Artists make your Facebook business page more relevant

THE ART OF COLLABORATION IN ART

time to reinvent your Facebook business page  

Artists need to collaborate if they are to utilise social-media without relying on heavy advertising budgets, so this week we will be looking at why we artists need to make our Facebook business pages more relevant. 

OK, I admit it, sometimes my business page on Facebook gets neglected. I really need to do so much more with it because this is where I really would like people to visit.

Last week I revisited my book of plans. It’s a notebook made from paper because occasionally I like to go old school. I love my various notebooks. I have one to keep track of everything I would like to do, one to keep track of pricing, one to keep track of possible blog ideas, one to keep track of pixel dimensions which equate to actual image sizes at various dots per inch, and one where I keep all of my notes about conspiracy theories which will eventually make it into the book I am writing. That was one of those jobs I gave myself were thirty-pages in I thought to myself that this was going to be a bigger job than I expected.

Why so many notebooks you ask, well, they were on offer as a multi-pack and seemed like too good a bargain to miss.

I also have notebooks full of doodles, and I have collectible notebooks too. I am particularly impressed with the Storm Trooper notebook I managed to pick up from a Disney Store in Spain for a couple of Euro’s and a Moleskin I received as a thank you for helping a friend design a menu for her new restaurant.

I have just re-read that last couple of paragraphs and please don’t think I am some weird anorak with a fetish for collecting notebooks. I just love stationery.

FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGES FOR ARTISTS 

Anyway back to this business page thing, I had noticed that I had only updated it a few times in a few weeks and each time it was about what is going on in this blog or advertising my latest art. I had essentially done everything I tell everyone not to do and made it too much about me.

I checked other business pages and it seems like I wasn’t alone in doing this. Even the big corporations were guilty of it too. Every post was related to their latest campaign, and not much else in between.

I know people have issues with Facebook pages because they just don’t get the reach that personal pages do unless you pay to boost the post. That’s not an option though for many people who are trying to pretty much do everything on their own and especially when they have no advertising budget to fall back on like the huge corporations have.

It seems a bit of a catch-22. To get the reach and for people to follow and like your page you need to pay. In order to pay you need customers, and you can’t build up enough customers unless you pay.

Except I noticed something that might just help us artists, but we all need to work collaboratively on this for it to work. 

This probably sounds too obvious and I don't mean it to be, but the more likes, shares, and comments a post gets, the further the algorithm allows the post to be seen. The more people who share the business page post of others makes the page more relevant. In return, everyone else shares everyone else’s page too. Yes it will mean a little work, but we’re in this together right?

If we all add in a call to action and tell people that we would like them to like, comment and share, I am reasonably confident that we can all increase our business page following without actually paying a dime to extend the reach.

Think of it as joining a community of friends who help each other. So this got me thinking about how we need to mobilise and take Facebook back. Let’s give it back to the people, people!

Please don’t think I have suddenly become an online activist, but for many and especially me, our Facebook pages seem to be getting ignored!

I once paid for Facebook advertising and it was a bit like walking in to a casino with a limited budget. You will see a difference but your limited budget eventually runs out and if you aren’t getting the conversions to art sales, you can’t replace the budget. Of course you need to know who your exact demographic is, and if you don’t have much in the way of online analytics, you could be throwing money away.

Case in point, my friend opened her restaurant, paid for advertising space on another online platform and thought she knew who her demographic would be. Except when she ran the advert it appeared in the United States. Her restaurant was on the outskirts of Birmingham UK, not Birmingham Alabama.

She was solely responsible for introducing the concept of Staffordshire Oatcakes (a type of savoury pancake made from oatmeal, flour, and yeast) and black pudding (you don’t want to know) to the good folk of Alabama who found it a bit of an awkward commute just to grab a £5 discount on all orders above £30.

As with any special ops mission (because that sounds so much more exciting doesn’t it?) we will need to coordinate it!

So I am planning a brand new Facebook group where artists are able to share only their art related business pages. From here artists can add their pages on condition that they also share other artist’s pages.

This provides a benefit to the individual artists too in that they will be able to not only share their page, the group essentially becomes a directory of artists, but it will give you something that will act as content for those times when we get post block. You know those times when you can’t think of anything to post on your business page in between artwork releases.

