There are eight million artist stories in the city. This one is mine. This is “Gallery of Dreams”.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear someone mention the movie “Field of Dreams”? Come on, you know – “If you build it, he will come.” Later on in the movie Terrance Mann tells Ray, “people will come”. There’s a theme somewhere in there, in the movie, but one thing that came out of the American collective movie-going experience is this idea – and how many times have you heard it said, in one context or another, or said it yourself since then? “If you build it, they will come.” It’s true.
Then there is this question. If you build it on Facebook, will people come? And the answer to that question is what this story is about.
A while back I received some feedback on one of my Facebook posts, one of many posts in relation to my quest to gather and collect 1000 ”Likes” on my Art Page. Now I can’t say that I was walking in the middle of a cornfield when a voice inside my head said, “You can get 1000 ‘Likes’ on your Facebook Art Page.” But I had that thought. And since I have come to believe that my first thoughts, thoughts that seem to flash in my head from out of nowhere, just might be messages from some higher plain than the one I generally move through, I gave it my attention. And it spoke to me. Just leave it that I had a thought that I should set a goal to gather 1000 “Likes” on my page, and then find a way. Do it. There are all kinds of books written on goal setting that say once you have set a goal, take action immediately toward reaching that goal, you don’t have to have a plan in place. Just start moving in that direction. So that’s what I did. I wrote on my timeline that I had made a decision to get that many “Likes” on my page, and I followed that up with a blog all about it, suprisingly titled “1000 Likes”.
I know saying this is a goal is not like saying my goal is world peace, or cleaning up the Charles River, or putting an end to domestic abuse. Not something so important, or lofty, or necessary. But I got an idea, I set a goal, I publicly said I was going to do it even though I had no idea how, and I started, among other things, posting about it a lot. And then I got this unsolicited advice: “Stop worrying about the “Likes” and just focus on your painting. The likes will follow.” In other words, “If you paint it, ‘Likes’ will come.”
I want to talk about math a little now. It is a fact that the software and algorythms that drive this fun and brightly lit Facebook place work this way: any post you put on your timeline will be seen by just 16% of your “Friends”. It’s true. So if you have 200 Facebook friends only 32 will have your post show up on their “home” wall. It’s true. That doesn’t mean 32 people will actually look at it, just that of your 200 friends only 32 will even have the opportunity to look at it. Ever wonder why you felt ignored? I would post a photo of a new painting on my art page and see, as the page administrator, that 38 people had seen my post. And I would feel a little unappreciated. I didn’t know about the math. I would paint it, but people wouldn’t come. However, the good news, and I only learned this as a direct result of chasing my goal to get 1000 ”Likes”, is that the software is cunning, and aware, – it’s alive! – and it notices when a page is active, and then rewards that increased activity by sending the post to more FB homes. The more activity on a page, the more public awareness. I posted a photo of some greeting cards I had sold on my art page a few days ago, and when last I looked 217 people had seen it (or had the chance to see it). And me with not many more FB friends than back in my 1000 “Likes” idea day..
Never mind that since I made a decision to gather 1000 “Likes” – no matter what I had to do – I have made new connections with fellow artists from all over the world: in Crete, in Greece, in Iraq, a whole slew in Great Britain, in Italy, in Japan, in France, in Australia; I have been exposed to wonderful and fabulous art and creativity I never would have seen; been asked to “Like” lots of other peoples’ pages I never would have noticed; connected with old friends and acquaintances; have been given ideas and insights and inspirations about better ways to run my Etsy store and my on-line art web site. I have learned new marketing and information skills by watching a bunch of free webinars and reading new library books, and have made better connections with locals through conversations we almost certainly would not have had if I wasn’t asking “Would you “Like” my Facebook page?”. And I have had the chance to see many of my old friends and family come on board with me and encourage their friends to “Like” my page. As a result I have had many more chances to feel and express gratitude. Just because I decided to chase this funny little goal. Like Terrance Mann says to Ray Kinsella outside Fenway Park in Field of Dreams: “I wish I had your passion. Misdirected though it might be, it’s still a passion.”
If I post it, they will come. If I ask it, they will come. If I chase it, they will come. If I dream it, they most certainly will come. And then, when I paint it, they are already here.
“Buddy, when did all these art fans get here?” When I stared promoting my art in my gallery of dreams, and chasing “Likes”.