In my recent posts on social media art marketing, I’ve been discussing the value social media can provide to artists and galleries. Most of the focus has been on the viral nature of social media, and the ability it gives you to share your art through your social network for free.
I’ve shared some stories of success, both from our gallery and from artists I contacted for this series. We haven’t yet discussed, however, the power of paid advertising through social media.
As powerful as free publicity through social media is, leveraging the the marketing tools available on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms can allow you to reach an entirely new audience.
In today’s post, I want to briefly explore some of those possibilities. My post today is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to social media advertising. There are entire books written on the subject and entire businesses built around helping you understand how to use social advertising tools. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface in a short blog post. My hope is that I can raise your awareness of some of the advertising opportunities and tools that are available and encourage you to explore the possibilities in more depth for yourself.
Because Facebook is the largest social platform, and because it’s the platform I have the most experience advertising on, I’m going to focus on Facebook advertising, but much of what I’m writing would apply to other platforms and their advertising tools.
The Duality of our Feeling about Facebook
Users seem to have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Facebook allows us to stay in contact with our friends and families in a simple, engaging way. They also know a tremendous amount about us.
This can be scary, and as a Facebook user, I can understand why many users worry about the information Facebook is gathering every time you like a post or share an article.
As an advertiser, however, I see the user information Facebook gathers as incredibly valuable to me. The rich, dense information that Facebook gathers, allows me to reach the best potential buyers at an incredibly reasonable price.
Because Facebook customizes its content for each individual user, I can select exactly how many people I want to target and budget exactly how much I want to spend.
This is very different than magazine or broadcast advertising. With traditional advertising, you have to pay to display your ad to a magazine’s entire audience every time you advertise, even if it’s only a small portion of the magazine’s audience that is likely to respond.
With Facebook, I can dial in my advertising to hit only the users I want to hit, and I can continually refine my advertising in real time to further optimize my ads.
As an advertiser, this has been revolutionary. I still do print and direct-mail marketing for the gallery, but I can foresee a day when most of my advertising budget goes to Facebook.
Now, lest you think that Facebook’s sole purpose is to put ads in front of users, to their harm, I would argue that this highly customizeable targeting actually benefits Facebook users as well. Over time, users should see only advertising for products and services that will be of interest to them. This should also mean that they will see fewer and fewer ads, since the only ads businesses will want to pay for are those that are likely to result in sales. I see it as a win-win.
So what tools does Facebook offer that are useful to me as an art advertiser?
Before I can answer that question, I have to let you know that the tools that I’ll be talking about are only available to you if you have business page, in addition to your personal Facebook profile.
We discussed the benefits of business profiles in this article, and I shared that most of the artists who are doing well on Facebook are focusing their efforts on their personal profile activity.
For advertising, however, you have to set up a business page. As a number of readers pointed out though, you don’t have to choose between having a personal profile and a business page, you can have both. Setting up a business profile is easy and free, so there’s no reason not to set one up so that you can access and experiment with Facebook advertising tools.
Once you have a business profile, you will have access to Facebook’s Ads Manager. The Ads Manager will give you the ability to create ads and access all of Facebook’s targeting tools.
You shouldn’t have to spend too much time thinking about what you are going to be including in your ads – it’s likely to be your latest art – so we won’t spend a lot of time talking about content or imagery. You should basically create ads that share your art and a narrative about that art, in the ways that we’ve discussed in the last several blog posts.
It’s the targeting where things get interesting. With your personal posts, you are targeting your friends and followers. Once you have a Facebook advertising account set up, you can target just about anyone in the world.
Facebook calls the groups of users that you are going to target “audiences”, and they provide a number of different ways for you to select and target your audiences.
One of Facebook’s best targeting tools is interest profiles. Every time you like a page on Facebook, you give me, as an advertiser, the ability to target an ad to you. So, for example, if you like the page for the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art page on Facebook, I can target an ad at you. If you like my gallery page, I can target you. If you like my competitors’ gallery pages, I can target you.
These “interests” can tell me a lot about you, and I know that if you like certain things, you are more likely to be my potential audience.
Interests become even more powerful when they are matched up with demographics. Facebook knows how old users are, where they live, marital status, and much. much more demographic information.
Facebook can also estimate users’ income level. As an advertiser, you can pair the demographic information with users’ interests to get to an even more specific audience, or you can use demographics alone.
We’ve successfully used demographics, for example, to advertise art to high income earners within a 20 mile radius of our gallery. You could do the same to share your art with people who live close to your studio.
Another useful tool Facebook provides is what they call a “tracking pixel”. It’s a little snippet of code that you add to your website that ties your visitors to their Facebook profile.
You can then create Facebook ads to show them your art in their newsfeed. We know that it often takes repeated exposure to an image to generate the kind of interest that will lead to a sale. Facebook gives us the ability to generate that repeated exposure.
Facebook also gives you the ability to form a target audience of people that their algorithms think will have similar interests to your current followers or website visitors.
You can build these “Lookalike Audiences” from your page followers, the visitors to your site if you are using Facebook’s tracking pixel, or by uploading your mailing list.
The caveat is that you need to have a fairly large sample audience in order to tap into this tool. If you don’t have a large following yet, or if your mailing list is small, you won’t be able to use this tool until your audience grows.
