Future Implications

‘Tis the season for business predictions about 2014, and this blog post is no exception. Many of the same forces that influence web-based marketing for big businesses are equally important to individual artists using the Internet to market their creations, along with their classes, workshops, books, DVDs, and other services. Let’s explore how to capitalize on some of these upcoming trends.

1. Produce great image-based content. As always, art marketing is about letting people get to know you and what you can do for them, and in today’s web world, your best bet for accomplishing this objective is to produce great content that communicates the right message about you and your work. By “great,” I mean the kind of content that fascinates people, that appeals to their humor or strikes them with awe, or that serves some kind of useful purpose. As marketing expert Justin Pearse noted recently, the Internet is “polluted” with a lot of useless clutter, but compelling content will still stand out (Davidi). In other words, humans behave in predictable ways, and they are always looking for content that surprises and delights them.

A focus on great content is actually an existing phenomenon, but what will be different in the new year is a growing emphasis on image-based content over text. Over the past 12 months, all of the social media platforms that focus on images, such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Path, and Mobli have shown steady growth (DeMers), so let’s hitch a ride on that train into the future. After all, what could be easier for a fine artist than to focus on building content that involves images?

2. Publish on your blog. You’ve built your website? Great! Set up your Facebook page? Check! Now it’s time to start (or resurrect) your blog. Another hot trend for 2014 is the return of the blog, mainly because blogs (or vlogs!) provide people with what they want: great content. Not only is blogging an ideal means of marketing yourself in a personalized, authentic voice, it continually attracts new and returning visitors. This encourages a community of fans and supporters to build up around you in a way that’s harder to achieve with a Facebook page and especially difficult with a static website, as important as they are. And as if these aren’t reasons enough to blog, search engines like Google and Bing are always on the lookout for fresh content, so blogging helps to keep you at the top of the results pages (Vincenzini).

One other trend to keep in mind, just in case you’re not already aware of this from personal experience: Mobile usage is on the rise due to ongoing improvements in technology. Currently 75% of the people on the planet have at least one mobile device, and that number is expected to increase (Moyers). It’s important to keep this in mind as you design and build your blog site. In fact, you may want to use one of the existing blogging platforms, such as WordPress or Tumblr, because they’re already optimized to work equally well on smartphones, tablets, and computer screens.

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3. Promote your content with social media. Once you’ve put together some great content and published it on your blog, don’t forget to promote it out to the universe through social media. You have to tell people your fabulous content is there, otherwise they may never find it. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are still great, familiar tools to use for this purpose, but another trend for 2014 is the expected increase in usage of some newer platforms, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, and Google+ (Moyers). Actually, Google+ already has the second highest number of monthly users after Facebook, with 343 million (DeMers).

That’s why it’s a great idea to get in the habit of checking the user demographics of these platforms periodically (say, once every six months) to see who is active on these networks. Using this data, you can develop a diversified, effective mix of platforms that will allow you to connect with your target audience.

You really don’t have to be a marketing genius to be successful at selling your own artwork. Just follow the trends, mimic the marketing steps taken by bigger businesses, and you’ll be on your way to your best year ever! And please let me know which of these actions you plan to follow. I’d love to hear about your art-marketing goals for 2014.

Davidi, Adam (December 10, 2013). Experts outline key digital content trends for 2014, The Guardian, retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2013/dec/10/experts-digital-content-trends-2014.

DeMers, Jayson (September 24, 2013). The top 7 social media marketing trends that will dominate 2014, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2013/09/24/the-top-7-social-media-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2014/.

Moyers, Stephen (November 25, 2013). What will be trending in social marketing in 2014?, SocialMediaToday, retrieved from http://socialmediatoday.com/stephen86/1946926/what-will-be-trending-social-marketing-2014.

Vincenzini, Adam (December 2, 2013). 14 social media trends for 2014, Slideshare, retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/AdamVincenzini/social-media-trends-2014.

