Social media has the potential to enhance your online presence and support your offline marketing efforts. You can even sell your art on social media, for example on Instagram. But there is still a lot of misunderstanding among visual artists about how to use social media successfully. That’s a real shame because social media can be an effective and affordable way to promote your art career. Read on for three misconceptions to be aware of and avoid.
1 Get It Right The First Time And Stick To The Formula
Successful digital marketing is an ongoing conversation with your audiences over the course of years. Trial and error in this process is not just ok, it’s part and parcel of being successful. You need to learn what your followers want to see so that you can fine-tune your posts to give them what they want: a compelling narrative about you and your art. For visual artists, a good starting point is a mix of individual artworks alternated with installation shots, the artist at work in the studio and social shots (i.e. events, art fairs, etc). Check out these artist Instagram accounts for inspiration.
The mistake we see artists make is that they stick to one type of post (i.e. a shot of an artwork) and never change it up with other content. It’s worth trying something else every now and then, just to figure out what your followers are responding most to. Social media is effective because you receive instant feedback in the form of likes. Additionally, there are great analytics tools available to dive deeper into the data. Check out this list of Instagram Analytics tools by SproutSocial. So if you don’t have the time or the creative bandwidth to spend time on creating good posts, ask your studio assistant to start experimenting.
2 Social Media Generates Fast Results
Social media is only effective if you take a long-term view. Don’t try it for two weeks and then abandon it. You need to devote at least 6 to 12 months of concerted efforts to see results. We see artists only take to Facebook and Instagram to promote a specific exhibition or event with one post. That’s not nearly as effective as incorporating these promotional posts into a longer-term social media strategy where they can alternate with your other content.
You want to get to the point where your audience grows organically over the course of months and years. We know from experience that producing interesting content, posted regularly, gets you results. Your follower numbers will go up slowly, in spurts. We don’t know exactly what algorithm causes this but posting regularly over the long term is way more effective than promoting one off events every now and then. If you can afford it you can always choose to amplify your posts with advertising but if you have no marketing budget, we’d stick to the free slow-growth model until you sell a bunch of paintings.
3 I Need To Be On As Many Social Media Platforms As Possible
No. You don't. We see many artists on Twitter. But consider this. The lifespan of the average Tweet is about half a second. That means it takes about half a second before it’s pushed down in the feed. To be successful on Twitter you need to post at least a couple of times per day. Another thing to consider is that Twitter is not a visually oriented platform. So what’s the advantage of being on a platform that takes tremendous effort to grow an audience on, and does not display your art in the best possible way?
Instead we recommend that you stick to two or three platforms that are helpful to you by being visually oriented, that you’ll find easy to post to, and that you can fairly easily grow your audiences on. Facebook and Instagram are good choices because you’re probably already on there yourself which makes it easier to grow your network. Same with Linked In, which we see being helpful to full-time visual artists. You’ll get better results by being selective than to spread yourself thinly over ten social media platforms with no time to post. There is nothing as sad as an abandoned social media account that has not been posted to for months or years.