Facebook for artists: Advantages & disadvantages
As of May 2014, Facebook has 1.23 billion monthly users. Over half of them have more than 200 friends. More than a third of the UK population visit Facebook every single day.
But lots of people still think of Facebook as a playground; a place to share pictures of your cats and keep your friends up to date with what you’re eating for dinner. Well of course it can be used for just that, but Facebook’s seen such massive developments in its 10 years of being that it’s turned into an indispensible tool for promotion too. Businesses big and small are benefitting from its potential to reach more and more people.
For artists it offers a way to getting your work seen by a potentially massive audience, engaging with prospective buyers, collectors, industry leaders (like art magazines, galleries, and online platforms) and eventually even attracting commissions, collaborations, and invitations to exhibit.
In this article, we’ll take a look at why you need to be on Facebook, but in the interests of balance we’ll also take a look at some of the disadvantages of Facebook as a platform for promoting your work.
10 Reasons you should be promoting your art on Facebook
1, Facebook addicts
According to the 2013 Inbound Marketing Report, more than half of Face-bookers log in on a daily basis; that means you have the chance to get your art in front of people every single day.
The average user spends more than 15 hours a week on Facebook; that’s 15 hours where potential fans and buyers can be seeing your work, engaging with you and helping drive traffic to your website.
2, Spreading the word
The average Facebook user has over 130 friends, so for each person that comments on or shares your Facebook content, there is the potential for another 130 people plus to see that post, like your page and love your art.
The average user is connected to around 80 pages or groups on Facebook, which once again deepens the pool of people you have the opportunity to interact with.
3, Advertise for success
Facebook has become a little sneakier in 2014. They don’t show your posts to all of your fans or friends; instead their algorithm selects people who have demonstrated a genuine engagement with your page or profile (if they have liked, shared or commented on recent statuses then they are more likely to see your latest post).
Now 75% of all page or brand ‘likes’ on Facebook are driven by Facebook ads, meaning it’s one of the most effective ad platforms available to you as an artist/business person to widen your reach. If you have even a small budget to invest, you’ll find the ad system easy to implement and cost-effective.
One of the biggest advantages of using Facebook to advertise is how specifically Facebook allows you to target the advertising; not only can you target by age, nationality, gender, and location, you can choose to only show your adverts to people with specific interests (art, for example) or belonging to a certain group or fans of certain pages (those closely related to the type of art you create).
4, Simple and sound
Lots of artists have said they don’t like tech/online promotion as they feel it’s over complicated or alienating for the non tech-savvy generation. Facebook is an extremely easy way of reaching new art fans. As a social network and platform for businesses, Facebook has been constantly honed for usability, meaning that most people can pick up the basics in a matter of minutes.
It is also specifically designed so that popular content trickles down and reaches more and more people.
5, Your customers are already there
Facebook offers artists a ready-made audience. True, you have to put in the work to find them, but Facebook is already full of people who are drawn to the type of art you create.
Facebook offers an even better chance of receiving instant feedback on what you do than an artist blog. People are so used to commenting on and sharing each other’s posts; this information can be invaluable to you as a way of getting to know the type of people attracted to your art (who you should be targeting) and what it is about your work that grabs them.
7, Get to know your competition
Facebook is full of artists already. You may think this will make it more difficult to stand out, but you can use it to your advantage. With a bit of creative thinking, you can learn from your peers: What are other artists doing well? How do they use Facebook to build an audience and attract business? What are the things that don’t seem to be working? What can you do differently to make you stand out?
8, Search engine optimization
Facebook not only helps you reach its users, having a page specifically for your art business gives you a greater chance of being found in Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Facebook is one of the most visited sites in the world, and search engines favour popularity. If you have plenty of relevant content on your Facebook page, you’ll be more likely to be found by people using search engines to look for your type of art.
9, Facebook is everywhere
Facebook is one of the simplest ways to communicate across multiple platforms; desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, Blackberries – people are logging onto Facebook everywhere and on every imaginable device.
Various free tools make it really easy to integrate Facebook with your blog, your other social media accounts and even your mailing list, which means you can bring together the various sectors of your audience in one place.
Disadvantages of Facebook for artists
Of course, no social network is perfect and Facebook is no exception.
Marketing on Facebook takes commitment
One of the biggest drawbacks is that it can be very time consuming to market your art on Facebook, if you are committed to doing it well. Only you can decide whether the pay-off is worth the investment. It’s also highly addictive and you need to be disciplined if you are to ensure that you don’t whittle away hours at a time watching miracle weight-loss videos!
You don’t own content
A major concern for many artists is the unauthorised use of their images by Facebook and third parties. Facebook makes it clear in their terms and conditions that anything uploaded to the site becomes their property (they have the right to a non exclusive royalty free license for it).
However, in response to the concerns of photographer Andy Rouse, Facebook stated ‘We do not share any information with third parties except with the user’s consent (for example, if a user elects to add a third party application), and we never sell your information to anyone.’ There are ways to protect images of course (watermarking for example), but it is extremely difficult to keep control of anything you publish on the internet in general; it’s not a problem exclusive to Facebook.
Facebook isn’t your site
The idea of using social media for business purposes is always to drive traffic back to your main online platform (normally your website or blog). Facebook should act as a funnel; engage people on a site they are already very familiar with, build up trust and interest in what you do so they click through to find out more on your own site, where there is less noise from competition.
Facebook doesn’t bring overnight success
Like anything that can potentially make a difference, using Facebook for business is a long-term commitment. To see any real traction, you’ll need to post regularly, have a clear strategy, and engage with your audience. It’s unlikely that you’ll create a Facebook page and see an instant spike in sales of your art.
Facebook is frustrating
Facebook is constantly being updated; the idea is to provide a better user-experience, but sometimes the opposite can be true. Just as you become used to the way a certain feature on Facebook works, it changes. It’s a constant struggle to stay apprised of these changes, but that’s what you’ll need to do if you want to take advantage of all the great tools Facebook offers you as a business.
Beware the trolls
If you put yourself out there, the rewards can be great, but it is also likely you may experience a small degree of negativity from Facebook users; it’s an open and social platform and we all know that people can be cruel. There are ways to protect against this in your privacy settings and it is likely to be a very rare occurrence.
Each artist has to decide what their preferred means of promotion will be, but in a fast-moving world, where nothing stays the same for very long, it’s important to stay flexible and open-minded. Why not experiment with Facebook to see if it yields results for you?
What has your experience of marketing art on Facebook been? An invaluable promotional tool? Or a time consuming distraction? Let us know in the comments below.