Alternative Social Media for Artists and More Facebook Updates

Alternative Social Media for Artists and More Facebook Updates

social media for artists facebook updates


Each week I write a new article to support members of our three wonderful art groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, and The Artist Hangout. This week we step away from the regular social platforms we use to market our art and we take a look at a couple of alternatives which might just expose you and your art to new markets, or maybe the very market you have been searching for. We also take a look at the most recent feature changes coming to Facebook that you might just want to be aware of. 

Social Staples…

Facebook, Twitter, Google, are the staples of artists around the world when it comes to using social media to surface their work in front of eyes. Some believe that the two-billion members of Facebook will get to see each and every post they make and that all you have to do is provide a few dozen hashtags, sit back, and wait for the nickels to roll in. For those of us who have been using social media as a marketing strategy to sell our work for years, we know that it isn’t quite so easy!

Those artists who have been around for a while realise that they need to work hard to market their work and engage with everyone who engages with them and everyone who currently doesn’t to a degree. Social media and especially social media marketing is hard, complicated even at times, and there are never any guarantees that your work will be seen by the right audience or appreciated and loved in the way that it should be whether you are a new artist or someone who is for want of a better phrase, time served. 

Facebook has had its share of problems and negative press lately yet there is so much that is right about the platform that it will continue to be relevant, and especially if Facebook and responsible Facebook users can take the platform back from the online trolls, the fake accounts, fake news and click bait. I think between us and the work Facebook are doing, we probably can. That other social media platform Twitter, has become relevant again after it went for a stroll in some dark woods and got a bit lost, and Google is well, still Google. 

These staples though aren’t always the best strategy despite being the most obvious and also despite having two-billion people signed up to Facebook your target audience for your work can often remain elusive. Committing time to any social platform is an absolute must and anyone who thinks that one day they will post that killer post that will turn around their art sales fortunes will probably be waiting for a long time. It’s the harsh reality of social media where it may have been possible at one time to pull in thousands of likes from a single post, not so much anymore. 

So adding other platforms into the mix will take up even more time that you won’t then have to create, but there is a question that you need to ask yourself. Are the current social media and marketing platforms giving you any value and are they really working for you?

If they are then great, you probably won’t need to read the rest of this article or you might want to jump straight to the Facebook updates at the end, but if you know deep down that you are simply wasting time and energy on something that might but more likely won’t pay off, then you should continue reading and think about what you really want out of social media. 

That’s not to say at all that you need to give social media platforms up. They can still be useful and often fun and having a presence means you widen the chance of getting your work seen.  Maybe using Facebook for friends, and Twitter to hold live Q&A’s with your fans or to answer questions might be a pragmatic way to retain a presence while you work out if the alternatives work for you. 

Social media has been changing and evolving for years and where businesses and brands once used it to send out a high number of posts about their product or service, today it is being used differently. People who join social media and who don’t have to worry about marketing on the platforms are consumers of content and that content has to be useful. Even those of us who do use the platform for marketing also use it to consume content. 

In short, each of the platforms are very different today than they were in the past and the end users are using social media differently too. Social media is no longer a PA system to amplify a sales pitch. Where people would once click on anything and everything, today we have become more aware that not everything is worth our time clicking on. In the past it was one to many, a post would be posted and the people would come. Today it is one to a few or in some cases one to one and at worst, one to none if your content doesn’t hit the right notes.

It’s not the end of social media, it’s just changing but there are some who seem to be stuck back in 2010. The glory days of a hundred likes per second and exponential referral traffic back to your site. It doesn’t mean that traffic doesn’t happen and the traffic that does originate from a social platform is more likely to be the traffic you want, but if we don’t evolve and understand how to use the platforms in a new way then we will get left behind, shouting loudly but no one hearing us.

Social media today is about engagement and I know I keep going on about that, but it is the only metric that will ultimately turn your efforts into sales. If a million posts are posted each day (and I am sure there are many more than that) and this number then continues to grow, as we like and follow more people and brands we see fewer of their posts in our feed. We could never keep up. Organic is possible but as I said last week, it’s a real grind unless you’re paying to play but even then the outlay doesn’t always reap rich rewards and oh, there’s an algorithm to work with too and we have zero idea what rules the algorithm plays by.

