Marketing Art in 2018

Marketing Art in 2018 - The marketing trends that will keep you visible...


marketing art 2018 the year ahead

Happy New Year!

Christmas is finally over for another year and that means one thing, straight back to marketing artwork and preparing for the next sales period. It’s a never ending cycle with very little respite but this year I did manage to take Christmas Day off from working, and for those who read my blog last week, you’ll know how difficult my day became what with those two puppies and all that cooking. I think I’d have rather worked to be honest, but it was lovely being able to spend some time with the family without the pressures of deadlines or thinking about SEO. 

Which brings us to another brand new year and if you are a regular visitor to this blog you will know that it is always about this time each year when I make the next set of predictions for the year ahead. 

Back in October 2017 I wrote an article looking at the top art and tech trends for 2018 which you can read here if you missed it.

In the article I only lightly touched on marketing trends for 2018. Marketing trends were a little difficult to predict at the time because the media landscape was going through a phase of changes making it much more of a difficult task to work out what was around the corner. The trends I did pick up on in the article were already relatively concrete.

The landscape is always slightly different come January. Everyone starts to make commitments with their marketing plans so it becomes a little easier to work out where the next trends are likely to be. This is so important when marketing visual art as an independent artist because the last thing you want is to pull together a marketing campaign that stands no chance of succeeding because it doesn’t stand out. 2018 is the year that your marketing strategy will have to be taken up a notch or two. 

This week we will also be taking a look at how some of the recent issues that have been attributed to people’s use of social media might play out too. Anything that affects how social media is controlled or operated will affect how we all use the platform, even if we stick within the community standards of each platform. 2018 will be a defining year for how Facebook, Google and Twitter continue to operate.

Regulation…

My first prediction is one that I have been making continuously over the past twelve months and that is that there are only two significant players in town when it comes to running a marketing campaign. Facebook and Google. 

Large organisations go to marketing experts and pay out big bucks to find out where they should be targeting their marketing efforts and who they should be spending advertising budgets with, but now the choice is really only between the two giants of the internet. You either spend money to advertise with Google or you spend money to advertise with Facebook. 

This could very well mean that marketing companies who specialise in marketing solutions will need to change the way that they do business too. If the choice of who to advertise with has become narrower then the only way to monetise marketing services will be to offer services around branding and telling the brand story on whichever of the two the client decides to go with, or maybe they go with both.

But even this could change depending on the outcome of certain conversations taking place around the world by everyone from internet rights groups to politicians. They all have conflicting opinions on how social media should be organised and managed.

Currently the debate in the industry and within the political arena is whether either or both of the two internet based giants should be seen as platforms or publishers. The reality is that this isn’t really a debate worth having, both are new types of companies that don’t necessarily fit into any traditional kind of box and commentators are slightly missing the point when they talk about classifying them as either a publisher or platform. 

Neither of them are solely one or the other, they are a hybrid of publisher and platform and that requires a different set of thinking. Until that bit gets worked out by those having the discussions there is a real risk of getting things wrong. 

Why is this important? Well, in simple terms the debate around if they should be seen as either publishers or platforms would direct how they are regulated and controlled in a legal context. Labelling them as publishers for example is a little bit like using a sledgehammer to crack open a nut. Once you start legislating how things are done and what can be published on the platforms things will start to look and feel very different and neither of the platforms will have the capacity to police the content that gets uploaded every second of every day. 

There will need to be even more changes to AI and algorithms, and as we know algorithm changes have already been brutal for those of us who use social media to market our artwork over the past couple of years and we have all seen a massive decline in organic reach. Throw in some added regulation and I can predict with a certain degree of confidence that we will see more effects and not necessarily for the good. 

The easiest way would be to bring both social media companies and other stakeholders together to work out ways to control and moderate content, but even this might lead to a certain loss of freedom for end users. The issues cited are often around the prevalence of fake news, propaganda, and extremist content. 

So surely one of the first actions should be to look at much better account verification. At the moment anyone can create an account without any formal verification, and verification shouldn’t be perceived as a platforms endorsement of any given user. That happens on Twitter, but ask twitter what their verification means and they will say that it is most definitely not an endorsement of a user.  

In the States it will be more difficult to legislate because of the First Amendment culture but legislation such as the fines and levies imposed in Germany will affect what users see stateside too as many of the sites affected will be US based.

