make that the point of your post, for two reason. First, such posts make our spheres less interesting and therefore damage all the creators who spend time and energy creating readable, engaging and enriching content for the community. Second, it is counterproductive as people, particularly on Niume, don't blindly click on commercial links unless they trust you and think that you can actually deliver value. the way to prove that to them is to put yourself on the page and write great content. Even when it comes to blogs, users will be more interested in following a link to your blog to read more of your articleS rather than be forced to do so to finish what they already started. 
I hope that this clarifies why we introduce the "no blogspam" rule and look forward to hear more from you and anyone else who has an opinion on the matter. 
We value our writers and hope that this will make our relationship stronger rather than weaker.
Francesco, Daniel and all the Niume Team

First let me say that I have always been impressed by Niume as a whole, but I am equally impressed that they both listened to one of their members and responded directly back. In this day and age of social networking that it is a rare occurrence to receive anything more than a form email back. 

Second I really do appreciate the position Niume takes on the issue of blog posting. I understand personally what it takes to create a content driven site. Its damned hard to get people to come to you and to continue to use your service. For all of us who try to create great content its a careful balance.

I would like to respond to a few specific things. Francesco states:

"We understand that you may have economic reasons to drive traffic to your blog and we are working really hard to implement systems so that you generate revenues from your work also when it is posted here on Niume. They will be ready in the next months but in the meantime I encourage anyone to post the links to their books, etsy stores or whatever you use to monetise your content. All we ask is that you don't make that the point of your post"

This is the key that I wished Niume to understand. Not all of us are out for profit. Looking through the posts I've placed on their site, I rarely if ever mention the selling of a piece of art. Yes there are plenty of references to buying art on my own site, but my main focus on Niume is the distribution of information to other artists who are struggling with their own careers and that the free distribution of that information should not be impeded.

But again I do understand Francesco's reasons for establishing this rule on the site.

He also stated: 

"it is counterproductive as people, particularly on Niume, don't blindly click on commercial links unless they trust you and think that you can actually deliver value"
This I agree with wholeheartedly. There are way too many scams out there who post false web addresses. But I also think that posting the first 2-3 paragraphs of an article is enough to give readers a clear understanding that its not a scam. But I appreciate the sentiment of keeping users as safe from harm as possible. 

So with these things in mind, and again appreciating his prompt response, the main questions still are, should I continue to use Niume? Does it serve my own artistic needs? And should I recommend it to other artists?

Let me take the last one first. Yes I will continue to recommend it. It still remains the best site hands down for an artist displaying content. Since I am not just an artist but a content provider my needs may differ from that of the average artist so I will continue to suggest to other artists beginning their online social networking to begin there. 

Always keep in mind, that an artist should have three key components to create an effective online presence.

  • A Blog
  • A Portfolio
  • At Least One Social Network

Niume serves all three purposes and its for that reason that they are good for artists.

Does Niume serve my needs? Yes, for the same reasons stated above. But I would also say no because it means I must place more effort into redundantly posting articles that are already posted on my own site. If you think its just a matter of cut and paste its not. If an article has 30+ images in it and is a tutorial, then its much harder to repost every component of said article.

If Niume's audience were larger then I would say that the audience views versus the additional work of redundant posting outweighs that work. But so far I've not seen a substantial growth in their user numbers (no offense to Niume as it takes a hell of a long time to generate a high user rate).

So what other benefits can I generate from staying with the site and posting the whole article? I suppose that is the crux of the issue. What can I provide to the Niume audience in addition to what I already do on a daily basis which will not cause so much additional work that I am unable to continue it. 

Well one area would be exclusive tutorials just for the Niume audience. In this case rather than posting it to my own site, I can invite people to view the exclusive content on Niume. Another might be to create an exclusive series of art specifically promoted on Niume and not on the blog. This is a satisfactory solution because it is not a lot of additional work. One thing about Niume is that its wider photo format is great for this purpose. One final area comes to mind that I've been dabbling with on my own site, which is called Artists Series, highlighting the careers of artists who are perhaps not as well known to the public but that artists have a great deal to learn from. 

So there are ways to do it that I am willing to explore. 

The end result of all this is that a personal touch such as Francesco gave has eased my other concerns. I admit I was really disappointed to stop using the site but I am like don Quixote when it comes to tilting at windmills. When I feel a rule has not been well thought out then my own stubbornness comes to the surface and even knowing I won't get any results I still do it. In this case the results restored my faith in a system that I already had great faith in and for that I will remain appreciative. 

In closing I will do two things on the site to assist this progress. The first I've already done by adding Niume's Arts board to the official top pick art sites that Immortal Artist promotes. The second will be the creation of a side bar that specifically shows links to exclusive Niume content. This will be added soon. 

My thanks to Francesco for addressing the concerns and for those of you following along and learning about the pros and cons of the various support networks for artists and creatives around the world. 


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