Discussion: What do you Feel is the Best Social Media Platform for Marketing Your Art?

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.

The Platforms

Facebook

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.

Advantages

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.

Disadvantages

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.

YouTube

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.

Advantages

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.

Disadvantages

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

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.

Advantages

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.

Disadvantages

Instagram skews toward younger users, a demographic that doesn’t match up to slightly older art-buying demographics.

 

Twitter

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].

Advantages

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

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.

 

Linkedin

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.

Snapchat

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+

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.

 

The Others

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.

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20 Comments

  1. I”m active on Facebook and have nearly 2600 followers as of today — built up over years of diligently posting, boosting, inviting, and engaging those who see my (business) page. I’ve sold paintings this way, and gotten commissions as well. My Facebook posts often go to Instagram as well, but that hasn’t yielded anything so far.

  2. I would definitely say Instagram is the place to be. There are several high rollers that I follow that sell very consistently. It’s advantageous to be able to attract 10k or more followers as there are more incentives provided. Just for fun check out @wendylmcwilliamsart or @betty.krause.art to see what I mean.

  3. Facebook has been by far my best social media outlet for selling art, even though my following is not large. In the past, artwork priced at less than $400 is what sold. However, last week I sold a painting priced at over $700–in the middle of the pandemic. I have more followers on Instagram than Facebook, but have never made a sale there. However, local residents I “met” over Instagram have attended some of my studio events and engaged in recent online events as well, so I have seen modest results.Yes, many are abandoning Facebook or curtailing their use of it. At this moment, though, I’ll continue and possibly step up my Facebook activities.

  4. I don’t claim to be a social media guru. I’ve been on Facebook since 2006, but didn’t add my art business page until 2018. I am also on Instagram and have only been using that platform less than a year. All of my art sales have been generated from FB and nothing from Instagram even though the number of followers are relatively the same – around 250. In the last month, I’ve had three art sales on FB totaling $3200, my biggest month ever on social media, so I plan on continuing to work that but I’m still learning how to generate followers. I get more interaction from followers on FB, which has been good.

    I also have a Pinterest account that I’ve been posting my paintings on since 2009 and I’ve never generated a single sale from that. And as for LinkedIn, I also have a page there, but I seem to get bombarded with people that want to sell me something. Overall, I hate social media, but I stay active on FB and Instagram because it’s good for business, and I know that’s how people like to interact today. For me it’s one of those things you have a love/hate relationship with. I recently read a post that a young person made about Facebook and Instagram. She preferred Instagram over Facebook because everything on it was positive and upbeat. She felt Facebook represented a lot of anger and meanness. That was pretty profound.

  5. Facebook has been a good SM selling platform for me – even for paintings over $1000 – however, I’ve never paid for advertising / boosted posts (it’s my little one-person campaign against the big guys squeezing money out of the little guys). This means I have to be increasingly creative with my wording to bypass the FB algorithms – they effectively hide posts that are selling something without paying for advertising.

    Pinterest used to be one of my most successful SM platforms, especially by linking directly to my Etsy shop or website shop, however, I’ve had so many images stolen off it (even watermarked and lo res images) that I’m hesitant to post new work. Would be interested to know if others have had the same thing happen.

    Instagram just hasn’t done it for me as far as selling original artwork (I’m a bit too scattered in posting). It has, however, drummed up image licensing sales.

    1. I only obtained a Facebook business page a year or so ago. I have lots of followers ( a HUGE spike since the pandemic) but no generated sales. I plan on resurrecting my blog on my website and providing a link on Facebook. Years ago I sat down every Friday night and wrote my blog . That idea needs revisiting.

  6. Facebook is still working fine for us at Shalawalla Gallery. Our sales have gone up thru the CV pandemic although I don’t know yet if this is sympathy buying, frustrated consumerism or the Way of the Future…..

  7. I create a lot of content for Instagram that repopulates on my Faebook page. I’ve had a couple sales through Facebook, but given my follower numbers (5000+) I consider it not very active. I now have about 8,500 Instagram followers and I’ve definitely directed a lot of traffic to my etsy shop through Instagram. I’ve also developed a following a people wanting to take classes from me through it. I also have a Pinterest page, and spend very little time on it. My etsy analytics show, though, a lot of my etsy traffic is from Pinterest, so it’s something I need to devote more time to in the future. I’ve now finally connected my Instagram to Pinterest to repopulate my posts there. I do find social media helpful for sales, and building a community, but it’s a lot of work and a real time commitment. But I consider it, at the end of the day, a form of necessary marketing.

