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