Social media has the power and reach to create community, provide a kick of inspiration, and help artists visualize their work from a macro perspective. Your online presence could help you sell more work, win freelance clients, gain new creative collaborators — and build a robust and professional reputation. Perhaps most significantly, mastering the art of social media can help your relationships with your followers and turn them into your tribe.
There are many social media platform options, along with a fast-growing number of creative apps that specifically cater to creators, making it easier than ever to get your work in front of the right audience.
Some key social media benefits for artists include:
- Building a global following
- Connecting with fans in real time
- Networking with other artists
- Growing a relationship with followers
- A measure of freedom from the gallery system for visual artists
But beware that social media can also be a source of frustration and isolation. However, when used wisely, it can strengthen your art practice and help your work be seen by those that would not otherwise have access. Here we share some ways to approach social media that will move you and your career forward.
What is the best social media platform to sell and promote art?
Here’s a revelation: there is no such thing as a “best” social media network for all artists. The best social network for you is the platform where your target audience hangs out. If your people are on Instagram, then Instagram is the best social platform for you. If your fans are on Facebook, that’s the right network for you to promote your work.
Your time is limited. Get the most out of it by researching where your audience is before you develop a social media strategy. Figure out which platforms are the right ones for you to invest in instead of spreading yourself thin by creating accounts on many social media platforms. Look at the current networks you’re on. Where do you get the most interaction? Pay attention to that. Measure twice, cut once: Take the time to discover where your audience is hanging out.
These are some of the most popular social media networks to look into for artists and creatives:
Promote your art where your audience lives and focus on a handful of platforms at most to start, because publishing a post and forgetting about it won’t help you grow your audience — you need to be in the field interacting with folks if you want to build engagement. Remember: the only constant is change, and that goes triple for the world of tech. Today’s platform may not be the best one for you tomorrow (goodbye, MySpace!).
While the world of social media options has gotten broader, many visual artists favor Instagram — it’s still the most popular visuals-based social platform — so we are including some additional insights germane to that platform. Here are some tips to help make your efforts go the extra mile.
Optimize your social media profiles
Marketing gurus recommend that you optimize your profiles such that they look the same across your network. Your account name should be the same (or very similar) on each platform. Make sure to include all important links (like to your portfolio site).
Concerning Instagram, make the most of your 150-character bio. It tells potential followers who you are, what you care about, and is the only place where you can post a live link to your work. Some artists put a standard link to their site, while others change it regularly to reflect recent posts or happenings. Another tack is to take advantage of link-in-bio tools, like Shop Grid, which allows you to turn a single link into a catalog of links.
Link to your social media platforms from elsewhere
Make it easy for folks to find your social media platforms. Add the icons to your website footer to link to your social accounts, add to your email signature, and cross-reference your various social networks in the bio section across all the platforms you use.
People will start to see you as an expert in your field of art if you consistently post text and visual content on your various social media platforms. The platform algorithms favor consistency; Instagram’s algorithmic timeline weights consistency as a key element to having your posts seen. If your posts are shared regularly — and pick up good engagement — the algorithm will reward you by showing your posts near the top of your follower’s feeds.
Artists and brands that get into a regular flow with their Instagram posts tend to see the best results. According to a Tailwind study, profiles that post daily gain Instagram followers more quickly than those that post less frequently.
Heed the maxim that quality is more important than quantity, something that is true across all social media platforms. Posting more often does not mean it will translate to higher engagement rates. Be careful of posting a lot when you have an exhibition if you typically do not engage with social media regularly.
Focus on making content that resonates, talk about aspects of your work that will engage your followers — ultimately that is what matters most.
Focus on engagement, not follower count
A word to the wise: take care not to let follower counts and comments become qualifiers for your work. Yes, there is some validation therein, but if these interactions become a self-fulfillment loop, it could be self-destructive. Your followers are there because they are interested in your creations, your voice, your unique vision. It’s ok if it’s not for everyone. Please remember that.
