Social Strategies for Selling Art

THE SOCIAL MASTERCLASS FOR ARTISTS

Social Master Class for artists
Getting the timing right!

 

I wrote about how you might want to take a look at creating a promotional video recently. Many of you have come back to me to say that this is something they are now considering, and others have told me that producing a promotional video was the best and sometimes the worst thing they ever did!

For many the promotional video worked really well on social media platforms, but a few people found it difficult to get everything they needed right the first time around. It takes practice, and as I said in my blog, don’t be too hasty in getting something out. Create a few practice videos and then chose the best one. In fact, get friends and neighbours to review them and provide constructive feedback, or even try them out with friends on social media. It is easier than ever to set up a focus group these days.

As a working artist over the years I have figured out that it is not enough to just produce art. If you are not represented by a gallery or broker, then you also need to have a grip on that thorny subject of marketing. Over the last three years I have read many books on marketing, but they all tend to be a little generic. Occasionally there are snippets within the marketing manuals that will provide you with invaluable advice, but for the most part, it is more difficult to sell your own art than simply reading a book.

I say this because if an artist sold everyday goods at rock bottom prices, you could simply add those goods to traditional market places such as Amazon and if you are undercutting competitors, your everyday items are likely to sell. It is different with art. Art is subjective, art is transient in that it changes frequently, and not everyone buys it every day. There are huge numbers of artists who sell on print on demand and the print on demand sites need you to promote your work so that they can handle the printing and shipping. That is essentially all that you sign up with them to do. They create your stock without an upfront commitment from you. It is up to you to actually sell it. You are not selling an everyday product, you are selling an insight into your mind at the point of creation, and the beauty that emits from the art, some will love it, some will hate it, but you can't expect it to sell as frequently as many everyday items.

To do this marketing malarkey effectively you need to stand out amongst many other great artists and you need to stand out and be different. Your work could be the greatest masterpiece ever created, but if you keep it hidden away or it appears on page 306 of the search results, getting discovered will be a much more difficult task.

You need a strategy that makes sure that your art reaches the right audience, and one that continues to expand that circle of potential buyers. At this point you also need to understand something about social media.

Let’s say that you have 100-followers on a social media platform such as Facebook. If you are lucky a few of those followers will be buyers of your work. But the Facebook algorithm which I have written about before will only make your new posts visible to some of those 100 followers.

This is where we get real. The reality is that your post is unlikely to ever be seen by 100-people. It depends on many factors such as who is online at the time of the post; who followed you but has drifted away from using the platform even though their account is still active; and how your post is displayed. Is it an organic post, or does it link outside of Facebook? It’s all a drive to deliver better content that is more relevant to viewers officially, but for the cynics, it is all a drive to encourage you to pay to boost your posts to a wider audience.

Now let’s say that only 10-people out of the hundred who follow you are likely to actually make a purchase. The remaining 90 followers are following you because they like you, have reciprocated a like for a like on your page, or may just be genuinely interested in seeing what you do and getting to know you. You can’t ever cast these followers aside, they will support you where they are active, but equally you need to consider getting more followers. Ideally targeting those who are most likely to buy your art.

Those who continue to support you will expose your work to others when they share or like your work, in turn you should consider sharing the work of others, and this is just as critical. It keeps your own timeline fresh because not everyone will love absolutely everything you post, but by posting content from others, it will keep your followers engaged and your feed fresh.

I have mentioned demographics and analytics in previous posts and you can target certain individuals by using the data correctly. But the reality is that things will stay the same if you continue to only share with the 100-followers that you currently have. In summary, if you are not making sales from your current group of followers, you need to get more followers and up your marketing game.

PROMOTION NOT OVER PROMOTION

I admit that initially when I first started marketing my own work I felt overwhelmed. There was so much that I didn’t know and so much that I didn’t know that I needed to know. Truth is that despite my years and experience it remains a continuous learning curve that essentially keeps getting steeper.

Remember with social media your competition is not, other artists posting their work, it is whichever version of whichever algorithm is being used to control what others see. You might occasionally feel like you have beaten the algorithm, your post will go viral, you will get thousands of likes. Don’t worry too much about this, very soon the algorithm will have changed once again and your post visibility will go back to normal.

I often say to artists that promotion is key. Promote all you can, but there is a line that you shouldn’t cross. Over promotion will detract from future promotion. People will tire of your 100 posts per day, so keep it to a reasonable level. I often hear that five posts per day is a good number, but actually it depends on the post. Five may be a stretch for some people, but if your posts are engaging then you can get away with more.