Facebook allows you to either set a total budget for an ad, or an amount you would like to spend daily. You can also an exact duration for the ad. In this way, you are in complete control of how much you will spend on your ad.
We’ve experimented with a variety of budgets. I’ve set budgets as small as $5 total for an add, and as high as $1000. In my experience, spending a lot of money on a single Facebook ad isn’t nearly as effective as spending a little money on a lot of ads.
This was a difficult lesson to learn, and it runs counter to how I expected Facebook advertising to work. We had several small ads that did well, so I thought that all I would need to do to get them to do even better would be to increase the budget.
To make a long story short, it doesn’t seem to work that way. At least for our audience, we find we do better with smaller budgets spread out over longer periods of time.
If you are interested in experimenting with Facebook advertising, I would recommend you give yourself a budget of $5-10 per day over the course of a couple of months. As you try different ads and targeting, you should be able to craft some successful campaigns and see results.
The Power of Facebook Ads
As I stated above, I’m not dedicating all of my advertising budget to Facebook. We’re still learning what works and what doesn’t, but it’s clear that Facebook is going to be a critical and growing part of our advertising and sales strategy in the future.
The beauty of Facebook advertising is that it will work just as well for you as an individual artist as it does for me with a gallery.
You can simply scale your ads to fit your budget and needs. In many ways, Facebook is democratizing the advertising world.
If you haven’t considered devoting some time and resources to Facebook advertising, I would encourage you to at least look into it to decide if Facebook can help you sell more of your art.
Have you spent money on Facebook advertising and boosted posts? What have the results been? What questions do you have about social media advertising? Share your experiences and questions in the comments below.
Over the last several posts, we’ve been discussing the ins and outs of marketing through social media. While there are a number of RedDot readers who are successfully selling art through social media, I get the sense that many artists are frustrated with a lack of results from social marketing efforts.
I can understand this frustration. Creating an effective social media strategy takes a lot of work, and discipline is required to see the marketing through. At Xanadu Gallery, we’ve been concentrating most of our marketing efforts on Facebook and Instagram, and we’ve put hundreds and hundreds of hours and many thousands of dollars into our social marketing efforts. At this point, the resulting sales don’t nearly cover the investment.
However, I see real potential in social media advertising, and I feel that it would be imprudent to ignore the opportunities. We are still in the early days of social media marketing, and I feel that we have a lot to learn about using social media marketing to best effect.
As we’ve begun to swim in the social media waters, there have been a number of things we’ve learned about the process of selling art through social media that I want to share today. In researching how artists are marketing through social media, I’ve also heard some great ideas from RedDot readers. Here are 5 strategies that will help you improve your social media marketing efforts.
#1. Be Consistent
I have heard from a number of readers that social media marketing efforts proved to be a waste of time. When I pursued the issue further and asked what these artists had done to try to market their work over social media, I heard again and again answers like “I tried to post a couple of paintings and nothing happened.”
If you hoped that social media would be a magical sales tool requiring but little effort to generate sales, you have most likely been disappointed. Social media marketing is no different than any other marketing in that it requires sustained, persistent effort to build success.
Marketing is a numbers game. Results are measured in percentage points. You need to expose your work to a wide number of potential buyers repeatedly to have those percentages begin to lead to sales.
I would suggest that you need to be consistently working to build a following and persistently sharing your work with your followers. When developing a strategy for social media, you should be thinking about what you’ll be doing over the course of months and years, not just days.
RedDot reader Terry Chacon, from California, says, “I have had a huge success in selling my art on FB for many years. It has made people aware of what I offer world wide.”
When I asked her to what she attributes her success, she said,
“I tell artist that you must share daily to keep the interest up. I check my FB page morning and night and more if I have time. I also find that you have to be responsive to your friends/Collector’s posting as well. If you only post and never become responsive to your followers they will eventually fade away.”
Daily posts have worked well for Terry. I would argue that you might not need to post quite that frequently, but that it’s more important to be consistent in the regularity of your posts. Start out by committing to post at least once or twice a week, and then increase the frequency of your posts if you feel you have the time and interest in posting more frequently.
Terry’s comment on the importance of being responsive also leads to the next strategy,
#2. Get Personal (Just Not Too Personal!)
A number of artists have shared that personal interaction is incredibly valuable in building sales on social media. Your potential clients don’t want to feel that you are a marketing robot. Making a connection has always been important in art sales – it’s why art shows and galleries exist. It’s equally important when marketing your art through social media.
Social media gives you the opportunity to share your art and your life with followers. It can also give you the opportunity to get to know people in a way you wouldn’t otherwise as they share their experiences and thoughts. This is especially true if you are building relationships with people through a personal profile. You can also respond to people’s comments on your business profile posts (read more about the difference between the two here).
While the focus in your own posts should mostly be on your art, you can also share personal experiences and adventures. These insights into your life will give followers a sense of connection to you.
You should be careful, however, to avoid hot-button topics. If you have potential clients following your profile or page, you should almost always avoid posts about religion, politics and social issues. Getting into a debate with your followers isn’t going change anyone’s mind, and it’s likely to alienate some of your audience.
I would also suggest you avoid sharing negative experiences and complaints. Keep things positive!