The customer journey has changed because of social media and the internet. Today a customer will spend time researching what to buy and by the time they have poured through posts and search engine results they will have forgotten that they were looking for you, so you have to go where the potential customers are and you have to give them exactly what they want and if you can make that customer journey a bit shorter and easier for them then you’re in with a chance.

So we might need to consider the alternative platforms and see if our market is hiding away on those instead of the traditional platforms, but who and what are the alternatives and are they any good?


garden party art by Mark Taylor


That Pinterest Thing…

Regular readers will remember me mentioning that I thought Pinterest was going to be a great option for marketing your artwork over the coming year and a number of you got in touch to say that you had boards on Pinterest and a few others who got in touch because they had never really considered Pinterest as a potential platform for marketing art at all.

There is a misconception around Pinterest in that many people believe it to be a social media platform, others think of it more as digital scrapbooking and fewer people give it enough credit for its power to drive traffic to a website. 

Pinterest isn’t a traditional social network because it is essentially a visual search engine. People go there not to leave comments or love, like, and wow, but because they want to be inspired and I guess a few just go for the creative things you can do with a mason jar. It’s also a platform where your pins have a much longer shelf-life than any other platform offers.

But more than this, whilst other platforms have been busy chasing the ad-revenue from small businesses, Pinterest looks toward businesses much more favourably and whilst you can pay to promote pins, organic reach doesn’t seem to be dropping too much at all.

I started a Pinterest account a few years ago as a way to collect memories of my childhood and I have a retro board on there which despite not being updated for a year still attracts viewers who consistently re-pin the posts I have collected. 

I also have boards for my artwork and a few other interests and just over 3,000 followers! I just haven’t spent anywhere near enough time using it because like many of you, I just don’t get the quality time I need to focus too heavily on any kind of social media. Facebook has been my staple and it is an important and consistent staple but I have come to the conclusion that Pinterest might be a platform that I really shouldn’t be ignoring. Last week more than a quarter of the traffic to this site came as a result of sharing a single post on Pinterest. 

People use Pinterest for all sorts of reasons and they use it for different reasons than they do with a platform such as Facebook or Twitter. When you sell through print on demand there are so many options to place your art on products and I don’t know about you but Facebook isn’t really the place where people generally think, oh I need a throw pillow, let’s look for one on Facebook. 

Pinterest on the other hand is a place where I go whenever I want to re-landscape my garden (I did this and it continues to be an ongoing project thanks to inspiration from Pinterest) or whenever I want to redecorate my home. Metallic gold paint on a feature wall looks so much better in real life than it does on a Pinterest board but it is a nightmare to apply! 

In short, Pinterest seems to be the place that people go to when they want to find inspiration or carry out some interior design so it makes sense that this could be a perfect platform for visual artists and especially if you feature your artwork on products which have a fit with home décor!

So as well as generating traffic, potentially the traffic which is generated is the right kind of traffic. According to a report by Kleiner Perkins 59% of respondents had discovered items to purchase using Pinterest and in an earlier 2016 report, there were indications that 55% of US based internet users had said that their primary use of the platform was for searching for and purchasing products. 

I think even the recent numbers show some evidence that the platform is a solid choice for promoting artwork and I also think that this could potentially be the service that gives us a channel to promote those smaller art collectibles other than prints if you are working with print on demand. 

What is perhaps more interesting is the amount of effort needed which in comparison to Facebook and Twitter can be slightly less. I mentioned older pins of mine being resurfaced and re-pinned from more than a year ago and when I compare this to other platforms, I am lucky if a social media post has a lifespan of a day or two. 

So content incubates and prospers beyond the initial posting timeframe and if it is ever- green as in not time specific and it continues to hold some relevance it has the potential to resurface down the line. 

