We all enjoy using Facebook to stay connected to our friends and family, and Pinterest is a lot of fun for collecting and sharing ideas, but have you thought about how you can utilize these social media tools as part of your overall marketing efforts for your art career? A recent study shows that 81% of business owners using social media have seen an increase in business (Camusio). By understanding who else is using these tools—and why—you can develop a streamlined, efficient social media strategy that will up your art sales.
1. Let people get to know you. As you probably know by now, collectors usually make buying decisions based on more than just the work of art—they want to know and like the artist, too. Having your own website that includes your bio is a great start, but you can use social media tools to give potential buyers more and frequent glimpses into your personality and lifestyle. For instance, nature painter Jane Freeman’s daily meditative Facebook posts on her environment reveal her love of nature and her poetic outlook, which supports her artwork. Similarly, your professional pages on Facebook and LinkedIn with frequent posts about your artistic activities will let people get to know you. And don’t forget Pinterest, another way to show your followers more of your style. With 845 million people using Facebook (Cheredar, 2012), 161 million members using LinkedIn (LinkedIn, 2012), and nearly 19 million people using Pinterest (Swartz, 2012), plenty of would-be art collectors will have a better chance of getting to know you through social media.
2. Celebrate your successes. Another great thing about social media venues like Facebook and LinkedIn—even Twitter if you’re trying to reach a younger crowd (Pew, 2012)—is its immediacy, making it the perfect means of building your credibility by announcing big accomplishments like awards, commissions, and media coverage right when they happen. You might be uncomfortable with the idea of “bragging,” so find creative ways to work around that. When Silvano Raiti wanted to announce his most recent award for “In the Studio” (right, oil, 24 x 24 inches) for instance, he used a Facebook post to thank the judge for the honor. It was subtle, but you can believe potential buyers were excited to know that this beauty for sale is also a gold medalist, which makes the work more valuable.
3. Market your artwork. Of course, new works should be added to your website as you complete them, but don’t miss any opportunity to “push” your latest works out to potential buyers with Facebook or LinkedIn posts or by adding them to your Pinterest board. And if you create fine craft, be quick to post them to your Etsy shop. You never know who may be looking at your pages for fine art since the vast majority of social media users are silent observers, or spectators, as they’ve been dubbed by Groundswell authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (Li, p. 45). Ken Ichihashi (whose vase is shown below right, porcelain, 18 x 12 x 12 inches), Frank Serrano, Donna Talerico, Marc Hanson, Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Kevin Courter, and countless others report that these spectators often turn into buyers. Even better, the more you can demonstrate a consistent record of sales on your own, the more likely you’ll be to land gallery representation.
4. Market your other services. Hardly any professional artist has the luxury of making a living solely from the sale of their creations. Almost everyone supplements their income by providing other services to fellow artists, such as teaching, workshop teaching, critiquing, and coaching. Although you’ll be marketing these other services to a different audience than your artwork, you can still use social media tools to do the job—at no cost to you. Facebook, LinkedIn, Etsy, Pinterest, and more are filled with artists communicating with one another, individually and in group forums. Once you get involved in these venues, you can start promoting your services, just like artist Chuck Marshall. Chuck is an active Facebook user with more than 4,200 friends, and he says his workshop teaching business has quadrupled since he joined Facebook four years ago.
5. Find inspiration in others. Swapping stories, sharing trade secrets, enjoying others’ works, and rediscovering your motivation when it flags are all benefits you’ll enjoy from engaging in social media tools like Facebook, Pinterest, or Etsy. But these go beyond mere personal enrichment. With inspiration and knowledge, you can continuously create the best works you can, which will inevitably lead to more sales at higher prices. So social media is not just for fun—it’s smart business, too.
Of course, these are just some of the many social media tools and uses that are out there. What have you been using, and why? I’d love to hear your success stories!
Camusio, Zeke (n.d.). Social media networks as a marketing tool (a new study), Startup Nation, retrieved from http://www.startupnation.com/business-articles/9457/1/social-media-network-marketing.htm.
Cheredar, Tom (February 1, 2012). Facebook user data: 845M users monthly, 27.B million daily likes & comments, VentureBeat.com News page, retrieved from http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/01/facebook-ipo-usage-data/.
Li, Charlene, and Bernoff, Josh. Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social media, Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review Press, 2011, p. 45.
LinkedIn (May 3, 2012). LinkedIn press release: LinkedIn announces first quarter financial results, LinkedIn.com, retrieved from http://press.linkedin.com/node/1192.
Pew Internet & American Life Project (June 1, 2012). New data about Twitter usage, Social Harbor, retrieved from http://socialharbor.com/blog/new-data-about-twitter-usage/.
Swartz, Jon (April 26, 2012). Pinterest growth curve levels off, USA Today archives, retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-04-25/pinterest-growth/54560126/1.