Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Women in Social Media: Representing Artists, Mothers and Women over 40

The following interview is with Tatiana Keegan, a National Dance Champion who used social media to create her own come back.  If you are a woman (or man) in the arts – be it dance, fine arts, music – I recommend reading the whole interview.  If you don’t, here are a few golden nuggets:
  • Be everywhere.  If your art is best displayed on video, you can’t afford NOT to be on YouTube, Flickr and Facebook.
  • If you already have media out there, repurpose it!  You can’t just post things one time and expect it to go viral.  Post and repost those videos, those pictures, that interview.
  • It helps if you have someone to help you with your social media efforts!
  • Jump on opportunities in a timely manner – a week might be too long to optimize on that TV interview.  Get it onto YouTube, and into your Facebook page IMMEDIATELY.  Then ask all your friends to brag on you.
  • Is your industry, age, talent under-represented on Social Media?  Great!  Become the thought leader.
  • Do what you love.  And keep doing it.
  • You are never too old, or too young to represent.
Today’s interview is with Tatiana Keegan. Most of my interviews have been with women in the
social media marketing realm , speakers or social media authors. This interview is a little
different – and targeted at female artists just getting into the realm of social media. Tatiana is a successful ballroom dancer, who has recently discovered the power of social media.  After launching  www.tatianawerner.com, she added links to her social media sites (keeping her fans updated on her international ballroom circuit comeback, after getting married and having a child.) And there’s been lots of news! In a span of less than two weeks last month, Tatiana and her new partner Werner Figar won the American Star Ball, then flew to Austria, where they qualified for the World Championships in Germany later this year, and then on to England, where they finished ahead of 75 percent of the field in the historic Blackpool Dance Festival against hundreds of the best dancers in the world. Whew! This is one busy woman!

Viveka: I’ve been watching you on YouTube (click here to see Tatiana do her thing)

Tatiana: Yes.  The National Championship. I won that, but nobody knew about it, ever.

Viveka: And we see your partner was Tony who was on Dancing with the Stars with Kate Gosselin, is that correct?  So that You Tube video is getting some play, but I notice you have also written several blogs in Faster Times with advice to Kate. I thought that was fabulous.

Tatiana: Yes – when it published the article even outdid the health insurance blog about Barack Obama!

Viveka: You know, that’s why I love social media.  Because what people are really interested in, that’s what gets top ranking and apparently, they are way more interested in Dancing with the Stars and our new health reform!

Viveka: So you first started using it about 3 years ago. Did you start with YouTube?

Tatiana: Yes.  But hardly at all.  I was living in a cave until I met my husband. He’s the one who is more into computers. I didn’t know how to use computers until like 4 years ago. I didn’t have a computer. I didn’t have a cell phone. I still don’t know how to drive.  All I do is dance, you know? And then I met my husband. He said: “Oh, my God, you’re a gem and nobody knows about you! Let me help you.” So he started promoting me online.

He created the website for us. Then created our Facebook account because it’s one of the things that is hot right now, and of course YouTube, which lead us to Twitter and then Flickr – and here we go. So I am everywhere now!  The skeptics can’t believe it!   Even if you are really talented – if no one knows about you… you’re pretty much ending up nowhere.

Viveka: That’s exactly right.  I think that’s why I love social media so much – It allows people either with talent, time or money to be seen!

Tatiana: Yes, that’s right. People started seeing me on TV about 2 or 3 years ago because there was a cable channel showing re-runs of all the ballroom dance competitions.  One of them was the Nationals in Miami. A few competitions were recorded and that’s how people saw me for the first time. After  September 11th, since the budget was so low they stopped recording any competition  - so no media and no exposure.  So people forgot who I was.  I’m just some dancer teaching them – but they don’t know I’m on TV, or the competitions I won, or that I was on David Letterman , and a reality show.  Then suddenly I started getting so many students and I couldn’t understand why all these people now suddenly want me?  It’s because of the website. Once they saw me, they were really impressed:   “Oh, my God you can do that? You were on David Letterman and you’re dancing with Tony Dovolani? Oh, I want you! You’re a hot shit now!”  It’s amazing how it social media turned everything 180 degrees suddenly.
Viveka: So many women have talent that’s been bottled up, and if they only put it out there, if they only had some way to put it on YouTube, or Facebook, that might be the channel for their exposure and success.

Tatiana: Another thing, and I think it’s a big issue – when you become a mother, suddenly you lose authenticity.  “Oh, she’s a mother. What does she know? She can’t do anything. All she can do is change diapers.” And that’s the kind of attitude I got when I came back to dancing after I had my daughter 3 years ago.

People seemed to think I could only listen to lullabies and play with toys.  They all assumed I was out of shape because I hadn’t danced for a while. People in the dance industry actually said “Look, she’s a mother now. Who cares about you?”   I wasn’t trying to prove anything but I wanted to dance. I went back and started practicing everyday with my partner. I finally earned back their respect – but it’s kind of sad what I had to go through to get it back.  Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of mothers get it.

