This article is by regular contributing writer, Mark Edward Adams. Mark is a modern sculptor born in Tucson, Arizona and raised in the Phoenix area in a family full of artists and musicians. He was trained in classical figurative sculpture but eventually gravitated toward a modern expressive style focusing on animals. His work has been exhibited at the Gilcrease Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, Brookgreene Gardens, and in private collections in the United States and Europe. In 2013, Mark was awarded the prestigious “Beverly Hoyt Robertson Memorial Award” by the National Sculpture Society for an outstanding sculptor under the age of 40. He has been featured in a variety of publications including Western Art and Architecture, American Art Collector, Fine Art Connoisseur and on the NBC TV show “Art Pulse”.
It can be confusing. Most artists understand social media can bring a lot of exposure to their art. There is always a chance something you post can go viral and reach thousands or even millions of people. Yet with all the social media platforms out there, how do you know where to start?
A lot of artists try to do it all. They sign up for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and anything else that looks popular and post a few things on each one. But it is almost impossible to keep up with each one and they don’t seem to progress your career forward. Soon the momentum to keep posting slows down or even stops.
So what went wrong? You were not able to connect with people. This scenario happened to me and it was frustrating. I had a story tell but no one was listening. However, after a lot of trial and error, I began to learn from my mistakes. In about a year, I went from 4K likes on Facebook to over 20K. The exposure connected me to a host of art lovers, collectors, and galleries. In time, I began to understand social media better and here are my tips for starting out:
1.) Know Your Limits
Understand you cannot do it all. I would suggest you start off with only a single platform for at least six months before starting anything new. Put all your efforts into this single platform. Read books, blogs, and anything else you can find on understanding how it works. Become the expert in this single social media space.
2.) Choose Wisely
After you decide to focus on one platform, the next step is to pick one. The best way to do this is to put all your preconceived notions aside on which one is the best and look at the numbers. A lot of marketing companies have compiled lists of user demographics for each platform. Just google it! You will start to see the various trends. For instance, Facebook is growing the strongest among baby boomers while it is declining for millennials. Pick a platform that most resembles your desired demographics.
3.) Study The Competition
Before you start posting, you need a direction. The best way to find a direction is to look at people who do the exact same thing as you and have a lot of followers and engagement. This means besides just a high number of followers, you want to see a lot of comments and likes for each post. What are they talking about? What types of posts gets the most response? Is the artist responding to the comments? Your goal is not to copy this person but to understand how people communicate.
4.) Pick Your Content
You are almost ready to start posting. You just need to figure out what to post. A lot of artists make the mistake of just posting photo after photo of their work and where it is available. This gets old really fast. You need to connect all your posts so they tell a story. People respond more to the story than a single work. And it must be interesting. On my Facebook page, I post my entire process from making little sketches to the finished bronze sculpture and then to the galleries and museum shows. I try to bring people along for the ride. I share everything.
5.) Be Consistent
Understand that it will take time to develop a voice that connects with people on an individual platform. The most important task is to be consistent. I would suggest you post at least 2-3 times per week. Even if no one is listening, do not give up. Keep doing it for six months. You will slowly start to see what works and you will get better. The numbers of followers often grows exponentially. In other words, it could start doubling and tripling in a matter of weeks.
Once you are posting on a regular basis, I would suggest you buy some advertising or pay for promoted posts. You don’t need to spend a lot, I would suggest between one to five dollars a day for the first few months. After you have a significant number of followers, advertising is not as important. On a typical Facebook post, I reach 5-10K people and when I promote these posts about 20% of the views are from the advertising and the rest is organic.
As you follow these steps understand this is a learning process that will take time. If it were easy, everyone would have a huge following. You just need to stay focused, consistent, and learn how to connect with people of the platform. You will slowly build your own community.