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.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of Dad was an Artist | A Survivor's Story and best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. 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. Connect with Jason on Facebook

6 Comments

  1. Great article! Having recently retired from an ad agency, I think your observations and suggestions definitely ring true. An artist friend of mine once did a bold campaign – he announced that he would paint 100 small paintings in 100 days and sell them for $100 each. This was a few years ago, so he was well ahead of his time. How fun it was to open the Facebook page each day to see what he did. It included a link to a page where all the paintings were displayed together, and the ones that were taken were marked SOLD. I wanted to buy some but I was always too late! He is a very accomplished artist, so at a price like that, needless to say, they sold like hotcakes. And I bet he built a huge bank of new followers that now get to enjoy his blogs and posts. I would love to try something like this one day but – whew – that’s a big commitment! I think I’d want to try it in a scaled back version. Love your articles! They are my primary go-to for information and inspiration. Thank you for all the wisdom and practical advice you’re sharing. (I’m including my web address, but it’s not done yet! I’m new at this, and the homepage copy is a placeholder.)

  2. I’ve paid a local marketer for one-on-one training on social media. It helped me focus and be strategic with my time on social media. Results are not direct and are to be seen over the long term. When I do a solo show, my daily posts and genuine interactions felt so worth it. People shared the event, came to the opening, signed up to my workshops. I spent zero money in advertising, social media did everything!

  3. I’d also add, that social media can be used in a reverse way. I will often check the feed of someone after I have found them elsewhere. Clients see your website as a polished presentation, but then go to your feed to find a little less polish and a lot more day to day action.

    I settled into Instagram as my preferred media of choice and have watched it closely for a number of years.

    Some ideas:
    It is good to include a photo of yourself in your posts every once in a while, it helps people connect.

    Video seems to be the preferred format for posts going viral- counterintuitive on a photo hosting platform.

    Find accounts that are successful and note what they are doing, but also understand that you are not them, many successful accounts are about making content for social media, I am not about that, my goal is making my work and using social media to support it.

    Lastly, always ask about your feed to people who follow, I try to balance posts of my furniture with posts of the process and studio. I’m always worried that the process and studio will be boring to my potential collectors. Except, in reaching out to them, I have found it is quite the opposite, those process posts are very exciting to them and help tell the story of my work and life.

    Peter

  4. I have a business page and a personal page and I find the business page gets very little attention so I share the business posts on my personal page which helps. But it seems I am posting to friends and family primarily and have not found collectors. How does one find collectors? I have not posted consistently and haven’t had sales I can say came from social media.

    I have mixed feelings about social media. One of the things that concerns me is this type of story, a contemporary, politically active artist who gets banned.. https://medium.com/@kkretz4art/facebook-bans-artist-for-transforming-maga-hats-6ce83ec250d6?fbclid=IwAR38YXOXthxLRryeIlu9wD446r5Sanka4RrfLDffnWU_u4Ih3fmWFoh9Cp0

    As an artist I feel I should be aware of social concerns and be active in issues. I see the problem, and it is stated here “avoid posts about religion, politics and social issues”. If all your “art” is bland and simply decorative, are you really and artist? You will alienate a certain group with such issues, does that really mean they should be avoided. Or should one play to their strengths and hope for sales to the group that is on one’s side and has the same viewpoint? Does that group have the economic strength to support you as an artist?

    1. You are an Artist when you create. Whether it is a decorative piece, a controversial piece, a poem, a documentary, whatever. The important thing is to be authentic. If you express yourself with authenticity, your tribe will find you. They will buy because they connect with what you have created.

  5. Always interesting and valid. I have not had any Luck either on the social media and I have a blog. I need to encourage more response, by asking questions that might bring an answer. There are so many choices and changes are constant.
    Love your information and share with my artist friends.
    I am part of Timberline gallery in Oakhurst, Yosemite area of Calif. Some years are great others not so great. This year we have had smoke in the summer and this winter, many of the artists were snowed in. We have a gift area for the visitors that only want to purchase something small for remembrance of their travels. And a large variety, of art medias, from Jewelry, gourds, paintings, fiber art and the larger photographic pieces of Yosemite. we have been in business for 25+ years. Gallery Row has a variety of artists galleries and each year we have Sierra Art Trails, which covers the whole mountain area. But things are changing and we need to do more on Social Media, thank you for your information. Always open learning new ways and ideas.

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