Social Media Updates for Artists August 2018

Social Media Updates for Artists August 2018

Here’s the one you will definitely want to read!

social media Updates for art marketing 2018


Each week I write a brand new article for members of our three wonderful groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, and The Artist Hangout. This week we take a break from my recent online resources for artists series to bring you the latest updates on our favourite social media platform!

Subscriptions and Facebook, let’s be clear about this one!…

Okay, that title might not have grabbed your attention unless you are one of the many people who continue to spread or believe the fake message that from tomorrow, Facebook will be charging you to access its services. That message has been going around often as a viral post for years and even though Facebook have just mentioned subscription models, it doesn’t mean to say that all of those fake messages have suddenly become true.

Let’s just make this really clear, Facebook is a free platform that you don’t and won’t have to pay to access unless you wish to join one of the new subscription based groups or contribute to a Facebook Watch creator, more on both a little later, and it’s worth mentioning that everything I’m writing about today is still being tested before any potential future rollout happens, so as with anything, it might still never happen but it kind of already is!

Groups...

Groups on Facebook are set up by people just like you and me, and there are only a handful of groups which are operated by Facebook with Facebook employees managing the groups. For the main, groups are a way of bringing like-minded individuals together in an online community to share information, advice, photos, resources, well, pretty much anything. 

As an admin of three groups which will soon turn into four groups, I can attest that both me and my admin team are constantly working on looking through the member requests, answering messages from members, and trying to desperately to engage each of the groups membership. It’s not always a walk in the park, well maybe a walk through Jurassic Park at times!

In short, its hard work to run a group and you do need a dedicated team to help you make a group successful. Our admins and moderators volunteer and all of whom give their time freely and voluntarily because they believe in what our groups support. 

It’s a thankless task at times because all too often you might find that members want to join the group but they don’t want to engage with anyone in it. For some it is just another sales channel and some of those will hijack the group entirely by posting a long list of posts so that anyone who comes along and scrolls through the most recent posts on the group’s timeline, will think that the group is dedicated to that one single person. Frequently the internet trolls will come out too, and when this happens it can become even more difficult to keep everything ticking over. 

As an admin or group moderator it is your responsibility to make sure that fairness prevails and you often have to make some quick decisions to remove or ban certain members. Group admins and moderators generally try to build safe and supportive communities that people come back to every day, and it’s not unknown for an admin to spend a majority of their time making sure that they remain safe and supportive places.

Facebook have started to roll out something that might just give admins a little reward if they are running subscription based groups. Some groups on Facebook already have a subscription model in place but admins of these groups have historically had to utilise third-party tools to help them to continue to invest in their community by charging a fee to their members.

Subscriptions will be handled by Facebook and this will allow admins to receive member subscriptions with built in native tools provided by Facebook. For members of these groups, you will be able to manage your subscription from either the iOS or Android Facebook apps, no news as yet on whether payments can be made outside of these platforms. 

Currently the roll out is limited to a small number of groups across a range of interests and as Facebook learn from the pilot and start to understand how group members feel about subscription groups, they will continue to improve the experience before rolling it out. 

Our three groups which will very soon become four will remain free for members, but there is a possibility that a future group might be set up for those who want a more focussed community group with a few other premium benefits and additional support. Curated artworks from invited artists who can then connect with serious art buyers and collectors might be an intriguing prospect for some. That won’t happen anytime soon and it’s still entirely possible that the subscription model might never receive a full rollout if the end users decide that paying a subscription isn’t something that they want to see. 

New tools for group admins…

Because group admins dedicate a heap of time to their communities, Facebook have responded to the feedback they have received from these admins and have now started to roll out some additional group tools. The Artists Exchange already has most of these new admin tools in place and the new functionality is definitely starting to make admin duties a little easier.

Admin Support from Facebook has historically been a little hit and miss, report a problem with any of the groups functionality and it would be raised as a ticket along with everyone else’s ticket which meant that there were often delays in getting things fixed. Sometimes issues have taken a few weeks just to get a response and in busy groups, that’s something that isn’t helpful. 

Admin Support has been set up to provide group admins with more timely and personalised help. Facebook will aim to respond to admin support tickets within one business day. Currently it is being piloted to a small number of groups and it can be found under the admin tools in groups where the feature is available. 

Learning...

Everyone knows I am a fan of learning whether it is online of offline so the next update to Facebook is very welcome. Learning how to be an admin has forever been a case of make it up as you go along and try to figure things out, maybe ask other admins for help or join a group for admins, all sitting outside of Facebook. 

Facebook have now created an online learning destination which takes the guesswork out of running a Facebook Group and it includes tutorials, product demos, and case studies. You can find the learning community for group admins right here.  

If you are planning to set up a group I can recommend the training and support on offer. It’s easy to understand and it really will give you a good grounding in the way Groups work and how they should be managed.


the Artists Exchange Facebook Group


Creator tools...

Creators use Facebook tools such as Facebook Creator to bring their videos onto the platform and Facebook are currently looking at ways to support the creators who engage with the platform by offering monetisation options. There will be a focus in three areas, helping creators to grow their community, managing their presence, and helping them to build a viable business on Facebook. 

Facebook have already introduced the Facebook Creators app and the Facebook for Creators site which you can view right here, and now they are testing even more new creator tools which are very welcome. 

Facebook Watch is gaining traction and it is noticeable that Watch seems to have been released globally this week. As I said last year, Watch is Facebook’s way of taking on YouTube and other streaming services and I think it will eventually become much more mainstream than it currently is but it will take time. 

The team responsible for Watch are currently exploring ways to bring people together around video with features such as Watch Party. Users in the US haven’t been clambering to use the service despite it being available for just over 12-months, but as with everything Facebook, Watch is likely to be a longer term prospect and a slow burner. Give it time though!