A recent Canadian court ruling ordered content that violated Canadian law should be deleted globally rather than for only Canadian users, and this kind of extraterritorial regulation would also affect users in the USA. 

Legislating is a blunt tool that is more likely to compound rather than fix issues, and legislation or regulation that seeks to make companies, in this case any social media company, to remove content poses a risk of legitimising repressive measures from authoritarian regimes. 

Whatever that content is, different governments and regimes will have different interpretations of what that content means. Propaganda, extremism, or any other content could be defined in whatever way a particular government or regime sees fit. Germany has a liberal democratic tradition so issues would not be quite as relevant as some other countries, but where the regime is more authoritarian, content that criticises those regimes could be criminalised creating a mechanism for oppressing their own citizens. At this point, an individual’s right to freedom is then solely down to geography. 

Excessive fines will mean that the social media companies will always err on the side of excessive censorship. Of course that’s not to say that there is a place online or anywhere else for some content but bringing each of the social media players together alongside civil organisations, governments, and independent stakeholders to work on the issue and collaboratively develop scalable transparent governance structures will go a long way to resolving the issues without the need for legislation.   

Some will say that a legislative change can only be a good thing and anything that cuts down the hatred, propaganda, and fake news on social media has to be welcomed, but equally there are some very fine boundaries that can easily be crossed whenever regulation of speech and freedom come into play. 

2018 is going to be a telling year with social media but what happens around the world will determine just how we and others engage with social media in the future and that includes how we use it to market our art and connect with art lovers around the world. 


one year 365 opportunities

TV…

Where does television marketing sit in all this? I think there is a split emerging in the way television is presented leading to a bifurcation between high-end, high-quality TV productions and live and event based TV. 

Perhaps even the likes of Rupert Murdoch noticed that you need to focus on whichever of the two you are better at and that could very well be one of the reasons behind the sale of his entertainment business to Disney. Murdoch continues to do news, Disney continue to do entertainment, each focusing on their own core business.

This really could be the start of a transformation when it comes to more traditional media channels. Those standing in the middle ground of producing lower quality with lower costs to produce broadcast TV might find it all a bit of a struggle moving forward. They won’t be able to compete with the likes of Netflix or Apple and the other big players who do what they do well and who all have the budgets to buy the best content. 

So here’s another prediction. 2018 will be the year of the mega-mergers as it becomes all about scaling up business. I have a feeling that this might then lead on to a totally new way of consuming TV with less reliance on having separate TV channels and schedules, it will become more around content being available on a platform and on demand and in time, I expect that we will see some convergence of technologies between the media companies and content delivery will become more device agnostic. I think we will also see another rise in the number of subscription based services. 

Social Media…

All of this is already starting to shape how we will need to market our art over the next few years but 2018 will I also think be the year that we start to see the cost of social-media advertising increase. 

With only two major players on the scene and the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest playing a game of catch up there’s little choice other than to pay for advertising if you truly want to reach new audiences. 

There’s also little choice in who you pay to advertise with too. I think my worry is that the cost of advertising could increase dramatically over the next few years so now would be the best time if you haven’t already, to start building on your core audience on Facebook. Take advantage of advertising costs now and if those increases do emerge at least you will have a larger core audience. 

Facebook and Instagram are one and the same business and in 2018 we should all start to look at Instagram a little more seriously as a viable platform to market our art. That’s not to say that we should be ditching Facebook anytime soon, but we should be looking at where our audiences are in a little more detail. 

This is another reason why I put so much effort into steering people towards using the analytical tools available through both Google and Facebook throughout 2017, and if you haven’t started to use them to understand who your audience is, then you really do need to start taking note of where your demographic sits right about now. 

Reviews…

Do you ever buy things from Amazon without first reading the customer reviews? Me neither, but it is often difficult to sort out the fake reviews from real reviews, although there are fewer fake reviews of products on the platform than there were a year ago. 

Reviews are powerful and for Amazon they also drive search traffic and can mean the difference between making a sale and not making a sale. 

Yet so many visual artists forget to use reviews in their marketing efforts. 2018 is the year when reviews will become even more critical to small businesses and for independent visual artists too. 

So when you get a happy client ask them to write a review for you and ask them if you can use sound bites from the review in your marketing efforts. The high end galleries have been doing this for years and now it is time that independent visual artists started following their lead. 

There are so many options available, maybe add a reviews page to your website or ask people to leave a review on Facebook or use Google My Business.

