Getting the most out of Facebook Business pages for Artists


A Lesson for Artists on Getting the Most out Of Facebook Business Pages

using facebook business pages effectively for marketing
Facebook Business Pages are Still Powerful


Each week I write a brand new article to support members of our three wonderful groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, and The Artist Hangout. This week we look at social virality and whether an artist can still generate enough interest in their Facebook business page to bring in new followers and hopefully attract new buyers, the results are more surprising than you would think. Facebook business pages really do still work...

The Experiment…


Last week I decided to run one of my usual totally non-scientific experiments. I had just seen the bill for my latest art supply order and my wife had said I must be crazy spending that much, and I should probably get some therapy to control my desire to spend money on shiny new brushes and more packs of notepads. She probably has a point, a single brush can cost more than I charged for my first ever piece of commercially sold art more than thirty-years ago. In fact a tub of Pringles probably costs more than I made in profit from that sale!

My non-scientific experiment was also a culmination of years and years of research where I had calculated everything from time of the day that’s best to post on social media, to colour palettes, specificity of post length and typeface, and the exact image ratio, and how you should definitely create an obvious mistake in the post if you really want people to notice it. I even factored in lunar phases and how the stars were aligned.

Also I didn’t do any of that at all...

In reality I posted what I think the youngsters call a meme and was only saying that good quality art supplies are seriously expensive. I didn’t think of anything other than the cost of art supplies at all when I posted it, and there was no science, sorcery or witchcraft involved and no one was harmed in the process. In fact, I was on autopilot, and I had read everywhere on Facebook that business pages no longer work so my expectations were set pretty low. Here’s the offending image one more time.

 
art is cheaper than therapy funny art quotes
Now with added crop and central text

Also if you follow my page on Facebook (and you really should) you would be forgiven for thinking that I had paid to boost the post especially if you compare he number of shares on this post with the number of shares I usually get whenever I share my artwork which is nowhere even close. My standard is six shares including my daughter who loves everything I do, (mostly) so my own social media reach bar is set pretty low. This post is remarkable in many ways especially in terms of the time and effort I used compared to when I create and post my artwork. That will be the same artwork that takes me somewhere in the region of seventy to eighty hours per piece to complete, sometimes much longer, like 300-hours.

The post above took me literally thirty seconds to create and here’s the thing. I even posted the draft image and not the final one that was supposed to get posted. It had been a very long day, I had driven more than 400-miles, been into multiple meetings and met some really interesting people, and if you look closely the text isn’t centred. I hold my hands up to a complete and epic design fail that looks like I can’t crop an image or centre text after heaven knows how many years of working with Photoshop. But I will also take genius and this is probably the point at which I should insert a winking emoji.

In the beginning…


For the past couple of months I have been burning the candle at both ends. Life has been busy and I am brutally aware that whenever my life gets this busy I need to just do something creative each day to make sure I keep the enemy of artists at bay. That enemy is of course is known as creative block. So I have taken some of the phrases I have found funny and some of the things I have said out loud (note some not all, some things I say are just NSFW) and added them into some designs I have jostled up to keep my hand in. Some of them I have been sharing on my Facebook page for a few weeks.

So when I saw that recent bill for art supplies not only had it already been a long day, of course being an artist with a social media account, I had something to say.

And everyone agreed…


The post didn’t do much for the first twenty-minutes. The usual likes, loves and wows, all three or four of them from my closest friends and allies, but I felt better for expressing the shock of realising that paint brushes and pouring medium prices have significantly increased since the last time I bought them.

But within the hour the post seemed to be doing something totally unexpected because my phone started going crazy with notifications. One after the other, after the other. Just before midnight I was considering hiring a team and wondered if some Robin Hood type character had hacked Facebook and spread the love to small businesses.

And then this started to happen…

Using facebook insights post data effectively
It started going crazy...


I tried to stem the flow without resorting to actually doing something as drastic as deleting the post. My shock of art supply price increases had been replaced with my shock that I was getting so many notifications. So I carried out an action that was the social media equivalent of turning off the tap and posted a second post. Let’s redirect some traffic somewhere else. Facebook laughed at me and said “you reap what you sow” and I can’t be sure but I think I might have heard Zuckerberg say, “Y’all hold my beer.”

