Social Media

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Social Media: Social media has become this wonderful and fantastic for people to find their own tribe outside of their own physicality. Artists it turns out, are amazing at social media. At times I have thought that Facebook and Instagram were created just for artists and art lovers. What else could it be for? Surely not cat videos or 5 minute updates on 2 year olds or hateful politics. The rise of this form of communication has sped up the dissolution of centralized geographical locations as “the art world”, and has removed the gallery as the only intermediary between artists and collectors. Artists no longer need to congregate in cities to create a career. Now, wherever you want to be- in a city or out in the woods, you can still become well known and respected in your given field.

That’s the positive side. The negative side is that now that artists no longer rely so heavily on agents (galleries), the work of marketing falls on the shoulders of the artist. More time away from the studio. The trick is interacting with this in a smart way, and finding a balance between studio life and online life. That is not something that can be taught. The balance is yours to find.

*There is an important thing to remember about social media when using it for your artistic career. Your social media should function as a means to drive people to your website- not the other way around. You want people to find out more about you without requiring them to read a ton unless they want to. Make sure that you keep your content short on social media and if you have more to say, put that on your blog or website and create links on FB etc. People do not love the “read more” line on social media. When you update your website, post about that. Give a teaser of a few new images and link to your website.

Announce your news on these sites. It’s easier than updating website content and is therefore more likely to be seen. More people are on social media than they are watching your website. Social Media has a different Active/ Passive balance than your website.  Social media is easy and fast, going to websites take time and effort. However, Social media force feeds users content very actively, while a website allows users to absorb at their leisure. Both are necessary. Use social media to lead people into the quieter activity of looking at your website alone. If your social media is engaging, people will take the time to click through to your website. Its a really spectacular tool.

If you have any questions about how to set up and use any of these platforms, check out social media today. They have a ton of webinars and really helpful advice for small businesses (which is what you are). Your work is your brand and you are a business if you have any plans whatsoever to try to “make it” as a full time studio artist.

Here are the most used  platforms and some of the ways in which you can use them to benefit your art career.

Facebook: Clearly we all know what this is. You have all probably been using this platform for quite some time to communicate with friends and family. Various artists deal with this in different ways. Your first option for using Facebook to present your work is to integrate posts about your work with your life posts. I know several potters, wood workers and the like that feel that their work and life have no barrier between the two and create as many posts about their dogs, families and politics as they do about their work. This type of activity is fine if a part of your artwork “brand” is really a lot about how art and life are intertwined. There are some risks in this behavior. First, what if someone posts on your timeline something that goes against your brand? What about privacy? This can be a conundrum. If you have your privacy setting set so high that not everyone can access images and information about your work, you are in essence preaching to the choir of the already converted (your friends and family). If you have no privacy settings on the other hand, leaving your work and life out there for the world to see and interact with, there can be some unpleasant circumstances.

If you have any concerns whatsoever about your privacy and personal information being available to the public, I highly suggest creating a separate Facebook page which you can manage from your personal page. I have 4 pages I manage aside from my personal page. I have the Pages Manager app which allows me to move easily from one page to the next, updating content for each. You have a couple options for keeping a Facebook Page  for your artwork. You can either  can keep  an artwork only page which is completely public, while keeping the privacy settings on your personal page as they are. OR- you can do something I see more and more artists do, which is to integrate public/ artist persona with the personal. Many artists just have the one page and part of their brand IS the life they live- from travel to cooking to children to studio disasters. It’s up to you.

Now, how do you use this? Check out this webinar How to get more Attention for your Facebook Posts. *Check out below in the Insights and analytics section below and the creating vs curating content.

Instagram: As I said before, sometimes I think that social media was created for artists. Check out Ayumi Horie’s Guide to Using Instagram for Studio Artists on her blog. This post is a little old- but Ayumi makes a living almost entirely on Instagram so it’s worth a read. Instagram is mostly visual and can be easily linked to your Facebook page. It is unfortunately more difficult to keep separate accounts. You can do it, but that requires that your sign out as one user and sign back in as another. As this platform is so often “in the moment”, that makes keeping separate accounts for life and art a little tough. Instagram is so visual that regardless, you will be showing off your artist’s eye. Instagram is really great for creating networks and getting noticed, it is informal and less personal. I personally think this platform is one of the best ways to get into social media and grow followers. It take almost no time. *See using hashtags below.

Twitter: I have not personally used this platform too much as it is in constant motion and requires a great deal of attention to get any notice. My personal preference as an artist, gallerist and educator is to avoid this platform. The constant attention this requires is exhausting to me. Now, that’s my personal preference. I welcome you to comment about this if you use it! I have seen really great use of this platform by collectives of artists and arts organizations. If your work is at all performative, requires audience interaction or is less object based, Twitter can be put to great use.

Pinterest: This platform is a place where people go to get ideas for their own projects and acts as a sort of “pre-shopping” website. People love Pinterest. It is an open source platform on which businesses, artists, crafters etc can get ideas from one another and promote one another. This is a story telling platform. Check out 6 Ways to use Pinterest to Promote your Brand. This platform requires that you interact. Like Twitter, it also takes a lot of time. But- it also drives traffic to websites like no other platform.