TIME

finding time as an artist  

Art usually takes time to produce. I can withdraw from pretty much everyone for weeks at a time and focus on creating my next work, except that I know if I withdraw, social-media quickly forgets you and you pretty much have to start all over again.

When I look at my business page there are often gaps between posts. Long gaps only periodically broken up with random postings, and they are sat in between the go read my blog, and go buy my art posts, and that’s not how it should be.

When I took a look at some corporate pages and I won’t mention them here, they were doing the same thing except they weren’t pointing people towards my art, but they were saying things like: (please note the translations are in the brackets, as in this is what they really mean to say)

  • In just three short weeks we will make an announcement so stay tuned (meaning we are running around like headless chickens and haven’t really got enough people to post stuff online)
  • We announced our new product (meaning it was delayed by a week while they sorted out the bugs)
  • 7 ways to buy our new product (meaning you can sign up to our email newsletter, you can also click on this AdSense link to get a cheap loan at only 1689% APR, and five other ways to get you to buy it quick)
  • Grab a discount on our new product (meaning we have overestimated interest and we have a load of stock left, and ‘my’ turns to ‘our’ because no single individual wants to bear the brunt of the blame)
  • Stock is limited (meaning limited to the amount we manufactured but no one actually purchased it)

Now I definitely don’t do what those corporations did, but I do sometimes forget about my business page and this leads to long drawn out gaps or a constant stream of me, me, me. This is a trait I do share with some of those corporations because some of those never post ‘other stuff’ too.

So I am formally apologising for not updating my Facebook business page as often as I should! My bad, move on. You can see my progress by clicking here

What we are essentially talking about this week is organic reach which is something that is the Holy Grail on social media, if you can grow a following without having to promote through paid promotions and adverts, you will know that the people who like you, actually like you.

It is great when people interact positively with you on social media, but getting in front of those people is really hard work. Let’s put it into context. As of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users. In the third quarter of 2012, they had achieved 1 billion active users. Over half a billion new users since 2012. There have been a few more Facebookers signing up since then. It's a big market. 

Facebook measures active users, and by active users they mean people who have logged on to the platform in the last 30-days. When was the last time you updated your Facebook business page with non-me, me, me, content? If you post regularly you are on top, but for so many, this could be one of the reasons why when we see the number of views below each post, it will say something like ‘reached 2 people’.

Remember that the business page is also where the ‘Shop Now’ button resides, and wouldn’t it be nice if more people clicked on that?

Remember I mentioned the algorithm? Well, when you post something on Facebook, it doesn’t go out on to each and every one of the total active users. If it did, we would all see billions of posts each day on our timelines. The reality is that your post may only be seen by a few people. 

Sometimes it may be seen by half a dozen people who follow or like you, not everyone you are linked to will see the post. This is what they call organic post reach.  Depending on what you post, how many people initially engage with the post by liking, sharing, or commenting, will determine how many more people will see the post.

The algorithm used by social-media platforms is a closely guarded secret, more so than Colonel Sanders's eleven secret herbs and spices. There’s no real way of knowing other than through trying things, and reading lots and lots of release notes to pick up clues.

Facebook change their algorithm on a relatively frequent basis, often as frequently as two to three small changes each week.  So we have to do things differently all of the time.

Relatively recent changes (in the last year or so) have been documented online but much of it is likely to be guess work.  We do know that posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context perform worse as do posts that reuse the same content served by adverts.

There was a push a little while ago for Facebook Live, and if you can create a live event you will get some additional exposure.

FOCUS ON THE QUALITY OF YOUR POSTS

Just because the business page is all about you doesn’t mean that it should be all about you. You can post anything on it within the rules of engagement prescribed by Facebook, but you should also make sure that it adds value to you as an artist, and fundamentally you are your brand.

Quality content is paramount. If you post great content, your chances of the content being liked increase, and your chances of getting your content shared also increases. If you get shares, that means that you will be exposed to other people’s timelines, extending the reach further.

Your post could include tips for artists and art buyers, or it could be relevant information about what is going on in the wider industry.