Why would I try to stop it? Because I have other stuff I want to share and because it was funny at the time, a bit like I imagine Neil Armstrong telling a really bad joke about the moon right after coming home and him saying, “You had to be there” would be.

What I wanted to do with the second and third post was to bring some focus back to my art and my blog, and carry on just like before. It was kind of an uncomfortable feeling and there was a realisation that social media really does come with a huge amount of responsibility. More posts didn’t work because every post thereafter fell short of its usual reach. I mean we were talking single digit reach below two. It was like trying to get the attention of a toddler in a bad mood. The monster was now consuming me.

Now the only way I have to tame the monster of one popular (ish) post is to work harder and make every future post even more relevant so that Facebook helps me out and surfaces it, or until someone else starts another trend of sharing. I should have read what I have previously written right here on this site because when you make content that starts to resonate and connect, you have to keep on making it.

The anatomy of the popular (ish) post…


Just how many shares and views does a post need to officially become viral on Facebook? Honestly, more than the number I got with this one I would think. It’s all relative to your starting audience and your target demographic. Up until this point my own measure of virality would have been a thousand or two-thousand or so views and that’s because I have always believed that with Facebook pages, the best way of measuring a posts success is comparing against your own historical post metrics and not trying to compare your numbers with metrics from everyone else.

And besides, views aren’t that good of a success metric anyway because the number doesn’t equate to real views, the metrics just mean how many times a post has surfaced on timelines and even counts the number of people who scrolled right on past or who didn’t notice it at all. In short, even the ones who have tuned out.

Measuring virality is something that you do when a post has genuinely gone viral and usually this only happens when you have dipped your hand in your pocket to pay for a boosted post or the post has hit that one in a million chance or whatever the number is, of going organically viral. If you want the exact figures then I would recommend reading the paper, “The Structural Virality of Online Diffusion” which you can find right here, and what a great title that simply means “how social media posts go viral.”

using facebook insights for marketing art
Still going, still growing... when will it end?


My post, still not viral...


I’m writing this at 1am in the morning and watching the numbers slowly creep up and it has become temporarily popular-ish but nowhere close to viral. By now the window of virality has vanished. We can move on now folks if you want to find something more interesting to share.

How do you know when a post has gone viral? Given that there are posts that have accumulated millions of shares and views even within the niche of the art world. 250k, 500k, 750k, a million plus, I also don’t think there is a magic number when a posts crosses the line between being popular and going viral. My post is still not viral and won’t become viral by any measure of metrics, but more than anything else this single post is a demonstration that a relatively decent organic reach is still possible using Facebook Pages and zero budget and that really has to be a thumbs up to Facebook for once.

Virality is all relative to your target audience and the time it takes the post to surface and then spread. A post for a niche subject, let’s say underwater basket weaving, a subject which only ten other people in the world may have an interest in could get shared eight or nine times in ten minutes. That’s probably viral for that niche but if it took three years to get shared so widely the post maybe just performed well over time. The real question is how long before it’s forgotten? It is at least now at just over a week later slowing down.

I expect that this post will do the rounds for a short while but it will eventually fade away and by then we will all be thankful that it has gone, and if not I will probably delete it if it becomes annoying. That’s what happens with most viral or “numerically successful” posts and that’s not great if you are trying to raise awareness of you and your art and trying to sustain a presences. Virality and popular posts can also be a complete nightmare if you have shared something that is not relevant to your page because they can take the focus completely away from everything else.  Thankfully I had put my thoughts on Brexit to one side for this one and this post was kind of in sync with the rest of the page and it was related to art.

Facebook insights for marketing art image copyright
The un-follower could be an art supply store, I have no idea...

Don’t strive for a viral post…


There was some bad news that came with this posts success and that was that I lost a follower and saw a few negatives where people had turned on hide posts, and hide all posts. On the upside, 3-days later I had nearly fifty new page likes and that number is now growing. That’s the kind of exposure that made it worth doing, and also the kind of exposure that would normally take an eye watering budget and a number of paid boosts to achieve.

The take away here is that any post can do well using Facebook pages as the channel to get it out there but the content and the message has to resonate with people for them to echo it through sharing. You then have to sustain this through engagement if you want to take advantage of the numbers.