Viral Marketing Initiatives

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When you’re promoting your own work, as many fine artists must do, you dream of finding a way to draw the attention of thousands of prospective customers for your art as well as your classes, workshops, instructional books, and DVDs. Especially when you see major corporations producing social media ad campaigns for brand-name products that go viral—the kind that inspire millions of views, likes, and tweets—you start to wonder if it’s possible to achieve just a fraction of that success. Although you may not have the massive bankrolls those big organizations typically invest in viral campaigns (Smith), there are steps you can take to maximize your social media efforts by focusing on video.

Image1. Choose YouTube for easy sharing. For fine artists, the method of choice is a YouTube video. Even the most noted artists have relatively small followings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blogs, and their impressions just never seem to gain any traction. Furthermore, Vimeo still runs a distant second to YouTube’s dominance in video sharing. On YouTube, however, total unknowns have been able to reach hundreds of thousands, even millions, of viewers because they are easily shared on a variety of platforms with widgets. Making it easy for viewers to share your content is one of the most significant keys to success (Wilson).

2. Get people talking. In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Wharton School marketing professor Jonah Berger explains that one of the most important drivers of a viral phenomenon is people’s desire to appear to be on the cutting edge in front of their peers. Most of us thoroughly enjoy being the first to find something fascinating and strange on the Internet and sharing it with our friends through social media because it’s a form of social currency (Berger). For example, a video of a Chinese artist who paints with liquefied sugar caught the attention of more than 2 million viewers because most of us have never seen anything like it.

Spray-Painting-Art3. Evoke positive emotions. Researchers Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski have performed extensive studies on social media assets that have gone viral, looking closely at the emotions involved that drive people to share them. What they found is that most viral videos evoke positive emotional responses like amazement, awe, and astonishment, which create a deep curiosity within viewers (Libert). For artists, that’s actually not that hard to do because most people love to see the magic of someone creating art. This might explain why a video of a young, Roman spray-painting artist has been viewed nearly 1.3 million times. Her ability to create complex paintings of space using nothing more than spray paint and a few simple tools—all at warp speed—is truly astonishing and delightful.

4. Keep it lighthearted. Another demo video—this one created by artist Ivan Vesely, in which he uses nothing but a toothbrush to create an amazing portrait of a woman—provides us with a fourth key to going viral. Against the backdrop of fun and funky music by Empire of the Sun, Vesely hams it up in front of the camera while creating his work of art. Social media marketing expert Ekaterina Walter notes that using humor in your style and delivery can be somewhat risky (Walter), but Vesely’s carefree, fun approach has garnered nearly 2 million views.

images5. Give people something they can use. Jonah Berger’s research has also revealed that people will share whatever they feel has practical value (Berger), and for fine artists, videos that teach us how to paint are very useful and worthy of sharing with our fellow artists. These demo videos from Brandon McConnell, Peter Owen Goodale, Skye Taylor, and Patti Brady have been viewed anywhere from 80,000 to 500,000 times simply because artists are always hungry for more information.

If you’ve tried your hand at creating a video and posting it online, I’d really love to hear about your experience. Was it the success you hoped, or do you feel you might have done better, perhaps by following some of these five tips? And what golden rules do you have for getting videos to go viral? Let’s talk about it!

 

Berger, Jonah (2013). Contagious: Why things catch on, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, p 29-178.

Libert, Kelsey, and Tynski, Kristin (October 24, 2013). Research: The emotions that make marketing campaigns go viral, Harvard Business Review, retrieved from http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/10/research-the-emotions-that-make-marketing-campaigns-go-viral/.

Smith, Brad (October 1, 2013). Why you can’t “go viral,” and what to do instead, Social Media Today, retrieved from http://socialmediatoday.com/fixcourse/1781641/why-you-cant-go-viral-and-what-do-instead.

Walter, Ekaterina (October 7, 2013). To go viral, here’s what content has to make you feel, Social Media Today, retrieved from http://socialmediatoday.com/ekaterina/1800206/go-viral-here-s-what-content-has-make-you-feel.

Wilson, Ralph F. (May 10, 2012). The six simple principles of viral marketing, Web Marketing Today, retrieved from http://webmarketingtoday.com/articles/viral-principles/.

Crystal Ball: Three Trends for the Future

With the rapidly expanding emergence of social media over the last several years, I think the majority of artists—like most people—have looked upon the phenomenon with anything from mild curiosity to enthusiastic interest. Many of us have jumped on the bandwagon to one degree or another, thoroughly enjoying connecting with other artists in virtual communities. It’s been novel and fun and exciting.