    1. I have the same experience – I don’t spend much time on Pinterest, but I keep it active because it drives people to my Etsy page.

      I have almost 1000 followers on Instagram, less than 300 on Facebook; so far, I don’t believe I have gotten any sales from social media.

  8. I’ve sold work on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Most recently, I sold a $5,000 sculpture on Instagram and a $3,800 sculpture on Pinterest, the first two sales from each of those platforms. On all of the social media platforms, though, there’s a lot to be said for consistent posting. For all the talk about needing to be new, different and fresh, posting consistently on these platforms seems to be helpful. Finally, I have a very active YouTube channel. I don’t try to sell from it, but I do believe Google, which owns YouTube (the world’s 1st and 2nd biggest search engines), gives me “love” for searches. As for dealing with comments there, I am careful to respond to everyone – which is best on all social media platforms – and have built a great community that usually takes care of “trolls” for me.

  9. I haven’t sold yet on either Facebook or Instagram. I used to have 2 galleries before social media was big but both closed over the years. Social media would have been a great tool to combine with the galleries but at this point I feel like I’m starting over, trying to gain a new audience. I was successful with those galleries so it’s not a question of work quality, I just feel it hard to establish a reputation on Facebook and Instagram where you can sell at a descent price ($500 to $2000 range). It may take longer than I expect.

  10. I have found advantages of Facebook /Facebook business pages to be balanced by Facebook limiting & censoring who gets to see my posts. Recent boosts that went out to xxx people seemed to hit the same people repeatedly…. friends reported seeing the same ad day after day. I did a test and while my post was supposed to go to up to 20,000 facebook users across 5 states, my test account received 6 of them.

  11. I am quite active on my personal Facebook page and active but less so on Instagram. From my Google Analytics statistics, around 25% of traffic to my website comes from all Social Media channels. Of which 80% of it comes from Facebook, ~12% from Instagram and the rest from others including LinkedIn

    Interestingly, Instagram visitors spend 4x more time on my website than Facebook for example. So if we multiply visitors times time they spend browsing the website, Instagram is quite valuable. So I am increasing my Instagram presence. Also, it seems to be much easier to acquire new followers on Instagram than on Facebook.

  12. I use Instagram and Facebook (my personal account as my business, I only post art related things on there.) Instagram is fine, to get the work out there, but the sales I have made through social media have been through Facebook. And they have been pretty good. I use my Facebook posts to drive people to my website using a direct link in the post. I also post my work occasionally on sites that fit my work or the topic in the post. For example a Route 66 site, retro sites promoting old landmarks, and some sports sites, for some of the topics of my work. You need to be careful posting there, I just don’t put a direct link to my site and people are usually fine with it. People end up finding me anyway.

  13. Unfortunately, I am finding more and more people are unplugging from social media. Maybe that trend that I have experienced is put on hold during the pandemic where it has become easy entertainment.

    1. While it is true that there is a movement of people who are escaping social media, we continue finding success in our social media marketing efforts. It’s not a matter of being able to get everyone, it’s about getting our artwork in front of a small group of the right people. As long as we can do that, it’s worth it to continue marketing through social media. In April we had over $9,000 in sales that we can attribute directly to social media marketing.

  14. During the lock down I stepped back from selling and focused more on establishing a brand on Facebook. I painted a coffee angel every day – These angels were not your typical angels with long limbs and flowing lock – they represented everyday people facing everyday struggles. I would add a quote, note or amusing anecdote to the coffee painting and post them every day on Facebook. Not just on my pages but on lots of large groups. This strategy has gained me a following – people were eager to see the angel of the day and it has also generated lots of sales ( although selling was not my focus during the pandemic) I published my coffee angels in a book ( available on Amazon) and because of the daily posts that too is doing well – I have never advertised on Facebook but I do generate lots of sales and commission from there. Since all my art shows were cancelled it has been my main source of income

  15. I have sold several paintings on Facebook but then, have been a member
    for about 4-5 years or so. I just feel that, according to the ‘Reply’ feature
    when I post a painting, the viewers are mostly all artists as well and I guess
    they don’t want to buy another artist’s work ! They can probably paint something
    similar themselves. It seems to me just to be more of a ‘show and tell’ media.

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