I ran a little unscientific experiment a few weeks ago. I scheduled posts to automatically appear at certain times on Twitter. I repeated the same post over five days. The first post was seen by over 500 people, the second at the same time the next day was seen by 83. I continued to do this for the remaining days and saw the exact same thing happen. A new post would drive up the engagement, a repeated post would mop up a few more hits, and subsequent posts were not really worth the effort. Keep your posts engaging but only repeat the same post a couple of times in the initial days after posting, then wait a couple of days before posting the same thing again, then maybe rerun the post a few weeks later again.

MY TWO WEEK EXPERIMENT

I spent a whole two weeks running posts at different times on different social media platforms, although in scientific terms this experiment was carried out in non-sterile shed-like conditions and its output data should only be used under advisement. Also worthy of noting is that I ran the experiment from the UK using Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), so if you are based outside of the UK you will want to consider running posts at the stated time in each time zone that you wish to reach.

FACEBOOK

The best days with the most engagement on Facebook were Thursday and Friday. Sunday afternoons were also of merit, particularly between 2pm and 3pm. Engagement from Monday to Wednesday was much lower than other days.

Facebook
Image Copyright Facebook

Time of post made a significant difference to post reach. Posts made at 1pm seemed to get shared more often than at 2pm, but at 3pm, each post was clicked on a little more often. Perhaps parents waiting to collect their offspring from school, I have no idea, but these times were certainly the busiest during the day.

Most platforms are busy between 9am and 7pm, I tend to be most active at 7pm which seems to capture other users in other time zones. It depends on the nationality and time difference of your intended market.

TWITTER

There is a lot of research available online regarding Twitter and the best time to post a tweet. Twitter is a much more dynamic and a quicker platform than Facebook. Monday to Friday tweets are picked up by business, and Twitter engagement for potential customers tended to be greater at weekends and for some reason on Wednesdays.

Posts that I scheduled at 12pm and 6pm received the highest click through rates (CTR) and the number of people retweeting my tweets increased at 5pm but quickly dropped off. This actually tells me more about a user’s commute due to the quickness of getting a post out and the 140-character cap imposed on Twitter also means that more information can be consumed in a short space of time.

LINKEDIN

 

LinkedIn
Image copyright LinkedIn - The Pro Network

I use LinkedIn only for my day job, although there is a reference to my art on my profile page. My experiment didn’t take in to account LinkedIn as I tend not to post anything other than my CV.

However, after some perusing of the internet it was apparent that LinkedIn is primarily a business to business network, although it probably shouldn’t be dismissed by artists.

Various sites suggested that the best times to post are between 7am and 8am, and again at 5pm to 6pm. The best engagement rates tend to be between core business hours Monday to Friday. Although, in the US, it seems that the worst engagement days are Monday and Friday.

PINTEREST

Whenever I go on Pinterest I have to make sure I have enough time. I go on for five minutes and five hours later I am reading how a giraffe can use a mason jar. I pick up followers on a weekend, Saturdays between 8pm and 11pm seemed to be the best time, and whenever I have been awake during the early hours, I do seem to engage with a lot of people who are looking at mason jars or are working a night shift. 2am – 4am has yielded some worthy results.

If I had to pick a time to pin it would be 9pm. However, all that aside, most of the sales I receive from pinners usually takes place on a Friday at 3pm.

Pinterest
Image copyright Pinterest

 

INSTAGRAM

I am relatively new to Instagram. I know I should really take notice of the platform, it is an essential platform for artists and it is quickly becoming the go to place for art collectors to find new art.

Instagram is visual, and as artists we do need to take it seriously. Despite my newness to the platform I did include the few posts I have made in my little experiment.

Instagram it seems is consistent throughout the week. There was a slight dip in the analytics on a Monday and again on a Sunday afternoon, but the rest of the time seemed to yield as much success and failure as any other time.

What I have noticed though is that major brands tend to put up their content between 3pm and 4pm, (EST as opposed to GMT).

GOOGLE+

 

Google Plus
Copyright Google - I'm warming to this platform but it has taken years!

There is a different audience on Google+. I am not sure if it is just me or does everyone notice that there are slightly more complex posts on Google+, and not quite so many memes and funny cat videos?

Monday to Friday weekdays fair better at gaining +1’s and for people sharing. Posts made later on in the morning on weekdays do seem to get slightly more engagement. I am starting to like Google+, although it has taken me a few years, and I wasn’t too sure when new changes were introduced recently to the platform, but it is starting to grow on me.