#3. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
There are a lot of different social media platforms available. Don’t feel that you are obligated to master them all. Each platform has strengths and weaknesses, but if you spread yourself too thin by trying to master multiple platforms, it will be difficult to have enough time to master any of them. Your consistency will suffer if you are spread too thin.
Instead, find that platform that you feel most excited about, and where you think you will find your best potential audience. Focus your marketing efforts there. I’m not suggesting that you will be stuck forever with that platform. You can add others once you’ve mastered your social media of choice.
#4. Learn How Your Social Platform of Choice Works
Once you’ve decided on a social media platform, dedicate yourself to learning how the platform works and what tools are available to help you in your marketing efforts. Each social media platform has a vested interest in making sure you succeed in using their site. This is particularly true if you are paying to advertise on the platform (more on that in an upcoming post), but there is a lot of information that can help even if you aren’t using boosted posts or paid advertising.
Facebook, for example, offers the Advertiser Help Center. If you are thinking about spending money to advertise on Facebook, you should become very familiar with the center and dive into the various resources they offer. Don’t feel like you have to master everything they have to teach before your start advertising, but it’s a good idea to spend regular time reading this documentation.
#5. Experiment With Different Objectives
It is a mistake to think that immediate sales are the only valid objective for social media marketing. If your only aim is direct sales, you are likely to be disappointed.
Certainly our ultimate goal when marketing for Xanadu Gallery is sales, but when we advertise on Facebook, we look at a number of different metrics to measure success.
The gallery’s marketing objectives have included attracting new potential clients to follow our Facebook page, or, even more valuable, to join our email list. We’ve used social media to invite people to gallery events. We’ve shared information on art collecting.
By varying your objective and then measuring your results, you can get a sense of what kinds of posts and efforts are most effective for you.
What Strategies Have You Successfully Employed in Your Social Media Marketing?
What have you done that you feel has helped make your social media marketing successful? What strategies would you encourage other artists to use to help them find success? Share your experiences and advice in the comments below.
As I’ve been researching and writing about marketing through social media over the last couple of weeks, it appears that there is a strong sense that Facebook is the best social platform for marketing and generating sales. I’ve conversed with artists who are generating a large portion of their income through Facebook sales, and many have commented on their experiences, successes and challenges using Facebook to market their work.
A frequent question that has come up is whether artists should share art on Facebook using their personal profile account, or whether it is necessary to set up a Facebook Business Page.
Many of you are aware of the difference between the two, but for those who aren’t, let’s briefly explore both options. Put simply, Facebook created two different kinds of accounts in order to allow businesses to interact with regular users on their platform.
In the early days of Facebook, business owners would set up a personal account and then begin advertising their businesses by posting through that account. There were several problems with this – the first being that users quickly became annoyed when their newsfeeds became clogged with ads from “friends” who were advertising their businesses. The other big problem was that Facebook couldn’t charge businesses when they advertised this way, since it had no way to distinguish between a promotional post and baby pictures.
Thus, the business page was born. Facebook created these accounts to allow business to set up a profile for the business itself. A business page allowed businesses to more accurately display information about their businesses, and it also allowed them to tap into the nascent advertising platform that was being built into Facebook.
Business pages were different than personal profiles in a number of important ways. When setting up a page, businesses could list important details, like their address, hours of operation, and other business details. Pages also made it possible for business owners to provide access to the administration features of the page to employees to help them manage the page.
Unlike personal profiles, where a Facebook user gains access to their friends’ posts when they “friend” each other, users who follow a business will see the business’ posts, but the business won’t see their followers’ posts. In other words, communication between a user and a business on Facebook only goes in one direction.
And this, it would seem, is the major drawback for an artist who would like to market her or his work on Facebook through a business page. Artists I’ve talked to, feel that one of the most important aspects of their ability to market their work on Facebook is their ability to interact with their followers directly. A Facebook friendship with a potential client provides much more opportunity to do so. If you are using your personal profile to share your art, and your potential collectors are creating friendships with you, not only will they see your art and personal posts, but you will see their posts as well.
This kind of access to one another provides major advantages for interaction, though it bears mentioning that some of your potential buyers might not wish you to have such intimate access to them. For those who are willing to accept a friend request, however, that access can be incredibly valuable if you respect the relationship and are careful about what you post and how you interact.
So Which Should You Use?
So, should an artist use their personal profile or a business page to market their artwork? It’s not an easy question to answer.
Because I think of what you do in marketing and selling your work as a business that is wholly seperate from your personal life, and because I want to offer the best professional practices, the easy answer would be that an artist should set up a business page. I suspect that if you could talk directly to Facebook, they would recommend the same.
They would point out that there are disadvantages to using your personal profile to share your art. For example, you may only have a total of 5000 friends on your personal profile. That seems like a large number, but if you become moderately famous for your art, you will be surprised how quickly you reach the 5,000 friend limit.
It’s also important to note that Facebook has a strict prohibition on representing a business through a personal profile. Their terms of service are very clear on this account, and their website states:
It’s against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (example: your business), and you could permanently lose access to your account if you don’t convert it to a Page. (https://www.facebook.com/help/201994686510247)
So, for example, if I were to try to represent Xanadu Gallery through my personal profile and were to begin trying to sell art to my friends, I could run afoul of their terms of service and have my account shut down completely. I have heard second-hand anecdotes about artist having this happen to them because a “friend” reported them trying to conduct business through their personal page.