Viveka: Well it’s true and you know, the dance culture is so competitive and it’s so body conscious and it is kind of snippy, you know?

Tatiana: Right, right, right.

Viveka: And so I think what you’re doing and the fact that not only did you come back and dance after you had your daughter and you did it in a very powerful way but you’re really an excellent role model for other people whether they’re dancers or not.

Tatiana: My new partner Werner said, “Look at your body. Look at your mind.  You still look like you’re in your early 20’s, 30’s whatever. It’s not the number. Can you do this? Can you become a fast dancer again? Can you handle all this pressure? The number really doesn’t matter.” And I thought about it. I said, “Yeah, you know what? I can dance. For some reason I thought when you’re turning around 40s you have to be done.”  But everybody’s different. Everyone is different and I feel like I’m only 25 years old. It really doesn’t matter. When I go and compete, I think I’m the oldest there.  But you know what? It doesn’t bother me at all because I just also want to bring that message to people, “No, you don’t have to be done. If you have a family and have kids, you still can continue doing things and go strong.”

Viveka: You’ve got this very powerful message that you’re sharing, and I think that that’s what makes people successful using social media. I love going to YouTube and watching you dance. The powerful message is not so much about the dancing, but that as a mother, you’re not done. As a 39-year-old woman you’re not done.

So you’ve used obviously YouTube because it is a very, very visual art and you’ve got your website and that’s gotten a lot of play and then you’ve done the blog for Faster Times and you’ve used Facebook and Twitter as well.

Do you use them the same? Do you use them differently?
Tatiana: I just say, “Hey, guys, I have a competition this weekend, Come to cheer,” or “Here are my new videos,” or “Look, I have pictures. Here’s the link to them.”

You have different things for different places.  On Facebook I just put that little message, or mention my blog.  Of course when I mention I’m friends with Tony Dovolani, it goes to his fans, too.  And they see it and so that creates so much traffic and I get—yeah, I get a lot of viewers now because of that so it’s just amazing. I think it’s extraordinary.

Viveka: Yes, Facebook has really been a hub for you. I mean it’s like where everything comes in and everything goes out from there.

Tatiana: Right. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay there too long.  You consciously have to embed the messages and videos constantly.

Viveka: Some people think Facebook or social media’s the golden egg but it’s work!

Tatiana: Uh!

Viveka: It’s not as much work as dancing but its work.

Tatiana: It is, it is. You consciously have to put it on top yeah, and it reminds everybody. It’s like “Okay, here I am guys. Remember me?”

Viveka: Exactly.

Tatiana: Yeah, but its fun.  I can go check it and if people comment, then I respond to that.  However, if we need to post something, then my husband and I do it together, because he knows how to do it technically.

I tell him what to do and he just presses the right buttons.

Viveka: See, I pay people to do that. You’re fortunate enough to have a husband who does

Tatiana: I know. That’s my secret.

Viveka: So your teaching has increased significantly as well as your exposure through the use of social media.

Tatiana: Because that’s what social networking is. It’s just word of mouth.  I think we are so lucky we were born in this generation

Viveka: Yes, and you come from Russia.

Tatiana: Yes, but I’m still like not very updated. I’m outdated because like I said—I mean I never use cell phone. My brother bought for me a cell phone and for the longest time I wouldn’t even use it!

So you know, I’m so thankful to my brother and my husband who make me do this. Otherwise I’d still be living in a basement apartment and nobody would know who I am.

Viveka: Wow. That really speaks for the power of this and the power of technology.  And in a relatively short time!

Tatiana: I have all these fans who then subscribe to my YouTube Channel. It’s really amazing.

Viveka: It’s very powerful in that it has had that much of a difference for you in that short of a time.  You know, some of the points that I like to talk about when it comes to social media and how women use it are the result.  You are a perfect example  - because you’ve got more freedom now. You’re able to operate in more venues.  So you’re much more visible.
It’s an excellent venue  - especially the video.  Dancing is expression – and video allows you to share that expression.  It’s increased your income. It’s given you authority in your industry. You’re becoming a thought leader in your field as a woman returning to dance as a mother.
Anything that you would like to say to other people who might be in the same situation? Any advice you would give them in using social media?

Tatiana: Well, like I said before don’t give up. Don’t look at the number, like 30, 40, 50 and you always can find time for whatever you love. Don’t give it up because I met so many women, they gave up what they wanted to do and then they look back and they regret it so much. So just try to find time. It’s all possible. You can fit it in your schedule but you really have to have the desire. Because it does make you a better person and a better mother and better wife.  Whenever you do something for yourself, it makes you just a better person. You spiritually become better and physically you feel better. You just have to do what you really love. It’s very, very important.
If there is something you love to do you have to stick with it! Follow your heart and eventually it will bring what you need to survive. You don’t want to do things just for money, you know. You do want to put your heart on it and that’s why I’m doing this.  I may be poor to others but I do this for my life and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Original Article

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