Artists have caught on to social networks and the world’s largest, Facebook, seems ideal. It’s familiar, free and some have had significant financial successes with it.
First, for those who hate long articles.
Facebook is indeed an effective way to expand and engage your buying audience. BUT, don’t be blinded – Facebook is an advertising business. You have no control over it or its on-going popularity. Depending on Facebook (or any social network) for your online marketing leaves you vulnerable.
Since going public in May 2012 Facebook has had some financial difficulties. It should not surprise many (but did) that Facebook recently changed their Page algorithm. Posts no longer automatically reach fans (and their friends) as they did. Partly, Facebook want users engaged and not spammed, but of course they want to encourage Page owners to pay for their promotions and reach. Additionally, advertising with Facebook is relatively a less that certain return on investment.
If you are serious about creating a long term and effective online presence we say focus on owning and updating your own website. Why blog for Facebook when that time and effort can be used to send search traffic directly to your own domain? Own your content first then share it with Facebook. That said, let’s get on with the more practical side of using Facebook for selling art.
Whoa there! – you need a Page not a Profile.
The first thing to know is there is a difference between Facebook Profiles (your personal account) and Pages (which you can create when you have a profile).
- Facebook Insights. Profiles do not have Facebook Insights. Insights give page owners metrics on reach, location, age, gender and other demographics. These are key to understanding which posts are working.
- Search Engines. Pages get indexed in search engines and can get a page rank. Also when you reach 25 “likes” you can claim your vanity URL. ie. www.facebook.com/ArtCove
It’s not all about the “likes”.
The natural thing to do when starting a Facebook page is to go chasing after “Likes” for “social proof ” However:
- Don’t buy Facebook likes. Plenty of companies sell Facebook ”likes”. They say they have targeted fans and genuine profiles (obviously) but, you will get no interaction from them. If you don’t earn your likes it becomes obvious. Not only is your page pointless – it could damage your credibility.
- Quality over quantity. People liking, sharing or commenting on your posts is what increases your “reach”. In fact Facebook ranks pages based on the levels of engagement. Expect this to become even more significant as time goes on.
- Don’t use “likes” as a voting mechanism for promotions. Many do, but it is against Facebook’s terms and conditions. Is it worth getting your page closed, perhaps years down the line?
- Other Pages – Other pages liking yours does not increase your like count, but are invaluable for mutual support. You may well get support from their followers plus ideas and content to share. Be social!
- Subscriptions – This is very new to Pages. If you have a website you can choose to add a “subscribe” button rather than a “like” button to it. It’s early days, but we suspect page subscribers will be viewed as more committed and will receive more updates than “likers”.
Okay so what makes a successful Artist Page?
- Showing work in progress. Smart artists know that people love seeing the creative process. They show their work in it’s various stages, reveal their methods for other artist (boosting their authority). Even consult their audience on direction. A great example of artist’s Facebook page is this one by Vicky Mount.
- Regular updates. Perhaps obvious, but Facebook Insights can tell you when is a good time to post. Is it evenings or weekends? Also updates in batches can annoy. More than 3 in a day and you can start losing people. Don’t make an individual post welcoming every new follower you get.
- Acknowledging your followers. If they make a comment acknowledge it. Just quickly liking their comment is often enough to show they have not wasted their time on you. If you are getting lots of new likes and support thank them, but as part of the next post. Also be aware you maybe getting attention from other artists and it does you no harm at all to show you are relaxed enough to appreciate the work of others too.
- Respecting your followers. Don’t call them “fans”. Facebook replaced the “Be a Fan” button with the “Like” button. Quite right, it is the sense of being connected on a more personal and equal level that make pages work. If you are that important your followers will acknowledge themselves as fans otherwise you are patronising them.
- Personality. Tell us something about yourself and your art subjects. Not self indulgent nonsense about your work being inspired by your dreams (no-one cares) . Just remember people have always been as much interested in lives of artists as they have of their art.
- Add images and links to posts. Unless all your followers have added you to their ”Interest List” the Facebook’s algorithm will decide which of your post will travel to your followers’ news streams. Luckily for artists your best chance seems to be with photo posts (as they have always been more engaging). Adding links is reported to help too, but this is less clear. We noticed that when we added the word “promotion” in a post, it appeared in no-ones news feed!.
Keep it in Perspective
Facebook is a great platform for artists and is worth investing time on, but as mentioned, it’s dangerous to put all your eggs in someone else’s basket. Facebook may superficially seem more effective than a conventional blog. In fact most bloggers give up within months due to a lack of feedback which tends to come much easier on Facebook.
However, a better measure of success is how much quality traffic you generate overall. A post on Facebook is very short lived where a blog post (that no-one comments on) may send constant traffic for many years to come. Additionally if someone links to one of your post on Facebook – they get the boost in search engine ranking – not you. Unless you are lucky to have a huge offline following, getting familiar how the web works and understanding search engine optimisation (SEO) is key to ongoing online success. This may be more work, but so is everything worth having.
In a future post we shall look at creating an artist website with WordPress. WordPress is a open source (FREE) system that is very powerful and easy to use, but in the meantime you may wish to check out this short, but excellent post on why you should be blogging.