But as the novelty wears off, I think artists will start to expect more from their virtual communities. Based on what the experts foresee happening in the overall online world, I’m going to make three predictions for artists participating in the virtual world of the future.

1. Virtual communities that involve both artists and collectors will open and grow significantly.

Up until now, art collectors have kept a low profile in online communities. There are plenty of artists’ communities in Facebook, for example, and the artists have been very smart to build their individual brand profiles by posting and sharing thousands of examples of their work. But the collectors have been reluctant to reveal themselves within these communities, perhaps for fear of being bombarded with too much art from too many artists. This makes it more challenging for artists to successfully sell their work. But I think this attitude is changing.

Digital marketing expert Alex Hisaka writes: “While conventional wisdom holds that people don’t want businesses to encroach on their personal lives, that’s far from the truth. Many customers today are utilizing multiple outlets, not just Facebook and Twitter, to ask questions, give feedback and share and connect with others (Hisaka, 2012).” While this trend has emerged sooner in other industries, I’d like to believe it will eventually come to affect the online art communities as well.

In other words, as today’s art collectors realize that you can control the volume of marketing messages that come from online sources, they will start to feel safe in getting involved in art-based communities. And on the flip side, as savvy artists realize that it’s unproductive to chase every possible collector, their efforts will become more appropriately targeted to the right segments. Bottom line, I believe collectors will start to reveal themselves because they trust they will attract only the artists with whom they want to connect, which will offer tremendous benefits to both sides.

2. Artists’ communities will become business networking tools, not just social networking opportunities.

At first, artists started connecting with each other simply because being an artist is often a lonely journey. We were just excited to meet others like us. Very rapidly, and aided by other players such as art materials manufacturers and others, the social networking evolved into forums for sharing ideas, information, and resources. It’s all great, but there seems to be an unspoken limit. Artists are also fiercely competitive and don’t want to give too much away. I’d like to see this trend toward more productive uses of social media continue to evolve even deeper into the professional realm, with artists using their social networks to set up shows, recommend other artists for commissions, find partners for collaboration, and so on.

As much as we’ve all been enjoying social media, I think many of us have come to realize that it can be a big time suck if you’re not using your tools and connections wisely, for a purpose. CrushIQ CEO Tim Moore states: “It’s clear that a fresh paradigm is next to emerge that will simplify our online activity, have richer content and control, be more meaningful to our interests and lives. I don’t see larger being the answer (Barrett, Moore).” So those artists like Paul Heard and Mike Kus who have already used their social networks to land real business will turn out to be leaders in a growing trend (Drell, 2012). They prove that we can all enjoy greater success when we use our time productively to help each other.

3. Artists’ communities will start producing art via the web.

I know I mentioned this in an earlier post, but artists are already starting to use technology and social media to produce and promote artistic creations, like the Creators Project (Drell, 2012). This is not surprising to me because artists are always finding ways to take things created for one purpose and turn them to their own purposes—it’s the heart of the creative spirit. Really, the sky is the limit in terms of creative collaborations that can emerge from social media.

What makes it all possible is that mobile technologies, social media, and mobile apps are rapidly becoming ubiquitous in our lives. Groundswell author Charlene Li notes: “What is interesting about the future of social media is how behavior is evolving. Users are learning, adapting and growing more aware of their surroundings. Photos and video are playing more dominant roles in how we communicate (Barrett, Li).” With so many artists carrying smartphones—a.k.a. art materials—in their pockets, it will just be that much easier to collaborate.

So what do you see in the crystal ball? What trends are you predicting for the future as new technologies and tools emerge and more artists get involved in online communities?

—Jennifer

Barrett, Jeff (May 9, 2012). Charlene Li: The future of social media, The Washington Time Communities, retrieved from http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/status-update/2012/may/9/charlene-li-future-social-media/.

Barrett, Jeff (May 2, 2012). The future of social media: CrushIQ CEO Tim Moore, The Washington Times Communities, retrieved from http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/status-update/2012/may/2/future-social-media-crushiq-ceo-tim-moore/.

