The number one marketing priority for most artists is awareness, and social media is one of the best ways to get more eyes on you and your work. But there are countless social media outlets to choose from, so how do you know where to focus your art marketing efforts?
Start by using my 4-step process and decision-making tool to choose the perfect social media outlets to attract clients for your art business.
1 | Know your ideal buyer
First things first: before jumping in, you need to understand who your ideal buyer is so you can focus on attracting an audience full of them with your social media efforts.
If you look at your business, your work, and your brand, you can come up with a description of who you believe to be your ideal buyer. You’ll never be 100% accurate, so don’t worry about that. You can revisit your ideal buyer profile regularly (at least once a year) and update it based on what you know at that time.
Unsure how to go about defining your ideal buyer? It may not be as complicated as you think. Start by asking yourself: what kind of work do I create? What kinds of people buy it? Where do those people go to find art?
Defining the traits of your ideal buyer might start out as simply as: “likes abstract work,” “enjoys color in their life,” or “appreciates storytelling.”
You can develop the profile further by asking yourself questions like: do they live in my local area or do they live in vacation spots around the country or around the world? Are they more metropolitan or are they more small-town? Is my ideal buyer male or female—or does it matter? And, most relevant for today’s topic, do they use social media? If so, which outlets?
When you have a clear picture of your ideal buyer, you can create your social media posts as if you’re speaking to one person rather than a “target market.”
If you’re unclear about who your ideal buyer is, I have a freebie you can snag that will help you figure it out: The Smart Artist’s Ideal Buyer Worksheet>>
Want to learn more about attracting your ideal buyer? Read this post.
2 | Understand which social media outlets are the best places to find your ideal buyer
You’ll want to narrow down your focus to one or two outlets to begin with, so how do you choose? For artists, I typically recommend a combination of Instagram, Pinterest, and/or Facebook, though your ideal buyer might be on SnapChat, LinkedIn, or Tumblr, so make sure you consider all of your options rather than just choosing what everyone else is doing. Here are some tips to get you started:
Instagram — This is one of the best choices for artists since it is still possible to grow an organic audience, it is a visuals-first platform, it has a lot of engagement opportunities (hello, Instagram Stories), and many interior designers and others sourcing new products use it to find new items.
Pinterest —Pinterest is the visual search engine of choice for creative people, both professionals and DIYers. Creative people tend to go to Pinterest rather than Google to search for what they're looking for.
LinkedIn — LinkedIn is a bit of a forgotten social media outlet for artists. This is a place that isn't saturated with artists, so you could easily get more visibility here. It is best for connecting with professionals and skews higher for older men.
Snapchat — Snapchat is the place to engage with younger audiences. It is the newest of the major platforms, so you could still get the benefit of being an earlier adopter. The main marketing tool on Snapchat is stories. If you're on Instagram and don't like (or want to) create stories there, Snapchat probably isn't the place for you.
YouTube — YouTube competes with Facebook for one of the largest social media outlets. It is not well known for being a platform to engage with your audience directly (the only way to do that is through comments on videos), but you can connect with your audience indirectly using the most engaging tool out there: video. Success on YouTube requires that you post new videos regularly (weekly or at least twice a month). Don't try YouTube unless you are ready to create an engaging ongoing video series.
Twitter —Twitter is a place where you can connect directly with influencers, the media, and politicians. It can be a place to grow an organic audience, but it's likely that your audience might not be of a very high quality. There are thousands and thousands of Twitter users who use bots (automated tools) to follow other accounts in an effort to get followed back. This can turn your “audience” into a bunch of accounts that have no interest in your work.
Tumblr, Reddit, Ello, etc. — There are a number of lesser-known social media outlets where you could find your ideal buyer. I would encourage you to check a few of these out.
Want more detail about the most popular social outlets? Download my free Choose the Right Social Media Outlets PDF and you'll get a breakdown.
3 | What social media outlets are you familiar with?
Think about the outlets you’re already familiar with. Depending on where your audience hangs out, those outlets could work for marketing your art business, and you'll be in luck!
It's not always that simple though: just because you are familiar with a social media outlet doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right place for you to reach your ideal buyer, so you might have to learn something new.
For example, let’s look at Facebook. Did you know that in the developed world, more adults have a Facebook account than not? So it’s likely that you have one, too. Facebook, however, is not the best place to reach Millennials, men, or interior designers, for example. You might be wise to try Instagram or Snapchat or Tumblr instead for those demographics.
And because of Facebook’s algorithm, it can be hard to grow an audience without paying for ads. Once Facebook became an advertising platform, they changed how visible your organic (unpaid) posts are. Right now, only 10-15% of your Facebook followers see any one post (and that number continues to drop).
Instagram makes it easier to increase your audience organically, but it takes more effort because you need to develop your own daily content to share, about yourself or your art. Contrast that with Facebook where the norm is to share content from others, and occasionally share something personal or promotional.
With YouTube, you need to consistently create interesting videos—not just videos like, “here I am working in my studio with my cat next to me,” but content that takes a little more effort, like creating your own interview series. Anybody can create a channel on YouTube, so you need to make it unique and compelling in order to gain a following.
Be clear in your mind who your ideal buyer is so that you can go to the places where you’ll find them, and at the same time, remember to show your own uniqueness so that your ideal buyer will be able to find you.
4 | Choose one to start with and go deep
Focus on only one social media outlet until you’re really on a roll. Choose an outlet that you’re comfortable with, and where your ideal buyer hangs out. Then really commit your time and effort there until you’ve got the resources to expand.
Once you've decided on your primary social media outlet, commit to going deep within your chosen social platform, learning all the ways you can reach your audience.
- use live video, which is available on Facebook and Instagram
- use Facebook groups to find niche audiences so you can engage with people who fit your ideal buyer profile
- learn how to use Instagram Stories
- always use hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. For hashtags, understand your ideal buyer and who they might be connected to (such as interior designers, or architecture firms or galleries), then craft hashtags that will reach those audiences.
And remember: you are what will attract your ideal buyer, so be unabashedly you.
For more on using social media to promote your art business, see these three posts: How to Be Efficient and Effective at Promoting Your Art on Social Media + Spend Less Time Promoting Your Art on Social Media (with better results) + How to Significantly Boost Awareness of Your Art
Although most people talk about finding their clients, the truth is that it goes both ways: finding and attracting. When you’re clear on what makes your work unique and you share it in strategic places on social media, your ideal buyer will be drawn to you.
Create a Marketing Plan for Your Thriving Art Business
In my Create a Marketing Plan for Your Thriving Art Business course, I walk you through the process of choosing the right social media outlets for your business. Add your name to the waitlist and I'll let you know the next time course registration opens.