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Marketing Techniques Artists Feel Pressured to Use - Social Media

by Carolyn Henderson on 4/17/2017 10:54:00 AM

This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. A regular contributing writer for FineArtViews, Carolyn’s alter ego, This Woman Writes, publishes lifestyle articles in online and in print newspapers and on her blog site. The co-owner of Steve Henderson Fine Art with her painter husband Steve, Carolyn is the author of Grammar Despair: Quick simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?” and the money saving book, Live Happily on Less.




If a phrase or concept is repeated enough, and its message extended wide enough (two major components of propaganda), then people tend to believe it. Like this one:


The Internet is the great equalizer. Anyone can post on it, and anyone can get their message out there. It’s one of the biggest benefits to free speech in all of history.


Well, that’s sort of true. At the moment, in many countries that are not openly and blatantly totalitarian, the average person can create a website, post on Facebook, Tweet on Twitter, and snap away on Instagram, and their work can theoretically be seen.


In this great big egalitarian utopia, however, one is reminded of a line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, an allegorical tale of life under communism:


“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”


Or, in social media world,


“All people can post on social media, but some people’s posts will receive much more attention and promotion than others.”


Yes, you as an artist businessperson can – and should seriously think about – posting on social media because yes, it is free, and yes, you can “grow” your viewers and thereby increase exposure to your art. At the same time, however, it is wise to be cautious of the numbers game, something that is a major component of social media, and not be drawn into emotional discouragement or financial poverty by seeking to drive those numbers.


A meme:



Social media numbers, as with results from advertising, are driven by money, power, and influence, and if you are not wealthy, powerful, or influential, you cannot expect to see the same numbers as when a celebrity Tweets, or a pop star posts a YouTube video, or an Influencer writes on LinkedIn, and no matter how “compelling your content,” if it isn’t placed on the front page or popped up in front of people’s faces, it won’t reach as many people. The idea that it can and does if you only work smart enough, hard enough, and savvy enough, is naive at best, and too often, disingenuously deceptive.


That being said, it’s worth posting on social media regularly, tenaciously, and perseveringly  – like a terrier worrying a gopher – because somebody, somewhere, at sometime will see it, and the more you post, the more somebodies, somewheres, and sometimes you have potential of reaching.


Aside from the obvious caveat of posting something worth seeing – a finished work, a well-written blog on something you know about, a salient comment, a link to a site you find meaningful – consider using two or more platforms, simply because they each have their advantages and disadvantages. All of them appear to employ an algorithm of some sort or another, “choosing” what viewers will see, but some seem more restrictive than others.


Because it’s social media, we’re told that we need to not just post and run, taking time to comment, like, or share other people’s posts, and while this is true and generally polite, it does not appear to be the attitude that the mega-corporations, celebrities, or “influencers” take when they use the platform:


To wit: Ordinary people see a promoted ad, product, or article and comment on it, but it’s rare to see the flip: a comment from a mega-corporation, major news platform, prominent blogger, or social media guru on an ordinary person’s site. This is an obvious, yet not unusual example of how the rules are different for the big big guys from the little guys, yet we are all given the impression that we’re using the same playbook.


We’re not. Small people are small, and the way we get our voice out there is to keep using it. Social media use is a fine line between talking about ourselves all the time and interacting with others. Because we are dealing with people on some level, it is difficult to create an equation or mental algorithm of how much to do of each, but let commonsense be your guide:


Always reply to comments (unless they’re troll-y ones). Make salient comments yourself on other people’s posts.


Look around the social media site and see what interests you – if you find something, pass it on.


When you seek to engage people, do so because they’re people, not because they’re potential contacts who can advance your agenda.


Which brings us to the concept of networking, one that is fraught with issues, and which we address next time in Marketing Techniques Artists Feel Pressured to Use – Networking.




Editor's Note: 

When you're ready to take a fresh approach to marketing your art, a professional and secure website can be your most valuable tool. And FASO is the easiest way to build (even for non-techies) and maintain a gorgeous website, we also include amazing marketing tools that automate many common marketing tasks for you. To sign up for a free, no obligation 30 day trial, click hereOr if you're stuck where you are, or just don't want to deal with the hassle of moving your website, sign up for ArtistEdge today to tap into our great art marketing tools.


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Topics: advice for artists | Art Business | art marketing | Carolyn Henderson | exposure tips | Facebook | FineArtViews | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | social media 

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Mark Brockman
Carolyn, I like your common sense approach, thanks.

