Working on simple market research with clients has led me down the path of how best to use social media when you’re an artist.
My most recent research focused on why people would consider buying art. Overwhelmingly, I found that people connect with art when they know the artist, when the art represents them, and when it is unique.
Social media gives you the perfect opportunity to make those little connections. Get your idealies (your perfect customer) familiar with your name, let them feel like they know you, show them how your work is unique, and give them an opportunity to see how your beautiful work represents them.
But first – let’s start at the beginning.
What is social media?
Social media allows you to connect with others online. Before social media there was simply ‘media’, like tv content, magazines, newspapers, billboards, photo albums at your grandma’s house etc. With ‘social’ media you’re able to interact with the content you see while you’re on the go. It allows you to engage with the information you consume in a ‘social’ way, whether that’s a conversation, a like, sending it on to friends and family.
It doesn’t require the technical skills that, say, a website might require. With that in mind, it allows you to build a network of people you enjoy and share relevant content that connects, encourages social interaction, and represents you.
Social media is still in it’s beginning stage. What originally started as a simple college experience sharing network exploded to become a central part of the daily lives of the majority of people every day. Social media is here to stay. It’s not going anywhere – so you need to be using it.
Social Media Platforms for Artists:
There are so many options when it comes to choosing your social media account. Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Facebook, reddit….
It’s a good idea to test out the different options but, honestly, if you’re managing this alone you could spend all your time managing social media and no time making your art. Social media should support and supplement your work not dominate it.
To make life a little easier here are the best options for art businesses.
Instagram is visual. It’s mobile based and simple to use.
With filters and photo editing software built in, it’s an easy way to share your art and product professionally. Instagram photos have three components:
- the image
- the caption
- hashtags help you categorize your images across the platform, making it easier for you and others to find content that interests you.
It’s focus is on ‘Insta’nt sharing of images. While there are companies and apps you can use that help you schedule, Instagram still remains the only platform that requires active involvement in the creation and sharing of images in the moment.
This is a big one in the world of social media but it is a little harder to navigate as a newbie to social media. Chances are that you already have a Facebook profile but using it as a consumer and using it as a business are two separate experiences.
Facebook rules mean that if you have a business you must use a Facebook page and not your personal page. The beauty of this is that your business content is public and your personal can be kept private. The pages can have a lot of power but they do require active updates, scheduling etc. There are wholes courses dedicated to the use of Facebook pages but if you’re up for the challenge then go for it!
A Facebook page lets you:
- receive feedback and ratings on your business and products.
- These are public ratings but provide something called social proof, people love social proof because it means that people just like them love your service.
- create posts that are shareable
- Posts can be images, texts, or video.
- share your special offers, list sign up form, website etc.
- It’s a stronger sharing and richer business experience than, say, Instagram. All your business contact, offers and doings can be easily and quickly shared on your Facebook page for everyone to find.
Another visually appealing social media platform. But the engagement is less comment based like the options above, with ‘sharing’ and ‘pinning’ being the biggest social aspect of this platform.
You can create boards that encompass all of your art and another board to focus on your recipes for the best chocolate cake ever! The beauty of Pinterest as a social media platform for artists is that you’re able to blend personal and professional, people will find your content based on what they like. For instance, they’re only going to see what the cake if they’re not interested in the art.
But, because Pinterest is so visual, your artwork will stand out. If you’re taking quality pictures and creating amazing content online then your work will end up on other peoples’ boards.
Pinterest connects all images to their original URL. So, if you’re pinning images, try to pin from a website that is hosting your work. For instance, pin your items from society6 by importing the link to Pinterest, or connect your blog posts to pinterest.
Although not the most thought of social media platform, blogging allows you to connect with your audience in a way that makes sense to you. Now, with blogging, people don’t just turn up because you’re writing. But combined with other platforms, blogging can be a powerful tool. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with connecting your audience back to a corner of the internet that is purely yours.
