Let's talk about how you promote your art with social media websites.
How do you promote your art so that people know that you exist? How do you build a fan base? Which social media site is the best when it comes to marketing your art?
I don't have any concrete numbers to share with you, but I'll share what I've learned from my years of blogging experience when it comes to internet marketing. I would love to heard your thoughts as well on how well you're using social media to promote yourself.
Type of websites
Generally speaking, you can divide websites into two groups or platforms, one that allows for discovery and one that allows for communication. If you want your work to get noticed, you should focus on websites that allow for discovery. By focus, I mean you should be creating work and posting at those websites consistently. Consistency is the key.
For discovery-type websites, we have Tumblr, Instagram, Youtube, Flickr, Pinterest, DeviantArt
For communication-type websites, there's Facebook, Google+, Twitter
The distinction is important. If people don't already know that you exist or your name, it will be almost impossible to find you on a communication-type website. However on a discovery-type website, even if they don't know your name, your work can still be found provided you have tagged your artworks with appropriate keywords, e.g. a watercolour artwork with #watercolour. You will want to have a substantial portfolio of work on discovery-type websites waiting for people to discover.
Let's go through each social media site one by one.
Facebook has lots of users. It's a great place to have a profile page, to post your artworks and have your audience communicate with you. Posts can get likes and shares easily if your work is good, strikes a chord.
However, how would people know that you're on Facebook if they don't already know your name?
Say you're good at watercolour. Try doing a search on the keyword "watercolour" and see what turns up. Do you think your work will appear anywhere in the search results, in the form of profiles, posts or FB groups?
Say you've posted an excellent article a few months ago, how are people going to search for that article on Facebook? They can't. And users will give up after scrolling through your page for a while wondering when that post will ever turn up. Your article may be indexed by Google, however, if that page is not backlinked by other websites, that post will have low pagerank and will appear at the bottom of Google's search result page.
You could post your work in group pages. At least there's a search box for group pages. Posting to Facebook group pages is a good idea. Some of those groups are huge with lots of members. However, you should always link it back to your blog or DeviantArt to ask people to check out more of your work, your portfolio.
Another downside of Facebook is there are a lot of things going on. You may have a link to your Photo page with all the wonderful albums of awesome art. However, the link to your Photo page is competing with so many other things that distracts your viewer, such as the chat box on the right, the sidebars of many groups they have joined. There are so many things to do on Facebook other than visiting your Photo page.
Likes on Facebooks are pretty useless. So what if you have 1,000 Likes on your post? It's good for ego I don't doubt that. What else is it good for? Having lots of Likes is not tangible.
And just because you have posted an artwork, a fantastic post, a Like does not mean that people have clicked to view your artwork, or clicked to read what you wrote. I remembered a prominent media site (can't remember which) conducted an experiment where they posted something on Facebook that induces its audience to Like it, but when readers actually click to view the post, there was specific instruction telling them not to Like the post. Tons of people ended up Liking the post, proving that they just Like because they saw the post, not because they have read the post. That experiment really stuck with me.
Shares are much more important by comparison. They are word of mouth marketing that helps spread your content to other audience, increase your exposure, on Facebook. But how many of your posts are shared?
The one thing good about Facebook is people comment freely. It's a great place to interact with your audience.
To get people to notice you on Facebook, besides just posting your art on Facebook, you have to tag your work with hash tags and more importantly you must write something, some keyword that people can type in Google to search for. But your work has to be awe-inspiring to get people to link to it.
Google+ has many features similar to Facebook.
The main issues with Google+ is similar to Facebook as well. However, it is actually a better platform for discovery. For example, if you search for #watercolour, the posts you see are not limited by the people you follow.
Main downside is the audience on Google+ much smaller. Most of your friends who are already on Facebook probably wouldn't use Google+ because everyone else is on Facebook.
Google+ has one advantage though. Image quality of uploaded pictures are much better than Facebook. I find that Facebook compresses pictures a lot and sometimes even colours will shift.
Same advice I would give is to join those art groups in Google+. Post your work there and put a link back to your blog.
Twitter is primarily a communication platform. While artists do post their new artworks on Twitter to share, users don't really associate Twitter as a place to discover artworks. It's more like users want to follow a particular artist to find out what he's up to. And you have to know the artist in advance to find his Twitter page.
Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform. You can post your artwork, type some short sentences, hash tag, and just post. You don't even need a headline.
People share by reblogging.
The main strategy there is to hash tag everything so that people can search for the keyword and hopefully find your work.
As a discovery platform, it can be quite helpful to artists.
Instagram is very similar to Tumblr but most people post photos there instead. You can also use it as a discovery platform provided you tag your posts diligently.
Instagram is HUGE! I don't post there often and I get over 140 followers. I find that unbelievable. I guess a lot of people have Instagram accounts that's why.
Flickr is a photography website. However, I know a lot of artists who have Flickr accounts and share their work there. It works well as a discovery platform for people who want to search for art provided that you already know some artists in advance. You can then look at their artists' favourites page and discover more artists. I'm not sure if there are other discovery channels but that's how I would use Flickr to discover new artists. It can be quite limited and challenging to get yourself noticed because the website focuses on photography.
Pinterest is a popular site where people pin images they like onto boards. They share their pins and boards on Pinterest. When you look for specific keywords, you can choose to see pins and boards filled with artworks.
I'm not sure how their sorting algorithm works as I can't seem to find anyway to sort by recency. That means if your work is not popular enough, it will not float to the top and will not be visible to anyone. But if you have fabulous work that gets pinned, it can get you substantial traffic from people searching for the category of art you have created.
DeviantArt is a discovery website with many ways that your work can be discovered. You can choose to submit your work into different categories, and when people look at the appropriate category, your work may appear. Those categories can be sorted by popularity and recency. If you have a piece of work posted recently, it will float to the top of the page until it gets replaces by other newer artworks. You can also look at the artists' Favourites and discover more artists. It's somewhat like Flickr except it focuses on artworks.
This is the ultimate discovery website. The reason for that is because Youtube has dedicated plenty of space to show you related videos, e.g. after a video stops playing they will show you related videos, and from the list of videos in the sidebar.
Unfortunately for artists, chances are you don't create video because most of your art are static images. However, if you can create useful video content, you can get an audience on Youtube quite quickly. My Youtube channel gets 30 subscribers a day. My Facebook page gets 5 subscribers a day, and many I'm sure are directed there from my website.
People can search for content easily on Youtube. If your content is something people are looking for, it will be found. The same cannot be said about Facebook.
Youtube is also a fantastic communication platform where people post comments freely.
If you're already creating art, why not creating a timelapse of your process and post on Youtube? Just talk or add a few lines on your process and materials that you use.
So how do you maximize exposure on social media sites
The key is to create consistent work, post them, hash tag them and write something about them. Focus your energy on discovery-type social media sites.
And whenever possible, always point those social media sites back to your own website.
Let me know what you think
Let me know what you think about what I've written.
How many social media sites have you joined? And how are they working out for you?