By Meighan O’Toole
As the social media landscape changes and grows, so have the rules. It’s no longer necessarily true that you need a presence on every social network—especially if you’re a one-person show. The last thing you want to do is waste time on social media when you could be creating your art. Many artists will want to focus on two or three platforms rather than spreading themselves too thin.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest speak to different audiences, hold different appeals, and serve different purposes. What works on one network may or may not work on another. Here, we highlight some of the benefits of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, a handful of best practices for each, and share examples of Minted artists who excel on each platform.
Ask These Questions Before Diving In
The important first step is outlining your goals. This doesn’t need to be a labor-intensive process. Think of it as a road map to guide you in how to approach social media.
Do I want to:
- drive traffic to my Minted Artist Store and personal website?
- increase sales?
- gain exposure?
- build a larger online following?
Once you outline your goals, you’ll have a better idea of how to approach your social media strategy and how to use the platforms. For instance, if your main goals are to drive traffic and increase sales, focus your efforts on sharing content that includes links to your Artist Store and talk specifically about your products and the stories behind your brand. (We’ll cover social content and building an audience in upcoming Minted Holiday Playbook articles.)
Which Platforms Are Best for You?
The next step is to identify the best platforms for your business. I encourage small businesses that are just starting (or that have been posting to social media with no real results) to focus on one to three platforms. This allows you to maximize your effect and efforts.
When deciding what platforms are best for you, consider these factors:
- Where will your content perform best?
- Which platform(s) do you enjoy and feel most comfortable using?
- What is your schedule?
- Look at your contemporary peers—how are they engaging their audiences?
I would never encourage someone to copy their professional peers, but it is important to pay attention to the platforms they’re using and how well they’re doing. Think about this first, then think about your content and what platforms feel like a good fit for you. Approach these platforms with curiosity as opposed to fear.
Social media strategy is a skill just like anything else you do within your business—the more you do it, the more you’ll grow. Also be sure to think about your schedule; it’s easy, for example, to get sucked into a four-hour time trap on Facebook; be realistic about the amount of time you can spend.
Everyone is on Facebook. Literally. Facebook is the most-used social media platform with 1.5 billion monthly users, and while it may not be growing in leaps and bounds anymore, its users are using it more frequently. You’re most likely to find your friends and family on Facebook, and they’re likely to support you.
Content types that perform best on Facebook are images, personal stories that resonate with your audience, and video. (For example, watercolor artist Naomi Ernest does a fantastic job including short, fun videos on her page.) Facebook is a great place to cultivate community through your friends, family, and really share your brand’s overall look and feel. While its algorithm can be a little tough to get your content into your follower’s News feed, it’s not impossible.
Keep your captions short; studies have shown that copy with less than 40 characters gets much higher engagement. When using images to promote your product, make sure to always drive traffic back to your Store by including a compelling call to action (directive copy and a link).
Example CTAs include “See my newest prints: [your Store URL]” and “Shop now: [your Store URL].”
Hooray Creative on Facebook
When you receive a comment, be sure to respond, which shows fans there’s a real person behind your brand. Correspondence also alerts Facebook’s tricky algorithm that activity is happening, which in turn pushes your content up higher into others’ News feeds.
With over 400 million active users, this photo sharing app is perfect for artists and creatives. What sets Instagram apart from the other top social media platforms is that it offers the ability to tell your story in a unique way—primarily through images.
There are many ways to use Instagram, but the best place to start is to share your work. Aim to use natural light, and eschew Instagram’s filters as it tends to dampen the strength of one’s work. But do use Instagram’s editing tools—they’re powerful and in cases when natural light isn’t available, they can save an image and really brighten it up.
Aesthetic style is perhaps the most important thing to focus on with Instagram, so I recommend showcasing your best images. The aesthetic of Annie Bunker of WildField Paper Company’s Instagram is beautiful. She creates a lifestyle within her images, inviting followers to become engulfed.
Don’t be afraid to share images that go beyond your work. Share your studio space, things that inspire you, works in progress (using the popular hashtag #wip). Tell your story through pictures. Watercolor artist Stephanie Ryan not only shares her beautiful paintings of florals, but shares images of her paints and supplies and inspiration, such as crystals.
A virtual bulletin board, Pinterest is a collection of millions of visuals. It’s a never-ending stream of images that you curate or “pin” to Boards that you create by theme or topic. Pinterest is about more than sharing your own content—it’s about creating a mood and a feeling. It can feel inspiring and a little overwhelming at first. But once you get the hang of it, it’s a great place to tell your brand’s story.
Meighan O’Toole is a digital strategist empowering creative businesses online through social media, content creation, and cultivating community. Connecting people to technology to help make their work and personal lives easier and more enjoyable is her passion. She lives and works in Boston. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
This is the third article in our 2015 Minted Holiday Playbook for Artist Stores, a one-month program designed to teach artists how to better merchandise, market, sell their work. Stay tuned to the Community>Resources section of Julep: The next two articles will cover social media content and audience development.
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Published October 8, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.