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Using Social Media to promote your ART

I have recently started writing articles for SA Artist magazine. The article has just been published and I can therefore place it on the blog for your use.

South African Artist Magazine Issue no 16
Page 38 – 41


USING SOCIAL MEDIA
to promote your art

Social media has become an indispensable tool for promoting artwork on the Internet. In this article South African artist Leonie.e.Brown (http://lifeart.co.za/)
explains why it provides a real opportunity for you to showcase your latest work, and also develop your profile as an artist.
Here are some of the key points from this article:

How to:

  • What is social media
  • How can it work for me and my art?
  • The do’s and don’ts of social media.
So…how to go about it…where to start?
First things first. – the laptop / desktop
Get yourself a decent computer or laptop. If you are going to be doing some design work on your laptop using Photoshop ( that’s for a later article) then get something decent like a Core I5 or I7.
If you are just going to browse the internet, write some emails and do social networking, i.e. Face book, twitter etc, a Core I3 will be fine. (Dion Wired offer really good deals)
The advantage of a laptop is that you can take it with you wherever u go…including to the gallery (we will go into this into more detail in a later article) and impress them with your organizational and marketing skills.
What is Social Networking?
The owner of one of my favorite cafes recently started using Twitter and Face book. However, when you interact with her business online, you get very little sense of the woman behind it. Her online footprint is polite but, frankly, it lacks personality. In reality, she is a larger than life character who epitomizes her brand. She lives and breathes her cafe — and is well known (in real life) for her food, unique decor and events.

She told me: “I just don’t want to be in the spotlight. I want people to interact with my business, not with me. I don’t want to be the centre of attention.”

Fair enough. However, in a world where consumers are bombarded with marketing and advertising messages, some experts believe we are living in an age where personal branding is vital for success. And that means NOT shying away from the spotlight.

That doesn’t mean you need to sign up for a reality show or bare all the skeletons in your closet. It means one way to promote your business is to promote yourself.
Social networking is basically advertising your “Personal brand”. In my opinion your personal brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s what you’re known for. “She’s an accountant who you can actually understand.” “He’s the best dog groomer in CT.” “Her cafe is famous for its amazing breakfasts.”

We live in a world that’s increasingly open, connected and transparent. Consumers are increasingly Googling companies and professionals before doing business with them .

If you don’t come up in search engines (like Google, Yahoo, Kalahari, etc), you don’t exist. Therefore you are not seen as a serious/dependable artist. Your competitor, by the way, might just be very visible in Google in a very positive way!

Having a strong, visible and trusted personal brand is a plus for the small business owner because it differentiates you from the competition.

How do you do it? 
So where in the world do you start? How do you go about building your personal brand? Social media is the answer.

‘Peter’ is in the business of selling art in his gallery. I have never done business with Peter nor have I ever met him in person. The gallery simply connected with me on social media about a year ago. Peter shares useful links to articles relating to art on Face book and Linkedin.

Over the past year, I’ve come to “know, like and trust” the gallery purely through our online interactions.
I’m thinking of doing an exhibition. The chances are that I will contact ‘Peter’ and his gallery, when that happens.

Top Social networking sites for building your personal brand:

1.Blogging should form the cornerstone of your online presence. It makes a bigger statement about who you are, and what you do. It is more powerful than a website.
The beautiful thing about a blog is you are adding fresh content, hopefully, on a daily basis.
A blog is one of the best ways to communicate to the world, not only your artwork, but more information on how and why you do what you do.  This personal touch will help build a connection between you and the reader.
You blog about your vision for art, your likes and dislikes, your emotions, and your insights to life in general.  You invite people in… to get a chance to know the person behind those creative works of genius. 
You can invite your viewers to interact with you by leaving comments after you post your latest masterpiece or unveil your newest inspirations.  You are creating a bond between you and your reader.
 A blog is the most vital tool an artist can use to promote and sell his or her artThe advantage of blogging is that you can post from your blog to other social media sites like face book, twitter, linked in etc. So…you can drive other social media sites from your blog.
Blogging is not hard to do, but if you are new to blogging you might want to check out these great tips on getting started with your blog from one of my favorite sources, Dummies.comTwo of the most well known FREE blogging sites are: Blogger and WordPress.

