Engagement and Quality for Visual Artists on Facebook

Engagement and Quality for Visual Artists on Facebook

quality engagement for visual artists using Facebook

What a week it has already been! Not only one of the busiest weeks of the year to date, in the U.K. we are seeing weather that is beyond doubt some of the worst I have ever seen! 

Before we start taking a look at how we can really improve our engagement, sales, and metrics on Facebook I just want to ask a quick favour if you’re in the U.K. right now and bearing the brunt of the awful weather.

With temperatures plummeting rapidly (right now it’s minus six outside with a windchill making it closer to minus ten), I just wanted to remind folks to check on elderly neighbours and if you come across any homeless people, please make sure that they are ok. Whatever you can afford will make a real difference to them right now. 

If you run a hotel or have a place homeless people are able to get a decent nights rest somewhere warm and safe, or you have spare rooms over the next couple of days, please consider allowing those who are not so fortunate to use them. Homeless shelters are filling up fast everywhere and outside of the major cities there are so few shelters that can accommodate the U.K.’s growing homeless population. 

Many people going on business trips have had to cancel travel plans, often leaving hotel rooms empty. The heating is usually on anyway in most hotels and many hotels have already been paid for the accommodation even if there’s a no show. 

If you are a hotel owner or have the capacity and you do this, get in touch and let me know you helped someone and I will give you a shout out on this blog and share your social media presence to say thank you. It’s not much, but tonight you could save someone’s life. Thank you and big love to those who step up and help. 

Now back to that social media marketing thing for visual artists!

Facebook has certainly been going through a few changes recently. The big algorithm update of 2018 has well and truly started to kick in and we can expect to see many more changes over the next twelve-months. In my recent article “The Big Change For 2018” which you can read here: http://www.beechhousemedia.co.uk/2018/01/facebook-for-artists-big-change.html I covered some of the biggest changes to the platform so far this year and we took a look at some of the ways in which you can continue to grow your business on the platform as a visual artist.

When I wrote that article the changes had quite literally just been made to the platform so here we are a few weeks on and all of them are becoming increasingly noticeable. Engagement for some has gone well and truly down and lots of people are now wondering if Facebook is still going to be relevant for marketing artwork going forward. Before you wonder too much though, your organic reach might look like it has gone down right now, but there have been some changes in how those numbers are reported so it is highly likely that they haven’t gone down, it’s now more of a true representation. I’ll explain about that in another post! 

To answer the question of relevancy then yes, Facebook is still where everyone hangs out when it comes to social media but this new focus on quality engagement is making things a little tougher. I have been saying for the past year or so that engagement is the only metric that matters, now quality engagement is the only metric that matters. 

Facebook have said that people will probably be spending less time on the platform but if you are using it for the purposes of getting your art seen, I think you will need to spend even more time on the platform, or rather more quality time on the platform. 

Facebook are really tightening everything up and especially when it comes to posting your works in groups. Cross post a work to multiple groups at the same time and you’re likely to end up on the naughty step. 

Again this is nothing new, I have mentioned a few times that you should be adding more context to your artworks when you are posting them, and you shouldn’t be taking the spray and pray approach of cross posting into lots and lots of groups simultaneously. 

If you do, Facebook calls out spam and the posts end up either in the spam folder of the group moderator or they never get that far and Facebook just deletes them, usually the group moderator gets the blame for post no-shows when this happens. 

How widespread is the problem? Over the past month or so it has become more and more noticeable. Some weeks more than a dozen posts get flagged in each of my three Facebook groups, others just get deleted without coming through to an admin for approval first, but there is something noticeable with every one of the posts that do come through.

  1. The posts often have no context – nothing that describes the artwork or says that it is a work in progress. 24 x 30, Oil, $300, just doesn’t cut it.
  2. Posts with too many hashtags or posts with low quality-score hashtags. Facebook ain’t Instagram despite the fact that both Facebook and Instagram are owned by Facebook. Even on Instagram, there’s no real need for 20 or so hashtags, just use a couple of high quality ones instead. 
  3. Photos with no description at all
  4. Posts in groups which have no context within the group they are being posted into
  5. Posts which have been cross posted multiple times in a short space of time and shared by the poster everywhere and anywhere 
  6. Photos that are text heavy or look like adverts
  7. If you don’t post natively especially when uploading video

More noticeable are the number of people being blocked from posting into groups. The reasons are many it seems but you are more likely to see your account suspended if you do any of the following:

  1. Post spam links
  2. Post links from banned or suspended websites
  3. Post lots of links too quickly 
  4. Make generic comments – now comments are being identified as spam in some instances even on your own posts
  5. Join too many groups too quickly
  6. Join multiple groups immediately after signing up for a Facebook account
  7. Use scripts
  8. Posting from third-party scheduling tools always seems to lower reach, so use Facebook’s built in scheduler for Facebook Pages
  9. Post anything that goes against Facebook’s community standards
  10. Use images already marked as spam

There are so many things that could land you in Facebook jail but common sense is the only thing that will help keep you out. 

create quality posts on Facebook

Whilst the community standards are available for all to see, they’re not exactly super-easy to read and understand, and it takes way too much time to read the rules anyway! That’s mistake number one, reading and understanding the rules is an absolute must as is rechecking every few months at least because the rules often change.