So why don’t more artists use Pinterest? I think the most common reason after talking to a number of artists is that they don’t necessarily get it. It’s not a traditional search engine and it’s not a traditional social media site, and I know when I first started using the platform that I found it to be a bit confusing. Suddenly I was faced with lots of random stuff and multiple creative things to do with a mason jar but fumbled around in the dark for almost two week’s trying to figure out how it worked or rather figuring out why it was different to traditional social media platforms. 

The way Pinterest works is based on sharing and what you will see are a lot of pins shared from other users (apparently we don’t call them posts) on to an individual’s board. Searching for something relies on using keywords and phrases which is again very different to other platforms. 

Whilst there are no guarantees that any platform whether it is Pinterest, Facebook or any of the other more traditional platforms will generate more sales or even any sales, Pinterest offers a different way to promote you art in a more visual way that’s not Instagram or Facebook and that’s enough of a hook for some. Having said that, so long as you are consistent and offer pins of value to followers and have a content strategy in place, it is a really useful tool to have in your marketing arsenal.

How to set up an account…

If you don’t already have a Pinterest account then you will need to set one up, but it ideally needs to be a business account. You can then apply for rich pins which add your business logo or profile photo to each of your posts/pins and these rich pins also add your business name. This is useful because it will get your name spread whenever a re-pin happens and viewers will identify you with quality content. 

You also need a name which ideally conveys what your business is about, then you need to complete the about me section, and ensure that some relevant keywords are included in the description and remember to include your website address. 

Next you will need to think about the boards that you will be using and what they should feature so that they at least hook some initial followers. That first board is the most important because it will appear at the top of your feed, so ideally it should be consistent with your branding. 

As artists we don’t all have corporate style branding because for the most part we are the brand, but it is vital as with any online presence that consistency is integral to your social/web based strategy when it comes to marketing. 

You can then create pins (what we Facebooker’s usually refer to as posts) which point to items in your online store. There are a few benefits here, namely in that each of these links will send traffic to your site and your product and this in itself creates backlinks to your site or store. 

Creating banners…

I hear you, not more banners. We do seem to spend much of our marketing time when promoting our art on creating banners and web graphics that fit with the platforms we use and Pinterest banners are no different, they’re a different size to other banners too. 

This is where I know I need to focus on when I start reinvigorating my own Pinterest account and bring it up to date! I know I have mentioned using Adobe Spark post so many times previously but it really is worth reminding you all of it again. 

Adobe Spark Post the one go to tool I use for many of my own marketing material needs and it is available on the web, on iOS, and it will be coming soon to Android. I use it every week for creating graphics on this site purely because it is so easy to use and it’s really fast. 

Last minute editing, on page SEO and uploading can take three hours each week for this site as a minimum and then the posts need to be created that will be scheduled to go out on Twitter and through other platforms so anything that can save time is really beneficial. 

Full disclosure I am an Adobe Spark Insider so I get to know what’s coming up, and what I can say right now is that Spark is about to become even more awesome!

You can even set up your own branded templates if you already have an Adobe subscription or you can pay a monthly subscription just for enhanced Spark features which include branding and templates, but the free version will probably give most of you what you need to create simple marketing graphics.

I tend to create graphics for this site up to three and sometimes four months in advance. For my marketing images it can be anywhere up to six or seven months in advance or as soon as I start creating or have identified a work I want to create. When the time comes to share a post I usually have a range of images I can call on and use. 

In between I create a few other generic marketing images which can then be used as templates either now or next year or sometime even further down the line. It might sound tedious but it really does save so much time when it comes to marketing and with a system such as Adobe Spark the creation can be done often within a very short period of time. A library of templated marketing images featuring my brand are always at hand so that I can use them whenever I am really short on time. 

There’s also a Spark Page website for creating webpages, and there is of course the video creation tool called Spark Video. Each are separate applications on iPhone and iPad but on the web they’re all in the same place. Check out the website for Spark right here

As I said, you don’t need to subscribe the full blown Adobe CC or Photoshop package but if you are a visual artist then having access to Photoshop and Lightroom are really going to benefit you longer term. Even if you don’t create digital art at all, preparing your work for upload to print on demand is so much easier when you have the right tools. 

