Never before has so much art been seen by so many. Through social media the possibility to share art not only with your friends and family, but with galleries, collectors, and other artists on a global scale with just a few clicks, has changed the way art circulates and manifests in our history.   Here, industry insider Alexis Jourrou shares his advice on how to turn social media to your career advantage.
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Most of you already know the basics about social media and probably even found this article through a link on a social channel but it’s worth refreshing some of the key fundamentals first.  For a start, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – I’m not saying shamelessly promote yourself like a man with a mega phone in Oxford Circus screaming that we’re all sinners, but do make sure you are seen and heard.  Perhaps the most important aspect is that your audience feel connected to you and what you create and you try to involve them in some way by asking for example, asking for an opinion, or hosting a competition with a giveaway.
Without further ado, here are my five top tips for 2016
Focus on two or three social media platforms, it’s difficult to manage them all well if you’re using more than four on your own – especially as you need to find time to actually make your art. The best ones I find for art are, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as you can use these for free organically and also spend a bit on advertising which can go a long way. For organic promotion the following five tips can be used across the main platforms and have a considerable impact on increasing your reach and engagement.
1) Publish content consistently – between 2 and 8 times a week on average is good when building and maintaining your fan base. If you have an exhibition or event on, then post it on social media more frequently as the date approaches. Be sure to post a follow up with images to keep fans interested and updated.
2) When you’re not posting your own work, interact with other artists or galleries you would like to be aligned with, share their work and show you support them. The Facebook algorithm works by pushing content with the most interaction to the top of the newsfeed, so if you and someone else are sharing each other’s work it’s more likely to be seen by a wider audience. It costs nothing but a fraction of your time.
3) Think about timings for your posts – during the week most users are active in the evenings about 7:30pm. Catch on to upcoming trends and special days in the year and use them to your advantage, say, if you make paintings of celebrities then post your work on their birthday, or if they are in the news for some other reason to increase your reach and relevancy.
4) Keep the text in the copy short, no more than three or four lines. To encourage interaction, ask a question like “which work do you prefer?” or “what would you like to see next?”. When driving sales or drumming up publicity for an exhibition use a call to action such as “click here to view more,” which will direct traffic to your website or shop.
5) Make use of the different formats on each platform and be playful with images, videos, GIFs, web links and multi-product posts.
Tips by platform
Facebook – 35 million users in the UK 18-65 – reach and traffic driving platform
You can use Facebook to engage people with your art by telling the story about who you are and what your work stands for.
Post Images of your work, links to articles, and any video clips such as interviews or a behind the scenes footage which works very well as the algorithm is structured to push video content to the top of the newsfeed.
Use the Insights tab on your page to learn more about your audience such as where they’re from and which of your posts they are most engaged with.
Facebook is also a great research tool. Look up galleries, artists, and publications which suite your style and engage with their work or message them directly.
Twitter – 15 million active UK users – engagement/news platform  
Twitter is more of a conversational platform where you can directly connect with and contact galleries, press and celebrities. Tweeting @ competitions, art magazines and influencers and asking them to RT (retweet) can considerably increase your following and raise awareness.
It’s a real-time platform which means that news and trends spread like wildfire. Posting reactive content and getting involved with the conversation using relevant hashtags significantly increases your visibility on the newsfeed.
Use a mixture of handles @’s and hashtags #’s to jump on board with trends. For example, if your work is about fashion, then use @LondonFashionWk and #LFW in the copy with images of your work when it’s trending to increase your reach.
Know the lingo – e.g. #TBT = Throw back Thursday or #MotivationMondays = Something to perk people up on Monday mornings.
Instagram – 14 million active monthly users
“Insta” as it’s known, has a younger audience and appeal than Facebook and is rapidly becoming one of the most popular social media platforms. As it’s 90% visual it’s perfect for your work to be seen by many more people and grow your fan base.
Similarly to Facebook (it’s owned by them afterall), post your own art, follow other artists, galleries and general people you find interesting and engage with their work by leaving comments and liking. Find profiles with large followings which share content and tag them. There are many art content profiles such as @Love.Watts who actively look for and re-post artwork which is sent to them.
Paid Advertising
You can also advertise very effectively to boost reach and engagements using several types of ad formats. Start by increasing your follower/fan base – this will mean your posts get seen by more people. You can then start promoting awareness pieces and sales type posts.
Types of ads:
Engagement Ad – is a like, comment, click or share. This can be in the form of an image of video whereby you can advertise to specifically targeted people based on their interests i.e.; those who are most likely to engage with your content. This helps increase the reach of your posts and pushes it up the newsfeed. You can estimate between £0.03 – £0.25 pence cost per engagement.
Reach advert – Will go out to as many people as possible whether or not people engage with it. This is for maximising impression’s – an impression means each time your advert shows up on someone else’s newsfeed.
Website clicks – Drive people directly to your website. This could be to drive sales, to raise awareness about an exhibition, or a competition. You can estimate between £0.10 and £0.45 cost per website click and you’ll only be charged when someone clicks the link.
Handling Negative Comments
You probably think the worst thing that can happen as an artist when you start out is that no-one sees, ‘likes’ or comments on your posts. So what? Keep posting and engaging using the above tips and you’ll start to increase your reach. Even if you were to get negative comments you can use these as a potent force to put across who you are and acquire new fans and followers, keep the conversation going but don’t engage in a heated argument, it’s honestly a waste of time and will only weaken your position.
For example if I share this article and someone commented “boring and unhelpful, I could’ve written better myself,” rather than hunt them down and slap them across the face with my laptop, I may reply something like “these are some of the key inside tips I’ve learnt working within the industry which I’m sharing because I believe they can really help some artists. If you have any suggestions please feel free to share them too.”  Then leave it at that. If someone continues mouthing off maliciously at you from behind their screen, then it’s best to just hide or block these people.
Conclusion
The more you put in the more you get out. There’s nothing wrong with using social media passively and just browsing and watching cat videos, but it’s far more effective as a creative business tool for your art when you contribute and connect.
As the newsfeed space on social channels becomes ever more competitive it’s worth taking advantage of these tips as art is some of the most naturally engaging content. It’s not like your trying to promote life insurance is it? Personally, I’d be much happier to see a newsfeed filled with art rather than most of the trash you can get sucked into.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and self promote – it’s never been so easy. I understand that it can be a bit daunting to put something you’ve created out to public scrutiny, but I believe it’s even more hurtful to your career if don’t put it out there at all – remember all established artists have to face their critics.
Alexis Jourrou is a regular contributor to The Saatchi Gallery Magazine and has worked on social media campaigns for Warner Bros, Canon, McDonald’s, and MTV.
Artwork by Day-z www.day-z.co.uk

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