The Internet and all it offers can be a good thing but silver bullet to fame and fortune, that's for sure. Your ideas are sound, I comment here at FASO, like your blog and others, it has increased my website hits a little and my newsletter, but most are just other artists struggling along like many of us, not buyers, and that's OK.

As artists we are competing with thousands, of not millions of other artists, some good artists, some not so good and some terrible. But everyone can be on the Internet, so that means being seen by serious, willing to hand over big cash buyers are, well, in my experiance, absent. The Internet, websites, and social sites might help, but they are just one small part. I'm seeing, I think, and I hope I'm right, a bit of a swing back to the more personal, one to one approach of art marketing.

Anyway, as usual a good post, thanks.

Andrea Jeris
I always enjoy your blog. Your insights are right on. I feel like an inchworm in a slip and slide world when it comes to building a following.

Ernie Kleven
Carolyn, you always write about interesting and challenging subjects. This one is particularly challenging because of the deluge of various beliefs on the subject. I so tired of hearing how many "hits" something received as if that's the end goal. You've cleared some cobwebs up for me. Thank you.

Gil York
Thanks, Carolyn, for your comments. I was getting discouraged about posting on Twitter with tweets containing 4 artworks and referral to my website. Because of you, I shall continue to do so. Thank you so much!

Walter Paul Bebirian
well - who can know exactly why anyone does anything exactly - there are so many different people and different motivations and so many distractions in today's world that it really is pretty difficult to get through to anyone even if you have something that they may or even do definitely want -

I have actually had people who have gotten my business cards in the streets for years but then finally came to me when they were recommended by someone else - and people who have gotten my cards years ago who because of that alone were so anxious to come to have me photograph them when the time was right - so there is just no telling exactly what it is that makes or will make you stand out in someone's mind but it is pretty much a certainty that if you don't somehow get to show yourself on a consistent basis at different moments in time and let people know you exist and what it is that you do - you most certainly will get lost in the crowd -

I did a little video years ago and asked what I thought was a very profound question:

I thought then and still think that this was and is still a very profound question - because history shows that this question that Steve Jobs asked still holds true today - as if did when he first asked it -

how will anyone know what they want unless we show it to them - and so even if you ponder that - well there are only so many people that are going to want to see art and then a small fraction of them who may life your type of art and a smaller fraction of those who will like your particular image - in all honesty and truthfulness - you really don't know anything about what person might very well change their minds about - and until they get to actually see your art - well - there is no telling how much of an opportunity or many opportunities you may have missed by not making some effort to get as many people as possible to at least see what you have and even if at the first try the y do not seem to be interested - there is no telling how familiarity and recognition will change their seemingly negative response in the beginning when they have first seen your work into something more positive and delighted until they may actual decide that they might as well go ahead and purchase something from you since things are going better since they first saw your work - and who knows exactly what effect seeing your work has actually had on their life - the positive might actually because of being exposed to your work - imagine that - :-)

Walter Paul Bebirian
that said - no type of pressure is good in any instance - if and when a person feels comfortable trying something out and then gradually delving more and more into how to utilize it as a tool to accomplish some end then it will be fine and most probably work in the long run - but if you are ever feeling forced to do anything and it feels uncomfortable it is most probably best to wait until such time and if you get to a point where you are relaxed enough to try whatever it is in a relaxed and enjoyable manner -

Joanne Benson
Hi Carolyn,
I agree with what you are saying and also agree with Walter. The point is to get exposure and hopefully to build some relationships along the way.

I know the big companies constantly swamp me with emails since I am signed up to receive emails from several retail sites. I have them automatically put in email folders so that I only have to look at them when I want to. But they are persistent and if I check my email every day then I will never miss a sale opportunity. I vacillate between annoyance and is indeed a fine line we walk when trying to promote our art and the choices are endless for the potential consumer.

Thanks for another gem!

Katherine Galbraith
Hi Carolyn,

Thank you for writing this. Facebook sometimes overwhelms me - you have given us a roadmap. I'm not sure how it happened, but I've got quite a few "friends" and "followers," most of whom I don't know, but who seem (mostly) to be genuinely interested in my artwork. Now I feel like I've got a better idea of how to handle all these Facebook friends. I'm glad to have them. Love reading the comments from other artists, especially the Russian artists - such fun!



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