But what sets Spark Post out above other post creation tools is that you can create a single image and then convert the image into whatever banner size or format you need and there are templates for Pinterest and Instagram and other networks too. 

If you can apply branding to Spark generated posts this is ideal to create a consistent look and feel across your boards on Pinterest. 


new art by mark Taylor Wild


That first board…

It goes without saying that your number one board should contain links to all of your own work. Pick out the best and most eye catching pieces and make sure they are pinned into this board. 

Other boards can focus on other things which relate to your art, so if you are a seascape painter then posting images of the sea and ocean life will have a good fit with your own artistic genre and you can still pin your art to that board too. 

Group boards are I guess the equivalent of Facebook groups but without the need to focus on being overly social. These are boards which are set up by users of Pinterest and where multiple people can collaborate and pin posts to a common board.

At this point it’s worth mentioning that I intend to create a group board specifically for friends and peers who are artists and who I engage with on Facebook, if they wish to jump straight into a group board that has a few members behind it already. As I said earlier I have just over 3,000 followers so I am hardly a Pinterest power user or major influencer, but that is potentially 3,000 more people who might get to see your art. If you would like an invitation then let me know your Pinterest URL and I will add those who I know!

That’s all there is to do to start pinning but there are a few tips that I have managed to pick up throughout the past couple of years. Getting followers is as we all know the hardest part of any online strategy.

As with everything to do with online you need to have a reasonably solid idea of who your target audience currently is. The people who will be re-pinning your pins will be the same type of people who currently buy your art and who already share your posts on other platforms. Build boards that resonate with those kinds of people and the followers will eventually come. 

Patience is also something that from experience I know you have to have. Again this is no different to any other platform, there are never any instant results. When I started all those years ago on Pinterest there was the initial period of time after joining where I just couldn’t seem to grow any followers at all, but then they started to come after I had started creating more boards and pinning more content.

Updates to Pinterest this year have been constant and small things such as the ability to rearrange pins on your boards have been added along with the ability to archive certain boards. You can also create secret boards which are spaces for your own thoughts and creations which you don’t want to share publicly. 

Create boards which categorise the art that you produce. Keep a general board for everything but consider having alternative boards perhaps for your photography projects, links to your print on demand store or online portfolio and then create a number of other boards which will resonate with your target audience. 

Remember that Pinterest is really all about the visuals so again it is worth reiterating the point that consistency and keeping your branding aligned is vital if you want to make an impact.

I also mentioned earlier that Pinterest wasn’t a social media site but that doesn’t at all mean that you can get away without engaging with anyone. Comments made by others should be responded to and remember to re-pin the content provided by your followers. Something that I have been considering in my new Pinterest strategy is to also have a guest pinner board. Inviting some of my followers to pin their own content to a board which will of course broaden the reach out across multiple sets of followers.

If you have a website make sure that you are using alt-tags in your images, and use relevant keywords to describe both your boards and your content. Hashtags can be used sparingly and that latter bit I totally understand will be a shock for those who like to post 50 irrelevant hashtags to their Facebook posts, but relevancy is critical when posting online because search engines will down rank content with irrelevant hashtags as will any social platforms.


alternative social media networks


Ello…

I think I have touched on the platform that very few people know exists before. That platform is Ello and it’s still alive and well and is a go to for the professional creative community.

Originally the platform was introduced as an alternative and ad-free rival to Facebook and pretty much the world and his wife joined up to see if that really was the case. When it first came onto the scene it amassed more than 3 million users in the first few months but nobody really knew what it was.

It really didn’t help that the user interface was bare bones at best and that is possibly a slight over estimation, it turned out that no one could figure out how it was supposed to work and it certainly wasn’t Facebook.

That foray into competing with Facebook was a huge mistake as it turned out because it was originally created as a community for artists. Since those early days the platform has recreated itself and its strapline is “The Creators Network” and I have to say I love it.