I’m not getting excited. Firstly this level of sharing was a fluke based on posts I have already made but not necessarily a fluke with Facebook, other people see this level of sharing every day.  Secondly the real measure is going to be how many retention's I make on the page longer term and whether any of those retention's either engage in the groups, read this website, or ultimately make a purchase. Now the real work starts.

But here’s the thing. Going viral which this post hasn’t, or having a post with this kind of reach wasn’t something that I was focused on at all when I originally posted it. For one it was an off the cuff observation, and secondly, regular readers of my page will know that it’s only recently that I have started to present posts like this on my page. In short, while this post was part of my content strategy to provide some light-hearted humour, it wasn’t posted with the intention of it becoming popular because I say stuff just like that all the time.

But then I realised that this post resonated with a very specific group of people who are also constantly surprised at how much we artists pay for art supplies. I could probably own a race horse and spend less, and there are therapists all over who are now re-evaluating their career choice and thinking that they need to open an art supply store instead.

This post found a circle of like-minded people and it was different to other posts. I’m not sure if I am even the first to make the observation or the connection between therapy and the cost of art supplies, but it was different enough for people to want to share it. People tune out until they see something that makes them want to tune back in, so another take away here is that content has to make a connection. That’s something I’ve been saying for a while in my articles on this site.

If I had planned this post it wouldn’t have worked, if I had chosen any other topic at that time it probably wouldn’t have worked. It echoed my thinking at that moment. Not entirely spontaneous thinking I might add, I have thought for years just how expensive art supplies can be. But what it did do was it vocalised what every artist thinks when they have to juggle an art supply budget. They saw themselves in that post and they saw other people in that same post too and they shared it.

So here’s another take away from that post. Narrow the scope of your posts so that they target exactly who you are trying to target. I didn’t get that nugget of information from this post alone, it’s essentially one of the things that I have repeated a lot here on this site. If you cast the net too far, you’ll end up catching more fish but they might not be the right fish.

facebook business pages are powerful
Ok.. enough now already...


Relax, don’t sweat it…


This post really was off the cuff. I didn’t plan it and to be honest I really didn’t think about it because if I had planned it I would have uploaded the correct image file. Maybe I should keep that one for a T-Shirt design and I am claiming whatever mark will protect that design. I didn’t share it too widely to start off with, I posted it on my business page and shared it to my personal profile from my business page. That was it, those are the only two places that the post originally appeared. The interaction on my personal profile was significantly less but I also have no way of measuring it in the way that business pages allow you to do. That’s another benefit of the business page from Facebook, it gives you the data that you need to measure a posts success or failure.

I know many business owners who have given up on their business pages altogether. They certainly don’t enjoy the organic reach they once did and some of the big publishers of content have seen dramatic falls in post reach over the past five or six years. I have been using my business page continuously along with my personal profile but making sure that the personal profile is not used directly for marketing. I don’t use either of the profiles anywhere near as much as I once did, but to be honest my reach generally isn’t that much different to the reach I had a few years ago and if anything it is slightly up. What I do make sure of is that I pay attention to each profile, and make sure that my strategy for delivering content is always Business Page first, personal profile later.

The take away here is that I feed the business page with new content, even if it is just sharing a new article on this site. Creating content for my page takes priority over everything on my personal profile and I whilst I don’t post new content every day, I check it at least two or three times each day and respond to any comments and carry out admin duties in the groups.

Content doesn’t have to be expensive to produce. The post I shared took me about 30-seconds to create using Photoshop. It was off the cuff and not forced, and the last thing on my mind was thinking about how I could make this post go viral. Often we put ourselves under pressure when it comes to content and we focus way too much on the numbers. Will the numbers be higher if I post at this time, or use this colour or do things in this way? I’m as guilty of doing that as anyone, but sometimes the numbers can get in the way and they just add pressure of creating.

When it comes to producing content we are already on the back foot often thinking that we won’t get the numbers unless we pay to boost the post and as I have written here before, paid ads and post boosts are great, but you really do have to know firstly who you are trying to reach and secondly you absolutely need to know about things like cost per click (CPC), targeting and Facebook pixels. Unless you know about this or have at least a basic understanding, paid ads and boosts are less likely to be effective.

There’s no easy way to gain a bigger reach even if you are paying. There are many gurus and media companies that promise a lot and often promise that they can make you post go viral. The moment they promise anything like this is the moment you should walk away or be prepared to spend a lot of money.

