5 Ways Artists Can Unlock the Power of Social Media

by Chris Davies


Unlock the power of social media. Read about it at www.ArtsyShark.com


It’s not just about motivational quotes and pictures of cats being crazy. The potential of social media for artists is huge, so if you’re not growing your audience here, you could be missing out. But which networks should you use and when? Here are 5 tips to get you started …

1. Setting Up Your Branded Social Media Pages

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or LinkedIn. Whichever social media network you choose to go with first, it’s incredibly important to get your page set up correctly. For example, while many artists already have their own personal Facebook pages, a surprising amount don’t have a business page in place to market their work effectively.

Why should you do this? Because your social media page is your storefront to the world. And, if you get it right, you can start developing a lasting relationship between your brand and your customers.

2. How To Get Started With Facebook

According to research carried out by the Pew Research Center, Facebook remains by far the most popular social media channel. In 2013, 71% of adults used the site regularly compared to 67% the previous year, with 60% of these users signing in every day.

If you’re not registered already, setting up a Facebook page for business is straightforward and easy. Simply choose a name for your brand, decide which category to place it in, and then think about how you’d like your page to look.

3. Designing Your Social Media Page For Maximum Effect

As an artist, you’ve already got a head start when it comes to social media. You instinctively understand what works visually and how to present your work in the best manner possible. However, despite having a clear advantage, it’s surprising to see how many artists let their work down with low resolution images and cover photos that don’t sell their creations to their best advantage.

Once you’ve got yourself some templates, it’s time to get creative and think about how you’d like your cover photo to look. Don’t have Photoshop? No problem! There are lots of free resources out there, such as Gimp, or Pixlr. Either of these will enable you to crop and resize your images and add effects if you wish. In fact, Picasa now comes with 24 new ways of doing this.

Think about how your cover photo and profile pic will look across different platforms. With research carried out by Pew suggesting 40% of people now use their Smartphones to access social media sites, you may want to consider how your cover pic will look on a smaller screen. Is your logo clear and legible? Does your cover photo still look good when viewed at this size?

You might also want to take a look at what works best for different social media channels. On Twitter, for example, potential customers tend to respond better to a picture of you rather than a logo.

4. What To Post and When To Post It

Once you’ve got your social media pages set up, it’s time to go on the hunt for potential customers and fellow artists to engage with. Search for people who share similar interests to you or work with similar materials. Use relevant hashtags in your updates to help others find you easily, but try to avoid using too many – two hashtags seems to be the sweet spot.

Just as with face-to-face meetings, you’ll find the creative community are usually hugely supportive of each other, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ‘Like’ other artists’ pages and share, retweet or +1 their work as often as you can – most people will be only too happy to return the favor.

What should you post about? Think about why you follow other people on social media and what makes them stand out. Always remember that the story behind a brand is more interesting to customers than the brand itself, so try and keep your audience entertained with regular updates that help them identify with you as a person. Try and keep your posts short and sweet – around 100 characters seems to be the optimum figure here.

Post pictures of you using some new materials or sketching out some rough ideas for a painting or sculpture. People love to see the process behind making art and will often respond more to this than the actual finished piece.

The same applies to blog posts. Try and make these as regular as you can, post them on your social media channels and use tracking links to monitor their impact. Linktrack is a handy free tool to help you do this. As an artist, you’ll probably want to use lots of pictures in your blog posts. If so, use an image optimizing tool such as Kraken to help keep page load times down. There’s nothing like a slow-loading web page to make people navigate elsewhere quickly!

Don’t simply try and sell your work. People will be far more likely to think about buying a piece of your art if they feel they’ve gotten to know you a little better first. Tell your audience about what inspires you, when you feel most creative and even when you don’t. It’s the story behind you as an artist that will help establish your presence on social media.

When to post updates? Facebook already comes with a useful range of analytics tools to help you determine the most effective days and times to post updates. Click on ‘Insights’ to see a detailed weekly breakdown of your performance so far. Clicking on ‘Posts’ will show you when your fans are online, while clicking on ‘People’ will show you where they’re based.

If using Twitter, try using Followerwonk to tell you when your followers are online and schedule your Tweets to take this into account. Buffer is a great tool for doing this.