I’ve been making more of an effort with Google my business lately and posting content regularly. It is a free service which displays your business on the front page of Google search results whenever someone is looking for your type of business in the area that they are searching in. You do have to become verified by Google but that’s a relatively simple process that involves little more than entering a code from a postcard sent out by Google to your business address. 

Progress has been steady and despite only using it more seriously over the past couple of months I have already seen a couple of commissions come through this route. Updating posts before they expire is simple, download the Google my Business app and you will receive notifications whenever your post is about to expire. Create a new post, save it, and you will be notified again in about five days to remind you to create a new post. 

Those searching for or using your business are then able to go online and leave a star rating and a review. Anyone then searching for artists in your area will then see details of how to get in touch, and if you add the web address of your portfolio site or blog they will be able to learn more, buy now, or send a message or whatever call to action button you decide to add to your post. You can even create a photo gallery, just make sure to use a watermark on your images.

Twitter and LinkedIn…

I can’t believe that just twelve-months ago I was reasonably confident that Twitter’s days were numbered. Maybe a little unexpected but there are now definite signs of life still left in the old bird as it were and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Twitter doesn’t start making a bit of a comeback. 

The user base is still strong and has once again started to rise. Could 2018 see twitter once again become a relevant platform? Quite possibly.  

What about LinkedIn? Now is probably the best time to engage with LinkedIn. Personally I use it for my day job but I am definitely considering swapping things out a little to focus on my art. 

At the moment the algorithm used on LinkedIn in the weakest of all of the social-media networks and it is turning what was once seen as a job search site into a professional community without the hassle that one would find on any of the other social networks. 

Posts are getting people noticed and organic reach is still high. However posts are heavily text based and those with links and images seem to perform less well, but if you can tell a story and add in some positivity but make your writing spontaneous. Connect your LinkedIn profile with twitter and in a relatively short space of time your engagement should start growing. 

This is currently one of the best platforms for B2B (Business to Business) marketing and it helps to create meaningful connections. So if you are in the market to sell your art to corporate clients, it is without doubt where most of them will be hanging out.

Set up a profile now and once B2B campaigns become more expensive on other social networks you will already have made your connections and will have a ready-made audience when advertisers start to migrate across from other social networks.  


happy New Year video marketing

Video…

The use of video as I said back throughout the summer and fall of 2017 is a key marketing strategy which will become even more crucial during 2018. Many of the large brands are now using video to tell their brand story and many of those videos have some longevity so the cost and hassle of repeatedly producing video is starting to fall as content can continue to be used. 

Facebook and social media users really don’t like advertising with users becoming less open to overt marketing of any description. Instead they are looking for deeper conversations and stories and the lines are blurring much more rapidly between overt marketing videos and videos that tell a story. 

Throughout 2018 we will see a lot more effort being put into production values by the brands, creating stories, and building relationships with customers. 

Look at the new Apple iPhone advert which played over the Christmas period, that has to be one of the best Apple adverts ever telling a story of two people (who are married in real life) meeting on the street. It was almost cinematic but viewers were left in no doubt that it was an Apple advert and no one really minded watching it.

It also made Apple appear to be more human than they have appeared to be in previous adverts by using people to humanise their product range instead of relying on the aesthetics of the technology they produce which they have historically done. 

Which brings me nicely to the point that you have to humanise your marketing in 2018 and offer people something beyond the product you are selling. Consumers are better than ever at spotting and blocking adverts and sales pitches, and this is something I repeatedly tried to get across in my series of using Facebook to market your visual art articles throughout 2017. 

I will give up saying this after this article but those 24x18 oil, $300, IM me, posts are not going to make the cut if you want to get your work noticed, if they ever did at all. 

If you want to build a collector base then it is time to humanise your marketing and start having deeper conversations. Also 2018 is the year when you have to be totally focussed on being more strategic in the placement of content, and you have to provide a context around it. You also need to be much more strategic in the tools that you will be using. 

Voice Assistants…

This is one I admit to not giving much thought to but over the past year or so of using Amazon’s Echo I must admit I am using it more and more to save me precious seconds wherever I can. 

Whether that is turning lights on and off, fine tuning the heating, or asking Alexa to find something out for me, there is no doubt about it that the use of voice assistants such as those from Amazon, Apple, and Google, are on the rise. 

This is the part of the voice puzzle I had been oblivious to until lately and that is how do we optimise our marketing efforts so that the likes of Alexa, Siri, and Google Home find us?

