I’ve built my career as a writer on the power of Google. People search for resources I have created and shared freely online. I’ve mastered the art of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I know how to find out what and how people are searching for something so I can create resources that are useful for those people who are doing the searching.
I value search and email over social media so much that I basically removed myself completely from all social networks this year.
Brandon Stanton, the creator of Humans of New York, may have changed my mind.
In an acceptance speech of the James Joyce Award he explained why he thinks social media is better than SEO for artists for one simple reason:
“Social media allows people to find things they don’t know they are looking for.”
No one went into Google and searched for portraits of ordinary people who told their life stories to a photographer.
Humans of New York grew because people found it accidentally.
When Stanton asked people how they found it, they told him that a cousin shared it or their mother liked it.
If, as an artist, you are creating something simple and expected, then search is a great place to start.
If, as an artist, you are creating something new and unique that people will see and want to share, then social media could be the best way to reach a new audience.