How often should you post updates? This depends on your audience and the social media channel you’re using, but as a general rule, try and strike the right balance between being informative without becoming annoying. Some research has found that updating your Facebook status once a day can be more effective than posting several times a day, while some brands using Twitter have found that five Tweets per day is the optimum figure. Incidentally, it’s worth bearing in mind that Tweets with images are twice as likely to engage people, so always try and include one.

One very important thing to remember is that all social media channels have different audiences, so don’t simply share the same content across all of them. For example, women are four times more likely to use Pinterest than men, while Facebook is no longer purely for younger audiences. In fact, research suggests that 45% of people aged 65 and over now use this channel. Likewise, 23% of people online aged over 50 use Pinterest, while Twitter’s fastest-growing demographic is people aged between 55 and 64. Think social media is just for youngsters? You might want to think again.

5. Stay Engaged And Respond To Your Followers Promptly

According to some research, the lifespan of an average Tweet is just 18 minutes. Therefore, it’s important to respond to people as quickly as possible if you want to keep them engaged. Think of it like a conversation and always get back to people promptly if you can.

Posts on other networks such as Facebook and Pinterest have a longer shelf life, but it’s important to remember that the more you interact with people, the more likely you are to get noticed. Therefore, the more comments you can reply to the better.

Social media can be an incredibly useful marketing tool for artists, so have fun with your pages and don’t be afraid to try out different methods on each to see which ones work best. Perhaps you’ve got some tips of your own you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them, so feel free to leave a comment below!


Guest blogger, Chris Davies, is a member of the team at Pencil Kings – a Vancouver-based online art tutorials and community resource that aims to make learning accessible and affordable to all. With a background in fine art and journalism, Chris likes to combine his passion for all things visual with writing about topics he hopes others will find useful and interesting. You can follow him on Twitter @Christoff3000.

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  1. Good stuff, Chris!

    My social media pet peeve is over posters and I’ve had to “Unfollow” a number of folks because of the intensity of their posting schedule.

    That being said, I don’t continually have social media on via smartphone or while at a desk job. As such, when I check in I may have lists of posts from the same people rather than getting it bite by bite, so my online habits may be undermining best social media practices.

    Ultimately you’ve got to have good stuff to say. Otherwise who cares? Frequency and engagement over the trivial isn’t doing anyone any good. Show some heart and let people “Follow” based on the strength of your words and images.

    https://twitter.com/jtnwdc for instance!

    • Hi James and thanks for your comments – glad you enjoyed my article!
      As you so rightly say, trivial posts or simply updating too much can be a real turn-off for potential customers. I often liken it to going into a store – you’re far more likely to buy something if a salesperson doesn’t pounce on you as soon as you walk in!
      In the end, it always boils down to quality, not quantity – as evidenced by the updates to Google’s algorithms 🙂
      All the best,

      PS. I’ll follow you on Twitter shortly!

    • If I’m supposed to respond quickly to friends on Twitter and Facebook, when am I supposed to get any work done. Each 5 minute distraction takes about 1/2 hour to get back in the groove of where i was before I got a distracting phone call or personal interuption. Efficiency is compromised when I spend time being everyone’s friend.

  2. I understand getting on Board with social media as the new thing.
    But really,..do working people, who can afford to buy art have the time to noodle their around that phone (PDA) all day long ? Most busy people who can afford to buy art are busy making their salary or their fortune.

    • Peter, Although I can easily see your point, I think many people are actually addicted to social media. Which doesn’t give one a lot of hope for getting exercise or having a “real” life either. However, I talk to lots of people, and many of them do connect with artists through social media. It’s not the only way, but it’s not a bad idea to cover your bases.

  3. I read a article that said said only about 1 percent of sales come from social media & more then 80% come from newsletters. I think this is true as I have been for the last 2 years posting what the above author suggested & sales have been few from face book followers. I am however using it as a stepping stone to reach other artist find great sites like artsy shark to help my business grow more.

    With face books new rules for small business owners taking place starting Jan 1st, we will no longer be able to post our finished items with a link to our web site anymore, or even state the price of it. Those found doing so face book will start deleting accounts, so I feel now is the time to explore different avenues. I will be upping my shows this summer, get my face & brand out even more, doing gallery submissions, donating to charities, so many ways to reach people in person seems like a win win to me.

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