Again it is yet another platform that busy creative types who hang out on Facebook and Twitter just don’t get the time to utilise fully but I think that could be a huge mistake. The platform aims to assist ad agencies and others who need some creative input to spot talent and see what the artists on the platform are capable of. If the ad agencies are looking on there you can dare bet some galleries are too. 

There are no ads on the platform but what you will see are superb examples of art, photos, and music, but no memes, politically biased commentary or fake news. I spent a couple of hours last weekend just going through it and trying to tidy up my own presence on the platform which I have been on since I was originally invited to it when it first launched and there was one thing I really noticed. There were no negative comments anywhere, just a deep respect from other artists and lots of collaboration.

Yes it is social but it is social in the same way as it would be if you were to walk into a physical shared studio space. There are no gimmicks it is simply a straight up creative community which makes it easy to get feedback, collaborate with other artists, share experiences and knowledge and sell your work.

To sell your work all you need to do once you have set up an account is upload an image of the work, select the $ icon, add a link to the product page in your store and publish your post, but you might want to make your post even richer than just a link to a product page. That’s fine because you can on Ello.

There is also a hire me button which tells potential clients that you are available for work and this provides an easy way for them to contact you with work opportunities. There is also a collaborate button too which works in a similar way. 

Posts are created in an editor so there is none of the instant submission of un-thought about content that doesn’t resonate, you have to work to create a post which will put many fly-by posters off. There are many things you can do with a post to make it stand out so to add a link for example needs you to highlight the text in the editor and click on the link button, but you can also drag and drop image files. 

You can also embed audio files by entering a YouTube or Vimeo (others are available) link, and embed audio by linking to Soundcloud and a few others. This post creation flexibility though does mean that your posts can contain multiple audio, video, image, and text elements complete with links and an option to buy, making posts much richer than on any other platform. You can even create bold, italicized, and strikethrough text, and you can also create lists. 

There’s no size limit on posts, images, or text and you can resize images so that they better fit. There are options to repost the posts you love and there is a discover option which provides you with new artists who you might want to follow.

The platform is available on the web through a PC or Mac and it also has apps for iOS and Android available. You can check out Ello right here.  

Who Ello should be used by…

Ello isn’t Facebook and it certainly isn’t a platform that encourages the spray and pray, blind marketing approach. Think of it as an art commune but online and with a real community built around it. 

If you are serious about getting your work noticed and you are serious about your art then this could very well be the perfect companion platform. Your average target market might not be on the platform but there will be another potential target market who want to pay for your services or who want to collaborate with you. True art fans will however use it to discover new and emerging art and there is another potential new market. 

Again, just like Pinterest this is an alternative that might just pay off longer term. Patience is required just as with every other platform but if you provide rich posts that resonate the hard work might eventually bring much better results than relying on traditional networks alone.

If you think that a regular copy and paste from your Facebook timeline will suffice as a post then sorry, that’s not going to work here. If you want to put in a little quality time and want to be a part of an engaged community then that’s exactly what you will get. It is a community of professionals that ranges from artists, designers, architects, musicians, and creators of GIFs and others. 

Ello isn’t for everyone and if your thing is to supplement your artwork with posts about your Juice Plus franchise then it’s definitely not the platform for you, it’s very different, very focussed and its niche is the world of creatives who use the platform to engage.

The updates keep on coming!

Every social media platform and those that don’t quite fit into the social media box will continue to evolve and they will continue to be updated. 

June 11th 2018 saw yet another feature introduced to Facebook and thankfully it still wasn’t that dating site thing they have been going on about. According to Facebook some 90-million people use the On This Day feature on Facebook to reminisce on shared moments throughout their Facebook history. 

There’s been some research carried out independently that this might actually be a good thing for well-being and can have a positive impact on people’s moods. So Facebook have introduced Memories

The memories page has several features all in one place such as On This Day which is where you will find content from the past and major life events from the same date in the past. 