Drell, Lauren (January 20, 2012). Artists and digital: why social media is the new art gallery, Mashable Social Media, retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/01/20/artists-social-digital-media/.

Hisaka, Alex (April 26, 2012). The future of social media and business, Social Media Today, retrieved from http://socialmediatoday.com/node/496960.

Taking a Social Approach to Marketing Art Materials

It’s just human nature—whenever you run into someone from your own tribe, you immediately start swapping stories and talking shop. Artists are no exception, and we particularly love to discuss the tools of our trade—art materials. Especially for beginners, it can be extremely helpful to talk to more experienced artists who can explain how one brand of paint differs from another and why that $250 watercolor brush from the art store really is better than the $2.50 brush from the craft store.

Joe Miller gets it. An artist himself, he’s spent nearly 30 years talking to artists about art materials. It’s a huge part of his job as owner of Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff in Boone, North Carolina, one of the largest mail-order art materials retailers around. Even back in the days when his business was conducted through a paper catalog, Joe was social. He understood that artists enjoy telling stories and sharing experiences—the funnier, the better!—so he included them in his catalog. And now that social commerce is in full swing, Cheap Joe’s is taking full advantage of it.

In addition to the company website, which includes discussion forums for almost every art topic imaginable, Cheap Joe’s has an extensive Facebook page, which is connected to its YouTube channel (filled with art instruction videos), which is connected to its Pinterest page, and so on. Supporting these platforms are special incentives delivered on Twitter. In other words, the company’s online presence is smartly integrated (Wehmann, 2011). Throughout it all, visitors get to enjoy lots of great announcements of people winning awards and fun events and links to other valuable resources for artists. And the product messaging is so subtle. For example, rather than post something about some type of paint, Cheap Joe’s posts a picture of paint being made, like this one from the company Facebook page. For an artist, that’s really cool to see, don’t you think?  The overall theme to everything Cheap Joe’s does is the pure fun and joy of creativity—that’s what the company is really selling.

Like all online retailers using social media, Cheap Joe’s has opened the door to criticism and negative feedback. And there is some to be found. But the company has responded appropriately, according to what many experts recommend, by clarifying misconceptions, providing additional information, and yes, apologizing when things haven’t gone as planned (ASPCA).

Cheap Joe’s must be devoting a lot of resources to social commerce and SM marketing, given the volume and tight integration of everything that the company’s marketing team is putting out there, yet the company has consistently invested heavily in marketing. As someone who has routinely given away thousands in free product every year, Joe Miller has always believed that marketing pays off in both tangible and intangible ways that can’t always be measured (Owyang, 2010). Today, the Cheap Joe’s Facebook page has more than 13,000 likes and more than 5,000 subscribers to its YouTube channel. In the art world, that’s big!

I’m obviously a big fan of Cheap Joe’s and Joe himself. How about you? Are you a fan? Why don’t you come and join me in the conversation about art materials at Cheap Joe’s?

–Jennifer

ASPCA (n.d.). Using social media: Top 10 tips for responding to negative comments, ASPCA.org, retrieved from http://www.aspcapro.org/top-10-tips-for-responding-to-negative-comments.php.

Owyang, Jeremiah (September 19, 2010). Matrix: Risks and rewards of social business, Jeremiah Owyang, retrieved from http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2010/09/19/matrix-risks-and-rewards-of-social-business/.

Wehmann, Jim (August 25, 2011). 5 ways to maximize your social commerce ROI, .net, retrieved from http://www.netmagazine.com/opinions/five-ways-maximise-your-social-commerce-roi.

ArtVenue: A Mobile App That’s Launching Art Careers

It’s the classic conundrum for many a new college grad: No one will hire you because you don’t have experience, but you can’t get experience because no one will hire you. In the world of art, emerging artists often suffer the same fate. Reputable galleries don’t want to show emerging artists because they don’t have a proven track record of sales, but the artists can’t get those sales because they don’t have any places to show their work.

At least, that’s how it used to be. Fortunately, clever artists have found inventive ways to get their works of art before the public’s eyes in other venues, such as restaurants, coffee houses, libraries, and gift shops. Basically, anyplace with some blank walls will do, as long as the artist can hang up some pieces and stash a few business cards around to allow for contact.

