Give give give – receive: Mentors and social media

Give give give – receive: Mentors and social media

10 Apr 2014, Posted by kate_mercer in Inspiration


I can not believe it’s been over a month since I’ve made time to sit and write a post. So many things have happened in that time, I realise the impact or relevance of writing about them all in one sitting would be futile. Instead, the inspiration to write this post came after a soak in the bath and a rather good book:

I am incredibly lucky to be able to say that I assist Magnum photographer David Hurn, and have done since February 2013. As well as my boss, I count him as being both my mentor and a dear friend. Through out this time his unwavering support and enthusiasm has pushed me to attempt new and tougher challenges. It is one of these challenges that brought me to this book.

Newport, South Wales, where I live and work has a noticeable amount of empty shops and a somewhat dubious reputation. Whilst there are some in the community who are working to positively change things in the city, others are openly dismissive of it. I am (again) exceptionally lucky to be involved with a new creative platform in the city called < The Project Space which we hope will develop into a significant cultural hub, right in the heart of Newport’s Commercial street, through community art education and development. It’s a HUGE opportunity for Newport, let alone me, and David again has been hugely supportive of the project. So much so, after going over ideas for the space, he lent me this book by Gary Vaynerchuk: Jab, jab, jab – right hook: How to tell your story in a noisy social world (2013).

I really recommend it to any creative professional or business who understands the importance but not the implementation of social media (I have for example, an intermittent Twitter feed and a much neglected Facebook page for my photography…) This book isn’t just a how, but a WHY of social media, and gives great tips of how to develop and market projects, businesses and relationships with people online. Covering platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, Vaynerchuk offers informal observations on these social media platforms and their marketing potential.

It just so happens this was the subject of another conversation I was a part of today on Pitch (#124) at Radio Cardiff this morning, mainly about working together in the arts to ‘join the dots’, to promote and support events on a collective and individual level. Individually, whilst we may have necessary skills to promote ourselves, in the midst of a looming exhibition or performance, we may lack the time to approach and connect on a one-to-one basis with wider audiences. Social media is a great tool to do this, but if your not sure how to use it or use it well, it can be more of a hindrance than a help. (Seriously though, read this book – it’s really useful).

The point I wanted to make about this book however, as well as highlighting the point of the quality of content as well as the context information is shared in on social media, Vaynerchuk argues that successful engagement of audiences online is a relationship of Give-Give-Give-Ask rather than Promote-Promote-Promote-Demand. People want to feel invested in something before they commit any involvement and that they’re benefitting from doing so; alliances are not automatic, and need constant attention to maintain. As is the same with real life relationships (i.e. not the world of touch screens, selfies or #promotion).

At the risk of sounding completely disenchanted in a reality of cuts to arts and public funding, success is measured in attendance, prestige and visitor statistics. Time will tell, but perhaps it’s the confidence in communicating our ideas openly and in support of each other that needs to be expanded upon before we turn to social media… That is why a very kind and generous man lent me a book to learn more about it after all.