Promoting Art on Social Media

“‘Build it, and they will come’ only works in the movies. Social Media is a “‘build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.’”

—Seth Godin

You have an idea for a short story. You grab your notebook and pen, outline your idea, and write it down. Once you manage to squeeze out a first draft, you begin editing it and really make it something magical. At the end, you have an amazing short piece of literature that you want to share with the world.

So you log on to your blog and put your story on the front page. You even make a nice graphic to add as the cover art for your story and catch eyes. Now that it’s up and public on your blog, you share it on your one to three chosen social media channels.

You’ve done everything by the book, but somehow no one visits your site to read your blog. It’s not even getting many likes on social media.

This is because, despite doing everything else right, there’s a lot of noise on social media from other creatives doing the exact same thing. So in order to get your work noticed, you need to promote it.

Creating different posts for each channel

A post that works on Facebook won’t necessarily work on Instagram; a 240 character tweet may get likes on Twitter, but will be lost on a LinkedIn newsfeed. Each social network is unique, and posts should be tailored for each one. They all have their own set of rules, and if you want your posts to be noticed, you need to play by their rules.

Creating a unique post for each network may sound like a drag, but it’s well-worth the effort. These posts, instead of feeling like you copy and pasted them from an Evernote notebook, will look fresh and real. People like connecting with other real people, so communicating your authenticity through fresh posts is the road to their hearts.

Each social channel was created with a purpose and target audience in mind. In order to properly connect with people on these sites, you should first understand who the audiences are.

  • Facebook is the only site that is truly targeting everyone. Users seek entertainment in their newsfeeds, so create posts and content that will inspire them to share.

  • Instagram is a very visual platform. Users want to see visually-appealing images and videos. It’s very important to share high quality pictures and images, but especially true on Instagram.

  • Twitter users want news tips, advice, interesting articles, and overviews of what’s trending. All of this can be easily summed up in 240 characters or less. Distilling an entire blog post down to a single Twitter post can be a powerful thing.

  • LinkedIn is Facebook for the working professional. Content on this site should be informative material that white collar men and women can use in their daily lives.

Interact with other users

Networking events are crucial because you can meet and connect with like-minded individuals. In the same way, social media will give you the same opportunity. You can use these sites to connect with other users, share your content and art with your target audience, and essentially get all of the benefits of networking events with the convenience of your phone.

Facebook and LinkedIn groups are your best bet for finding like-minded users. There are groups for pretty much every niche full of users contributing content, interacting with posts, and eager to discuss the subject further. A quick search on those sites (or Google) will turn up plenty of options for connecting with others.

Instagram and Twitter don’t have groups, so you’ll want to use hashtags to find others. You can search for these hashtags and see every post in which they are included. Users use hashtags to, well, tag their posts, so searching the right hashtag should lead you to relevant posts within your niche!

Not sure what the right hashtags are? Check out the posts of others within your niche. They are no doubt using the right hashtags that you’re looking for. Click on these hashtags, visit other posts that are using them, and see what different hashtags they are using. This will give you a great idea as to what the best hashtags for your niche are, as directed by those already in your niche.

There are also some great tools out there that will give you plenty of relevant hashtags. I personally use the app Hashy for this. In this app, I can either search by category or by hashtag. If I search by hashtag, the app will recommend numerous of other, similar hashtags for me to copy and paste onto my posts.

Once you join the right groups and have a list of appropriate hashtags, you can start connecting with your target audience. This is where the work gets hard. In order to actually make connections with the right people, you can’t just give their post a like and some superfluous comment; you need to add value.

Value is reading someone’s post and taking a minute to craft a thoughtful comment. Not “Great read!” or “Thanks for sharing” or “Keep up the good work!” When I see comments like these on my blog articles, I know the users who left them didn’t actually read my article. They just want me to check out their profiles.

Connecting involves giving more than you take. If you create a beautiful piece of art and put it up on your Instagram, you shouldn’t expect anyone to give it likes and comments without first liking and commenting on their posts. This is an issue that I’ve seen so many times.

It’s a huge red flag when a creator direct messages you with their newest piece of work (a painting, video, blog post, etc.) out of the blue or spams your comments with links to his profile and website. That means they aren’t in it for the art or the connections; they just want likes and followers. Creators like that would do better to stay off the internet entirely.

Influencer marketing

On every social media network, there are some users that have way more followers than others. These are the users who’s content you see go viral and who have gained celebrity status within their chosen network. In fact, most of them have made their channels their full time jobs. These folks are called “influencers,” and they can hold the key to success for your creative account.

Influencer marketing is simply working with these influencers. These influencers can share your post, or can create something with you and post it to their page. Either way, the main benefit of influencer marketing is they share your name and what you do to their followers.

Why is that important? Why not just buy a Facebook ad or something?

Influencer marketing is so effective because influencers have built up a level of trust with their audiences that you just can’t buy. When they recommend a product, service, or page, their followers tend to listen. When they share a video and say, “Go follow this account!” a good number of their followers will indeed go follow the account!

This isn’t news. In fact, influencer marketing relies on human principles that are as old as homo sapiens ourselves. It’s classic word-of-mouth, but on a grander scale than your traditional Yelp! review. We listen to people that we trust. When we follow an influencer on YouTube and they recommend another page, we trust their judgement and check out the page.    

Word-of-mouth, in any form, is more effective than traditional advertising. Ads that we see on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or on billboards on highways are just the company telling us to buy their products or services. There’s no relationship built up, and thus no trust.

The numbers back-up what I’m saying. 92% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth over advertising, and 81% of businesses who have used influencer marketing have seen effective results.

Influencer marketing isn’t free. Because it’s their full-time job, they need to make a buck too, and promoting other creators’ works is often their bread-and-butter. The size of their followers usually determines the size of the bill, since the more followers an influencer has, the more trusted eyes your post will get in front of. If you direct message influencers, they will give you a breakdown of their prices.

Your home base

As a creative, it’s important to have all of your work live on one home base. This is the place where all of your social networks will link back to. It’s where your comedy sketch videos live, or your short story blog posts, or your portfolio of paintings. This is the most important corner of the web to you.

It’s important to have a home base for your creative work because the rules of social networks change all the time, and that change is completely out of your control. When the executives at Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook decide it’s time to stop trend X in favor of trend Y, then everyone who built their businesses solely on trend X will be left in the dust.

In January 2018, Facebook announced it will change the algorithm to show more posts from close friends and family members, local events, and local small businesses. Most business pages were bumped to the bottom of users’ newsfeeds. This means that, unless a business page pays to have their posts boosted or has a solid organic marketing strategy, their posts would go unseen.

I noticed a change in my own business page. The average number of people who viewed my posts dropped sharply that month. That translated to less traffic to my website from Facebook. This meant I had to be more active in Facebook groups and with my networking in order to get eyes on my posts.

When everything lives on your website, YOU are in complete control. Whether it’s a free Blogger account or a premium Squarespace, you can design it how you want and no one will change the rules on you overnight.

You can create a website where your vlogs are prominent on the homepage and your blogs are in the background, one where it is exclusively blogs. No executive at Facebook is going to tell you that the algorithm is changing and now your vlogs will fade into oblivion. If vlogging is what you like, then have at it.

The more control you have, the better. Social media is a great way to get eyeballs on your work, but that work should ultimately live on your own website. The site doesn’t have to be professionally designed with thousands of dollars of pug-ins. It just has to be a place where you can post your work and share with others. The point of social media is to ultimately get people back to your website.

Ryan Lally