In 2014, Vogue published an article titled “Why the World’s Most Talked-About New Art Dealer Is Instagram” – a topic whose relevance has only increased in the three years since. The casual exposure of both high-profile and relatively unknown artists alike through these media have allowed art to skip the gallery and museum circuit all together, being featured on a virtual and personalized platform with little to no marketing expense. Tattoo artists can now opt out of working from parlors and go solo, letting their Instagram celebrity fuel their demand. Graphic design artists are putting everything online, not only growing their following through their highly visual feeds, but also selling prints through links on their posts. Back when Vogue published their article, they featured painter Ashley Longshore who spoke of the extreme success she’s found through Instagram alone. She regularly has clients buying her work directly through the platform for more than $30,000 and finds it difficult to keep up with the demand her feed has generated.
With the help of social media, fine art—once a rarely afforded luxury—has become more accessible than ever to new generations. With millennials now significant players of change in markets of all kinds, they consistently prioritize the consumption of experiences and novelty over all else. More importantly, nothing is valuable if they can’t share these experiences with their vast networks of relationships, in turn influencing the consumption patterns and interests of their peers. Put this is the context of the art world and gallery owners and artists everywhere have new opportunities to increase the visibility and reach of their work. Social media gives agency back to the artist in full force, allowing creators to personalize their marketing techniques rather than putting all their energy into convincing dealers and art houses of their worth.
Larger auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s post to Instagram on average two to three times per day, while more and more art galleries are hiring social media managers specifically charged with maintaining steady interaction with fans via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the rest. However, even if hiring a full-time position for the work doesn’t fit the budget, there’s plenty you can do today with just a little extra effort that will make your work and your business more visible than ever:
Regularly post pictures of your work on highly visual platforms like Instagram.
Take advantage of the fact that eye-catching visuals perform better than any other posts on all social media platforms. Pick some pieces you’re most proud of or that you think are unique. Ask yourself if you would stop scrolling to take a second look. Make sure to protect the work by crediting your gallery and the artist, and always include their social media handles so people know who else to follow if they’re interested in seeing more.
Our friend Bobby Beals of Beals & Co. Showroom recommends starting with one platform (try Instagram first) and really getting clear on what your voice is before trying to tackle it all. Make sure your identity shows through in the way you intend, then build off that brand when trying new platforms.
Utilize #hashtags and locations as much as possible. Always hashtag the artist’s name, the gallery or collector’s name, the location of the show or gallery opening in case your work is traveling, the art medium, or whatever else stands out as an identifying theme of that post. Think about what categories or topics people might be exploring through these platforms where your work should pop up. If any of these things pertain to a particular place, add a location to your post, as well. Send out public event invites on Facebook about gallery openings, opportunities to see the art or meet-ups with the artist.
- The purpose of using social media in this context is to cultivate a community of relationships around your work or gallery. Always give these people opportunities to bring those connections offline and in to real life. Today more than ever, consumers of art want to feel like they’re part of a story. This also means that any time your work is hanging in a gallery or in a coffee shop you should include your social media handles next to your name. Make sure your feeds are active and full of your pieces so new fans can have more to explore.
- Also utilize platforms like Eventbrite or Eventful for free and ticketed events so you can stay organized and keep people informed leading up to the day.
- Schedule posts whenever possible so you can keep your feeds full of new and relevant content. Schedulers can be your best friend when it comes to populating your social media presence, and many are affordable or free. You can draft and schedule directly through Facebook, and for Twitter or Instagram we recommend using Later. Draft your posts in one of these platforms or even in Google Drive, and when you have time put that content into these scheduling tools so you can focus on other things with the rest of your time. Link all social media profiles to a professional website, where followers can learn more about the artist or gallery and find contact information.
While social media is a great online presence on its own, having a website with more in-depth information and higher quality images is foundational. This is also a place where you can increase your search engine optimization (SEO) by including a thorough bio and backstory to your career as an artist or gallery owner. On the website itself, provide links to all your social media channels and include as much mixed media as possible. Have you ever been interviewed? Provide that footage or recording here, and then repost on your social channels. Any critical acclaim? Link to the article and repost. Use this space as home base, so fans know where they can find you and your work. If creating an entire website seems daunting or expensive, look into user-friendly platforms for the less tech-savvy, like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.
If you feel like you might not know enough or aren’t confident in your approach to social media, it might be a worthwhile investment to get some professional help. Even paying for a consult is a great way to start off, so you can know that you’re building your brand in the most effective way possible at the outset and building something sustainable for the long run.
Be sure to listen to our Remotely Social chat “The Art of Social Media & Content Management” with Bobby Beals of Beals & Co. Showroom (offices in both Santa Fe, New Mexico and Scottsdale, Arizona) to get more advice on how to utilize social media in your art business!
Consider hiring a social media professional to either run your social media or train your staff. Feel free to text 505-469-4297 to request a complimentary phone consultation!