It’s also arguable that being able to access Facebook’s excellent advertising tools and thus present your artwork to completely new potential collectors is another factor in favor of using a business page for marketing your art.
Having laid out those arguments, however, my research over the last couple of weeks, and the comments that I’m seeing, lead me to believe that the artists who are seeing the most success on Facebook are doing so by leveraging personal accounts, not business pages. The two-way interaction seems to be the secret sauce for these artists.
Looking back at the warning from Facebook that your account might be shut down for using a personal account to represent something other than yourself, it seems arguable that an artist is a special case. As an artist, your art business is an integral part of yourself. Arguably, unless you’ve set up a corporation or LLC, you aren’t representing something other than yourself.
Those arguments may not fly with Facebook if they decide you are breaking their terms of service, and so there is a level of risk involved in posting your art through your personal profile. If Facebook decides to ban you, it can be very, very difficult to appeal their decision.
With that said, there also seems to be a large advantage to posting through a personal profile. Only you can decide if the benefit outweigh’s the risk.
Be Cautious About Your Posts
If you are sharing your art and building relationships with potential customers through your personal page, some cautions are in order.
First, you have to realize that everything you post is potentially going to show up in your customers’ newsfeeds. This means that you need to be aware that, in addition to your art showing up, your post on your recent meal, or problem you are having with your car, will also show up. This can help make you more real and deepen the relationship with some clients, but it can also be off-putting if you’re not careful.
In his interview last week, Robert MacGinnis wisely warned that it’s important to be careful about what you post.
After I got going the Facebook I made a few rules for myself. They are: 1. Do not talk about politics or religion. 2. Do not use inappropriate language. 3. Do not talk about my troubles, illnesses or any negativity. I had to add one later on, *don’t take off my shirt! On a hot summer day I innocently posted a photograph from the sternum up without a shirt and it caused more of a sensation that I wanted. I knew I was in trouble when I got reprimanded by my daughter.
Do You Share Your Art on Your Personal Profile, or Have You Set Up a Business Page?
How are you sharing your art through Facebook? Have you set up a business page? Why or why not? If you are posting through your personal profile, what advantages do you see? Have you run into any problems with your personal profile? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Over the last few posts, and throughout the comments on those posts, we’ve seen that, while it may not be easy, artists are selling art through social media. Through careful curation of their posts, and active engagement with their followers, these artists have built business on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms.
Beyond the difficulties that come in managing a social media account, one of the most common challenges I heard while researching these posts was “How do I get collectors to follow me on social media?” Additionally, I heard a lot of you say that it’s challenging to get anyone other than artists to follow your social media accounts.
Now, let me be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having artists follow you on social media. Artists can very easily become customers, but, equally important, you will benefit from the network effect by having as many followers as possible.
But, I do understand the desire to have well-qualified potential art collectors following your social media account as well. Not only can this lead directly to sales, social media can also be a great way to create deeper relationships with buyers and keep you on their radar.
So how can you get them to follow you?
First, let me say that it’s not going to be easy. Some of your potential clients aren’t even on social media, although this is pretty rare now. The Pew Research Center finds that nearly eight in ten Americans are on Facebook (http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/). That’s an incredible level of participation, and it means that almost all of your current and future clients are on at least one social media platform. Just because they are on social media, however, doesn’t mean they are active users, and it also doesn’t mean they are going to accept a friend request or follow your page.
They key to building a successful social media following, it seems, is not to rely on everyone who buys or sees your work following you, rather, it’s to consistently give them all the opportunity to do so.
When I asked artist Faith Rumm, from Mariposa, California how she gets social media followers, she replied
I would like to say a lifetime of being nice to people, but also I spent about a year posting art on fb hiking forums, as my work is about wilderness back-country. People have friended me after seeing my art on the forums. (I haven’t posted on the forums for at least a year.) Also, when I have events at my studio I collect info from visitors and friend them.
There are two important keys here. The first is in the last sentence. Just as it is important to collect email addresses at live events, taking the next step and “friending” those contacts or inviting them to follow your social media pages is a vital way to build a following. This means that you have to have a good system in place to collect contact information, and that you need to be 100% consistent in inviting your contacts to become social media followers.
Not everyone you invite is going to become a follower, but some percentage will. It’s your persistence and consistency in inviting that will lead to a strong follower base.
The other key that Faith mentions is creating other online activity that leads to your social media pages. Faith posted in forums, which can be a great way to reach people with similar interests. In my podcast interview with Robert MacGinnis last week, he also mentioned this as a good way to attract followers.
MacGinnis also mentioned another way to get followers that I feel is brilliant, and that is through your interactions with your current followers. Robert said, for example, that he always posts birthday wishes to his followers, and when he does so he includes an image of a painting and tags the follower. MacGinnis is always careful to make sure that his birthday wishes are sincere and thoughtful. The follower’s friends, who are also wishing their friend a happy birthday, are likely to see Robert’s post, and may then click over to Robert’s profile and also become followers.
You’ll want to be careful not to overdo this kind of cross-posting on any one follower’s account, but by posting to followers you can take advantage of the powerful network effect of social media.