2. LinkedIn is for people who want to talk business.. It is essentially a type of Facebook for suits, ’ If you’re in business, you really should have a presence on Linkedin. Unlike most networks, LinkedIn encourages you to limit the number of contacts you can make. At first this might seem odd, but the idea is to prioritize quality (real working relationships) over quantity. So 50 contacts on LinkedIn could be worth more to your career than 500 Facebook friends or Twitter followers.  LinkedIn is never going to be a fun venue for idle chitchat, but that’s part of the appeal. It’s good to know there is a site with informed professional discussion on tap

3. Twitter helps you connect and build relationships and share ideas and photos with people. If people like what you say, they will start following you. Think of it as standing around in the coffee machine at work and throwing out one liner or little bites of interesting inside info.
4.Facebook in particular, can be great ways to spread the word about your art.
Love it or hate it, with around a billion users, it’s hard to ignore Facebook. It’s the network ‘normal’ people use to stay in touch with friends, which may make it more or less attractive to creatives, depending who you’re trying to reach.
If you’re looking for corporate clients, then you’ll probably be better off networking on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+. And the fact that most people go to Facebook for social rather than business reasons means it may be of limited commercial use.
It is a place to keep people informed about what you are up to, place some photos or albums on your progress. It is not a platform that will sell your art for you.
Create separate pages for your personal and art identity. Keep the art page only on your art. You can also post links to your blogger articles several times a week, and it’s now one of my biggest sources of traffic. Only share content that’s relevant to your art.
5. Google+
What?  Another site….
Guy Kawasaki provides a good answer:
  • Twitter = Perspectives. Twitter is great for getting or sending immediate perspectives on news and events…
  • Facebook = People. Facebook is the way to learn what’s going on the lives of people you already know (friends, relatives, and colleagues)…
  • Google+ = Passions. Google+ enables you to pursue your passions with people you don’t know. Your fifty friends and family on Facebook likely don’t share your passion for photography, but on Google+ you can have a blast with a community of photographers… in short, Google+ is for passions.
Google + allows you to organize your interests in a way that makes sense, almost like a library. In all the other social sites you have to wade your way through miles of info before you get to what you are interested in.
So for example I have a circle for ‘art galleries’ making it easy for me to follow news and discussion about art, without having to sift through all kinds of other stuff.
6. Behance has become a sort of ‘LinkedIn’ for the creative community.
And is a platform for artists to showcase showcase their work to potential clients, as well as to connect with other creative’s. It has credibility as a ‘shop window’ for creative work.
It does this by making it easy for users to assemble an attractive portfolio of their work, organized by project, which is then available for visitors to browse.
The site generates over 75 million page views per month.
7. If you are a visual person, this is the way to go…Pinterest is a fabulous marketing tool for visual artists, Surveys suggest that 21% of Pinterest users have purchased items they found on Pinterest
It is a place for posting and collecting beautiful and inspiring visuals.
You collect your pins into boards with a common theme – an online version of the classic ‘mood board’.
8. As a social networking site DA is completely different, in that it is filled with people who love to create things. Other social sites are about interacting but DA is equally about contributing you skill and craft to it. DA bills itself as “the world’s largest online community of artists and art lovers”, with 22 million users.
It covers a very wide range of art forms, including various visual and digital arts, crafts and the written word. Users can share their work and put it up for sale. There are also extensive educational forums as well as networking features.
So, the conclusion is…
Use your blog to market and write about yourself and anything else relating to you or your art. Then choose your social media sites, and place links to your blog unto your social media sites.
It takes time to build up an audience. Just like in a gallery, you have to establish yourself as reliable and interesting.
People tend to browse for a few months before they purchase. Online shopping is still a new experience in RSA.
Most first-time visitors to your site are not going to buy anything. So sell them a free subscription – to a blog, newsletter, podcast or video series. Send them amazing stuff, so that they don’t have to come and find it. And so that they look forward to opening your e-mails and finding your latest post in their blog reader.
Like I always say to my students….forget about selling and doing…just enjoy THIS moment. Enjoy your art, and write about it because you love it. Not because you are desperate to sell. Desperation smells, and it will come through in your writing. People buy you, not just your art. So, sell them you, make it interesting and worth their while to look you up.
Elenor Rooseveldt once said: ‘Follow your passion and the money will follow the passion”
Be passionate about what you do. We all started painting because we loved it. Don’t lose that passion.
Example of blogging
The do’s and the don’ts of Social media
The following list of do’s and don’ts, recommendations and suggestions is designed to help you accomplish your art-related goals with maximal benefits to you and minimum irritation to others…
DO’S:
