How to Get Collectors To Follow You on Social Media

Over the last few posts, and throughout the comments on those posts, we’ve seen that, while it may not be easy, artists are selling art through social media. Through careful curation of their posts, and active engagement with their followers, these artists have built business on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms.

Beyond the difficulties that come in managing a social media account, one of the most common challenges I heard while researching these posts was “How do I get collectors to follow me on social media?” Additionally, I heard a lot of you say that it’s challenging to get anyone other than artists to follow your social media accounts.

Now, let me be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having artists follow you on social media. Artists can very easily become customers, but, equally important, you will benefit from the network effect by having as many followers as possible.

But, I do understand the desire to have well-qualified potential art collectors following your social media account as well. Not only can this lead directly to sales, social media can also be a great way to create deeper relationships with buyers and keep you on their radar.

So how can you get them to follow you?

First, let me say that it’s not going to be easy. Some of your potential clients aren’t even on social media, although this is pretty rare now. The Pew Research Center finds that nearly eight in ten Americans are on Facebook (http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/). That’s an incredible level of participation, and it means that almost all of your current and future clients are on at least one social media platform. Just because they are on social media, however, doesn’t mean they are active users, and it also doesn’t mean they are going to accept a friend request or follow your page.

They key to building a successful social media following, it seems, is not to rely on everyone who buys or sees your work following you, rather, it’s to consistently give them all the opportunity to do so.

When I asked artist Faith Rumm, from Mariposa, California how she gets social media followers, she replied

I would like to say a lifetime of being nice to people, but also I spent about a year posting art on fb hiking forums, as my work is about wilderness back-country. People have friended me after seeing my art on the forums. (I haven’t posted on the forums for at least a year.) Also, when I have events at my studio I collect info from visitors and friend them.

There are two important keys here. The first is in the last sentence. Just as it is important to collect email addresses at live events, taking the next step and “friending” those contacts or inviting them to follow your social media pages is a vital way to build a following. This means that you have to have a good system in place to collect contact information, and that you need to be 100% consistent in inviting your contacts to become social media followers.

Not everyone you invite is going to become a follower, but some percentage will. It’s your persistence and consistency in inviting that will lead to a strong follower base.

The other key that Faith mentions is creating other online activity that leads to your social media pages. Faith posted in forums, which can be a great way to reach people with similar interests. In my podcast interview with Robert MacGinnis last week, he also mentioned this as a good way to attract followers.

MacGinnis also mentioned another way to get followers that I feel is brilliant, and that is through your interactions with your current followers. Robert said, for example, that he always posts birthday wishes to his followers, and when he does so he includes an image of a painting and tags the follower. MacGinnis is always careful to make sure that his birthday wishes are sincere and thoughtful. The follower’s friends, who are also wishing their friend a happy birthday, are likely to see Robert’s post, and may then click over to Robert’s profile and also become followers.

You’ll want to be careful not to overdo this kind of cross-posting on any one follower’s account, but by posting to followers you can take advantage of the powerful network effect of social media.

Another key to obtaining qualified followers is to use social media advertising, but I’m going to address this aspect of social media marketing in another post.

What Have You Done to Encourage Art Collectors to Follow You on Social Media?

How have you obtained qualified followers? What would you advise other artist who want to build a social media following to try? Share both what has worked, and what hasn’t, and what you’ve learned along the way in the comments below.

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29 Comments

  1. This is fascinating. I dislike being online any more than absolutely necessary and while I have Facebook I rarely go there. You’re giving me some solid reasons to waste – er, I mean Spend 😆 – time and effort there. What I really appreciate though, are the real life examples of How to do it. Thank you (and Robert and Faith ) very much!

  2. I find it easier to post on instagram then cross post to facebook and the same with my blog….but again maybe that’s why I’m not making a living from selling on facebook 🙂

  3. I am working with a social media expert to tune my strategy, mostly focused on FB and Instagram. We treat it as advertising and want it to result in visits to my gallery and studio.

    I am compelled to add that I dislike being wished happy birthday by anyone outside my family and close friends- it is clearly just a marketing ploy and as such quite insincere!

    1. Priscilla, while I understand what you are saying about being wished a happy birthday by non-friends and family, I also would like you to understand that we do not have to know you beyond our social media contact with you- to genuinely and sincerely wish you a happy day, indeed the best of birthdays. In fact, why would we NOT wish you a happy birthday, when you so kindly send us your pictures and art info?!

  4. I take pictures everyday using instagram and cross post them to both my personal facebook page and twitter. I then choose which to share to my business facebook page. I watch my analytics on twitter and have found that most of my followers there are using computers, not mobile devices, so they are sitting somewhere looking for the tags I use. I don’t have many followers, I’m letting it grow organically, but have made sales from my instagram and facebook posts, sometimes in the middle of a piece, before it is even complete. Some pieces have led to commissions of other works that are similar.

  5. I Prefer Instagram. I have twitter but don’t really use it. Recently I have FB just for friends I think you can link them all but have to look into it. I enjoy connecting with Artists mostly and things I enjoy. To get followers they have give aways they have you tag friends then pick the winner and send the art. Also they may post a for sale (EX) at time date and what they are selling first come first serve on a direct message. As far as galleries If I like the art I comment and I have gotten a few nice galleries following back. Some artist have a routine they post everyday same time etc.In my opinion Instagram is great for artists.

  6. I would say that 75% of my commission work and 10% 0f the sale of my original work comes from my business page on FB . I have grown it organically through the years… the best advice I can give is be genuine…I really care about the people on my page. I respond to every comment and share as I truly am grateful for their comments on my work. I will a lot of times friend them on my personal page as well…and there I do wish them a happy birthday and comment on their posts. I think it’s the personal touch that keeps people around, referring me and buying.

    1. Very much agree with your honest approach. Deliberately trying to get followers and sales is fine but honest engagement with people has more integrity and will have people really wanting to know more about you and your work . It is after all a relationship.

  7. I started using Instagram in addition to FB a few months back and like it because it has less “noise”. I always link it to my FB page, personal page at this time. I am a figurative sculptor focusing on athletic images with a message. I sculpt in water base clay and sell my originals in the $2,000 price range. I have yet to sell any of my piece over the internet…

  8. I have had many sales via Facebook though I wouldn’t rely on it as the only way of marketing, and I would say it’s a long process. I also use instagram and twitter (though twitter is basically an automated cross post of whatever I post on my facebook art page . I usually post work in progress photos of stuff I am working on, I also post photos and videos of shows as I am installing them.

    One really successful series of posts was when I was working on a large public art project last summer and I posted photos and videos of it as it was progressing and people seemed to really like that as I got a lot of feedback.

    Whenever I finish a painting I post it to my art page as well as cross post to my personal page, various facebook art groups etc. I also use the platform to try and get people to come out to see a show if they are in the area but for those that are not I’ll post videos and photos from the show. I will also post photos of art installed in people’s homes (I get their permission first) to help give people ideas of how my work could look in their home. It’s a long slow process. I also collect people’s info at open studio tours etc and try and friend buyers when possible.

    I’ve been doing a lot on instagram as well that I crosspost to Facebook though I have only had one small sale via Instagram so far (though I have been getting followed by some good galleries so I am hoping I can network with some of them in the future possibly. We’ll have to see….)

  9. As an emerging artist, I have started actively posting on FB within the last year and I am slowly growing my customer base. I have found that it is important to have a presence on social media. Keeping my FB page up to date encourages collectors to find me when they are ready to purchase. I have had customers specifically come to a show to see the new designs that are available. Set aside targeted time to spend on your FB Business page each week to minimize distractions and time-wasting activities. And have fun!

  10. This is a great article, and addresses an issue i am constantly asking myself. Thanks! I have made albeit inconsistent sales over facebook and instagram, but have done little to grow my following base simply because i never knew where to start. I am tempted to use the birthday technique, at least with closer friends. Perhaps if I drew a piece specifically birthday/party related it would seem more genuine. Any thoughts on that idea? I too am weary of being too bold or “schemey”

  11. I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts on social media advertising, as just about everything I’ve been reading about Facebook, at least, suggests that their “boost post” programs and other ads are not a good plan for artists.

    How true this is, I have no idea.

    I do know I often sell small works and get commissions because I post to my business account and then share those posts to my personal page — having found that if it’s only on my business page, almost nobody sees the post. FB is making it harder and harder to get seen without paying, and I don’t think I’d mind so much if I thought the advertising worked. Thus far I haven’t spoken with any artists for whom it was effective. What does seem to be effective is stories — either the story of a single work in progress, or a “story” formed by a series of works that relate to each other.

  12. I will admit I’m not exploiting social media to its full potential. But it has been my experience patrons follow me AFTER they buy a piece … totally backwards from the premise of creating followers who will eventually become customers.
    They see my work, buy, are enthused enough to continue the relationship, and subsequent sales simply follow the first … social media had zero to do with it except “Oh, look what she’s painting now. Let’s ask to see it when it’s finished.” Sometimes I substitute that with an email to make buyers aware of a new piece. The advantage of a FB business page is they can look if they want or not without any interaction. Am I missing sales opportunities? Possibly … but I consider it more respect for one’s privacy.
    The main disadvantage of FB advertising is blanket coverage to any and all … you can narrow your demographic by distance, age, etc., but that is not focused advertising. Collectors and patrons are too few to assume just because they’re within driving distance of your studio or gallery.
    I prefer a quieter FB presence with friends and family and keep my professional life separate. Purposely. It appears to me those who are successful with FB sales work really hard to make it work for them.

  13. This may sound like a silly question…..coming from an artist who regularly posts to FB and Instagram. Your article refered to an artist who posted to a hiking forum. What exactly do you mean by “Forum”? Are you referring to blogs?

        1. Jason, I went to another FB page that had images. Since I will be going to Myrtle Bch, SC for an art show in Sept, I looked up Myrtle Beach Art Lovers. There were many images of Myrtle Bch and things in Myrtle Bch, but none of the images shouted, I am an artist/ photographer here’s my name and my images. If you like the images call me for reprints or images of a specific place in Myrtle Bch.
          Is this what you mean or am I missing the mark? I know that you don’t join a group and immediately start marketing/ selling. I too am a member of different FB groups, but the people that friend me are other photographers/ artist that love my images, but don’t plan to buy.

  14. I am having a lot of success selling my artwork on Facebook! Whether we like it or not, social media is the current method of being able to connect with people that we otherwise would never be able to! Take advantage of it & embrace it, it is not going to go away any time soon…

    1. Hi Terry Horton. I wanted to see your website, but can’t see it from the huge Subscribe form that I just can’t get rid of. I too want to be a success selling and wanted to see how you did it.

  15. Do you accept friend requests from people you don’t know? What about when they are mutual friends of someone you know? Arlene

  16. I am an emerging artist who uses both FB and IG. I’m new to Instagram and still trying to learn that platform (what is a story and how do you make one?). I’ve been on FB for quite awhile. About half my friends are artists. I find that artists buy as much as my other friends. I am working on building a FB business page even though I hear it doesn’t always bring sales. Sometimes you have to put your toes in the water to see if it’s right for you. Social media offers a lot of exposure. I enjoy building relationships with people there even if we never will meet in person. But some I have met from all over the USA at workshops or learn of other artists I might want to follow. It does take a lot of time to keep up with them, though. I also think social media is a huge part of the next generations’ way to make contact. Art can reach across age, location, etc. Social Media helps that happen.

  17. Jason,
    Always enjoy reading these, but first time to post a question. I use social media regularly but seldom try to sell work through those channels. Occasionally it happens organically through a post where a client will reach out about purchasing, but here is my question. I have gallery representation in several states and I’ve always had difficulties with my galleries being upset if I sell through a channel such as instagram (eric_breish_art), essentially cutting them out or underselling them through those channels. I always keep my prices consistent, but they still seem to have a problem with me using those channels to sell work outside of the gallery. I’m curious what your opinion is on this since you are a gallery owner but also put out content like this for artists to follow. You seem to be more progressive than other gallery owners so I’m looking forward to your response. Thank you in advance.

  18. No one has discussed how to handle payment if you sell a piece on Facebook or other social media. I had a problem with this when I was selling paintings on my website. My website no longer exists . I am considering if I could do with using Facebook instead of creating. A new website.

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