And it will also now include Friends Made on This Day, showing a list of friends you made on the anniversary of accepting a friend request, and Recaps of Memories, which provide recaps of memories seasonally and monthly which have been pulled together into a Facebook video.

Memories you may have missed is also something new, so if you haven’t checked your memories lately then this will show you posts from the past week.

Some memories though are best forgotten so you might want to make sure you have set the appropriate controls in place, but this might be a good time to dig through your previous Facebook history and just delete the stuff you have been hanging on to like some extreme digital hoarder anyway. 

Trending is no longer trending because trending has disappeared entirely. First introduced back in 2014 as a way for users to discover news topics popular across the Facebook community but it was only ever available in five countries and produced around 1.5% of clicks to publishers. 

The trends API which was used in some third-party applications has also meant that some products which relied on this API have also been removed. 

Tests for the Breaking News label have started to spring up in North America, and “Today” is a new section that connects people with breaking and important news from local publishers. Facebook Watch will also see a new feature where people in the US will be able to view live coverage, daily briefings, and weekly deep dives. 

Heads UP!

Just to give you some advance warning about another update but one which has nothing at all to do with social media is that I will be taking a break for a couple of weeks soon, as I explore the Jurassic coast of the UK on the search for artistic inspiration and some much needed rest!

Some of this time though will be spent on and near the ocean so there might be times when I go completely off grid if I can’t get a connection through my mobile service provider or when I am out of range of any decent Wi-Fi. You can expect some updates on social media and I will be taking a few reference photos of various landscapes and places and I will post these on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and maybe Pinterest too! 

I will also be writing some new material while I am on this break of discovery (that’s the plan anyway but the weather is looking good!) but I won’t be posting for just over a week unless I can find a little time. 

I have a packed itinerary and will be visiting many places throughout the two weeks and I will also be searching for anything that might be interesting in the world of art to cover on this site. Poole Pottery will literally be a few minutes away from where I am staying, and of course Poole Harbour which I’m pretty excited about exploring again. Expect more of my seascapes to emerge shortly after!

#PostSitting

And finally we should talk about something I have decided to call Post Sitting. It’s a little like house sitting, baby sitting, or dog sitting but it’s the social media version for our artist friends who can’t get online. 

As artists we all need a break occasionally and sometimes I have known some of my artist friends who have been feeling a little under the weather and can’t get on Facebook at all. I know a few who have suffered badly throughout various storms where electricity was disrupted and the last thing they were probably thinking of was posting art updates online.

The problem is that when a fellow artist is going through a rough patch their reach and engagement sink like a brick and they are quickly forgotten in this disposable world we call social media. 

When they get back to the platform they then have to work ten times as hard to build their reach and engagement back up. So if you notice an artist you know has gone AWOL and you know that they would post if they could, or you know they can’t make themselves available, please consider doing them a kind favour and share some of their work and their artist pages on your own timeline. You never know when you might be in the same position and you might want someone to post sit for you too!

Sharing the work of others will also benefit your timeline by keeping it filled with fresh content and might bring followers of other artists towards your work too. The competition on Facebook isn’t between artists who are friends, but from the huge chains that sell art without supporting independent and local artists.  

It might also give an artist who has been unwell a much needed confidence boost when they get back to normal too and especially if you manage to bag them a sale by doing something so kind. 

When you do share posts and you know the artist is on vacation though, please don’t let the world know that they are not at home. There are bad players in the world outside of Facebook as well as within it who might use that information for malicious reasons. 

Hopefully you will have found this week’s deep dive into the alternative world of social media useful and if you have had any success on Pinterest or Ello it would be great to hear about!

As always, stay safe, happy creating and never give up!

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger who specialises in abstracts, landscapes, and seascapes. My 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 my Pixels site here.  

You can also follow me on Facebook at: https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia and on Twitter @beechhouseart

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site then please do consider donating the cost of a coffee over at https://gofundme.com/mark-Taylor-beechhouse-Media 

There’s no obligation to do so but in time I hope to remove adverts from the site entirely and create more pages which focus on and support independent visual artists.

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