Interviewer’s Note: I spoke with Dutch artist Remko Spaan, who has embarked on a fascinating project, integrating art design and social media. It was quite a departure from the typical Twitter uses we hear about all the time, yet Remko was using some very familiar principles to help his strategy succeed. Let’s hear what he’s up to and how he is employing social media to achieve his goals.
Hello Remko! Welcome to the Pluggio Blog. What do you do?
I am the creator and owner of Sequoia Tees and am right now working very hard to make our project happen by November 19, 2011.
What is the concept behind Sequoia Tees?
The slogan is “1 day – 1 design – 100 numbers. Everyday.”
The concept is to offer exclusive, limited editioned T-shirts with unique designs of the world’s greatest artists. Only 100 T-shirts will be printed with a particular design. Artists will be delivering an art work that the world hasn’t seen before. The T-shirts have punched numbers (from 00 to 99) in the left sleeve so customers can choose a number of their choice. Of some artists the customers will receive a handwritten note. Together this will make a true collectors’ item.
The tees will be sent in beautiful packaging. Also, we offer the tees to be framed. Not only that, it will be possible to obtain the original art work of the design our customers will buy.
What inspired you to do this?
In the summer of 2010, I was reading a book called the Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt. In the book there are different stories of companies who use social capital to become greater in their business or even having used it as a start of their business. I thought I could do the same and came up with this concept. A concept that is an art work by itself. Never been done before.
How has social media played a part in realizing the project? Did you use it to get artists to participate, or has it been more for publicity, etc?
Social media is playing a large part in this project. I use it for various reasons, like to find artists that I like to participate, but also to keep in contact with my fans. Thirdly, I use it to promote the artists and my website.
I see you’re on Facebook, how has your experience been in using that? I have talked to a lot of small business owners and entrepreneurs and they’ve felt it’s not been worthwhile. I’d love to hear your experience.
I think that Facebook is a great medium to communicate with your fans. Currently I am not making the most out as so many things can be done. Over time this will change for the good. Still, it is good to have your own page because so many people are using Facebook and have the chance to find you. Good for communications because when having over 25 fans one can get a good url like I have (http://www.facebook.com/sequoiatees). If you use it smartly it can be of great benefit.
What impact or change to your business have you seen due to Twitter/social marketing?
The fun thing about Twitter is that you can get in contact with people that really like what you are doing. In my case, I don’t use automatic collections of followers. The people who follow me now are really interested in what I do. That’s good.
Are there any of your accomplishments with social marketing that you are particularly proud of?
Not currently although I was happy to have over 25 fans. A small but fine first accomplishment.
You’ve got a pretty sizeable following- 1,000+ people!. How did you build your Twitter following?
At first I used an automatic following system. Later on I decided to stop with that because I wanted people to follow me because they are interested in me and not just for the number of followers. In the cause of time I noticed that this is the case. Also, I have been using Twitter now for a couple of years, so over time one gets more followers if one is active.
What strategies did you use for social marketing?
At first I wanted to be available everywhere I could and build up a fan base and followers. This is going well. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you my future strategies as this will impact my business. I can tell you that soon the whole world will know of Sequoia Tees! :-)
What worked for you?
Being quickly responsive, being friendly, and being positive.
That sounds like a good rule of thumb. What didn’t work for you?
I have trouble when there is a one way communication only. This happens too often unfortunately.
What lessons have you learned about Twitter, social media, and online marketing?
Be active or forget about it.
Follow Remko and Sequoia Tees on Twitter here.
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