Essentially there are a few absolute rules that could land you in hot water if they’re not followed, the first one is one that I know is broken frequently is that personal profiles should never be used for the sole purpose of marketing.

People have profiles, businesses have pages. That’s always been a rule yet so many choose to ignore it. Using a business name for your personal profile is something that you definitely shouldn’t be doing either, and whilst artists are people, if you are selling your art you are marketing.  

You can have as many business/fan pages as you need but you can only ever have a single personal profile. I see many people requesting to join my groups using a business name but businesses can’t actually join groups, only personal profiles can. The idea by the original poster/group member is that their business name then gets seen in whatever group, but it is in clear contravention of the rules and could see your personal profile account suspended or even taken away altogether. 

The algorithm used by Facebook has no apparent ability to make changes for any individual. It can’t just change the rules because in real life you are a good egg, it really doesn’t work like that. Facebook is fairly consistent in that everyone does get to start out on a level playing field, it’s just that the user changes that playing field dramatically depending on what they post and how they use the account. 

That algorithm can also label you as a spammer or rather it has the ability to mistakenly label you as a spammer. It’s all about proportionality, there are relatively few spammers in comparison to the total number of users on the platform but those few who are, are responsible for a lot of the spam we all see. 

So what makes the algorithm think you are a spammer? If you are doing anything listed in both of the previous lists that could get you labelled, but there are a few other things which seem to get you noticed for the wrong reasons too.

One of those things is making lots of friends requests to people you don’t know or don’t have a connection to. Once someone rejects a friend request they are often asked if they know the person who made the request. If they answer that they don’t, then Facebook seems to down-rank the person who made the request.

Messenger probably has a role in your overall Facebook experience and ranking too, using private messages to send out promotional messages or spam, fake news, or banned links is also a no, no.

Facebook also seem to have a different time-zone to the rest of us. For many of us artists life can be hectic at the best of times. I recently spent more than 300-hours working on a single piece of art so of course I was eager to share it once it was done. But knowing that Facebook’s time zone runs slightly out of kilter with everyone else’s, and everyone else’s runs out of kilter with mine, I also knew that sharing the link to the artwork from my business page into lots of groups would likely end up in 300-hours of wasted effort. So I limited my own sharing and will repost it periodically as part of my content strategy. 

In short, you have to be patient and spread out posts, shares, and comments over a period of time and not throw everything out there immediately. I mentioned this in my series of articles last year too. So many people seem to create a new artwork, post it in every group, tag people into the post, and add in a load of low scoring hashtags, all in the matter of minutes. 

The result is that the post could then be flagged as spam and any time you did spend posting it, is time that will have been wasted. What’s not quite so obvious is that you’re not doing your art any favours either. If you post out to twenty-groups at the same time, you are pinning everything on everyone being able to see that post at that time. Of course they won’t because they might be busy with that thing we call life and might not even be on Facebook when you hit the post button. Sometimes people sleep too. 

What we should be doing is spending time on creating a post plan that eases the work out onto the platform. This has multiple benefits.

  1. The plan would ensure that your post is seen over a number of days/weeks so there’s no immediate big bang before you disappear into the ether!
  2. It’s less likely to be picked up as potential spam because it’s not spam and doesn’t show the habits or traits of a spammer. 
  3. It’s going to reach more people overall and at the time when they are on the platform

You can also over-post in other ways. Planning your posts means that you are less likely to need fillers all the time. Some businesses tell you everything that they are working on or doing, right down to the granular detail. 

I saw one of these posts last week where the content consisted of nothing more than “at 12:30 I am breaking for lunch” followed by a post that told everyone how much they enjoyed their sandwich” followed by another post saying, I thought I should do something or other and then describing what they did. What they did, and the fact that they took a lunch break were not really stories worthy of their own posts though. Those kinds of posts don’t attract likes or engagement, they might though attract a very slow and sarcastic clap together with an eye roll and we all think to ourselves “you spent time writing this? You clearly have too much of it on your hands”. 

You also need to consider which groups are going to be worth your time. As the years roll by many groups we were once a part of have since bitten the dust and are no longer updated or monitored by the admins. What’s more they’re no longer frequented by buyers of artwork, just by other artists trying to reach similar buyers who are most likely not even there anymore. Cross-posting to these unsupported groups is not only a complete waste of your time, it’s more likely to lead to sanctions on your account and your posts being flagged as spam if you’re still posting into those hundred or so non-active groups you joined back in 2007. 