Social media is a relatively level playing field and only two things can tilt it in another direction, quality of content or money. Both of those can also tilt it in the wrong direction because even paying won’t guarantee that bad content gets seen. Ultimately good content that connects will always outperform bad content that doesn’t connect.

We will never get everything that we do on social media right. This is the first time that my reach has broken through the 100k barrier for my Beechhouse Media business page and I have even paid for Facebook ads in the past. I learned back then that going down the ad-route was an expensive mistake and I also learned that I needed to understand a lot more about how reach, engagement, cpc and all of the other things worked before I spent any more money. That’s the advice I have given both here and to my own clients for years. My last popular post was a few years back when I managed to amass a lot of views on another social platform, I remember it was around 80-90k, so good reach is definitely repeatable.

There are no barriers on social media, it really is the Wild West. Anyone can share images or videos and because anyone can, everyone does. There was no special trick I used when I created the post and honestly I really expected it to go nowhere. There was no special time, it was one post amongst the other 4.75-billion posts that get posted each day, and probably even more since that number was recorded back in 2013. It’s your job to make a connection and the only way to do that is by creating something that resonates and connects and stands out just enough. Once you have made that connection it’s up to you to turn it into an authentic connection.

Facebook Insights one of the best analytical tools is built in
Please, please stop now...


The other take-aways…


So what else did I learn from this post? If I had tried I would have failed is probably the biggest take-away for me. Moving forward my strategy for content won’t change at all, I will always strive to be just that bit better than the last time and will also accept that I won’t always be.

I know that this level of popularity is difficult to consistently repeat unless I can come up with something just as echo-worthy in the future and I am aware that this was spontaneous and off the cuff and if my focus turns only to creating something just as shareable it likely won’t get shared at all. You can’t force good content in the same way that you can’t force good art. This post did give me some assurance that Facebook pages can still work with the right content though.

Popularity of this post was driven by the size of the largest echo chamber. Someone along the way who had shared it, had shared it with a cohort of people who also wanted to share it. There was one person every so often who held the keys to open the next set of gates. It was picked up by a cohort of micro-influencers and they are the ones who did the initial work for me. Thank you to each of you.

The post spread in a similar way to how nature spreads disease. There’s another paper on diffusion right here, which says; A longstanding hypothesis in diffusion research is that adoption of products and ideas spreads through interpersonal networks of influence analogous to the manner in which an infectious disease spreads through a susceptible population [Anderson and May 1991]

If you look back at the earlier link (here again for brevity )“The Structural Virality of Online Diffusion” the unicorn of the viral post is perfectly summed up when the paper reads; as noted in Goel et al. (2012), we also find that the vast majority of cascades terminate within a single generation; specifically, about 99% of adoptions are accounted for either by the root nodes themselves or by the immediate followers of root nodes. Which perfectly sums up that achieving virality for a social media post is a one in a million chance. 99% of social posts will never reach virality, some like this one will perform better than others but virality really is a unicorn.

Which leads me to the biggest take-away from this popular (ish) post and every other one of the thousands of social posts I have worded and created over the years, and that is if you go looking for the social media equivalent of the unicorn you are never going to find it. If you are just you, and follow your instincts a little more closely then you are much more likely to find your people and that is way better than forever chasing one viral post.

Another key thing I have taken away from this post is that there is a real risk of alienating existing followers who might like your page for the lack of drama on it. If they no longer see themselves in your content it ceases to have any appeal for them and there is little reason for the follower to stick around.

Keeping content focused just enough to retain existing followers and exciting enough to attract new followers is an art form in itself. Using the everyday language that your followers use is the best way, that’s something I learned early on in my academic career. Learners learn so much better when they understand what it is they are learning, not exactly rocket science but you would be surprised at how many learners walk away from learning because they simply don’t understand something that has been expressed in an overly complex way and some leave instead of asking for help.

And as I said earlier, the numbers get in the way. Focusing on creating share-worthy posts and taking your eye off the quality ball will turn people away. I have had many posts that haven’t been any near as numerically successful and have still managed to bring in paying customers. People are looking for meaningful content that they can connect with, the minute content doesn’t remain meaningful is the exact minute that they walk away, even if they don’t unfollow or unlike your page immediately.