Another key to obtaining qualified followers is to use social media advertising, but I’m going to address this aspect of social media marketing in another post.
What Have You Done to Encourage Art Collectors to Follow You on Social Media?
How have you obtained qualified followers? What would you advise other artist who want to build a social media following to try? Share both what has worked, and what hasn’t, and what you’ve learned along the way in the comments below.
Over the last several weeks I’ve shared several posts about our new gallery location in Pinetop, Arizona. The new location features almost 1900 square feet of display space. We will be representing some of the same artists in Pinetop that we do in our Scottsdale gallery, but we will also have the opportunity to feature new artists.
In our Pinetop gallery we are looking to expand the range of work we show, both in terms of the styles, media and price points we will be showing. I would like to invite RedDotBlog readers to submit their work for consideration in the new gallery.
If you are interested in showing your work in Xanadu Pinetop, please use the form below to upload images of your work and to tell me a little bit about yourself.
Due to the volume of submissions I expect, we are unable to respond to individual inquiries about submissions. Please do your best to follow the instructions in the form below to submit your work. Once I receive your work, I will review it, and if I feel it might be a good fit, I will contact you with a request for additional information, and will provide a copy of our consignment agreement for your review.
Once you submit your work, you will receive an email confirmation of your submission. This is the only confirmation you will receive of your submission. If you don’t see the email right away, please check your spam or promotions folders.
Please do not contact our Scottsdale gallery with questions about your submission. Our staff in Scottsdale is unable to access the submissions or to help with technical questions.
As a last resort, you may email questions to us at email@example.com, but it may take several days for us to respond.
The deadline for submissions is May 24th, 2019. We are also limited in the number of submissions we can receive by the submission system we are using, so please submit your work as early as you are able.
We Will Review the Art May 27-31
I look forward to reviewing your art! We will be reviewing submissions the week of May 27-31. I will contact you if we feel your work would be a good fit for the gallery.
If your work is accepted to show in our new gallery, you will need to be able to ship the art to arrive by the week of June 21st. If you are unable to ship your work in that time frame, please do not submit at this time. I will share additional calls for art in the coming months.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve begun a discussion with artists about marketing art through social media. In today’s post, I would like to ask for your input and thoughts on the best social media platform for marketing and selling your art.
The social media landscape is always changing, but it does seem like we’ve reached a point where a few major providers are dominating the market. Each has it’s own niche, and each seems to offer certain advantages and suffer from certain pitfalls.
Facebook is the dominant player in the market. With over 1.86 Billion active monthly users as of March 2017, Facebook dominates not only the social media space, but also the internet. Think about it, nearly a quarter of the planet’s population is active on Facebook every month, and many users are on Facebook multiple times throughout the day. If your potential buyers are on social media, it’s likely they’re on Facebook.
Facebook offers a number of advantages. The first is it’s massive scale. Because it has so many users and is generating so much revenue, Facebook is able to develop new features at a rate other platforms struggle to match. Facebook’s advertising system is relatively inexpensive and, once you get through the learning curve, easy to use.
It’s also likely that you are an active Facebook user yourself, which means that it doesn’t take a lot to transition from being a casual user to marketing your artwork through Facebook.
Because Facebook is so popular and widely used, there is a tremendous amount of noise in users’ newsfeeds. You often have to compete with other advertisers, your client’s friends, and all of the major news outlets to catch a potential buyer’s attention.
For those who are using a business profile page to market their work (more on that in an upcoming post), you can’t reach many potential buyers without paying for advertising.
Facebook is also suffering a bit of a mid-life crisis. The social network is now almost 15 years old, and many users suffer from Facebook fatigue. The amount of daily time users are spending on the platform is decreasing, and a lot of people are loudly declaring that they aren’t going to use Facebook any more. I’m not suggesting that Facebook is on the decline, just that there are those who are tired of it.
When thinking of social media, YouTube isn’t typically the first brand that jumps to mind. In fact, many people don’t even think of YouTube as being a social platform. I would argue, however, that YouTube checks all of the boxes of what it means to be social. YouTube’s content is largely generated by it’s users. Users can get followers. Viewers can comment and start discussions about the videos that they see. If that’s not social media, I’m not sure what is.
YouTube also has a massive number of active monthly users – somewhere around 1 billion. I’ve had reports from artists that video is a great way to engage users by showing the work in progress and telling stories. YouTube is a great platform for sharing videos in a focused way, and you can easily embed YouTube videos on your own website or on other social media.
Unfortunately, YouTube is a bit of a cultural wasteland, and I don’t hear of many artists discovering new clients or making sales to unknown buyers through YouTube.
YouTube also has a comment problem. The YouTube community seems to encourage negative, nasty comments. You can disallow comments, but you then lose the social aspect of sharing your videos.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, and you can integrate your Instagram posts into your Facebook network, but Instagram has a life of its own. Instagram was the second most-mentioned platform when I recently asked artists about where they were selling art through social media.
While Instagram also allows you to create a network of followers, it also encourages users to discover new contributors, and, by tagging posts, artists can reach out to potential buyers who might otherwise never see their art.
Instagram skews toward younger users, a demographic that doesn’t match up to slightly older art-buying demographics.
