One of the many characters I hope to profile in “Letters & Characters”, Robbie Norris is an artist, musician, entrepreneur and business-owner who is based in Lincolnton, North Carolina. He’s into motorcycles, skulls, and Facebook. In fact, Facebook is his main social media channel for both personal and business purposes.
“I have a website, but it really doesn’t do a lot. I’ve tried other platforms, but I can really accomplish everything I need to do on Facebook. I’m a busy man, so I have to be selective,” says Norris, who splits his time between family, his custom paint studio and his band Fire, all documented through posts he makes throughout the day. He’s dabbled in Flickr, Twitter, and a blog on his website, but Facebook is where the action — and stories — link all of his interests and activities.
“My phone is with me all the time and I would guess, collectively, that I spend around five hours a day on social media. It’s fragmented and sporadic, with a post here, and a post there. Sometimes it’s an exchange, like ‘Having fun at the lake,’ which will be followed by a question from one of my friends, ‘Which lake?’ and so on.”
There’s a lot of potential for such exchanges since Norris has over 3,100 Facebook friends. One would never know it, given how modest he is about his accomplishments as an artist. His reputation, bolstered through satisfied customers, has resulted in several jobs for NASCAR. Although his main business is custom show paint for motorcycles, he’s painted helmets for drivers, and guitars and drums for fellow musicians. Norris seems to be in constant motion, with no shortage of stories and experiences to share.
He has two Facebook accounts (one for his business, one personal) and while the personal Facebook account is used for primarily for the promotion of the band and to brag about his kids, there’s cross-pollination. For example, one of Fire’s fans might see his custom paint work and become a customer. His work is detailed and involves multiple layers of paint to achieve the iridescent, ethereal affect he is known for. On average, it takes a week per job to complete, so his posts aren’t as frequent to his business Facebook page.
How does he keep his customers and his fans coming back, you may wonder? Frequent updates that showcase commissioned work and performance dates are successful in driving traffic to his social media sites. But primarily being the same person online that he is in real life — engaging, personable, and friendly, drives much of the activity. A conversation that starts online often continues offline in his studio or at a gig. He invites fans of both his art and his music to post images and videos, achieving a level of engagement with his audience that would be the envy of established marketers. He’s even enlisted social media in recruitment efforts for a new vocalist for the band. In return, his posts about the band’s activities and upcoming gigs benefit his fans and fill the venues. Many gig leads have been generated from his social media followers. These exchanges benefit everyone. When asked about this social currency, he states matter-of-factly, “Stay informed so you know how to insert yourself into the conversation.”
Inserting yourself into the conversation can certainly pay off, as Norris found out when he contacted Nick Maybury, guitarist for Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts. Meeting Maybury in person wouldn’t have been possible without an online introduction. That, in turn, resulted in an upcoming gig in California for Fire and a Charlotte show with Tim “Ripper” Owens of Judas Priest fame, “Thanks to that connection I made via social media.”
However, with over 3,100 connections who follow your business and social life, there’s one connection he made that is more important than the rest. “That would be my wife, Rachel,” Norris said. “I met her on Facebook.”
Well played, Robbie Norris. Well played.