Tumblr, WordPress, and blogs: Read 49 creative Geniuses Who Use Blogging to Promote Their Art and download the Rebel Artist’s Manifesto on that page (it’s free, it’s short and it’s really good advice).  So, blogging. A blog can be a great way to write about your latest news, talk about things that are peripheral to your work (got a new tool you’re excited about? Headed to a new residency? Traveling? Museum visit that really floored you?) You can be a little wordy and a little informal on your blog.  When people buy work, they are more often than not- buying you and your story (your brand) as well as the object. They LOVE to know all about you. It makes them feel connected to you. A blog is a great way to talk about you and your process. Also time consuming- however, you do not need to write on it every day! Blogs exist in the middle space between social media and websites. If you are not ready to have a website, a blog is a great place to start. You can secure your domain name and set up a simple blog first. These platforms are fairly easy to use, and generally offer visually beautiful templates.

Flickr This is an amazing photo storage place. While Flickr is  a photo sharing place, it also allows users to simply store photos and keep setting completely private. Flickr allows up to 1,oooGB of storage for free. This is a great way to back up your photos. Now, I know several photographers and video artists that use flickr as social media. I have little experience with it but I do use it as an extreme measures backup place for all my photos. If I lose my hard drive, and also the external hard drive, all of my photos are there. So, while Flickr is social media, it is also storage without image quality loss.

Insights and Analytics OK, now what? So you have one or several ways in which you promote your work online. I recommend having a website AND use at least one social media platform. Not so many people will visit your website without direction. So how can you tell how many people are engaging with your content? What can you do with that information once you have it? There are several tools out there for your use where you can learn about who is visiting your sites and when, and for social media, ways in which you can learn to shape your content to get more followers.

for your website: Use analytics to find out who is looking, from where and when they are browsing. You can see how long they spent on which page. You can find out whether they are on their mobile device or a computer. AND- this is really important, you can find out if they clicked through another platform to get to your site. You can use this information to boost your visibility based on where your viewers are coming from. If someone clicks through to work website from a link on a friend’s page-  say thank you to that friend for linking to your site, and do the same for them- this reciprocal action is incredibly powerful. If on the other hand, you see that someone clicked through from Facebook, find out when they did that and try to post on Facebook around that time to encourage more people to do this.  Check out google analytics and how to use google analytics.

Facebook: A Facebook page that is administrated from your personal page is set up a little differently than a personal page. You have easy access to your insights. You can use these insights to determine what type of posts people engage with most and gear your posts in that direction (photo posts, written posts, shares, timeline photos etc). You can see when (day of week, time of day) people look at your page the most and schedule your posts to go live at that time. A Beginner’s Guide

Pinterest:Pinterest analytics are similar to Facebook insights and can be used in the same way. how to use pinterest analytics

Instagram: Instagram has an analytics tool IF you convert your page to a business page and it’s only accessible on your phone- not from the computer.  That can be a little tricky but of course, there are ways around the issues. Here are the 5 best tools to use to figure it out. You can also get a sense of this if you link your instagram to your Facebook page and use the insights from there.

Curating vs Creating content: OK- I said a little earlier that reciprocal action is very powerful. There is a different balance of Curating Content vs Creating Content for each type of social media. I highly recommend that your re-gram, re-pin and share. You gain access to the friends and followers of others if you indicate you are interested in someone other than yourself.

“Whether you’re on a first date, meeting new people at a dinner party, or making it rain on Twitter, it’s just not a good idea to go on and on about yourself. It’s just awkward.

Conventional social media marketing wisdom suggests that brands should avoid being overly self-promotional. Thus, brands seek to “be a part of the conversation” by sharing links that are relevant to their followers but often not specifically about their products and services. This act of finding good content and sharing it is known as content curation. Here are two great articles about this: post 1 and post 2.  I KNOW these are old posts (2011) but- the advice is relevant and at this stage everyone knows how to use the platforms and there is less well-written stuff out there about this now. Here’s another from 2016 if you feel that those are just too old.

Hashtags: I cannot stress enough how important it is to use but not overuse the hashtag. Tags are a way that your content can be accessed by people who are looking for other things related to your content. You can create your own hashtag, or you can use an existing tag- regardless, the use of tags also boosts your visibility in google searches. It is fascinating really. Please read how to use hashtags to find out more. Adjacent to the hashtag is the tag (@). Any time you are with someone, think of someone, or see someone’s work- tag them in your posts. This gains you access to their audiences, and helps with that curate vs create equation. It’s also just a nice thing to do.


It is super easy to share anything on Facebook – and the originator of the post will be credited. It is a little trickier to repost on Instagram. I strongly suggest you use a regram app- there are a number of these. Use of these tools will let the originator that you used their post- thereby building upon that relationship.

You can just screenshot and post that way- but be sure to tag the originator so that they are aware that you did so.

Credit where credit is due:

Just like it’s important to give photo credit for your photos, it’s important to give credit where credit is due.

This is also really good for relationship building- which is a building block of social media!

I’m going to go on a little tangent here.

Intellectual Property Rights

All artists need to be careful in protecting the rights to their work. While 2-D and 4D artists have more trouble than sculptors generally in this matter, Take a look at what’s happening to ceramic artist BrettKern Brett’s work has been “appropriated” and is being mass produced in China for resale in places like Ross Dress for Less.

There’s a great amount of information  from the College Art Association(CAA) about this topic. Below is from GY*T (again). The longer article is in the link here.

You should both tag and caption your images. If someone grabs your image off your site, rather than seeing something like IMG34294359 or P2938248, or the like when they see your image in their files, make sure each of your photos is titled in the file. Your name at the very least should be in the title. It is really good to have image captions on your website because people want to know what they’re seeing. And if you have hired a photographer, even if you paid for the service, it goes beyond courtesy to give that photo credit. It is an obligation. Many photographers have a contract in which you agree to give photo credit when using the images.

Anything to Add? Please add your comment!

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