Which Social Media Platforms Are Right For You?

Just the other day, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and noticed yet another conversation I’ve heard quite often before: An artist was chastising herself for not starting up an Instagram account yet, but in the next sentence she wondered how she was ever going to fit it in on top of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Other artists on the same chain agreed that keeping up with social media was nearly impossible.

Then I asked a question that seemed to stop them all in their tracks: Why do you feel pressured to use all of the social media platforms to promote your art? Is it really necessary, or is it possible you could find all the collectors you need on just one?

I know we all hate to think of our artwork as a “product,” but just for a moment, let’s think about how other organizations promote their products. Companies that make baby food only promote their products in places where mothers of babies hang out, right? And because BMW and Mercedes brands are expensive, those companies only promote their products in places where wealthy people hang out, right? So, we can learn from these organizations and quit trying to promote our work to “everyone.” Instead, we could promote our artwork only where we have the best chances of reaching the people who are most likely to buy our work.

So tell me, who is most likely to buy your artwork? In marketing language, the question is, who is your target audience? At the bare minimum, you should try to determine the gender, age range, and income level of the people who are probably going to be interested in your work and can afford to buy it. For many artists I know, their work appeals to men and women equally, and probably to people between the ages of 30 and 60, all earning a high five- or six-figure income. (Younger people usually can’t afford originals, and older people are usually trying to downsize, not collect more.) But your target audience could be completely different. Have you got a picture of those people in your mind?

Great! Now choose the social media platform (or two) where those people are hanging out. You see, each platform appeals to a different set of users, so you can eliminate some of the platforms from your list because you won’t find many members of your target audience there. Which of these sounds right for you?

  • Facebook. By far the most popular social media platform worldwide, Facebook has 1,100,000,000 unique visitors each month. Slightly more than half are female, and it’s more popular among middle agers with more than half of Facebook users between 30 and 60, so you can reach pretty much everyone here. Granted, 85% of Facebook users live outside the US and Canada, but even if you’re a North American artist and you don’t want to be shipping your artwork around the world, that leaves 165,000,000 Americans and Canadians you can reach through networking and advertising. By the way, 77% of people with an income higher than $75,000 are using Facebook. In my opinion, this may be the only platform you need, but read on!
  • YouTube. I’m placing this platform second on the list because it’s the second most popular by number of users, with 1,000,000,000 unique monthly visitors. YouTube has an almost equal number of users in each age range, and there is a fairly equal mix of men and women using YouTube, although men spend more time on the site. And 46% of YouTube users report an annual income over $75,000. The only tricky thing about using this platform is that it is, obviously, all video-based, so you have to be prepared to make and upload videos promoting your work.
  • Twitter. From here on out, you’ll notice far fewer users for each platform, in this case 310,000,000 unique users a month. Once again, 79% are outside the U.S., and the users are both significantly younger and have less to spend. More than 40% of Twitter users are under the age of 34 and another 20% are 35-44, and only 26% of all Twitter users earn more than $75,000. Is it worth your time and effort? Maybe.
  • LinkedIn. Although this platform has only 255,000,000, the majority of users fall into the 30-to-60 age range. They’re an educated crowd, and as a result they earn higher incomes collectively.  The thing that turns me off about using this platform to promote art is that people come here looking for business and job opportunities. I’m not sure how receptive they are to promotional messages about art. But I could be wrong.
  • Pinterest. Of the 250,000,000 people using Pinterest each month, 81% of them are women. More stats: 50% have an income of $50,000 or higher, and 60% are from the U.S. And they come to shop: two-thirds of all pins represent brands and products, and 87% of Pinterest users have purchased something because of information they found on the platform. For all of these reasons, Pinterest remains my second-choice platform for promoting art.
  • Google+. Launched several years back, the Google+ platform has been growing in popularity and now boasts about 120,000,000 unique users a month. Of these, about 74% are men, and about 28% are aged 15-34. This platform doesn’t appeal to me because the average time spent on the site is less than 4 minutes a day.
  • Instagram. As older generations have jumped onto the social media bandwagon, younger people have gone looking for something new, and what they found was Instagram, which now has 100,000,000 users a month. The demographics for this platform are heavily skewed toward younger people—more than half of its users are below 30—and toward urban-based women. Only 26% of Instagram users earn over $75,000 a year. This may be the perfect platform for you if you’re seeking a younger crowd.

My friends, I know we’re often told that we have to be on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram and so on and so on, but I disagree. I honestly don’t think you’d be missing out on opportunities by limiting yourself to just one social media platform and devoting yourself to using that platform consistently and well. In my opinion, you can ease up on yourself and start enjoying social media again.

What are your thoughts? Which platforms are working best for you, and why? Let’s connect!

P.S. All the ins and outs of using social media to effectively promote your art are covered in my new Art Marketing Weekly Program. Click here to learn more about this customizable program!

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