A large follower count does not equate to actual influence, which lies in the engagement with your followers. Focus on developing stronger connections with people already tuning into your work. Engagement is essential for growth, so engage your fans in a conversation.
To engage more genuinely with your audience:
- Leave thoughtful comments on other people’s posts, beyond the rote “beautiful” or “love that.”
- Respond to every comment with something more substantial than a “thanks.” Other folks will be inspired to leave comments when they see that you are responding to the comments.
- Consider promoting other artists on your feed and focus on people who are passionate about what you’re doing—interact with them in comments, DMs, follow, and like back.
- Be as interested in your high-engagement followers’ content as you want them to be in yours.
Remember that just because someone sees your content doesn’t mean they currently follow you. If you have a chance to interact with a potential new follower, take it. Look at every comment as an opportunity to gain a new fan (or keep a current one). If that sounds like a lot of tapping on your phone, don’t fret — there are ways to comment and DM from desktop too!
Optimize posting times with a business account
You’re posting because you want people to see your work, so it makes sense to pay attention to when folks are the most active on your page so you can optimize when you upload new content. Newsfeed algorithms — particularly the Facebook algorithm and Instagram algorithm — consider “recency” as a major ranking signal, which means that actually posting your content when your followers are online is one of the simplest ways to improve your organic reach. The best way to figure out when your people are paying attention? Switch to a business account so that you can receive some basic analytics for each of your posts.
- Awareness: posts that have high impressions
- Engagement: posts that earned impressive engagement rates
- Sales/Traffic: posts that attracted a lot of clicks
Take a look at what time of day or week you posted successful content, and see what kind of patterns form.
Here’s some intelligence that may aid your efforts as you begin to dive into your own stats. Hootsuite, who creates software to streamline cross-social channel posting, did some investigation into the best times to post in a more general sense and this is what they found.
- Instagram: The best time to post on Instagram is 11 a.m. on Wednesdays.
- Facebook: The best time to post on Facebook is 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Twitter: The best time to post on Twitter is 8 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.
- LinkedIn: The best time to post on LinkedIn is 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
High-quality images are everything
Along with monitoring ideal posting time, another essential aspect to be aware of is the quality of your images. Think of social media like a trade publication, and post something worthy for those in your industry. Ask yourself if the copy and image you’re posting will stand out and tell a story. You want to catch eyes and capture minds — pay attention to the data, so you know when is best.
Embrace the 80/20 rule
In a nutshell: post compelling information 80% of the time and promote your work by just 20%. Providing more storytelling and less promotion is essential to forging a more authentic connection with your followers. Yes — showcase your art and work on social media, but give it context by providing information about your process. Share what inspired you, what you’re planning to work on next, or perhaps some helpful tips that help solve a problem related to your art, like innovative ways to display your pieces.
Be real. Be authentic. Be you.
We know it may sound a tad cliché, but letting your followers have a true look into your life is one of the best ways to connect with them online. Be honest about where and how you’re doing your work — if you convert your closet into an art studio, talk about making work in tight urban spaces. Awarded a residency? Share photos of your new workspace and talk about the experience. If you have an infant in the studio, show that in some of your posts and talk about creating with a tiny human in tow. It all relates to being honest and sharing your reality. Show your creative practice, share in-progress shots of your work along with images of finished projects — people will feel that much closer to your art if they travel along the continuum as you create them.
Social media may be the most effective platform for your work. It connects to millions of people — some of whom may be potential customers or clients of your art. If you can successfully target and engage with them, you can reap the benefits. Happy posting!
This article was co-created by Creative Circle. Creative Circle is an award-winning recruiting and consulting company representing digital, creative, and marketing professionals. Our job is to make your job easier, whether you’re hiring, building a team, or searching for your next role. Together, we can solve your biggest challenges. Special thanks to Melissa Rogers, Senior Brand Manager of Creative Circle.
How have you used social media to promote yourself as an artist? What advice do you have for growing your audience and staying authentic online? Comment below!
Karina Margit Erdelyi
An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.