What social media should I use as an artist?
You should use the social media that makes sense for your business. If you’re a knitter who sells patterns, consider checking out the hashtags in your field on Instagram. Or, try Pinterest to see if people pin a lot of whimsy puppy mug designs. Choose the one that appeals to your community needs.
Whatever you do, choose one platform, research it heavily, and get familiar with it. It’s better to embrace one social media account at a time rather than trying to do them all at once.
If you’re selling online then your audience is online. Using social media allows you to support and interact with your idealies easily. And, the truth is, if you’re not there to connect with your audience then another business will be.
How do I use it?
Every social media account should have simple guides for how to set up an account and how to use it. Don’t be afraid to play around at first, then as you get more comfortable, branch out and try newer tips, strategies and techniques.
How should I use it?
Use it to build relationships.
This is hard if you’re simply interested in sales and return on investments. But the truth is, social media is about interaction and building a relationship with your audience.
Working on that will help build trust and establish you as the artist that knows what they’re doing. You’re going to be the one they want to rely on later when they need your product.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage.
And, whatever you do, don’t focus on selling every time you post. Focus on sharing your experience, your products, their features, the story behind your making.
Tips for Best Social Media Practice for Artists and Makers
- Whatever platform you choose there will be conflicting information about how often you should post per day. But the reality is that when you’re starting out focus on being consistent rather than producing quantity.
- Consistency will help you to slowly build up content, even if no one is listening (at first). And slow and steady wins the race. You don’t want to burn out in the first month of trying to master social media
- Set aside time every day to edit your social media or to engage. Whether that’s creating new content, responding to customers, sharing posts, or collecting links to post, simply set aside 15-30 minutes a day to start and focus on slowly building your company brand online.
Think Teaching & Learning
- Remember that you know everything about your business. But your idealies do not! Take time to teach in your posts. Share the benefits of your art, talk about the features, share items from your shop. While you live and breathe your art, your audience does not. Let them see what you do.
Explore New Ways
- Get creative and think of new ways to use your product. Share those ideas! Do you sell jewellery? Talk about customizing earrings into handbag charms, or fancy bookmarks. Get those innovative and creative juices flowing.
Ask Them What’s Up
- Ask your idealies questions and learn from them. If you have a few new product development ideas, then ask your audience what they’d be interested in first. Explore, ask for engagement, and connect.
Make Time For Your Learning
- Make time for your education. Social media management is a whole field in and of itself! Get out there and learn more tips on how to make your efforts worthwhile. Whether that’s learning newer and better ways to take pictures or discovering the technical side of the ‘best post times’. Whatever you need to learn, take an hour a week and do some reading – then implement it!
Batch Your Workload
- As you get better at managing your own social media remember that you’re an artist and your main job is making and creating! Take time to figure out batching. That way you can plan your social media efforts in advance through scheduling or simple prep. For instance, editing 5 photos for Instagram means that you only need to take a few minutes to post them each day rather than 30 minutes each day to stage, clean up, edit, post. Batching will save you time.
- Your social media is to enhance your audience experience. While we’re all susceptible to marketing the chances are that you’re no marketing expert. So don’t just keep pushing your product for people to buy. Post promotional material infrequently and go for the long sell as a daily rule. That means, educating your audience, sharing your experiences, giving hints and tips etc. Keep the ‘Buy all my art today’ posts to a minimum.
Share The Love
- Take time to make connections with other businesses too and link your posts to other business owners in similar areas. For instance, if you are a calligrapher, then promote a local wedding planner. Your paths could cross later because weddings and calligraphy do go hand in hand after all.
- Remember to have fun. Post fun trailers, videos, memes. Just keep them a little more generic than you would with a close friend. Step away from political jokes and controversial topics unless it’s relevant to your business (hello there! political cartoonist). The best idea is to run your jokes by friends before you post.
- Did this help you understand social media better? Yeah! Let me know by commenting below.
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