For some time, Twitter was considered a top-contender in the social media space. Over the last few years, however, it seems to have settled into a niche primarily used for the distribution of news, celebrity gossip, and presidential rambling [no comment].
Over the last several years Twitter has made it easier to share images. Because Twitter is a smaller network, it’s active users tend to be more engaged, and I hear reports from artists who have used Twitter that they have been able to develop a very loyal following.
Pinterest would seem to be custom-made for sharing artwork. Built completely around the concept of sharing images, and designed to allow users to pull together images they like so that they can then share them with their friends and with the world at large, I remember being very excited about Pinterest when I learned about it.
Unfortunately, Pinterest was a bit late to the social media game, and has never taken off in the same way that Facebook or Twitter did.
All about connections, Linkedin is notorious for filling people’s inboxes with invites from their contact list. Linkedin has also become a niche service that seems primarily to provide professionals with job opportunities.
Millennial and youth-centric, Snapchat provides ephemeral messaging. I didn’t hear from any artists who are selling art on Snapchat, but if you are, please leave a comment below!
Google tried to compete with Facebook. It didn’t work, but parts of their platform are still around, including their very successful video meeting platform, Hangouts, and their communities.
It would be almost impossible to keep up with all of the social media sites that have come and gone over the last few years. Tumblr, MySpace, Flickr, Digg, Reddit, and on and on. While some of the other platforms are much, much smaller, each platform still has millions and millions of users. There seem to be countless avenues for sharing and selling your art.
What Social Media is Working for You?
Have you had success selling your art on the platforms listed above? On other platforms? Are you active on more than one social media platform? Where have you sold your art? What other benefits have you seen from sharing your art through social media? What advice would you give to artists who don’t know where to begin with social media?
Share your experience, success and the challenges you have faced as you’ve looked for the right social media platform to share your art. Leave your thoughts in the comments bellow.
Many artists wonder if marketing art on Facebook is a viable strategy. Oregon artist Robert MacGinnis, who describes himself as “old school” was reluctant to join Facebook when a collector encouraged him to join in 2015, but he quickly discovered that Facebook was an extremely effective way for him to sell his work and connect with collectors. Facebook sales now account for over 50% of MacGinnis’ annual sales. In this episode, you’ll hear the artist’s simple approach to Facebook marketing.
In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, and within a few years, a revolution had taken place online. Within a decade, nearly the entire planet had joined Facebook and other services that sprang up around the concept of connecting people through online social networks.
Very quickly, social media was adopted as a great way to share experiences and communicate with friends and family. It soon also became the best way to share images, and it wasn’t long before artists and galleries realized that artwork could be effectively shared through social media.
As with the early days of the internet, there was a lot of excitement about the possibilities for generating art sales. Here was a new way to reach out to potential clients for free, and not only could you reach your friends and followers, if they shared your post, you could reach all of their friends as well. Here was a way to achieve exposure without spending thousands on advertising or gallery commissions.
As with most revolutions, however, the reality ended up being less utopian than many imagined. Gaining social media exposure takes a lot of time and effort, and many artists have found that the sales don’t come quite as easily as was hoped. Facebook soon began charging for boosting posts, meaning that wide dissemination of artwork was no longer going to be free.
I’ve had pretty extensive personal experience marketing through Facebook. We’ve spent many thousands of dollars posting Xanadu Gallery artwork on social media. We’ve certainly generated sales, but, while Facebook can generate sales, it’s not our most effective advertising.
I’ve long wanted to explore social media marketing in more depth in blog posts, but I’ve always felt like I was just scratching the surface of everything there is to know about it. I haven’t felt like I could write an authoritative post that would provide step by step guidance on how to use social media marketing to generate art sales. I’ve now decided, however, that if I’m waiting until I feel like a social media marketing expert to write about the ins and outs of social media marketing, I’ll be waiting forever. Not only are there a vast number of factors at play at any given time, the social media landscape is also constantly changing.
This post, and a series of posts to follow, are therefore going to be a little different. Rather than try to offer definitive advice about marketing your art through social media, I would like to share what I’ve learned through experience and also through numerous interviews I’ve conducted with artists via email over the last couple of weeks. My hope is that this post can serve as a conversation starter and a place to share experience and wisdom. Please add to the conversation by sharing your thoughts and experience in the comments below the posts.
What is Social Media Marketing?
To begin the conversation, we first need to define social media marketing. Because social media has developed so quickly, and because, in many ways, it overlaps other online realms, it can be a little bit difficult to pin down exactly what we mean by social media marketing. We all know that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are social media, but what about Medium and WordPress? What about your own website or blog?
A quick Google search for the definition of social media results in the following:
websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
For this discussion, we’re going to keep things simple and limit our discussion to sites that allow you to contribute content and communicate with other users, but which are not owned, operated, or controlled by users. Though you may have social interactions and create followers on your blog or website, we’ll limit our discussion to sites, like Facebook, that create a platform on which you can share your content, but that create a level playing field where all users can share their content equally.
It’s also important to talk about what we mean by “marketing.” In the realm of social media, marketing is much more fluid than what we might think of as marketing in the pre-social media days.
Prior to Facebook, I would have defined marketing, art marketing especially, as paid efforts to create exposure for an artist’s work, or for a gallery, and paid efforts to build brand awareness and sales for the artist or gallery.
