Social media for artists: 13 ways Facebook can work for you
Why are you on Facebook? It’s so easy to spend hours and hours on social media and never really achieve anything. So how do you avoid wasting time? Have a clear mission – it might be to introduce your art to a wider audience, to drive traffic through to an online shop, or to help potential buyers understand your art. Whatever it is, your mission can translate to a clear strategy that will get results on Facebook.
TextileArtist.org is proof. We set up our Facebook page when we first launched the site back in December 2012, but never really did anything with it. Sure, we had a few ‘likes’ here and there when we shared our latest blog post, but what good was it doing us?
At the end of April 2014, we made a decision to actually utilise the platform to build relationships, introduce new people to the site and remind past visitors that we existed.
The results? Not only did our Facebook page likes increase dramatically (we were at around 4,000 at the end of April – now we’re nearing 7,000), the amount of people our posts actually reach has rocketed (Facebook doesn’t show your posts to everyone who likes your page – only those it thinks will find the post relevant) and more people are sharing and commenting on our material than ever before. But the big gain has been traffic to the actual site; our daily visitors have almost doubled (and Google Analytics shows us that often over half of them are discovering us via Facebook).
Let’s take a look at a few simple techniques for getting the most out of your Facebook page.
Before your start, you might be interested in finding out why you should have a dedicated Facebook page for your art and not just a personal profile and how to increase the number of people who like your page.
1, Know what you’re trying to achieve
What do you want people to know about your work? The hard-sell doesn’t work well with art, so not everything you post will feel like it’s contributing to your business success, but if you keep your mission in mind and your posts are working towards a unified objective, you won’t waste too much time with distractions (like a quick game of Farmville or a quiz to determine which character from Friends you are most like).
2, Build relationships and always serve your fans
As with any online activity where the ultimate aim is a transaction, you have to spend a significant amount of time building a relationship with your community first. Don’t use Facebook as a platform to show off; people get bored and frustrated with hearing how successful, beautiful, rich, lucky and in love you are.
Of course, you need to promote your work, but try to do so in a way that is sensitive, interesting, funny, engaging, educational or informative. This way your audience feels you are providing some value for them, they aren’t being hit with a constant barrage of self-promotion, and they’re far more likely to become dedicated fans, engage with you and your art, and share your content.
As a general rule, give far more than you take; if you can find some benefit to your audience in 95% of what you post, they will be far more likely to respond positively to the 5% of the time when you ask something of them (like when you’re selling a piece or promoting a solo-show).
3, Update regularly
Consistency and constancy are key to a successful Facebook strategy. Develop a plan and stick to it. It might look something like this:
- Monday – share new blog post
- Tuesday – Show work in progress
- Wednesday – Share content from other artists I admire
- Thursday – Image of a completed piece
- Friday – Share a piece of inspiration
- Saturday – Studio/sketchbook shot
- Sunday – Promote event/exhibition
You can schedule posts in bulk once a week to save time (click on the little clock underneath your status update).
This is a great way to experiment with different times for posting – use Facebook Insights to see what time most of your fans are on Facebook (Click on Insights at the top of the page and then Posts).
4, Tell stories
Invite your fans into your world, share the challenges and the triumphs of your life and work (but keep it positive), and don’t be afraid to show a little vulnerability. Stories show you are human and encourage a deeper connection with the fans of your page.
5, Make your fans feel valued
If someone leaves a comment on your post, at the very least ‘like’ it, but ideally respond with a comment of your own. Try to add something new to the conversation, as this will help include more and more people. We’ve found that people have some incredible insights to share and we are constantly learning from people leaving comments on our Facebook page.
It’s also important to pop over to your fans’ Facebook pages once in a while and see what they’re up to. We’ve discovered some wonderful artists this way and if you leave comments and ‘like’ their content, it can be a great way of nurturing a two-way relationship.
6, Share content from other pages
If you find something relevant that speaks to you somewhere else on the internet and have something to say about it, share it with your audience. This way you are creating positive relationships with other artists/organisations (whose content you are sharing) and giving value to your audience. Always keep in mind how the content can help your audience; don’t just post random, unrelated information.
7, Use status updates to ask for advice
This shows that you value the opinion of the people who ‘like’ your page and that you are open and humble. You can learn a lot; since we’ve been asking questions we’ve had some amazing responses (check out this question we asked recently). Questions that require a simple Yes/No answer often get a lot of engagement as they don’t require your fans to jump through hoops.
8, Post images
The most shared content on Facebook always comes in the form of images. Engaging your audience visually, particularly as an artist, is the best way to get plenty of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, helping your content reach a wider audience. Always caption the work; giving a name, a date, dimensions and perhaps some basic information about inspiration or how the piece was created help your audience feel they can understand you and your process.
Obviously you’ll want to share images of your latest piece of work, but you can also use pictures to help your audience get to know you better. This helps build rapport and trust, which in turns means people are more likely to eventually buy from you.
