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A Social Media Guide For Artists

by Mark Edward Adams on 12/8/2014 7:41:44 AM

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.


6.) Advertise

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.


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Related Posts:

You Have to Change With the Times

Slow Ideas: The Power of Personal Connection

Marketing - While Frustrated - with Facebook

Google Plus: The Biggest Social Network that You're Totally Missing Out On

Your Hidden Email Subscriber List

Do You Use Pinterest to Sell Your Art?

Topics: advice for artists | Art Business | art marketing | exposure tips | Facebook | FineArtViews | sell art | selling art online | selling fine art online | social networking | Twitter | Mark Edward Adams 

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Rizwana A. Mundewadi
Thank you Mark, informative practical tips, the paid likes and clicks sometimes makes a feeling of following everyone else , and till when? after few months people will forget. Is advertising a major part to sell art online? will give this a thought, God Bless from Rizwana!

A Vaillencourt
Thank you for a good solid action oriented strategy regarding the online arena. I struggle with how to engage the cyber world efficiently and effectively both professionally and personally. I recently accepted a business proposition from one of my 21 grandchildren. Confident, brilliant and fearless she created and now manages my fine art page on Facebook-even actively engaging in responses to comments. She is preparing for college and I am benefitting from her influence within a network of young optimistic future focused individuals. I will forward your writing to her and look forward to immersing this ancient brain in the broth of the cyber soup!

Walter Paul Bebirian
well - Mark - this is interesting - but there are still a number of questions that I have -

I have currently on one of my Facebook fan pages over 15,000 likes - which I would imagine is in the category of at least some significance - but when I post only about from 90 - 350 people get to see the post - are you suggesting that you can get 5- 10K people seeing any of your posts without any payment for boosting your posts?

Mark Edward Adams
@Rizwana- I think if you change the way you look at facebook it may help you succeed. You are interrupting people to tell your story. They liked your page because they wanted to hear from you. You are adding value to their life if you tell a story they can relate to their life. And you must be consistent so people do not forgot.

@Walter- It is a common misconception that you need to pay to get a lot of likes. In my last post over 7K people viewed it. About 6K was organic and 1K was paid. Even when I don't pay I get a lot of views if the content is good. No one really knows the Facebook algorithm, but there are lot of factors that go into it. These include the time of day you post, how many people open it within the first 10 minutes, the engagement, the consistency of your posts, your content, etc. I think the most important factor is content. A good starting part is to really look at your analytics and see which posts did the best and why and then start experimenting.

Brian Sherwin
Mark - You said, "I would suggest you start off with only a single platform for at least six months before starting anything new."

That is sound advice. A lot of people - not just artists -- try to tackle several at once. It can easily overwhelm you. Mastering one of the BIG platforms is of more value in the long-run than knowing the basics of several.

Brian Sherwin
Walter -- I know that Facebook page posts that are text only are more apt to be seen compared to text posts that include an active URL. I try to do a balance between posts that include links followed by other posts that are strictly text.

Mark Edward Adams
Excellent points Brian! Also, I should mention before facebook changed their algorithm awhile back I was getting up to 60K views on posts with 4-5K fans. After the big change it dropped to less than a thousand and I had to work at it to bring it back up. It is not the greatest platform out there, but it has the most people for now. I am sure it will eventually decline, but for now we are stuck.

Brian Sherwin
Does any of you use LiveJournal? I remember LJ was HUGE back in the day... a lot of artists once used it. They would simply re-post stuff that they put on their blog.

Brian Sherwin
BLAH... excuse typos. I'm still on cold medicine. Ha, ha.

Very helpful post especially when there are so many experts and advisers putting their spin on social media options. I use my Facebook page for my art business and separate my personal posts on my FB timeline. There is overlap at times as being an artist is how I view the world so my personal and art page have an artistic sense. Basically I keep art-related business posts on my art page. This includes in-process photos of recent work. I do more in-depth posts on my blog regarding my art process and hope to inform and help fans understand how my art happens. I have created a tagline for my art which gives people some clue as to how I view my work--Messy, uncommon, friendly contemporary art.

John Patrick Weiss

Thanks for a great post. I admire your work and noticed you had a lot of fans on Facebook. I think that consistency of posting and working on quality content is key, but I'm intrigued by the advertising. I have a public Facebook page but have never advertised. Sounds like there's some value in it. In the end, I think our biggest asset is our website/blog, since we own it and are not at the mercy of Facebook. Reprinting posts in larger on-line magazines also helps. Thanks again!


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