While you can certainly still pay for advertising and marketing on social media, I’ve discovered that many artists and galleries are using a much more organic approach to creating awareness and sales for their artwork. Social media creates a platform where the dissemination of artwork imagery as well as narratives about the artwork can be shared and spread in a viral manner.
The Benefits of Social Media Marketing
This ability to amplify your reach is one of the primary benefits of social media. With social media, you have the ability to proactively reach out to potential art buyers on a platform where they are already spending their time.
The pre-social media internet gave every artist the ability to create a gallery of their work which would be accessible by anyone with an internet connection. This was exciting, but almost as soon as the internet was born and the first artists began sharing their artwork online, the hurdles to creating online sales and success became apparent. First, it was hard work creating a website and keeping it up to date. Second, and far more daunting, it was extremely difficult to get prospective buyers to visit your website.
Social media addressed both of these issues. With Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social sites, you didn’t have to do anything to set up the site, all you had to do was create an account and begin sharing your images and comments.
More importantly, it wasn’t daunting to get people to see your images and posts. People naturally flooded onto the social sites. Not only were people willing to visit social media sites, they were actively engaging on them in ways that the Web 1.0 never achieved. Because the content they were seeing was coming from their family and friends, as well as from celebrities, public figures and media sites that they cared about, users were visiting social media sites multiple times every day.
As an artist, or a gallery, you could inject an image into the social media stream and see almost instantaneous engagement with the post. People were liking, and sharing and buying artwork right out of their newsfeeds!
Even more astonishing, it didn’t cost you anything to register or use most of the social media sites. You could publish and share your art for free. A new age had arrived.
The Challenges of Social Media Marketing
Like most things that seem too good to be true, for many artists, the promise of social media soon began to fade.
While social media sites didn’t require any monetary input to spread an artist’s images, saying that they are “free” isn’t exactly right. Many artists found that in order to see results from their social media marketing efforts they were dedicating a tremendous amount of time and creative energy to their social media efforts. Some RedDot readers have reported to me that they felt like social media was taking over their lives.
Many also found that their networks of contacts weren’t broad enough to reach a good number of qualified potential buyers.
It also wasn’t long before social networks, like Facebook, realized that they could begin charging users advertising fees to “boost” their posts and spread them more broadly.
As I reached out to readers, I discovered that many had dipped their feet into the social media waters, but most had eventually given up because they just weren’t seeing the results they needed to see to justify the effort and time they were putting into social media marketing.
The most common question I heard from RedDot readers was “Is anyone actually selling work through social media?”
Kelly Knox, and artist out of Bullhead City, Arizona asked “I am curious if there really are very many sales of works by emerging artists (at a good price) that take place? If there are, I would like to know who these artists are and who is buying their work?”
Julie Trail has created a social media presence for Gallery 10 in Sutter Creek, California by setting up profiles and posting to Facebook and Instagram, and has spent time expanding the gallery’s followers, but says, “The connections are exponential, the possibilities endless. The big Question is, of course, will all this connectivity increase sales????”
It is exactly these kinds of question that we’ll be exploring in this series of posts in the coming days. Many artists sense that there’s a big opportunity available through social media, but they are leary of the effort that might be required to exploit the opportunity. In these posts we’ll be exploring:
Social media marketing strategies
How to find qualified buyers and get them to follow you on social media
Social media sales experiences
The dos and don’ts of social media for art marketing
Business profiles vs. personal pages
Your comments and questions will help direct the conversation of our posts.
At this point, you might be asking, “why bother?” It might seem like the challenges of social media marketing far outweigh the benefits. The majority of artists I reached out to seemed to express some variation of this opinion. There were several exceptions, however.
Robert MacGinnis wrote to tell me his story of marketing art on Facebook. After explaining that he was reluctant to begin posting his work to social media, he shared that “it turns out after 2 1/2 years that I have been a huge success on Facebook and I am literally making a living here. I have sold almost every painting that I have posted and have received well over two dozen larger commissions.”
There were others who are experiencing tremendous success selling through social media as well. I’ll be sharing more of their stories later in this series, but these hints of success have convinced me that it would be wise for every artist and gallery to explore the possibilities of social media marketing.
Social media marketing isn’t going to work for everyone, but my hope is that I can share insights that will help those of you who want to better understand what it takes to succeed. I also hope that those of you who are succeeding with your social media marketing efforts will share your insights.
So, stay tuned! If you haven’t joined our mailing list, be sure and sign up here, so that you don’t miss any of our posts on social media marketing for artists.
Other Posts in This Series
The Benefits and Challenges of Marketing Your Art Through Social Media
What do you perceive to be the benefits and challenges of social media marketing?
Have you tried marketing your art through social media? Have you successfully sold your art on a social network? What do you feel are the key benefits and greatest challenges of marketing through social media? Share your thoughts, experiences and questions in the comments below.
The gallery business often seems shrouded in mystery. Though I work to help you better understand the business through my blog posts and podcasts, I know there are still many aspects of the art world that remain obscure. This is especially true when it comes to the finances of art galleries.
You know that galleries generate revenue by selling art, but exactly how much money are galleries producing, and where does that money go?
