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.

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

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 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

13 Comments

  1. It took my facebook account about three years to respond to my artwork posts (manifesting in sales). The response to my posts increased as the number of my FB friends grew. The more friends I have – the more interactions I have with friends. Also, I have since learned to not wait until I have a finished work, rather I should post about my progress as I am painting. This creates a curiosity among my friends to see what the finished piece will look like and also keeps my name and work visible!

  2. I am exploring Facebook and Instagram. I have had a Facebook account for a long time and I cross post in my different accounts to spread the reach, this way I hope to let people know that my work is available for sale. I always interact with people when they make a comment. With Instagram I use it to encourage myself along as I create a piece, and the likes and responses I get encourage me to keep going. I don’t see this as a way to market my work, although people can go and look at my website if they are interested. At the moment I sell through a print website and an original art website. The former has had a little in the way of sales, the latter none yet …

  3. I believe that social media is good for social interactions. Artists can use it to get interest and excitement about their work. However, sales are different. (See the two posts above this one.) People want to see artwork in real life, not on their screens, before they commit to buying. They want to see it in real life and be able to touch it.

    That is especially true for mixed media, jewelry, and 3-dimensional art. I do wood carvings and I know that people will not buy 3D art from a 2D screen image. (Check out the lack of sales of carvings on Ebay or Etsy.)

    If art sold well on social media, there would be no need for galleries or art shows.

  4. I put all my paintings on Facebook in one time a year because I was burried by some of my friends putting their art each day. Burried also by the family’s comments that are telling Good morning to you too. Following your advises, I understand I must do better. Story telling about a piece, giving each week news and price of the work ready to sell…

  5. I post on Instagram and am trying to figure out how to cross post on Facebook … however … looking at the big picture, I question whether art work in the high three figures to mid four figures will sell and, I don’t want to spend my time creating tiny $300 and $400 paintings. I don’t want to deal one-on-one with a lot of collectors, which would require back-and-forth dialog, safely receiving their money, packaging and shipping art … and returns if they don’t like it. That’s what art galleries do … they are experts at selling and safely delivering the work. I don’t want to sort out the scammers from the real collectors. I will continue to post on Instagram, but my sole purpose is to support my galleries by branding my name and work. I feel we all need to identify where we have been, where we are right now and our big picture goals. For me, it’s all or nothing … I don’t want to compromise or make due with less than my goal, which is a partnership relationship with 2 or 3 high end galleries.

    1. Hello Jody,

      It is lovely to read your post. I too feel my strength is painting and fine tuning my purpose as a painter. I use social media to support galleries and curators representing my work and to give my followers insight into my philosophy and purpose as an artist.

      Continued joy in your work and happy painting.

      KInd wishes,Anastasia

  6. I plan to get in gallerys when I have a good batch of artwork ready to gain some art collector clientele. I have used FB to advertise fairs and events that I’ve been in. It expands my audience and increased my views at times. It’s good for people who want to see my art in person. It really does work for awareness. You just need to get to the right audience for sales. I wouldn’t say I have a flow of sales, but I’m early in the game, maybe two years. I use Instagram for exposure and awareness with my pieces. It’s fun and I get to connect and see other artist works. Basically, the goal is to connect with the person who has the money and an interest in your product. You just keep fishing until one bites, and enjoy the scenery and ambiance until one does.

    1. Yes, if you become a commercial then you will become as annoying as your least favorite commercial on TV. People that dont want to hurt your feelings will hide you on Facebook. You will still be friends but they will no longer see your repeat commercial. People that dont care will just unfriend you or stop following you all together.
      People like behind the scenes photos. I show progress of pieces as well as asking my followers to assist in the process like asking what color the shirt or dress should be in the painting. People like to know that you value their opinion. It makes them feel like part of the process. Also, throw in some random stuff like what you did today that doesn’t involve your business. This lets people see that you are real. Transparency is in.
      Social media marketing works well for me. I hope these tips help.
      P.S. Thanks to Jason for giving us this forum.

  7. I find Instagram to be the most effective social media outlet. For the purpose of authenticity, I do not follow people just because they follow me. I would rather people follow me because they’re interested in my work, not because they want me to follow them back ~ and vice-versa. Instead, my goal is to have a more engaged audience, i.e., a higher percentage of likes per post. I primarily follow galleries who represent my work and who I think might be interested in my work, organizations that support my brand, and close friends. Over the last couple years, I’ve noticed a lot of my buyers are healers to some degree ~ social workers, psychotherapists, life coaches, yoga instructors, etc. ~ so sometimes I go on IG and seek out life coaches, for example, and like *several* of their posts at once so it shows up in their feed (but sincerely ~ not just the most recent ones), and I try to leave a thoughtful comment or two. I will also read the comments of their followers and heart those comments, which then notifies those individuals. I figure, if they are interested in this person, they might also be interested in the type of art I do. It gets people’s attention, and this can result in followers, reposts, and sales. Playing with hashtags is also key on IG. I am still learning which ones are most effective.

  8. Facebook is in business to make money. And who can blame them. But that fact impacts one’s ability to sell there. FB expects you to sell through business pages, not personal pages. The problem with that is people tend to friend personal pages, rather than like business pages.

    I am a glass sculptor. When I post something on my personal page, it gets hundreds of likes. When I post the same thing on my business page, often only 20 people even see it! If I want more views, I have to pay FB to boost the post. I know artists who have tried to post things for sale on their personal page only to have FB take their page down and require them to open business pages.

    There are groups on FB where you can sell or auction your work. That seems to work well for some people I know. I’ve tried that a bit and found my posts were buried by more prolific artists.

    I guess the formula for success is different for each of us.

Leave a Reply

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