Everyone who reads my articles knows that I am a huge fan of finding your people, making connections, and engagement. What I am also a fan of is the “social” that sits in the name “social media.” Building relationships on social media isn’t that much different to building relationships outside of it. There might be subtle clues in how people react to what you post, but there might also be subtle clues in how they don’t react. Create content, engage, build a community of your own people, but above all that make sure you pay attention and observe what people are doing and what they are not doing and not saying too.

Like I said earlier, there is no telling how one post will perform over time. By this time next week I am sure people will have tuned back out and the grind will once again start. This post has missed any chance of virality but that’s fine, it was popular enough for now. Now I have to up my game but I can do that in the knowledge that there is still enough organic reach in the business page eco-system to justify spending more time creating content.  

facebook insights beechhouse media
Thank you to each and every single one of you!
 
facebook insights powerful analytics beechhouse media
Love you all xx

And now with just over 150k views is small fry when compared to posts that have truly gone viral. But there is no question that this post has resonated and it has raised the profile of my page enough to encourage new people to like it. Thank you to each and every one of you.

So here’s a great content strategy you can start using today.


·         First of all you need to believe that Facebook business pages can still work for artists.
·         You really should have a business page because there are no short cuts and there is no performance data anywhere else.
·         If your business page is struggling take another look at your content and your own engagement.  
·         You do have to put in a lot of effort to maintain the pages relevance.
·         You have to engage with your community and listen to what they have to say and you have to listen to what they are not saying or doing.
·         Don’t chase virality, just create posts that people can connect with.
·         Not every post needs to be a direct marketing post. If readers want to see that kind of content they can whiz right over to Craig’s List or eBay, or follow 70% of the other artists on Facebook. You have to stand out.
·         Offer a value on the page which doesn’t have to be monetary. Give them a laugh, give them a colouring page, give them some insight or helpful tips too, just something that they can take away and that has given them an added value but make sure there is a connect with what you and your page are about.
·         Don’t try and replicate exactly what others are doing, but do take a look around at the type of stuff people are connecting with, but come up with new ideas that are your own.
·         Research how people are connecting with other pages, take your time, and be patient. Social media is a job, it takes a lot of time, and that’s why big organisations have teams of people doing it.
·         Give posts enough room to breathe and surface after you have posted them.
·         Create good content. Don’t force it, just be you.
·         Put as much effort into crafting a social media strategy as you do with your art. There is no reason at all why your business page shouldn’t be an art project in itself.
·         And lastly, please can we now just move on from this post? I have other stuff you should see and at least I stopped the momo challenge for about a second!

If you have any tips for growing your page audience that you would like to share with the rest of our community, please feel free to leave a comment below and come and join me on my Facebook page where the conversations continue in between each article. As always, if there’s a subject you would like me to cover, let me know!

About Mark…
I am an artist and blogger and live in Staffordshire, England. You can purchase my art through my Fine Art America store or my Pixels site here.   

Any art sold through Fine Art America and Pixels contributes towards to the ongoing costs of running and developing this website. You can also view my portfolio website at https://beechhousemedia.com

You can also follow me on Facebook at: https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia where you will also find regular free reference photos of interesting subjects and places I visit. You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest right here

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or maybe just buy me a coffee, you can do so right here

Comments

  1. That's massive. Mark Taylor congratulations!! You must be over the moon.
    Back in 2015 I reached near 6000, I was happy as hell :)
    Anyway thanks for the article and great work as always.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so very much Jane! I think this post restarted my creative mojo! Lost it for a couple of days and found it hiding in the corner! I remember all of your posts, I have a virtual gallery of Jane See’s work in my mind! xx

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    2. Glad you found your mojo back. Mark Taylor you can not be serious about this virtual gallery of mine :0 Should I be worried :))

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    3. Lol! No! Every time I walk into the Tate I wonder why your work isn’t there! You so need to have some wall space!

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    4. Such a compliment Mark thank you! That certainly be a bonus but until I mastered my craft.

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    5. I visit the Tate a lot! You wouldn’t be out of place. We should do what Banksy did and just hang it in there!

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    6. LOL Why not and let's see happened :) Have nothing to lose.

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  2. And yes, because I’m an artist of course there is an official T-Shirt, hat, mug... here’s the link! https://www.zazzle.com/art_is_cheaper_than_therapy_t_shirt-235888492379170017

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking great. Wish you all the success! x

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