Finding such venues can require a lot of legwork, but a new social media app out of the Boston area called ArtVenue is making the process a whole lot easier. Here’s how it works: Artists upload their profiles along with a small portfolio of work to ArtVenue. They then send requests to any venues in the system, asking the venue manager to take a look at their portfolios and consider setting up an exhibit. Meanwhile, any venue willing to liven up its walls with the works of emerging artists can peruse any of the portfolios and connect with those artists whose works fit the style and theme of the venue.

On average, each exhibit lasts about one month, and ArtVenue actually provides QR codes on placards hung next to each piece that will take people directly to the artist’s selling page within ArtVenue.com, the companion website. ArtVenue’s owners stress that the app is as much about making sales as it is about making connections (Thibault, 2012). There are currently about 25 artists and 30 venues in ArtVenue’s Boston-area network (ArtVenue, 2012), and the ArtVenue team is continually recruiting more (Morris, 2012).

The ArtVenue app and website are free for both artists and businesses to use. However, each venue takes a 20 percent commission off each piece sold, and ArtVenue takes an additional 10 percent. Still, most artists are thankful for the remaining 70 percent of every sale, and especially for the exposure.

ArtVenue’s website proves to be a valuable resource for emerging artists in other ways, as well. The site contains plenty of useful tips on marketing and selling artwork, developing portfolios, writing artist statements, and much more. There’s also a blog that features art-related news and events.

ArtVenue was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just last summer by co-founders Dan Vidal (who came from BzzAgent) and Casey Rankin and Jesse Rankin (the co-founders of the daily deal aggregator called DealGatore) (Morris, 2012). Celebrating its first anniversary, ArtVenue has already garnered a lot of attention. In fact, it has received funding from a local startup incubator, and it was one of only eight startups invited by the Startup America Partnership to participate in a trading day on the New York Stock Exchange in February (Thibault, 2012). If they can continue to make the numbers work, I predict we’ll see ArtVenue expanding rapidly into new markets throughout the U.S. and beyond.

—Jennifer

ArtVenue (2012). ArtVenue, retrieved from http://www.artvenue.com/.

Morris, Cheryl (April 13, 2012). Meet ArtVenue: Empowering local artists with technology, BostInno, retrieved from http://bostinno.com/2011/04/13/meet-artvenue-empowering-local-artists-with-technology/.

Thibault, Ally (February 1, 2012). ArtVenue enriches community, helps artists, The Suffolk Journal, retrieved from http://suffolkjournal.net/2012/02/artvenue/.

How Social Media Has Transformed the Art Industry

Those of us in the fine art industry know that artists and art galleries have had a long-standing love/hate relationship. Artists love the fact that galleries market and sell works of art, but they hate the fact that the better galleries keep 50% (or only 40%, if you’re lucky) of every sale. Then along came the Internet, and things got so much worse. Artists started setting up personal websites to sell their own works directly to the public, and social media allowed them to market themselves like the best professionals. Their efforts made deep cuts into galleries’ profits. For a few years there, the relationship between artists and galleries was seriously contentious. But once it became obvious that web-based art marketing was here to stay, both groups seemed to settle in to a new way of co-existing peacefully and profitably.

Now that the dust has settled, it’s clear that there are still many art collectors who will only purchase works of art from art galleries or auction houses. The collectors look to gallerists and curators to provide a level of expertise and unbiased information that they just can’t get anywhere else. And now that gallerists and curators understand the important educational role they play, they’re using the web to fulfill this role more effectively than ever before. All of today’s galleries and auction houses have their own websites, but most also have Facebook business pages along with blogs and Twitter accounts to push out useful, informative snippets of information (Huff, Blue chip galleries). In fact, social media is an ideal forum through which all kinds of art dealers can sell their high-ticket “products” by informing, rather than persuading, which is exactly what today’s collectors want (Huff, Art galleries). Social media platforms are also a great way for these businesses to remind their customers of openings, auctions, and other upcoming events.