Personal pages tend to show up more in news feeds than business pages, but that could indeed be influenced by your audience. If they are not liking, commenting, and sharing, then it is little wonder the organic reach goes down.

You don’t have to post business related posts all of the time. You can include funny and interesting articles, and anything which projects who you are as a person. You do need to be careful when posting news stories because the prevalence of fake news can do you more harm than good, and allegedly can influence people to elect the wrong or right leaders. I’m staying well out of that one.

The frequency of posting seems to be something we all battle with. How many times should you post?

Despite what everyone has been saying for what seems forever, post frequently. Posting 4-6 times a day seems to be the frequency most people suggest but as long as you are posting great content, more posts mean that there is more chance of a bite. As a minimum, you need to post at least twice per day.

Exclusive content just to up the ante a little here. Facebook likes exclusive content that users won’t find on any other platform. No idea how they can tell if a post is exclusive to Facebook, but no doubt their algorithm has an idea.

Image and video posts always do better on Facebook than regular text posts. Sharing video is great as long as the content is relevant to your stream. You can also share your Pinterest and Instagram photos on Facebook, but for the love of a Cyber God, please do not ever send me a request to play Candy Crush Saga or Bingo.

A powerful cover image is important. So many times I have seen artists who forget that the cover image (the banner at the top of the page) is the first thing that people will see. Just as you would with a shop window or gallery window, you need to make it look inviting.

WHAT ELSE CAN I POST IN BETWEEN MY ART?

There are lots of interesting things you can post on your business page which will continue to make it relevant.

If you are busy in the studio for long periods then you can keep people informed of your progress. Posting works in progress will get some feedback and will make people become excited about your artwork.

Posting how you are creating the art always gains interest. Often people will have suggestions when you are stuck, and sometimes will help you out with giving your artwork a title or offering suggestions about what to put in the description of the art.

People generally want to help so let them. Let them become a part of the process of creating it, because they are more likely to support and share the finished work if they have a connection to it.

Often we never quite know exactly how long a piece of work will take to complete. I started a new work three weeks ago and still need at least three or four more days on it to complete it. If you have an idea of how long people will need to wait then let them know.

If you have contacts who can provide framing and matting services for people who purchase your art, provide the links in a post. Hopefully those services will reciprocate the favour and either offer you a discount for sending them more business or they will share your artwork on their pages.

WHAT NEXT?

Hopefully this will have convinced you not to give up on your Facebook pages and that by working together we can put the social back into social-media.

If I get enough interest in creating the Artists Directory group I will set it up. If you would like to be an admin of the group please do let me know. It's much easier when a few people are able to help accept new members of a group and just scroll through to make sure no one is posting anything inappropriate. 

I set up the Artists Exchange group on Facebook and the Artists Hangout and both of these groups are growing all of the time. There are more than 4000 members in the Artists Exchange and over 3500 members in the Artist Hangout. Both groups are a little over a year old, so imagine if we set up an artist’s directory!

If only 50% of Artists Exchange group members have a business page that would be just over 2,000 business pages, and if each one clicked like on each other’s business page the number of likes would increase significantly and the organic reach would also rise.

So this week please do let me know if you think it would be a good idea to focus on business pages, increase likes, and hopefully increase engagement by introducing our art on to the timelines of many other people. By working collaboratively we can probably get the job done very quickly indeed!

"The Artists Exchange" a group of great people who share other artists work. You can join by logging in to Facebook and going here.

If you are seeking some inspiration from other artists, check out my artists spotlight page here  and you will find artists with great Facebook business pages. Please make sure you give them a like!

If you know of an inspiring artist business page, please do leave a link in the comments below and I'll make sure to give them a like!

ABOUT M.A

Mark is an artist, blogger, and is sometimes described as being human. His work is sold here  and you can follow him on Facebook here

He was made in Britain, loves the USA, and typically receives three emails per week on average and written in the Comic Sans font. Those emails never get a reply. Alcohol is not in his vodkabluary. He looked it up on whiskeypedia and learned if you drink too much of it, it’s likely tequilya.

follow Mark Taylor artist on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/beechhousemedia  

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