You’re on Facebook, right? You’ve shared photos of birthday parties, and status updates about that concert you were at, and boasted about the amazing meal you had recently. You’ve even complained about days when nothing went your way and reached out for support and encouragement when you needed it, the way you support your friends when they need a boost. But do you use Facebook to benefit your artistic career?
If the answer is ‘no,’ then you’ve got a lot to think about . But even if you do already use Facebook for work it’s probable that there are more things you can learn about how to use it effectively. (And before you get started, don’t forget to ‘like’ Agora Gallery on Facebook, if you haven’t already!)
Here are some tips to help artists make the most out of Facebook:
Create a Page, and Use It. You join Facebook with a personal profile – this is what you use to share personal photos, status updates, and so on. But to promote yourself as and artist and spread the word about your work, you’ll probably want a page, not a profile, though the page will be attached to your personal account. This will help you keep personal updates and contacts separate from your professional ones – although there may be overlap, this way you can be sure that the person who bought a painting from you last week isn’t seeing those party snaps in their newsfeed. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about Facebook deleting your account because you’re using something that should be personal as if you were a business.
Brenda Ness-Cooper, Venice Lagoon
Emphasize What Makes You Special. This is important in marketing more generally, but it’s something to consider when setting up, updating and promoting your Facebook page as well. There are lots of artists on Facebook, so you need to make clear just what it is that sets you apart. Whether it’s your subject matter, the source of your inspiration, your technique or something else entirely, you need to identify what makes you special, and make it part of your page – and its promotion.
Publicize Your Page. There’s no reason not to let your personal friends know about your business page – many of them may love your work and be interested in following along your page updates as well as your personal ones. You can also respond to art-related discussions as your page, rather than in your personal capacity, and join groups – and join in group discussions – which are art-related in the same way. Additionally, make sure a link to your page is at the bottom of the professional emails you send, appears on newsletters or email updates you send out, is on your website if you have one, and also is on your business card (possibly as a QR code).
Nancy Stella Galianos in her studio
Update Regularly. It’s common for people to be excited about sharing in the beginning and then run out of steam or simply forget about it later on. But if you want to utilize Facebook properly, you have to keep putting the effort in. You might not always have a new piece of work to show, but you do have works in progress. Share photos of yourself at work, or of scenes or sights that inspired you. Share ideas.
Engage. Facebook isn’t like traditional advertising – it’s a conversation, not a megaphone. However counter-intuitive this might sound, the fact is that in order for your own voice to be heard, you have to listen to other people’s as well. Share your experiences and solicit your fans’ stories too. Ask questions. Request opinions or inspiration. Respond to what they say and give the discussion a chance to develop.
Dorothy Slikker, Sharing the View
Share Your Emotions. The best way to get people excited about what you’re doing is to show that you find it exhilarating yourself. Don’t be shy to admit how much you’re looking forward to an upcoming exhibition – it’s a great way of making frequent updates and reminders about it interesting to your fans. Don’t go overboard, of course – remember this is professional, not personal – but let your enthusiasm shine through.
Be Honest. You wouldn’t pretend when it came to your art, would you? Then don’t here. There can be a temptation to make statements or answer questions in the way that you think people expect from a brand, just because you know that this is business-related. But in reality people are sensitive to both integrity and its lack – so be polite, and be sensible, but be honest, and be yourself.
You may also want to consider paying for ads on Facebook to help promote your page and gain new fans, or, when you have build up a larger fan base, paying to promote certain posts so that they show up better in newsfeeds, to boost engagement and awareness. These paid options can be useful, but they aren’t something you necessarily need to worry about at the start.
The same lessons can be applied more broadly to other social media as well, though the specifics will vary depending on the platform. Twitter, of course, limits each tweet to 140 characters. LinkedIn is business-focused so you might want to concentrate there on art professionals and other artists, people who can be important to helping you develop your career. You can join art-related groups to discuss issues or ideas with your peers, and in the process show your own expertise and experience. Google+ is linked to your email account so remember that, as with Facebook, you can set up a business page if you want to keep your personal and business lives separate.
But the essential thing to bear in mind is the same, regardless of the medium you’re considering. You want to be honest, engage with your followers, and keep putting in effort. If you do, you’ll find that you can make social media work for you – and for your art.
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