However, many eager collectors are also willing to buy direct from artists, especially if they are familiar with an artist’s work. And many artists now prefer to sell their own work via the web, although some would still rather leave the marketing and sales functions up to a gallery. Those artists who do market their creations can charge the same amounts for works that are sold in galleries, but they get to keep the full amount (minus taxes and shipping, of course). Many artists feel that the increase in revenue more than makes up for the extra time they invest in marketing their own work. And many of these artists have learned to be pretty savvy marketers. Going beyond merely optimizing their websites and waiting for visitors to show up, they are proactively using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more to attract collectors’ attention.

Social media has turned the artists’ world upside-down in other ways, too. The life of an artist has always been a solitary one, with hours spent working alone in the studio. Professionals artists are a fairly rare breed, too, so unless an artist lives in New York or some other major “art town,” there were generally few opportunities to meet other members of the artist tribe. Facebook and other forums have changed all that.

There are now thousands of artists who’ve joined Facebook, and they’ve set up literally hundreds of different groups where they can interact. Artists typically set up groups based on something they have in common, so there are groups that run the gamut from Serious Collectors of Realism Art to En Plein Air Paintings and Painters to The Beauty of California by Facebook Painters. And it’s more than just online socializing—members are using these groups to connect in real life. For example, one group called KAWA (Kick Ass Women Artists), led by founding member Anne Nelson Sweat, will be holding its first group meeting and paint-out in Jackson, Wyoming, in mid-September, and nearly 170 women artists plan to attend. Artisans who create fine craft are enjoying a similar experience within Etsy, a site that doubles as their e-commerce site.

A smaller, yet still significant, number of artists can also be found participating in art-related forums all over the web (Huff, Thriving artist). For example, the two biggest “how-to” painting magazines in the U.S., The Artist’s Magazine and American Artist, each facilitate huge online forums where artists can ask questions and discuss issues.  Not only do forums like ArtistsNetwork and ArtistDaily provide a place for artists to connect, they offer a place where beginners can learn from more seasoned professionals by asking questions and watching demonstrations. Similarly, YouTube is loaded with how-to videos for beginners. And all of them, along with social media sites like Deviant Art, allow artists to post their latest creations and get feedback from fellow artists.

Arts industry workers and art enthusiasts, in general, are using social media tools to connect, too. In fact, hundreds of art lovers have been using Meetup.com to find fellow art lovers and set up trips to museum shows, gallery exhibits, film festivals, and more. These people have formed groups in cultural cities around the globe, and many groups from Philadelphia to Toronto to New York have memberships over a thousand. London’s Culture Seekers group actually has about 5,000 members (Preston, 2011).

Almost inevitably, artists are now using social media as a tool for creating art itself. Just one example is the Creators Project, a collaborative art installation that pops up at events all around the world. It’s an idea dreamed up by Intel, Vice, and hundreds of artists. Participants contribute pictures and videos of the events through a variety of apps and other social media tools, then tweet, post, or otherwise communicate the project to art enthusiasts everywhere (Drell, 2012). Collectively, the images become a work of art.

From artists to art dealers to collectors, art aficianados of every kind are discovering an increasingly large and fascinating world of art online, especially through the use of social media tools. How about you? What are some of your favorite sites and tools?

–Jennifer

Drell, Lauren (January 20, 2012). Artists and digital: why social media is the new art gallery, Mashable Social Media, retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/01/20/artists-social-digital-media/.

Huff, Cory (n.d.). Art galleries and the internet, AbundantArtist.com, retrieved from http://www.theabundantartist.com/galleries-and-social-media-part-1/.

Huff, Cory (n.d.). The thriving artist survey results, AbundantArtist.com, retrieved from http://www.theabundantartist.com/the-thriving-artist-survey-results/.

Huff, Cory (n.d.). What blue-chip galleries can teach us about social media networking, AbundantArtist.com, retrieved from http://www.theabundantartist.com/what-blue-chip-galleries-can-teach-us-about-social-media-networking/.

Preston, Jennifer (October 21, 2011). Rendezvous with art and ardent, New York Times, retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/arts/artsspecial/social-networking-among-young-arts-professionals.html?pagewanted=all.

5 Tips for Using Social Media to Market Your Art

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!

–Jennifer

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.