5 Strategies for Successfully Marketing Art on Social Media

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.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

8 Comments

  1. I created a FB Business Page for my art about a year and a half ago. Before that, I just posted my art on my personal FB page. I was not a very regular poster on either page – certainly not a power user. I often have to call other FB users to find out how to do something.

    During the COVID-19 outbreak, my wife suggested that I begin posting a painting a day (new and old) to “boost the mood”. I posted for 60 days straight with up to 5 paintings per post – a total of 90 paintings in the two months. I told about the background/history of each painting, my thought process when painting them, highlighted awards, told funny painting stories, etc. I paint both en plein air and in my studio, often using plein air studies as subjects for larger studio paintings. In those cases, I would usually post both pieces so that my followers could get a little peek into my creative process. On a few of the larger posts that I thought might be better marketing pieces for my work, I took out FB advertising around them to expand their reach. I posted everything on my FB business page and shared each to my personal page.

    During this time:
    I had some followers who commented almost every day.
    Had several followers who almost always shared my posts.
    Recruited new followers who now comment regularly, some from other countries.
    Had inquiries about the availability of pieces.
    Had a few sales, including a buyer and a back-up buyer for a new large 48″ piece.
    Received a lot of interest for future painting workshops.
    …Most importantly, I had so many people let me know that they began to watch for my daily posts to boost the mood!

    I ended the daily posts after 60 days to give both me and my followers a little break, although I am still posting a few times per week. I now feel much closer to my followers and I think that they feel closer to me – always a good thing when trying to market your art!

  2. Hi Jason,
    Great article. I agree everyday may be more than needed but I would say a minimum of 3x a week. The key is to continually expand your audience through friends sharing and liking others in hopes they like and follow you. I agree artwork with stories and a little personal story thrown in the mix is ideal. I am just now starting to see the benefits/rewards of all this and am so excited as it builds!

  3. Hi Jason
    Great article. Thanks.
    I have been promoting my art on Facebook for about 8 years and for a few years on Instagram. What a fantastic tool for artists to get their work seen! I have always used these tools in my art business to connect not only with other artists but also with customers and have sold many works this way. Also as a tutor who holds art classes, workshops and art travel both of these platforms have been amazing for filling these. I have a business page and a group, The Travelling Artists on Facebook to advertise my tours as well as other artists travels. I also have a private group for my people who attend workshops etc.
    I use Instagram as a ‘get it out there fast’ tool for say, what’s on my easel today or to promote an upcoming workshop. These posts are linked to my Facebook business page so that saves me time posting to both. Posting short videos of working in my studio creates good interest.
    During Covid I have been working on developing video tutorials which I have been test running in my art class group. There have been many bloopers and mistakes to fix and get right but I am getting there with that.
    For me this has become very much a part of running a successful art business yet feeding my passion to paint
    I look forward to resuming face to face teaching and exhibiting from August this year.
    Thanks for your articles Jason. They are very informative and I always enjoy reading them .
    Kathy Karas from Australia

  4. I just sold two paintings I’d posted on FaceBook with one week of each other. One was purchased by a long-time collector of my work, the other by an acquaintance who had never even reacted or commented before. I don’t know if my progress videos of each work had anything to do with it, but they did increase engagement by a little bit. Needless to say, it was a bright spot in the middle of the pandemic.

  5. Jason,
    This week I decided to make a pact with an artist friend of mine on the East Coast that we would discover how to increase our Instagram followers so that we will have thousands of them. Both of us are a little bit baffled by that. Can you discuss whether that’s worth pursuing and if it is how we can learn to do that.

    1. I think having thousands of followers is useful if your primary goal is to have thousands of followers. If you have other goals, like regularly selling your work, networking with other artists, building your email list, or creating community, just getting a certain number of followers isn’t necessarily the most important thing. Once you decide what your specific goal is, there are lots of articles and podcasts out there that address out to do it on social media.

  6. I thank you so much for these articles. so Helpful Our art center group in Petoskey MI had a ZOOM meeting with an artist in Colorado who has the good fortune of having a wife who is a advertising person and she keeps up his facebook and instagram daily with great stories. And with that constant quiet promotion, they sell great amounts on their regular facebook page. He is a fabulous artist.

  7. Thanks for this, Jason. Yes, I am one of those who posted on a separate Facebook page for my art..shown once and just hoped. I can see the advantage of posting more and discussing the pieces. Have to change my tactics, as not selling like I hoped.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *