Marketing Art on Facebook – Should Artists Use Their Personal Profile or Create a Facebook Page?

As I’ve been researching and writing about marketing through social media over the last couple of weeks, it appears that there is a strong sense that Facebook is the best social platform for marketing and generating sales. I’ve conversed with artists who are generating a large portion of their income through Facebook sales, and many have commented on their experiences, successes and challenges using Facebook to market their work.

A frequent question that has come up is whether artists should share art on Facebook using their personal profile account, or whether it is necessary to set up a Facebook Business Page.

Many of you are aware of the difference between the two, but for those who aren’t, let’s briefly explore both options. Put simply, Facebook created two different kinds of accounts in order to allow businesses to interact with regular users on their platform.

In the early days of Facebook, business owners would set up a personal account and then begin advertising their businesses by posting through that account. There were several problems with this – the first being that users quickly became annoyed when their newsfeeds became clogged with ads from “friends” who were advertising their businesses. The other big problem was that Facebook couldn’t charge businesses when they advertised this way, since it had no way to distinguish between a promotional post and baby pictures.

Thus, the business page was born. Facebook created these accounts to allow business to set up a profile for the business itself. A business page allowed businesses to more accurately display information about their businesses, and it also allowed them to tap into the nascent advertising platform that was being built into Facebook.

Business pages were different than personal profiles in a number of important ways. When setting up a page, businesses could list important details, like their address, hours of operation, and other business details. Pages also made it possible for business owners to provide access to the administration features of the page to employees to help them manage the page.

Unlike personal profiles, where a Facebook user gains access to their friends’ posts when they “friend” each other, users who follow a business will see the business’ posts, but the business won’t see their followers’ posts. In other words, communication between a user and a business on Facebook only goes in one direction.

And this, it would seem, is the major drawback for an artist who would like to market her or his work on Facebook through a business page. Artists I’ve talked to, feel that one of the most important aspects of their ability to market their work on Facebook is their ability to interact with their followers directly. A Facebook friendship with a potential client provides much more opportunity to do so. If you are using your personal profile to share your art, and your potential collectors are creating friendships with you, not only will they see your art and personal posts, but you will see their posts as well.

This kind of access to one another provides major advantages for interaction, though it bears mentioning that some of your potential buyers might not wish you to have such intimate access to them. For those who are willing to accept a friend request, however, that access can be incredibly valuable if you respect the relationship and are careful about what you post and how you interact.

So Which Should You Use?

So, should an artist use their personal profile or a business page to market their artwork? It’s not an easy question to answer.

Because I think of what you do in marketing and selling your work as a business that is wholly seperate from your personal life, and because I want to offer the best professional practices, the easy answer would be that an artist should set up a business page. I suspect that if you could talk directly to Facebook, they would recommend the same.

They would point out that there are disadvantages to using your personal profile to share your art. For example, you may only have a total of 5000 friends on your personal profile. That seems like a large number, but if you become moderately famous for your art, you will be surprised how quickly you reach the 5,000 friend limit.

It’s also important to note that Facebook has a strict prohibition on representing a business through a personal profile. Their terms of service are very clear on this account, and their website states:

It’s against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (example: your business), and you could permanently lose access to your account if you don’t convert it to a Page. (https://www.facebook.com/help/201994686510247)

So, for example, if I were to try to represent Xanadu Gallery through my personal profile and were to begin trying to sell art to my friends, I could run afoul of their terms of service and have my account shut down completely. I have heard second-hand anecdotes about artist having this happen to them because a “friend” reported them trying to conduct business through their personal page.

It’s also arguable that being able to access Facebook’s excellent advertising tools and thus present your artwork to completely new potential collectors is another factor in favor of using a business page for marketing your art.

Having laid out those arguments, however, my research over the last couple of weeks, and the comments that I’m seeing, lead me to believe that the artists who are seeing the most success on Facebook are doing so by leveraging personal accounts, not business pages. The two-way interaction seems to be the secret sauce for these artists.

Looking back at the warning from Facebook that your account might be shut down for using a personal account to represent something other than yourself, it seems arguable that an artist is a special case. As an artist, your art business is an integral part of yourself. Arguably, unless you’ve set up a corporation or LLC, you aren’t representing something other than yourself.

Those arguments may not fly with Facebook if they decide you are breaking their terms of service, and so there is a level of risk involved in posting your art through your personal profile. If Facebook decides to ban you, it can be very, very difficult to appeal their decision.

With that said, there also seems to be a large advantage to posting through a personal profile. Only you can decide if the benefit outweigh’s the risk.

Be Cautious About Your Posts

If you are sharing your art and building relationships with potential customers through your personal page, some cautions are in order.

First, you have to realize that everything you post is potentially going to show up in your customers’ newsfeeds. This means that you need to be aware that, in addition to your art showing up, your post on your recent meal, or problem you are having with your car, will also show up. This can help make you more real and deepen the relationship with some clients, but it can also be off-putting if you’re not careful.

In his interview last week, Robert MacGinnis wisely warned that it’s important to be careful about what you post.

After I got going the Facebook I made a few rules for myself. They are: 1. Do not talk about politics or religion. 2. Do not use inappropriate language. 3. Do not talk about my troubles, illnesses or any negativity. I had to add one later on, *don’t take off my shirt! On a hot summer day I innocently posted a photograph from the sternum up without a shirt and it caused more of a sensation that I wanted. I knew I was in trouble when I got reprimanded by my daughter.

Do You Share Your Art on Your Personal Profile, or Have You Set Up a Business Page?

How are you sharing your art through Facebook? Have you set up a business page? Why or why not? If you are posting through your personal profile, what advantages do you see? Have you run into any problems with your personal profile? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

 

 

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32 Comments

  1. I have 2 pages, one for me and one for my teaching studio. I often post photos of my flameworked glass sculptures on my personal page, but I NEVER post prices or sales-related information. If my “friends” want something I’ve posted, we typically use Messenger.

    Facebook has complex algorithms that significantly impact what people see. In my experience, things posted on personal pages gets lots more views. FB wants business pages to pay them to promo business posts. I haven’t found that cost-effective.

    Another alternative is to post something on your business page, sign in as yourself, and share your business post to your personal page. Helps a bit, but I don’t think shared from business pages get as much visibility as frolicking kittens. 😞
    It’s a

  2. I use both a FB business page and my personal FB profile. I show paintings and awards on my personal profile along with the occasional “activity” pic. Those activity pics can go along way towards enhancing an artists brand. I use the business page to advertise exhibitions I am included in, workshops and classes, etc. But all in all, FB is just one small piece of the puzzle.

    1. Thanks for sharing this info, Robert. How much does a FB business page cost per month? I have a limited income at present and need to look at all my options for spending on marketing.

      1. It’s free. But they are always asking you to promote your Page. I haven’t done that yet but I think it would be a good idea at some point.

  3. I have both as well. My personal page generates more sales. I share our adventures, granddaughters as well and folks who have friended me for my work get to know me better.

  4. Vicki is correct in her thinking and approach using both business pages and her personal timeline. I usually add an additional element by sharing a page or blog post from my website to my business page and then share that to my timeline. I’m not sure how many viewers actually read the blog post or web page (from FB) but the FB algorithm has never tagged me for any illegal use. I never mention prices, sizes, or use language relating to a sale or offer in the FB text areas but have that wording on my web page/blog post.

    I have done a few promotions through paid FB advertising but I have nothing to show for it.

  5. I have both pages as well. I keep my business page strictly art and my personal page is actually both. I share my artwork on my personal page but don’t post prices or write an ad of any sorts. I have sold that way but the buyer contacts me and we take it off facebook to complete the deal via private message or private email or phone.

    I have only done one ad and got a bunch of new followers but no sales directly related to that boost yet. I am still trying to figure this whole thing out from the business side. I’d to know how much money one has to invest to make it successful as in how many ads or frequency etc. And is it cost effective in the long run.

  6. Like so many above I have both a business and personal page. Many of the posts I place on my business page I share to my personal page because they get seen by more and generate more engagement. By sharing from the business page i can see insights within my business of the resulting likes and comments from both. I never include prices in my posts but talk mire about the story behind it or the exhibition it’s in. Purchases are generally through DM or I move them to email.

  7. Well, I guess I’m the oddball. I only use a personal facebook page. And I have never had anything but positive comments on my work that I post when the piece sells through a gallery. I never post a painting as ‘for sale’ but I will post a new painting that is fresh off the easel for folks to see. I have made several sales through private messages. But I also include these posts of my work among personal thoughts and political posts because, well, that’s who I am and if an admirer of my work or a potential buyer is turned off because I post about puppy mills or an insane politician, too bad for them. It’s facebook.

  8. I have both pages. I start a post on my business page and share it to my personal pages. I found that several of my friends also share it the nice thing about the business page is that it gives you tools to see how a post is trending. I use to post the prices but have stopped doing that just media and size. I really haven’t had any sales through Facebook in the last few years but I had a couple of sales to early childhood friends years ago. I like the feedback on an art piece with the number of likes and comments indicating how popular a piece might be. I think an artist could probably do well selling on Facebook if they are priced below $500 anything above that usually needs to be seen in person to close a sale.

  9. I have both a Page and a Timeline / Profile. There is some intersection because I am an artist – that’s part of me as a human being. I also have a Pinterest business account which I am not using nearly as much or effectively as I should and I have an Instagram account which I am not yet using at all (even though I’m told it’s likely to replace Fb as a popular goto platform for artists).

    Given where I am in my career (practice?) it is too early to say how effective Fb in any form is or will be.

  10. I am my art and so my art is me. I always posted, on a personal FB page, what I was doing in terms of paintings. I never mentioned sales nor selling unless I was asked in a private message. With that said, I did sell. However because I find the practices of FB morally repugnant, I have closed down my FB account. Selling is a little harder but my life is a little better. I have more time to paint, get on with art and sell in other ways.

  11. Like others, I have both pages but don’t post prices on either. I use the business page strictly for posting my work and related things but on my personal page I do both and am not sure what I’m doing but tend to interact with customers through messenger at first then move to texts and emails if they are buying. I’ve sold more this way than any other on social media. I post prices on my website.

  12. I use both. I don’t put much personal stuff on Facebook– just enough to let people know I’m a real person. Lots of times I’ll leave personal posts up only a couple days. And I don’t ever put my problems on it. I don’t post anything “for sale” with a price on it, although I will put the link to it on the business page, or sometimes in the comments. I just put the art out there using both pages. People enjoy the art, and I feel good about putting positive, fun content on Facebook.

  13. This was a very helpful and informative discussion— thank you to everyone! I have posted work from time to time, but just posted information about a coming show at a gallery. No prices, just images and titles. I only have a personal page, but have been thinking about a business page. I feel that art comes from the soul and it is intrinsically linked to the person.

  14. I use both and since I run a retail business as well I advise my customers that I have 2 FB pages and that they are both business oriented (no food, no pets) but sometimes I share items of broader interest on my personal page, such as information on transhumance or silk weaving. My business page runs on my website so I keep it relevant to what I do and sell w/o using prices. I suggest Messenger for that. I really don’t worry about which attracts and keeps more viewers but I am sure there is a difference but so is there interest level.

  15. I have a personal page, with a public group page off-shoot for my art interests. The group page acts pretty much like a business page. I’ve read that group pages are not business pages, but they sure seem like it to me, yet more connected and less complicated. I can boost posts, I can add a ‘buy now’ button that links to my web page or they can message me for more information, and I get insights and statistics too. I post separate messages and have different friends list for the two pages. I can invite any of my friends or some of them to my group page. On my personal page, if I get a friend request from an unknown person or artist, I can add them to a restricted list that will allow them to only see public postings. In this way I can post personal things to only family and friends, and more general – less sensitive posts or events for the public view, including art related work or events.

    I struggle with the avoidance of politics and religious posts. On one hand I feel that if it’s an important part of my artistic inspiration, I should include it, knowing full well that will limit my audience. I will contemplate that and decide how best to share my inspirations or posts making sure that I’m not offending anyone or being an extremist. I approach both my personal page and group page as if I were at a family picnic or public table.

  16. I also have both a personal and business pages. I have yet to really post anything to my business page. One thing I do is classify each new friend as a friend or acquaintance and when I post decide who I want it visible for. Acquaintances are people I really do not know. All art posts I make visible to everyone. I delete anyone who makes a lot of political posts because I never know what mood I’ll be in when I see it, taking away the temptation to engage, which is not good as far as my experience has been. I’ve found no one really appreciates your point of view unless they agree with it.
    In the end Facebook is generally free, so it is silly not to use it. I have sold and purchased many paintings through Facebook.

    1. “…no one really appreciates your point of view unless they agree with it.” So true. Do you mind if I add it to my list of quotes? You will be acknowledged as the author of course. My collection has been going on for over 15 years (about 300 pages with approx. 25 quotes per page.) I have published several ebooks on Amazon (but not yet the book of quotes…. it’s an ongoing work of wisdoms). I am a ceramic artist and college teacher. You can learn more and see some of my work on my website: Palul.com. Thanks for the wisdom Kathy. -Palul

  17. All the above volunteered information from the blog and artist’s comments is much appreciated. I know several artists who share their work on their personal Fcbk sites, sales or prices are not shared there. I should query them as to whether they have experienced sales and find this a good marketing tool.
    A question I have (that I don’t see mentioned) is online plagiarism of one’s art. Since I see – and hear of – numerous accounts of copying/borrowing 2D art on Fcbk and Pinterest, I have to wonder. My printer tells me that even a copyright mark over a photo can be edited out. Do I want to see my work under another artist’s name? Anyone have experience or comments regarding this?

  18. I originally got a FB account to promote my artwork, but then discovered that it is a wonderful tool to stay in touch with far away friends and family, as well as to meet old friends from my past. That sent me into a quandary: I still want to promote my work, and my ‘friends’ also seem to enjoy when I do so. I have made several sales because these friends saw my work on FB. On the other hand, I do get a LOT of friend requests, most of which I deny, because I only have so much time to spend on the platform and am not at all interested in what they had for dinner! I am now posting more to IG, and use Pinterest every time I upload new work to my website. I do get a lot of traction on Pinterest, but no sales that I know of. Quite funny when I see someone pin one of my paintings to their board called “Paintings to try”!

  19. Regarding plagiarism or just theft of images posted on Facebook, not only do I put my copyright mark, I only post low rez images that would be of little use to a would-be thief or plagiarist. If you post an image of a painting or photo that is only 1000 pixels wide, not likely to be of any commercial use to anyone beyond posting on a webpage. Hard to keep that from happening but if any dispute arises as to ownership, only I have the original hi rez image. Have not run into any trouble beyond an occasional “unauthorized” online use of a photograph.

  20. I only have a personal page… I don’t use FB to market my work – it’s purely social – however those people who are interested in my art, still follow me… It’s more personal, about me and my life – and more about the ‘brand’ with personal art posts few and far between… I use Instagram purely for marketing and promoting art… I also find Pinterest very good – and have had a few international sales from it….

  21. Very good discussion. I use both. I use my business page Cheryl Peters – Artist as a kind of blog and to display my work. I also reference my website. CherylPetersArtist.com. I often Share my business post on my personal page. That way I think I get maximum exposure.

  22. This a very timely blog posting and all the comments are helpful. I have both personal and business pages. A few of the comments allude to posting to both pages. It takes time to create posts for both.
    Here’s a time saver: I can post to my Instagram business page and to my Facebook business page with one click.
    Has anyone figured if it is possible to post from their FB Business page to their FB Personal page?? I don’t think it is possible. If anyone knows how, I’d be so grateful to hear form you! THANKS!

  23. As a representative of several artists, as well as being an art and design consultant, I have had my business under my personal name for many years without being “brick and mortar”. Friends are clients and clients become friends. That said, I post art on FB and IG from my artists with name, title, medium, size, and a code for the pricing that gives me a quick reference when asked, but is not known by the general public. My reasons for that are that sometimes artists change their prices, and also someone purchasing a painting might not want everyone to know what they paid. I show a few family shots occasionally, and travel photos since that pertains to what I do. My website clarifies my business. I personally find it confusing to receive posts from someones business and personal FB page, but that is just me, but for a brick and mortar gallery/shop I think it would be necessary. I also see that Instagram is a great tool to reach an audience beyond my “group”. I am just one source for my artists to sell from, as they are also in galleries with some of their other works. I can see where an artist gets so frustrated trying to do it all, so I do some of it for them. My commission is lower than a gallery, and I keep art in my home office, so no walk by customers – only by appt. or online, plus I go out to their homes or offices. This is just one of many ways to work the business, but I enjoy reading your posts and artists comments. It’s hard being an artist in these times, I think!

  24. I think you need both now. I had just a personal page for a long time, and it did help to promote my work but it is better to be able to share posts from your business to your personal. A business page also sends you reminders if you have not posted in a while. And I as was getting tired of looking at fellow artists promoting themselves on their personal pages, just seemed a bit un-cool.

  25. Thanks for the tips! I have both a business page and a personal page but have wondered what is best. I also started a facebook “group” through my business page to encourage personal relationships of customers and folks who are interested in my work. It’s a lot to keep track of. Seems like we are driven to wear so many hats now. The challenge is getting in the studio and keeping the integrity of the work we are trying to sell!

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