Ideas for images:
- Work in progress
- Your inspiration
- Your materials and tools
- Your studio
- You at work
- You teaching a workshop
- You and your friends at an exhibition opening
- Pieces by other artists you admire
- A poster for your latest show
- An unsuccessful piece of work
- Work from the past (even as far back as student work or a painting you did as a child)
- You shopping for art supplies
- You and your family at one of your shows
9, Calls to action
If you want your audience to perform a specific action, ask them to do it; try to make it casual and fun as opposed to formal and bossy. For example you might post an image of the view from your studio window accompanied by ‘Getting motivated to create is so much easier when the sun is shining. Click ‘like’ if you agree’. Or you might share a link to your latest blog post outlining how you manage your time with the comment ‘I’ve been teaching myself how to deal with procrastination and thought you might find my techniques useful. Now get off Facebook and get to work! Oh…but don’t forget to share first!’
Another way of making it fun for your fans is to post contests to your Facebook page. You can’t ask people to share a post to enter a contest, as this is against Facebook’s official terms and conditions. You can ask them to comment or ‘like’ a post though. You might post an image of your latest piece accompanied by ‘Describe my latest piece in 3 words for a chance to win a signed print of it’.
11, Tag posts
Say you get a question from a fan or you want to publicly thank someone for a sale, use the @ feature to tag people or other pages in your posts; this will make them feel appreciated and promote loyalty to you as an artist.
12, Promote your posts
Even if you only have a tiny budget, investing in the promotion of posts that you think are particularly important (like if you’ve posted a blog post you think is very strong) can prove an effective way to get your post in front of more eyes, which will attract more comments, more ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and ultimately more fans for your page.
Using information from Insights and Grid search you can also target the promotion, so that your post is put in front of those Facebook users most likely to be interested in your content.
13, Leverage Events and Milestones
You can create a Facebook event directly from where you post you status updates and it’s the perfect way to invite your fans to an exhibition opening or workshop. You can add details and target it to fans who live in a particular country or city.
Now I know I’ve warned you about bragging too much, but if something momentous happens (like you receive a coveted award or a gallery offers you representation) it’s only natural you’ll want to tell your community of fans about it and they’ll want to hear it too; the best way to give the news a fanfare is to create a milestone.
So now you have some strategies for getting the most out of Facebook, make it your aim to be more efficient in the way you use social media to promote your art.
5 comments on “Social media for artists: 13 ways Facebook can work for you”
Great tips! Facebook has been TAFA’s best referrer ever since we launched, too. I found that viral activity didn’t really happen until we hit 4,000 likes. I spent quite a bit in promoted posts to grow our likes, which really worked. $5 here and there makes a big difference. I’m doing the same to grow Artizan Made’s page.
I would add that it is very important to post good images (not blurry, too dark, etc) and if you share other people’s work, always give credit and provenance. You can create a live link to someone else’s page by adding the @ symbol ahead of their name, but many people have a different name for their website, facebook page, etc, making it hard to find them, so be consistent with your branding! I also find all of those memes that make their rounds a big turn off. You need to post regularly often, trying different times of the day, but don’t post junk.
One way to look at whether it’s a good time to post or not is to look at the ticker tape of activity on the right sidebar, where your friends are posting. Is it moving? If it’s dead quiet, it means that your people are not online at the moment. That doesn’t mean that your likers aren’t around (different people), but I would wait until you see movement happening.
Can’t emphasize enough the need to separate business from personal pages! Don’t force people who are interested in your work to become your “friends”. Set up a business page.
Great informative article, thank you Joe, I have found your advice to be stop-on.
I set up my art Facebook page just under a year ago. I was rather reluctant to do it at first, but my husband persuaded me that it was a good idea. I’m so glad I did, it has been a really positive and enriching experience. I’ve grown my likers over time via competitions etc, and have sold quite a few paintings direct from my page. But what has been the most wonderful aspect is the immediate connection with people, their comments and enthusiasm is very generous and inspiring. http://www.facebook.com/helenwellsartist
Guys–this article has been really helpful for me since I totally needed a strategy. While I understand the importance of social media, I’m one of those reluctant FB users since I’d rather be working in my studio. While I’m thrilled when a new “like” comes in, I’m often bewildered as to how or why they arrive. Your advice for setting up a schedule is great and I imagine I’ll actually do this, and Rachel’s advice in her response above to “monitor” the side bar traffic is so smart, too. Thanks — you have a wonderful site here.
Very useful information. Thank you for sharing
Hi, these tips are really good but is it just facebook it applies to or can twitter and other social media sites be used as well? I am a very new artist and I have been considering starting my own page on one of the above, but I am not very confident with this sort of stuff yet, would it be a good idea just to do make a few more works so I have something to show, or to get a page and make art as I go along? I worry that if I do the latter I might not be able to post enough or it might take too long inbetween posts, but if I do the former then I have too much work to show and not enough time to show it or get on my page