The answer is that we will need to focus on creating content that is optimised for voice search, and that will likely mean that SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) will change dramatically throughout the next year or so. If you look at just how much of our online activity is becoming less dependent on text, optimising the imagery and video will become increasingly important and having a strategy that only considers text based SEO is becoming less and less critical. 

It will be challenging and especially as the technology is becoming mainstream a little faster than most would have anticipated, but I definitely think that we will need to figure out how to best optimise content for voice search throughout the next year or so and we need to pay more attention to optimising the images and video on our websites. Whilst voice search optimisation isn’t number one on the list of priorities right now, by the back end of 2018 it will certainly start gaining some traction. 

Groups…

I mentioned back in 2017 that groups on Facebook were good for business. Many of the groups especially those for artists are in place for artists to promote their work and join communities of like-minded individuals. My three groups have grown considerably over the past year, but as is often the case with groups they can become exhausting when you get a few members who use groups only for self-promotion. I’ve seen people selling everything other than art in some of my groups until I block them, or they never engage with the community. I’m slowly going through some members and removing them where they are consistently breaking the rules. 

But groups don’t always have to be about others, you can set up a group to support you as an artist or your artistic business. This is a perfect way to build up your relationship marketing and particularly if you have a number of existing collectors who are already on social media. 

You can add value to your customers by offering them early opportunities to pre-order your next work and if you set the group to secret you can create a private community that can also give each of your clients some added value and introduce them to each other. 

You could live stream events and show work in progress, get feedback and gauge interest directly from your core demographic and with the analytics tools offered through group insights on Facebook, you will be better able to determine how and when your existing and new customers engage. 

Brands such as Adobe have been doing this for a while with their Spark group and the group is one of the most engaged I have ever visited. Even if your group accepts requests to join a private rather than secret group it can be used to build up your collector base even more. 

This is also where you will have the opportunity to show off your after sales skills and provide collectors with a meaningful experience. Talk about art in general or just talk about some new ideas you have, there is no doubt about it that using groups in this way will benefit both you and your clients. 

2018 is going to be all about humanising marketing and using groups to reach out to communities of people rather than just individuals is going to play a big part in the marketing of major brands, but there is no reason at all why you shouldn’t have a slice of this particular pie. 

Prepare better for selling your art beyond local…

Print on demand and social media have made it significantly easier to sell your art around the world. Some thirty-something years ago my own market was limited to a local population or wherever I exhibited and the thought that a majority of my collectors would be US based was something that I hadn’t considered would ever be possible.

But working in a global market brings with it its own complexities and having recently carried out a piece of work for a client who markets globally through social media, some of the new legislation which will be introduced to provide more control over data protection will affect those who have European customer bases. 

For the most part as visual artists we won’t be too affected by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) but many of the industries that we as artists rely on will be scrambling to prepare including organisations in the USA. Any one that does business with Europe will need to comply if they wish to continue doing business with Europe. To give you a sense of the complexities, I know a number of GDPR specialists who are struggling a bit too!

But beyond the regulatory hurdles and legislation being agile enough to respond to customers around the world is something that we should be taking a lot more notice of in 2018. 

There is a growing expectation that whenever anyone does business around the world that they are aware of the nuances of each market they serve, and they too are aware of the specificities of local behaviours and customs. Clients have expectations that because you sell globally you will serve them in a culturally relevant and contextual way, and this is where things become a little trickier as an independent artist. 

So in 2018 it might just pay off to start becoming at least a little more aware of those specificities and local attitudes and that doesn’t just apply when marketing art but for marketing everything else too. 

Artist Blogs…

I mentioned back in 2017 and as far back as 2016 that having a presence online in the form of a blog is just as important today as it was at the turn of the millennium. But what has changed is the way that audiences engage with blogs.

Back in the early days unless you posted an update on the hour every hour your blog was never picked up as being relevant by either search or readers. Things now are on the change and as readers become savvier about where they spend their time, quantity of posts is no longer as relevant but quality is everything. 

If you are an artist you are not a news outlet so there’s no need to post a bazillion updates each day. But blog posts such as this one that you are reading are specially created to be completely relevant to the reader’s needs, and hopefully a lot better than anything else out there. My strategy is purely focussed on providing information that artists need to market their art and comes from personal experience gained over many years from both my art and the work I do outside of my art. 