After artists are paid their commissions, a gallery’s funds go in a lot of different directions. During the first quarter of 2019, for example, our Scottsdale gallery’s top five expense (shown here as a percentage of our total expenses) were:
Payroll Taxes (10%)
Merchant Service Fees (8.61%)
What if you could go beyond a glimpse of a gallery’s finances and analyze them in depth? What if you had the opportunity to understand how profitable the gallery business is? What if you could see every expense a gallery incurs, along with every source of revenue? What if you could see a gallery’s bank statement?
This is your chance!
Over the last week, I’ve invited RedDotBlog readers to join me on an incredible journey as we launch our new gallery in Pinetop, AZ. Xanadu’s Art Gallery Insider program is your chance to watch the process of getting a gallery up and running, and your opportunity to dive deep into the finances and operations of a gallery.
In weekly Art Gallery Insider broadcasts, I will share intimate details of the inner-workings of the gallery with viewers. Not only will I share the details, I’ll help you understand what all of those details mean in a simple, fun format.
Think of this as the ultimate reality show for artists, art gallery owners and art lovers, but a reality show with information that will provide you an unprecedented understanding of the gallery business.
When I first started in the gallery business over twenty years ago, it was common practice to hand someone printed materials when they expressed interest in an artist’s work. When I was working with a client and she said she liked a particular piece, I would first try to close a sale, but if I wasn’t successful, I would hand her a printed copy of the artist’s biography and a photograph of the piece that had caught her attention.
I suspect that this remains a common practice with many artists and galleries today, but I feel that handing out printed materials is an ineffective selling technique, and today I would like to share an approach that I’ve found far more effective.
Let’s begin by exploring the problems with handing out printed material. First, and most importantly, handing out printed material and letting the client walk away deprives you of the opportunity to follow-up. In the vast majority of cases, as soon as a potential client walks away, you will never hear from her again.
Another problem with printed materials is the production and organization. From a gallery perspective, we would need to keep a stock of brochures and bios for dozens of artists, along with boxes and boxes of photos. Back in the 90’s, when I began in the business, we had to organize and store both prints and negatives for each of the several hundred pieces of art in the gallery. Digital photography made this a little bit easier, but it is still an organizational challenge.
The solution? Email!
Now, instead of handing someone a folder full of bios and photos of artwork, we let an interested client know that we would be happy to email her the information. Emailing the information is better for everyone involved. The client doesn’t have to carry a folder of paper out of the gallery, and we now have an avenue for follow up.
You might wonder if some people are reluctant to provide their email address. Actually, very few visitors to the gallery decline an email follow up. People have become accustomed to interacting through email, and most look at it as a convenience rather than an invasion of privacy.
After a client agrees that she would like to receive an email, we provide her with a contact card to fill out. This card asks for not only her email, but also her other contact information, including her mailing address and phone number. The beauty of handing someone a form asking for all of her contact information is that she will usually simply fill the form without even thinking about it. Even though we don’t need the additional contact information for our email follow up, it’s very valuable for us to be able to add that information to our database for further follow-up.
When the client hands the card back, we ask if she would like to be added to our mailing list. We keep the invite very simple: “Would you like to join our mailing list to receive updates about new artwork?” You don’t need to sell this too hard – you only want people to join your mailing list if they really want to. Never add someone to your mailing list without their explicit permission.
We try to send the follow up email with an image of the artwork immediately after the client leaves the gallery, while the interaction is still on their mind, and on ours. Most of our clients have smartphones, so many of them can view the email immediately.
Your follow-up email should be simple and too the point. Thank the client for visiting your studio, show, or gallery, and provide the information about the artwork in which they expressed interest, along with the image. I prefer to have the image show up inline in the email, rather than as an attachment. Close by letting the client know you would be happy to be of service. In other words, don’t be too pushy.
If you don’t hear back from the client within 2-3 days, send another quick email with an image of the artwork. You might also provide additional information about the artwork if available. Your inspiration for the work, a copy of your biography, or some other detail you feel might be relevant to the client.
Keep following up until you hear back from the client. Start out with follow up every 2-3 days, and then begin stretching out the intervals between follow up as time goes on. I will talk more about the follow up process in future posts, but it’s important to note here that some sales require 8-10 follow up emails before getting a response. Don’t allow your sales to fail because you aren’t being persistent enough. If you keep your emails short and courteous, you can be persistent without being pesky.
And there you have our replacement for brochures and photos. Email follow up has been far more effective than handing someone a brochure could ever be We have the added satisfaction of knowing that we are, by some small degree, reducing waste and helping the environment.
To be clear, brochures and catalogs do still have a valid place in your marketing efforts. Brochures and other printed material can be a great way to send images to clients to update them about new available work. We do a lot of marketing through printed catalogs and brochures – but the key is that we use brochures for our marketing efforts, not for our sales efforts.
Finally, the last caveat. If we have sincerely tried to get follow up information from a client, but for some reason they refuse to give it, we may hand them a brochure as they are leaving the gallery if we felt that they were truly interested in a particular artwork or artist. This, or handing someone a card should be an absolute last resort after all efforts to sell and get contact information have been exhausted. These last-ditch efforts are only rarely effective, but if we’ve tried everything else (sincerely tried) it’s better for the client to walk away with images and contact information than nothing.