Watch Out for the Mud Sharks

SherrillMudShark

One of my favorite tools to recommend at Christmas time or when a newbie potter comes in to the ceramic store is the Mudshark. Michael Sherrill designed as series of tools called MudTools which he created out of necessity to suit his ceramic needs. For non-potters you might not see the brilliance in this tool name and design or understand the versatility of its tail, nose, and mouth. The tail is used when throwing a pot to trim or create a 45 degree footed angle at the bottom. This part can cut away any waste sitting at the bottom of a pot or on the bat which the pot is being thrown on. The needle, or nose, can be used for trimming the top of a pot. It can be used to make designs on a pot or plate and for the artist to sign their name on the bottom of their handmade piece.  The mouth of the tool can be used to make the rim of a pot, bowl or pitcher. When your done using the tool, the needle nose folds inside and can slip into a pocket, clay bag, or into a tool caddy. Another cool feature like many of the other Sherrill Tools is it comes in six different colors.

Mudtools has gone to great lengths to take their brand social. It was going to be hard bait for Sherrill to get into the ceramic tool market swimming upstream against established companies like Kemper, Dolan, and Chinese Clay Art.  They needed social media to snag consumers with videos and pictures of their tools not just typical word of mouth promotion or traditional marketing strategies. The company wanted to turn tool trollers into loyal buyers.

Demanding a strong social media presence, every page on their website lures the consumer to the social media landscape to support their brand image (Agius, 2015) as seen here:

smmudtools

Michael started out his a social media campaign as his bite indicator on Facebook with pictures of his product. Over the years, Facebook has become his honey hole with a strong following and the launching pad to the other social media networks. He incorporated videos on creating with different Mudtools on YouTube channel and crossed over onto Twitter with tweets of pictures of potters using their favorite Mudtools. Google+ is alongshore of Facebook reiterating special promotions, pictures of their product line, their blog, videos and customer’s working with their tools. Their LinkedIn presence is more lie bank-fishing with a specialized traditional slant of Press Releases emphasizing their support to social and global responsibility. Instagram intertwines their professional and personal side giving a human approach to the company image. Although Michael has a Pinterest account, it is not directly related to MudTools. It is a minnow in the social media marketing strategy at this time.

By uniting product pictures, product how-to videos, and advertising promotions on the social media channels, the Mudtool brand identity has defined its value and the company ideals (Botts, 2014). The success of branding can be seen through consumers endorsing the tools and inviting prospective buyers to use them as well. MudTools consistency and frequency on the social media networks allows for credibility, authenticity, and likability. Capitalizing on the mud aspect of ceramics and the quality of the tools became the neutral buoyancy to sustain the brand. Social media branding keeps Mudtools consumers restocked with the necessary clay studio tools as seen below.

google+mudtools

Mudtools has remained in the uprush of growth by concentrating on increasing Facebook followers, optimizing YouTube videos, and maintaining Instagram attention. They assist consumers in navigating to their website, product pages and social media platforms. Michael spends time interacting on Instagram, Twitter and Google+ with their followers (Hemley, 2014). There is no daily limit on how brand social can make a company and its products. Once a consumer gets bitten by a MudTools brand, it’s hard to forget how great the tools are.

yellowmudshark

Resources:

Agius, A. (2015). The 4 Essentials to Building Your Brand on Social Media. Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244677

Botts, S. (2014). Building Identity Loyalty Through Social Media. Thinking With Google. Retrieved from: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/building-identity-through-social-media.html

Hemley, D. (2014). 26 Ways Brands Succeed With Social Media Marketing. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-ways-brands-succeed-social-media-marketing/

Sherrill MudTools Page (n.d.). SherrillMudTools. Instagram. Retrieved from: https://instagram.com/sherrillmudtools/

Mudshark Product Page, (n.d.). Mudshark. Mudtools. Retrieved from: http://www.mudtools.com/product/mudshark/

MudTools Facebook Page, (n.d.). Mudtools. Facebook. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/Mudtools

MudTools Twitter Account, (2013). Mudtools. Twitter. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/Mudtools

Sherrill Studios Page, (n.d.). Michael Sherrill. Pinterest. Retrieved from: https://www.pinterest.com/SherrillStudios/

Using Your MudTools, (n.d.). Do All Demonstration from Michael Sherrill and MudTools. YouTube. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/1GAWTZWY4Z8?list=PLLfY3U1eRSVgNJYEX41VIZNUHgahEu4Lw

