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How Do They Do It? Artists with Massive Social Media Followings

Have you ever seen someone who is amazingly successful at something and wondered if they know some secret formula you don’t? There are definitely a few artists on social media who make me stop and wonder. For example, when I see that Ashley Longshore can sell out 100 reproductions in a single day—each for about $2800 a pop—on a social media flash sale, I have to wonder, what does she know that I don’t? Or when I’m on Instagram and see that Casey Baugh and Soey Milk and Hollis Dunlap all have more than 100,000 followers, I stop and think, what are they doing that I haven’t thought of? You, too?

So, over the course of the past month, I selected about 20 superstar artists and reverse-engineered their careers. As much as I could, I combed through their profiles and dug into their feeds, looking for insights—secret techniques—that the rest of us could employ. And guess what I found? Nothing. No, seriously, in terms of unique marketing approaches or revolutionary ideas, I didn’t find anything special, particularly when it comes to social media.

In fact, social media practices are actually quite varied, which means there isn’t “one right way” to use this tool. Some artists share lots of info, while others communicate in short bursts, and yet others mix it up and do some of each. Hashtags abound on some posts and don’t even show up on others. Some artists interact with a few followers, but many don’t respond to their fans’ comments at all. What is common to all of these artists who are using social media so well is a) the variety they put into the images and videos they post and b) the fact that they post pretty much every day, at least once.

Here’s what I mean by variety: Of course, there are plenty of posts that simply show recently completed work…

But these artists know their fans are also interested in the creative process, so they often show works in progress, with or without the tools…

True fans want to know all about the artist’s life, activities, dreams, and goals, so these artists deliver what people want…

It’s even better when the artists are confident enough to let their true personalities shine through. That’s what their followers really relate to…

 

Very few posts are overtly self-promotional. A small percentage mixed into the sum total of all posts are very effective…

At this point, you may still be thinking, if there’s no one right way to do social media, how did these artists build up such huge followings? That’s a great question! And here’s what I noticed in my research: the artists with thousands upon thousands of fans are also making sure they’re engaging in all other forms of marketing, from competitions and juried shows, to media coverage, to websites and more, and the artists actually gain massive exposure through these other activities. In other words, these artists are not relying on social media alone to build their fan bases.

So, what other types of posts could you think of to include on your social media feed? And what types of posts do you like to see from your favorite artists? Let’s connect!

P.S. Subscribers to my free, weekly e-newsletter are getting to see the results of my latest research study. What will you get when you click the blue button and subscribe?


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