So how will monetisation work you’re probably thinking? You might start noticing that when you visit the App Store on iOS to download the Facebook app, that in app purchases are now indicated alongside the download option. This function has been enabled to allow fans of a content creator to become a supporter of the creators they love on Watch. The new service works by giving users the option to support the creator with a monthly payment with perks given back to the supporter such as access to exclusive content, and a badge highlighting their status as a supporter. 

Just as an aside, have you noticed the badges now available to members in our groups yet? Conversation starter, moderator, admin, new member, I’m sure more will be introduced in time and I hope that admins will in the future be able to award badges to members for doing good things within the group. I’m certain we will see a Mentor Badge at some point too.  

Another tool that will help advertisers and creators easily connect is also being tested right now and this tool will enable creators to set up a portfolio highlighting and showcasing their area of expertise. Advertisers can then search and find creators to collaborate with on compelling branded content campaigns. This could be great for artists and graphic designers. 

It’s going to be a good time for creators in the coming months and beyond and as YouTube have all but killed off the option of monetising content through ads unless a specific number of views are made each month. YouTube is relevant for now but if Facebook get monetisation of Watch right, they could attract more creators to pull away from YouTube. I have a feeling that could be Facebooks play right now because that is exactly what’s needed in this space, a way for niche creators such as those in certain artistic disciplines to be rewarded for creating great content regardless of subscriber numbers.

If Facebook can encourage new creators by offering sensible incentives to join the program, then Facebook could be the platform where you will be able to see many of the smaller niches represented which could be great for the arts. The monetisation will need to be accessible early on in a creator’s career to give them the encouragement and of course the funds needed to continue and produce quality video and other content. If they do go the same was as YouTube have gone by only rewarding the creators with the greatest number of subscribers then that could mean that very few new creators will be attracted to the platform. 

YouTube, Watch, and other platforms should take a leaf out of the playbook of Netflix and realise that they need to make it viable for creators to create, and do this by diversifying the spread of monetisation so that it’s not just the million plus subscriber creators who get to monetise the creation of great content. The smaller independent creators would then be in a much better position to create content in the knowledge that they will at least see some return from their investment when creating the content in the first place.


garden party wildlife art by Mark Taylor


Summing up the latest social media updates…

It really is interesting that Facebook seems to have recognised that groups need to be monetised for the people running them. Admins of groups really do provide a way of managing what appears on the platform within each of their groups, and I really do believe that Facebook need groups to provide the real community element that they have always strived for. So the potential for subscription based groups makes real sense but, there’s always a but!

The ‘but’ in this case is that I just have a niggling feeling that suddenly many new groups will open where the creator of the group is setting up the group for entirely the wrong reasons. I have a feeling too that we will eventually see micro-versions of platforms such as eBay where members need to be subscribed to sell, and as long as the money comes in then some admins I am sure won’t be at all too bothered about controlling the quality of what gets posted or who joins. 

For me I would be minded if I were Facebook to only offer subscription models to those who have some experience of managing groups and making sure that those groups are managed well. Monetisation of groups happens already in some groups through third-party apps. I have seen a few who sell their banner space for a week or promote products in return for a fee, and some groups even charging a fee to post anything with the admin only approving the post once the payment has been made through PayPal or whatever payment platform they choose. 

Legitimising an official monetisation route with approved tools directly through Facebook seems to me to be a good idea at least in principle. It takes the grey area of whether or not monetisation of groups is within Facebook’s community standards and makes it all a little clearer. But I also think that some care needs to be applied so that the flood gates don’t open up a new form of Facebook gold rush where fly-by groups are set up and then never administered with good intent. Either that or someone sets up the official society of Facebook admins with a professional qualification! (I’m claiming that idea by the way!)

I would love it if it were possible to pay the admins who work so hard in our groups for the huge amount of work they do, and it would be great if each of us were financially in a position where we could solely focus on managing the groups and create great content every minute of every day. 

But there is a real niggle in the back of my mind that also says we should be doing our best in the arts business to make the arts more inclusive, and that means supporting those artists who are just starting out, and supporting those artists who really are living day to day, hand to mouth financially, and who might not be in a position to afford a monthly subscription. 

What would be interesting to find out though is how do Facebook members feel about subscribing to groups? Is this something that the many people who use Facebook would ever contemplate paying for? 

I think a small minority of Facebook’s current user base might not mind the subscription model for specific niche and well operated and managed groups, but I really can’t see that many would stay around in many of the thousands upon thousands of existing groups if those groups suddenly started charging people so that they could remain a member. What I can also see is that more groups will be set up for the purpose of monetising membership, and that could have a serious impact on the overall quality and experience of Facebook. I certainly wouldn’t want to be managing that process within Facebook right now.

So what are your thoughts on subscribing to groups and what would make you want to subscribe or would you just find an alternative platform? As always, feel free to leave a comment below!

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: https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com   

I also offer some works directly and these come signed with a certificate of authenticity. Please do get in touch if there are any pieces you are interested in owning. In most cases I always produce a single signed test or proof print for each print I design and I also provide some selected images on encrypted USB sticks so that they can be viewed on your device or printed out at home, some of which may also be available on Etsy soon, keep an eye open for more information right here on this site!

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

For those who like to use reference photos, I give away a free reference photo for use in your own art projects most weeks, keep an eye open on my Facebook page as I capture interesting images on my travels!

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site and ensure it’s long term future by donating the cost of a coffee, or however much you feel like donating, it would be so very deeply appreciated. You can donate a little or a lot right here: 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 some more pages which focus on and support independent visual artists.

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