As a group admin one of the things that I always look out for is the number of groups someone has joined in a short space of time and since the Facebook account was created. 

Wherever possible I visit the groups that new members are already a member of and see if they regularly participate in them with quality posts. 75% of them don’t engage with other groups despite being a member, and when they do post they never follow it up by engaging with the community. What most of them seem to do is share to the group externally and as I said a few weeks ago, they never revisit the group once they have joined and they never engage with the community. 

using Facebook to market art

So what can you do to up your quality and engagement metrics?

Like, love, wow, or any of the other reactions to posts are no longer enough. Whilst reactions have been historically weighted more than simple likes, the best way of engaging and supporting artists is to engage with them. Leave a positive comment, share their work, and hopefully they will reciprocate the love. 

Visit an artist’s external page such as their print on demand portfolio and leave a comment on there for the artist too. Not only will that prove that the page is useful on social media it will also improve the artists rank on the print on demand site too. We could all do with that kind of love. 

When you are engaging you need to be engaging. Generic comments and thank you for liking statements are no longer where it’s at in the comments threads. Know that I sincerely thank everyone who likes, loves and wows my posts, I will do the same for you, but conversation is key when it comes to comments. 

If that conversation can be between other people and not just the original poster then all the better because that really does show that the post is engaging. 

Time for my usual dose of tough love here, you have been warned! 

As I have previously said, the key to Facebook is about engaging with broader communities, and I do believe that for many people groups have just become an extension of Facebook Marketplace or Craig’s list. 

The hard sell, the randomness of posting without planning, the me, me, approach of flooding groups without giving any context to the work or consideration of the context of the group, are all ultimately pointless exercises. Haphazard approaches rarely sell art in the real world so they will never work on social media. 

There is no real engagement anymore, and it really is quite sad. There is though a lot of complaining, but most of the reasons aren’t really problems of Facebook’s making, the solution is often within the grasp of those complaining to put right. 

Supporting each other right now is going to be key to getting work in front of new buyers and making sure that your content is within the right context, and is engaging, will be the only way of ensuring that happens other than paying. Even if you do pay to get your ad seen, you’ll still want engaging and relevant content, otherwise you will just be throwing money away. 

Future Updates…

As I have said since the new algorithm started to take effect, Facebook will continue to be a relevant platform and there are new features being introduced all of the time which make it an even better platform to continue using. 

One of the latest announced additions to the already rich feature set is that soon we will be able to share lists.

People love lists because they are easy to digest and usually get to the point of a topic quicker than long articles (note to self here!), and if you take a look through Google’s search results for pretty much any given subject, lists are usually near or at the top of the first results page. 

And now lists are coming to Facebook so you will be able to share your very own to do list with the world. Not fully rolled out just yet, the lists feature will be ideal for artists and can be decorated with gradient backgrounds and emoji’s. Lists are clearly an attempt to get users sharing more about themselves, your top ten travel destinations for example has the potential to get you targeted with travel insurance and flight tickets.

But they could be so useful if you are sharing step by step tutorials or to drive up meaningful engagement between users. Seeing who shares a similar bucket list with you could be interesting! Anyone fancy Everest Base Camp?

We can expect to also see the focus on quality engagement becoming even more of a thing. 

Rewind to the statement Mark Zuckerberg made when he announced the changes and one of the key phrases he used was “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions”. 

That in itself tells you the direction of travel this year, the focus really is about the engagement even more, and they do want to provide you with a quality experience that promotes wellbeing. They want to focus on the posts that generate back and forth positive commentary among Facebook users. 

People will be spending less time on Facebook too so when you do get people’s attention you will need to compete with everything else that the platform is throwing at them. So it should make absolute sense that in the future quality and engagement will go hand in glove with each other. That’s the only way you will succeed on the platform, at least for a while anyway.

Stick to these rules and even if you don’t read or fully get to grips with the community standards, at least you will be somewhere close to being on the right track! 

Oh, nearly forgot! Here’s my latest artwork! Meet me at the Beach is my brand new seascape and it is available now on a wide range of print mediums and other art collectibles from my Pixels site!

meet me at the beach art by Mark Taylor

About Mark…

Mark is an artist and blogger who specialises in abstracts, landscapes, and seascapes but also carries out a limited number of commissions for book covers, posters, and personal commissions too. 

His work is sold in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada including The Great Frame Up, Framing and Art Centre, and Deck the Walls and you can also buy from Fine Art America or his Pixels site here: https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com 

All artwork and art collectibles sold through Fine Art America and Pixels also come with a 30-day money back guarantee. Any proceeds from the sale of art through Fine Art America and Pixels go back towards maintaining this site for the benefit of other independent visual artists and art buyers. You can also follow Mark on Facebook at: https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia 


Popular Posts