October 17, 2012
My situation might be a little different from those of your other readers. I have a WordPress blog on which I've posted a lot of my art, and would like advice on how to use social media to promote it.
I belonged to LinkedIn for several years when I was a technical copy editor; then illness caused me to retire; then LinkedIn was hacked and several thousand passwords were compromised, so I quit. I joined Facebook a couple of months ago, but frankly, it feels like a huge cocktail party where thousands of people are milling around with martinis and exchanging a brief word here or there, but no one ever really communicates. So now I've joined Google+, but can't even get it to use the right photo of me! I have a Twitter account, too.
Can you please advise me on how to sort out all these resources and use them to promote my art?
I can't really answer your question from my own professional experience as I don't do much social media marketing (SMM) for clients. I do some SMM for my own SEO business, but mainly I use social media because I enjoy it. That said, if I were in your situation, what follows is how I would approach it.
What are your goals?
First and foremost you need to know what your goals are with wanting to promote your artwork in the first place. Is it to sell it online? To gain possible customers who want custom work? To gain traffic and eyeballs to your blog? To brand yourself as an artist? To promote your own art gallery? Your goals may be any of those or some combination or perhaps something I didn't mention. Whatever they are, they will help determine how you might embark on your new social media marketing journey.
It doesn't sound like you are very much involved in social media right now, which could make things harder. Partly because you just may not be a social media kinda gal and partly because you may have to start from scratch in building up online friends and followers.
Start with Facebook
Because you're promoting something visual, Twitter probably isn't the best place to start. Facebook is much more of a visual medium, with tons of photos and pictures posted and shared every moment, so I'd start there.
The first thing you should do is decide if you want to promote your art on your regular personal Facebook account or if you want to do it on a separate "business" page. Either way, you probably should add a "Page" to your profile for your business (the artwork) just in case. The more you get into Facebook the more you'll figure out if using your personal page or the business one is the best for you. For instance, I have a High Rankings business page, but I mostly just post links to my articles and then also share them via my personal account. I probably could do it all through the personal one as that's the one that has most of my followers, but I wanted to keep my options open.
Creating your business page
You'll find the link to "Create a Page" by clicking on the "More" link that is under the timeline:
From there you can click the box on the next page that says "Artist, Band or Public Figure." Next you'll have to choose a category, which in your case is probably "Artist." Add the name you'd like to use and agree to the terms and you're done. Regarding the name, I would suggest something like "The artwork of...." with your name there. (Depending on the type of art you create, it could also be "The Paintings of..." "The Drawings of...," etc.) But if you already have a company name or something else that you use for your artwork, you could put that as the name. While you could just put your own name, it might get confusing with your personal page and your business one if they were the same.
Create a custom cover photo
Facebook allows a nice big banner that goes across your page for a cover photo. As an artist, you'll probably want to create your own unique one, either based on a current piece of your work or something new that you create just for this purpose. You'll also need a smaller "Profile Picture," which will be the one that gets shown anytime you post something or comment somewhere. That can be a photo of you, a logo, a piece of your work, or whatever you want it to be.
Fill out your business profile and post stuff
You'll probably want to fill in other profile areas as well. Minimally, be sure to post a link to the blog with your work. Now all you need to do is post stuff! While you probably want people to see what you post, you'll be tempted to try to get "likes" and friends as soon as possible. However, you're kind of at the chicken-and-egg stage here. People typically don't want to like or friend pages that have nothing there. So, I'd at least upload a few of your images. Rather than just uploading them, however, be sure to comment on them as well. Explain what they are, why you created them, and any other relevant information.
With at least a few things uploaded, it's probably safe to invite your friends and relatives to like your new page. Presuming that you have some Facebook friends on your personal account, start by inviting them to like your page. They're going to be your best supporters when you first start out. With some really close friends or relatives, don't hesitate to ask them to share some of your work on their own Facebook pages as well. They'll most likely be happy to help. With "Pages" you'll also have an Admin Panel. You can go in there and click the "Build an Audience" button at the top and get an option to Invite your Email Contacts:
You'll then be presented with different email options. But be careful – don't go around spamming everyone who ever emailed you. Some people (like me) really do consider stuff like that spam. So use it judiciously (if at all). You can also run Facebook ads to gain more likes, but that's a whole other ballgame, which I know even less about! It may be something you'll want to look into more in the future once you've got your page better established.
Network with others like you
The next thing I would do is see what other artists are doing on Facebook. A Facebook search for "artwork" or even just "art" or "cartoons" or "paintings" can turn up thousands of others promoting their creative works. Check lots of them out and those whose art you like for real, you should like them on Facebook as well. I'd suggest also commenting on some of their work as the mood hits you, and even sharing some on your own page if you find them to be awesome enough. This can help you build rapport with other artists. Think of it like networking in real life – perhaps like at a gallery opening, only it's all done online. I'd suggest spending a certain amount of time every day doing this sort of online networking.
Post your coolest work
At the same time, you should also be adding more of your own artwork to your page. For the most chance of getting comments, likes and shares, it seems that anything highly amusing, amazing, breathtaking, strange, or otherwise just plain different do best. Another thing I've seen other sites do that is fun and can generate lots of comments is caption contests. For that you'd post a piece of your work and ask people to either name it or fill in the blank for a caption. People will usually do it just for fun, but you could offer some token of appreciation to the commenter who gets the most likes on their caption if you want to try to spur more action.
The thing to understand is that all of this will take time. Don't expect tons of followers, likes and comments right away. But if your art is really cool, that can go a long way.
Check out Pinterest
After you feel comfortable with Facebook, you should probably start learning about Pinterest. I can't help with that one as I'm still at a bit of a loss as to its appeal. You're in luck, however, because my friend Jennifer Cario has written a couple of posts on using Pinterest:
Ready to start selling
If one of your goals is to sell your artwork, there are places beyond Facebook that you should also look into. For instance, you could set up an Etsy shop. They can even integrate it into your Facebook page, like this one I ran across. As far as what you'll have to pay, from the info on the Etsy site: "It costs $0.20 to list an item for 4 months, or until it sells. Once you sell your item (congrats!), we collect a 3.5% fee on the sale price."
You should also look into CustomMade.com (a former client of mine). They match people who are looking to buy stuff with artisans who can create it for them. You can showcase some of your current work on their site for only $1 per year plus a 10% Co-Marketing Fee when you sell something.
In addition, if your artwork would work well on T-shirts or mugs, etc., you may want to check out CafePress.
All in all, it could be quite an exciting time for you! Just remember to be patient and spend some time every day on this new venture. Eventually social media marketing will be old hat, and you'll be showing other struggling artists how to get involved!
Photo Credit: kevinclark via photopin cc
Jill Whalen has been an SEO Consultant and the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston area SEO Company since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen
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