In terms of sales, Google+ works well if you join the most relevant circles. Facebook will remain a staple for me, as will twitter and Pinterest. But increasingly I feel as if I need a brand new social network. Join in at the beginning and when it eventually gains popularity, you will have been a key user from the offset and will hopefully gain the first round of followers without too much competition.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ONLINE

I recently wrote a blog about having an offline strategy to market your art and that still holds true. Increasingly it is becoming more and more essential to have an offline strategy in your marketing arsenal.

Developing a strong portfolio is critical to your overall success as an artist, but the portfolio should accomplish two things. Firstly you can use it to develop your brand or you as an artist, and secondly it provides a way to showcase your art for use in marketing materials such as flyers or catalogues.

Visually the portfolio has to look great, reproducing your art in a printed format needs a considered approach. A badly cropped jpeg image will detract from the work, so you need to consider the presentation carefully and use only the best images.

Each photograph should be well executed and should invite the viewer to continue looking. A brief but clear artist description of the work is also key to the success of a portfolio. All the better if you can succinctly tell the story of creating the piece and any inspiration that you had during the creative process.

You also need to include a strong artist bio. Getting people to become interested in you as a person is often more powerful than the work you create. Describe what inspires you, and how you tend to produce your art.

NOT JUST SOCIAL MEDIA

Your online presence isn’t just about updating your social media posts. An artist website, blog or web page where people are able to see your art for sale are also critical components that you need. It provides an easy way for buyers to purchase your work or get in touch with you. Since starting Beechhousemedia.co.uk the amount of people getting in touch has been humbling. At the start of this epic journey I received maybe a couple of emails each week. Today I receive a few hundred emails each month and it seems to be growing to the point where I may need to take someone on just to answer emails.

THE COMPETITION

Entering art competitions is something that you need to do. It enables you to display your work among your peers, and competitions can get you noticed by gallery owners. Entering doesn’t necessarily have to cost anything at all apart from time, so keep an eye out for online competitions. Even if you don’t win, getting your work seen by a new audience is like getting advertising for free.

Carefully choose which competitions you want to enter. Make sure that the subject is relevant to your style and artistic genre.

Entering local competitions will also help you to network. Networking with others in the community and the art world will get your name out there. Joining a network is one of the best ways to get noticed, but you need to remain active.

As I have said many times before, never ignore the power of local arts and craft fairs, and go along even if you are not displaying any work. I will be going on a cruise very soon and one of the first things I will do is to sign up for the art auctions.

This will allow me to get to know fellow passengers in the audience and strike up a conversation. My portfolio is on my iPad so I usually end up in the bar with people I have met, and we discuss art. That subject usually ends with me showing them some of my art, and it really does pay off. On my last cruise I actually sold three works! You see, here you have an audience that is not going anywhere else, they are clearly interested in art, and by going to the auction you quickly get a feel for who likes what. A little cheeky perhaps, but if there is an opportunity to sell something, you need to take it. Just don’t be pushy or they may throw you overboard. This time I plan to engage more with the gallery staff. I'll let you know how I get on!

COMMUNITY

I am a huge fan of community. This year I am going to be offering to create a piece of work for a yet to be chosen charity to either auction off or sell. It might only make them a little money but charities are generally grateful for every penny that they receive.

The payback for me is less of how it might increase potential sales in the future and more around the fact that I think we need more community projects and especially community art projects. Governments around the world have cut budgets over the last few years and anything that can be done to support worthy charities should be encouraged. It will though allow me a little exposure in return.

Never assume either that artists remain unknown for long. If you have an online presence and you are socialising in the community, people get to know you very quickly. I was in shock and remain so to this very day that whilst I was in a hotel I spotted someone reading this blog on their laptop in the bar! It may have been a one off coincidence that we were both in the same place at the same time, but it was phenomenal to meet a real live reader of my blog. What made me even more excited was that they had purchased a piece of my art just a week or so before.

Someone I had never met before had actually found me online, purchased a piece of art and regularly read this blog, is something that humbles me to this day. Socialise on and offline and eventually someone remembers you.

That’s all for today but in the coming weeks I will be publishing a master class on creating what I like to call art cards. Cards that display pieces of your work that you can either handout in place of business cards or socialise online through Facebook and other platforms. Next week is a big post all about post. Well, specifically postage and packaging, and how you can add huge value to buyers for very little or no cost, but the results will ensure you get repeat business. Excited?

If you want to see my art cards check out my recent blog at: http://www.beechhousemedia.co.uk/2016/05/ma-new-art-collection.html and I will show you how to create them and more in my master class very soon.

In the meantime, please do visit my online store either on this blog or over at http://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com and if you have any ideas on how artists can get noticed or promote themselves, and especially any successes you have had, please do get in touch or leave a comment.

 

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