1.     Update regularly. Very few people will return to a page that’s updated once a month or less.
2.     Decide why you’re on Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin etc,  and focus on that.
3.     Decide how public or private you want to be. If you are on Facebook for your art, then make your profile and postings public. Example: https://www.facebook.com/ARTofLeonie.e.BrownARTIST/
1.     Make sure that your username is identical on all social networking sites
2.     Format your page in a way that makes it instantly obvious to anyone who visits that they’re on the page of an artist.
4.     Be consistent in the content of your postings. Posts on similar topics or with similar purposes make it easier for people to understand who you are and where you’re coming from.
5.     Make it interesting. Make people want to return repeatedly to your page for the next exciting episode.
6.     Give people a good reason to visit (and revisit) your page. Offer something; tangible or intangible makes no difference… as long as it’s something. For example, talk candidly about your art or your day-to-day life as an artist– your challenges, triumphs, inspirations, perspectives, and more.
7.     Post about your time in the studio, sourcing ideas, the progress of particular works, your process, your goals, the purpose of your art, your broader mission as an artist, and so on.
8.     If you want particular gallery owners, dealers or anyone else in the art community to look at your art or your website, or you want to know whether they can help you in any way or even give you a show, make sure IN ADVANCE that they’re involved in some way with art that’s similar to yours, and represent or assist artists whose credentials or career experiences are comparable/similar to yours. Because you’re an artist and they’re a gallery is NOT an adequate reason to make contact.
9.     Friendships evolve over time. Respond to other’s posts, “like” their posts, “like” their art and maybe– very occasionally at first– send them a short supportive or complimentary email.
10. If you’re looking for feedback or input about your art, offer feedback or input on the work of other artists or art people who you respect or appreciate.
11. Explain yourself in advance, before friending someone that does not know you. Nothing complicated is necessary here; a well-worded sentence or two will do just fine.
12. When you post images of your art to your page, choose examples with thumbnails (best is 72 dpi (see coming article on Photoshop)), that resolve clearly and entice people to want to click over to the full-sized images. Images of your art may look great in full size, but if you can’t get people to click over to view them, then what good are they?
13. Caption all images of your art. This is essential– especially for people who are viewing it for the first time. Provide enough background information or explanatory about it so that people who are not that familiar with you or your art will have a better understanding of your work and a sense of who you are as an artist. One to three sentences will be adequate in most cases.
DON’TS:
1.     If you don’t do it in real life, don’t do it on Social Media.
2.     Whatever you do, DON’T ASK PEOPLE FOR MONEY– especially people you don’t even know! Don’t ask people you don’t know for free stuff– merchandise, favors, advice, services or whatever.
3.     Do not tag self-promotions, show announcements or images of your art with the names of people you want to see it. That’s super irritating, plus now they’ll have to waste time untagging it (and maybe un-friending you as well). Tag images of your art with people’s names when it’s portraits of them– and that’s it.
4.     Don’t spam or send mass emails or messages. If you’re sending an announcement or invitation or request to more than one person, make sure the reason you’re sending it has something to do with them, for example an invitation to an exhibition.
5.     Do not post the same post, repeatedly. Posting over and over again is really irritating, and will cause people to un-friend you.
6.     Don’t add people to a group you’re either starting or already belong to unless you ask their permission first.
7.     Don’t post video after video of your favorite music or other non-art related topics unless they directly apply to either you as an artist or to the type of art that you make. Are you in this for art or are you in this for whatever?
8.     Don’t post on someone’s wall unless that post has something to do with that person or gallery.
9.     Don’t post unflattering photos, unrelated links or photos, or inappropriate links and comments on other people’s pages.
10. Don’t clog your page with games and apps. People who might be interested in your art but aren’t interested in apps or games are unlikely to waste time on games.
11. If you email someone to ask them for a favor and they email you back to decline, then send them an email thanking them for at least considering your request.
12. Don’t be a taker. Social media is not a vehicle for you to try to sponge up as much free information, advice, favors, feedback and other perks for yourself and your art as possible. If you want to get somewhere, give first; ask later. The more you give, the more you get back in return. People are far more likely to respond positively to your requests once you’ve made yourself available to them in some sort of constructive capacity first.
Written by Leonie.e.Brown
Leonie is a full-time Cape Town artist and art teacher. She regularly sells and exhibits in various galleries country wide. Her work has been described as the ‘New Errol Boyley’ or ‘Modern Rembrandt’ of South Africa. She regularly does specialized art workshops all over the country. To read more about her go to: http://www.lifeart.co.za or follow her on: https://www.facebook.com/ARTofLeonie.e.BrownARTIST/
Join her blog on:  http://lifeart.co.za/
Or find out more about her art workshops.