Having a blog is seen by some as irrelevant in this day and age but as an artist it is still the best way to humanise and connect with potential clients and existing collectors. Brands are starting to incorporate blogs into their corporate websites more and more so that should give you an indication in itself on where things are heading, but remember you need to be original and human. 2018 will be the year when we start seeing a few more blogs and hopefully some of which will have the staying power to stick with it, it’s not an easy task. Old is the new, new seems to be the motto here. 

Live Streaming…

I did mention this at length but it is worth noting that live streaming will become even more popular in 2018 and as publishers and brands find their feet and realise what works best for them, we can expect to see live streams ratcheting up a notch or two. 

Live streaming will be one of the best ways to continue gaining organic reach and for everyone who does it well, they will revel in success, but the key here is only if they are doing it well. 

There are expectations that a live broadcast looks professional even if you are a lone independent visual artist. To compete with everyone else who is doing live streaming professionally you will need to focus on making your presentation slick, and the quality even slicker. 

That means that grainy low resolution images are out and HD streaming as a minimum is in. We’re not quite ready for 4k streaming yet but if you are thinking of investing in any live streaming equipment, make sure that it is 4k ready. 

Live streaming drives traffic and it has done for the best part of the past year, but in 2018 it will become even more relevant. It not only drives traffic to you and your art, it also gives you an opportunity to get some quality time directly with your viewers who could be very well swayed into becoming your next collectors. 

Over the past year I have seen a few people try it out but as I said earlier, the key to live streaming is to do it well, and offer value to the viewer. In return those viewers on average will spend three times longer watching a live stream than they would watching a static video.  

I cannot stress the point enough that it has to be done well. Behind the scenes in your studio, a live Q&A about your latest work, webinars, using live streaming in groups, are all possibilities that independent visual artists can take advantage of. 

It’s all about building engagement and as I said a few moments ago, this is the only thing left that will definitively drive up organic reach. Doing it well though is what so many people fail to do. They will post an I am going live in five minutes post and seven or eight minutes later they might turn up and hurriedly put something together on the hoof. Live streams should be planned as far in advance as possible unless it is a breaking news story that you have stumbled across, but there should be a plan in place for those times too so that you are confident when you do live stream. 

Setting up a live stream as an event on social media is simple by using the events tools on Facebook business pages, and giving people enough notice of the event will make sure that they turn up to watch. However, consider time zones! Setting up a live stream event in the UK at 8am when your clients live on the east coast of the USA where it will be 3am will only encourage those having sleepless nights to tune in. 

So my final prediction this week is to focus on live streams and practice organising and doing them well. No jumping straight in without being prepared or not knowing what you want to say, and make sure that there are no immediate distractions. As cute as kids can be when they want their own on camera time, they have a canny knack of taking over the entire event!

I’m in the middle of creating a brand new masterclass article on using video to promote your artworks so if you fancy giving video a go this year keep an eye out for it. I’m hoping it will be ready in the next week or so. 

Good luck throughout 2018!

Well those are my predictions for the year ahead and hopefully they will come in useful when considering this year’s marketing strategies. I often hear from artists that time is an increasingly rare commodity but the reality is that without making the extra effort any other marketing campaigns will be less successful. 

The beauty of some of these is that they are relatively easy to implement and once implemented you are set up for a little while into the future. If I were to start predicting what 2019 has in store then I would pretty much be saying that most of these trends will continue for at least the next eighteen months, but much will depend on how and if and when social media possibly goes through that regulatory process. 

It might sound as if that debate is on the very fringes of what we do to market our work on social media but essentially it is a debate that could have the potential to significantly alter the way we market our art entirely, so it is an important debate to keep abreast of. 

This year I plan to create a few master classes for the blog and if anyone is interested I might just throw in a few live stream master classes too, and not just around marketing. I’m also considering setting up yet another new Facebook group solely around the business of art so if you are interested in being a part of a private community of artists then please do let me know.

About Mark…

Mark is a professional artist and blogger who has a passion for creating land and seascapes and abstract art. His work is available from https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com and from more than 150+ retail locations across the USA and Canada. 

You can also follow Mark on Facebook at https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia where he posts regular content and provides additional insights into the world of art and technology. 

Mark takes on a limited number of commissions each year and also sells selected works as signed limited editions through Beechhouse Media directly. If you would like to own one of these works or enquire about commissions, please use the contact form on this site. Any sales made through Pixels and Fine Art America go towards maintaining this site in order to support other independent visual artists.


free spirit artwork by Mark Taylor beechhouse Media

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