"Help!" a voice said to me over the phone. "I post and I post, but I never seem to get anywhere. I've never sold a painting on social media, and I'm not even gaining any new followers! Why bother?"
I'm so glad this fantastic artist reached out for information. She thought the answer to her social media woes was to work harder at it by posting even more. But I assured her the solution was to learn to work smarter by doing different things in a different way. The following are the six tips I shared with her for being more strategic while spending less time on social media marketing.
- Match your platform to your target audience. Just as you should be doing with all of your art marketing tactics, start by identifying who it is you’d like to attract and communicate with through social media. Please don’t try to reach “everyone who likes art.” Instead, narrow down your focus based on the characteristics of the people you think are most likely to appreciate and buy your artwork. Are they older or younger? Have traditional tastes or contemporary? Are there other interests they may enjoy that are related to your art, such as pets, flowers, or the ocean? Having a clear picture of the people you’re trying to attract will help you determine which social media platforms to use and what types of posts to write and share. If you’re going for an older audience, Facebook is probably your best bet. For a slightly younger audience, as in 30- to 50-year-olds, go for Instagram. (Many of you will want both, which is why I recommend doing both, which is really pretty easy since they’re linked.) And if your target audience is even younger, you could use YouTube or Snapchat. A few artists also like to target interior design professionals, and I believe that LinkedIn is a great place to reach them.
- Create content to suit your purpose. Almost more important than defining your target audience is articulating what you’re trying to achieve with social media. There are a number of ways to answer this question, so really think it through. Is your objective to attract new followers? To build relationships with existing followers? To drive people to your website? To sell more of your work? Your purpose will influence the type of content you post and share, as well as how you use these platforms. For example, if you’re only concerned with nurturing existing relationships, it’s great to simply post to your own feed, but if you want to attract new followers, you’ll need to branch out and get involved in groups, forums, and other conversations going on outside of your own circle of contacts.
- Wow your followers with varied content. If you want your followers to look forward to seeing your messages and to enthusiastically interact with you, think carefully about how you can make things interesting for them. Variety is key. For starters, there are two types of content you can post—content you create yourself and content that comes from other sources into your feed, which you then share with your followers. In the realm of content you create yourself, you’ll probably always want to include an image or video, but these might feature a newly finished work of art, a work in progress, or a photo of anything else related to your life as an artist, including your favorite quotes. And when it comes to finding other content to share, it’s as easy as setting up your social media feeds so you’re following others who are creating content that would be of interest to your followers, and then forwarding it on to your followers by sharing. To work with this second type of content successfully, you have to know your target audience’s interests!
- Interact with your followers and others. Have you ever followed someone who just posts new paintings again and again without ever interacting with you or other followers? Part of your social media strategy should include engaging in conversations about other people’s posts and content so that you don’t appear to be overly self-promotional. Another great place to interact is in relevant groups and forums.
- Dedicate blocks of time to social media growth. And now we come to the part of social media strategy that makes everyone groan, but really, if you’re going to use this tool strategically you’ve got to put in the time. I really encourage you to spend a minimum of half an hour each day. In about 5 minutes you can create or find some great content to post, then spend another 5 minutes responding to your followers’ comments on your earlier posts, which leaves you with a good 20 minutes to participate in other conversations. If this doesn’t work for you, consider using a tool like HootSuite or Later once a week or so to create many of your posts in advance and then schedule them to show up at designated times each day. By consolidating all of your content creation into one session, you can cut down a little on the time you spend on interacting with others each day.
- Track your progress. An essential part of any strategy is to lay out some goals that you want to hit with all of your effort, and these “analytics” should be directly related to your purpose. For instance, if you want to attract new followers, write down how many you have currently and how many you want to have six months from now. But check in every month or so. If you’re not seeing steady progress toward that end goal, that’s a signal to change some aspect of your strategic plan.
Hey, if you’re going to do social media at all, why not do it strategically? Get the most from your time and effort, and learn to make this amazing tool work for you!
What other ideas do you have for using social media strategically? Let’s connect!