Social Media is tailor made for artists. By nature, artists tend to be very community oriented. I have many friends who are involved in a variety of art-related endeavors, either full- or part-time, and I’ve noticed how they seem to connect with one another via Social Media. For perspective, my definition of “artist” is rather broad: visual and performing artists, writers, photographers, jewelry makers, poets, musicians.
I think there are several key elements for how artists of any sort should be utilizing social media.
- Create a Facebook Business page – apart from your personal profile, create a page that focuses on your work. This page should be updated at least once daily. Status updates are great, but also include photos and videos. Make sure you create events and write notes to your audience. The goal is to build conversation.
- Get on Twitter – Create a Twitter account under your own name, not your business. Be yourself, but make sure your Twitter profile let’s people know you are an artist. Discuss your work, and be a part of the dialogue. Make friends. Meet them in person. Go to “tweetups”. Make Twitter a part of your daily routine. Talk about whatever interests you and what you are doing, whether it is related to your work or not.
- Start a blog – I’m a big believer in blogs, and I think they can be especially great tools for those in the arts. You can blog about your specific work, and include photos. You can blog about your craft in a broader sense. In other words, if you paint, don’t just blog about your work. Blog about your technique, style, and influences. Feel free to talk about other artists, famous or not-so-famous, who have inspired you. And finally, blog about peripheral topics: the local arts community, exhibits, venues, etc. Review exhibits, or even books related to art or your particular discipline. Perhaps even give business advice to other artists based on your experience. Blog at LEAST once a week, though 3-4 times a week is optimum. This becomes easier to accomplish if you come up with regular features
- Connect with your peers – Once you do all these things, connect with others. Find the other artists who use each of these Social Media platforms. Link to them on your site and blog. List them as “Favorite Pages” on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter. And not just artists, but artist organizations and guilds, venues, galleries, or anything even remotely related to your craft. This includes connecting with those people who write about art for the newspaper or online. But don’t limit yourself to just people in the arts world; connect with non-artisans who may be interested in your work.
- Promote others – Being part of a community is promoting the work of others. On Facebook, talk up the work of others. Comment and use the “like” and “share” functions liberally. On Twitter, retweet other artists. And why not blog about the work of your friends. Or give them a chance to write a guest post for your blog. A lot of people are afraid to promote anyone who might be seen as “competition”. Avoid that mindset. Anything that benefits the arts in general, benefits you specifically.
- Promote yourself – Your fans are interested in your work. Let them know where you will be showing your work or performing. Let them know where they can purchase your work, whether it be online or in a brick and mortar. Don’t be shy about being self-promotional, but find the proper balance. Keep an eye on your Facebook insights and your Twitter followers. If you suddenly notice a big drop-off in either, it might be time to pull back a little.
- Giveaways and Contests – Use your blog and Social Media presence to give something away. Free downloads of your music, or giveaways of your merchandise. Just make sure you are following the Terms of Service of each particular Social Media platform. A popular contest method, particularly among artists, is to get people to comment on your blog, and then randomly choose a winner from among all those who comment. The beauty of this method is that you can use both Twitter and Facebook to promote the giveaway, while driving traffic to your site and generating interest in your work.
- Be Creative – You’re an artist, after all. Creativity is what you do. Let your creativity loose in the Social Media realm to keep your audience interested.
Ken Mueller is the owner of Inkling Media, a social media consultancy in Lancaster, PA. Inkling Media provides consultation on utilizing social media as part of an overall marketing strategy. This includes the creation and implementation of social media plans. Ken is also available for speaking engagements, will be teaching a Social Media Workshop at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design on January 23rd, and can often be found working from his porch.