White, C. (2011) Branding: How It Works in the Social Media Age [Infographic]. Mashable. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2011/12/15/branding-and-social-media/

Ceramics and Social Media Applications

The ceramic industry includes a diverse group of potters similar to the social media landscape. Most common communication channels will consist of announcements, pictures of work or events, blogs, and videos. The traditional social media landscape comprises of Twitter and Facebook, but over the past two years there has been significant growth on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+. Quite often potters will report they don’t own a computer and if they do own one they don’t have an email address, so social media escapes a large majority of the community. But for the potters involved in the social media channels, they are using these tools to show and tell their art as well as develop and discover their talent (Zimmerman, 2014).

The professional ceramicist can be found in museums, art centers and galleries noted in a recent industry poll from NCECA , known as the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (Bracker, 2015). This group of potters favors Facebook and Twitter. This gives them a strong platform for promoting their website and next gallery or museum showings.

There is the production potter, who produces their ware in volume, whom will post on Facebook especially directing fans to their website.  They can often be found on forums and online communities. They are contributing to the ceramic industry evolution with discussions on clay and ceramic issues, offering advice, writing reviews of ceramic products and sharing global ceramic industry news. The production potter would be the known as the Critics on the Social Technographics Ladder (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

The studio potter is not production but more serious than a hobbyist by making a full time living selling their work. They are the Creators on the Social Technographics Ladder making the most contribution to the social media landscape. They will use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to push the consumer to their studio. These social media networks are free and can draw a good amount of interaction. The studio potter might post a promotion on Twitter or Facebook giving away a new ceramic mug like Joel of Cherrico Pottery to engage and invite the consumer to “Like” their page, build their brand, and follow their studio (Birkholz, 2015). The studio potter can be found on YouTube demonstrating, teaching and engaging other potters, artistic students, and viewers such as Master Potter Bill Van Gilder.

The hobby potter or leisure clay artist, one who works with clay for enjoyment, occasionally sells their work on a smaller scale like Etsy or local event. They can be found on Pinterest pinning works of the professional or average potters. Since they are not as involved on social media for promotion of their goods, they would be considered the joiners or spectators of the Social Technographics Ladder. As joiners they are interested in visiting the social networks for inspiration, Facebook pages of ceramic vendors like Stone Leaf Pottery to learn about products, and following their favorite ceramic groups like Amaco’s Potters Choice Exchange for tips and techniques (Sophia, 2015). As a spectator they are more likely to be involved in watching videos of ceramic demonstrations, read blogs from the studio potters, and being influenced by reviews by the professional ceramicist or average potters.

clay-social-media-icons

Social Media networks offer potters a vast level of publicity, the widening of consumer target market, and a growth in social interaction for and among the ceramic professionals, studio potters and leisure clay artists. By expanding their social media landscape from the more traditional sites such as Twitter and Facebook, they can amplify their exposure with Instagram and Google+. Not only do social media networks increase the potter’s audience, it offers the building of ceramic communities. Potter Adam Field used Instagram effectively to pull in consumers and widen his audience by creating a scavenger hunt involving ceramic objects. The idea behind the scavenger hunt was “to create a groundswell of community that would encourage sharing information, techniques, and inspiration”  (Johnson, 2014). As more potters become comfortable with the new form of marketing, social media can help them get their name and products out there at a very minimal cost.

Resources:

Birkholz, J. (2015). Cosmic Mug Giveaway, Laughing Squid Feature, And Mainstream Art Ambitions. Cherrico Pottery. Retrieved from: http://www.cherricopottery.com/category/social-media/

Bracker, C. (2015). Who Are We? NCECA. Retrieved from: http://blog.nceca.net/inside-nceca-vol-i-issue-13

Johnson, G. (2014). Hide-N-Seekah!Using Social Medial for a Pottery Scavenger Hunt. Ceramics Arts Daily. Retrieved from: http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramic-art-and-artists/ceramic-artists/hide-n-seekah-using-social-media-for-a-pottery-scavenger-hunt/

Li, C.  & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Social Media Page. (2015). Facebook’s Potters Choice Exchange. Stone Leaf Pottery. Retrieved from: http://stoneleafpottery.com/category/social-media/

Zimmerman, C. (2014). How Artists Can Use Social Media to Discover and Promote Their Voice. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carlota-zimmerman/how-artists-can-use-socia_b_4756824.html