This article is for artists who want to build a brand for themselves on social media, and for those who have social media pages but wonder why they aren't getting followers or the results them want.
Who am I
I'm just someone who has been writing (since 2009) and making videos (since 2013) about artbooks, art products and urban sketching. What I'm sharing is what I've learned about using social media and internet marketing for almost 10 years.
There are many ways you can learn to use social media more effectively. One way is through trial and error. That takes time. The other way is to learn from other successful artists, and mix their strategies with your own experimentation to find out what works, and what doesn't. This will help save some time, but more importantly relieve your anxiety or anguish as to why you aren't getting any results on social media.
First thing to do before using social media
The MOST important thing to know before you do anything on social media is to ask yourself how are others going to find you or your work on social media.
These are some ways people can find you:
1. Through search. People can be searching for something online and they happen to see your work.
For people to search your work, you need to write. Text can be searched easily and will show on on Google search results. If you look things you search for online, you'll realise that links to Instagram and Facebook posts are quite rare. Links to creator profiles on Instagram and Facebook is common, but links to the posts or work made by those creators are rare. So if you're just posting work on Instagram and Facebook, it's difficult to get your content shown on Google search result pages.
In other words, if you want to reach people outside of Instagram and Facebook, you have to blog, or have your own website where you write, such as what I'm doing now. If your work is not indexed by Google and not showing up on search pages, people can't find you.
If you think blogging is dead, think about the last time you searched for anything online, and where do the links go.
2. Through word of mouth. This can be through people sharing the work you posted online.
This means you need to create work that's so good or so relatable that people can share. The ingredients that make certain work popular is the topic of another article by itself. But if you want to learn more, check out the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and then go study popular posts or viral videos and you'll understand why some content are more popular.
3. Through internet marketing. This can be you actively promoting your work on social media, forums, paying for marketing campaigns (buying ads). Or it can be the social media platform promoting your work to relevant people. E.g. Through Youtube's related video sidebar, homepage, or Instagram's hashtag search.
Basically, you need to create content that can be searched, shared and marketed.
Be smart about it
The internet has so much potential for artists, and everyone, because it archives everything.
Don't let the time and effort you spend creating your work go to waste.
If you post content regularly on Instagram and Facebook, all your older content will get pushed down and out of sight. The only way people can search for your content is through the search function on the social media, or keep scrolling down which can be done for a few seconds before giving up.
Ideally, you should have your own website. Sure share your work on social media, but also post the same content on your website so that Google can index them. And make sure you write so that there's text for Google to index, and for people to search.
If you don't know what to write about your art, look at what other artists are writing about their art.
What you want to do is to create an archive of your work that's easy to search for. And create a huge archive so that it's more likely that people can find your work when they are searching for some topic or subject.
Always think about how people can find your work if they don't know you exist.
If you're a full-time artist, you should share your work regularly. You can spend most of your time creating art, but at least spare 2 days a month to share your work, or at least once a month. Sharing weekly is great because it will give you more analytics regarding your followers.
Sharing your work regularly lets people know that you're still around, you're still in business.
With more content being shared, you can study which content is popular, which are getting followers, which are selling, and which are posts are not getting traction. If you post a variety of content regularly, you can learn a lot from the analytics and use that to your advantage.
For example, I post a lot of content on my Youtube channel. I know tech product reviews are popular and get me the views, the art videos have more meaningful engagement but don't get as much views but contribute to growing my patron base. For my Youtube channel, I post around 15 videos a month or 180 videos a year. I post a lot of content so I have a lot of data to work with.
I'm not suggesting you post as often as me, but start by posting more regularly, like once a week, or at least twice a month. It takes time to build a brand. You're not going to see the results of your work until many months later. But the more content you post, the faster you'll be able to see results or at least get some analytics regarding your work and followers that you can use to improve your marketing efforts.
Posting once, twice or four times a month will give you 12, 24 or 48 posts in a year. Which do you think will give you more useful info regarding your work and followers?
Have a focus
There are so many social media platforms out there so you have to focus and spend your time wisely.
For me, my focus is on blogging and Youtube. I don't post as regularly on Instagram and Facebook. I use Instagram to share some of my sketches and Facebook to share some of the posts I have on the blog.
If my main platform is Facebook or Instagram, I will definitely repost my content to my blog.
You can also repackage the same content for different websites. For example with this article, I can also share it on Facebook to get some discussion going on. But sharing on Facebook for me is really to get more people to see this article in case they don't follow my blog.
You can share art on Instagram, then share the same art on your blog, this time writing more about your process or tools you use. Or write for your blog first, then cut down the text to share on Instagram or Facebook.
The same piece of content or art can be shared a few times.
Ultimately for me, I will focus on using websites that allows my work to be searched or promoted easily (e.g. Youtube related videos).
Study other artists
Study artists who are successful on social media and see what they are doing.
Study their post frequency. Also study what they share. Do they share work in progress, completed art, daily life, behind the scenes, tools they use?
Many artists actually share their social media strategies online too.
Jenny Xia shared how she grew 60K followers in 4 months on Instagram. Aleesha Yetzer shared how she makes money online as an artist. Holly Exley, Bobby Chiu, Loish, Jenny Rainey are some who shared their strategies on internet and social media marketing. And how did I find these people? Through search on Youtube.
You can find many artists sharing their experiences with internet and social media marketing on Youtube. And i prefer watching and learning through those videos because I know they are actual artists who do what they say, not some wannabe who research and summarise other people's work into some listicle they write to get some views. Sometimes I would rewatch the videos again just to refresh myself.
If you can learn something from what other artists took years to learn, you would have saved so much time.
What if you're not getting results?
If you're doing the same thing repeatedly and not getting results, it's time to do things differently, try different things. Because how else are you going to find out what works and what doesn't if you're always doing the same thing?
That's why I recommend posting content regularly and also vary the type of content you post. If you discover what people like, post more of that certain type of content. If your post does not gain traction, try something different.
Every successful artist starts from 0 followers. Some artists may grow faster because they may have already built a brand for themselves before they started using social media. Or some artists are just smart and create really relatable content or just entertaining content.
It takes time and effort to build a brand and something valuable.