It is two parts exciting and three parts nightmare managing social media as an artist. Exciting to have your work and process out in the world inspiring others and hopefully engaging other artists, or art lovers, but as an artist the additional energy and time needed to create and maintain such accounts after making and documenting your work can take us to our limit. Everyone has their own recipe for social media management success, but it doesn’t change the simple fact that it is one more item on the list of To-Do’s. Last year I attended more than one workshop that addressed social media for artists. I, myself, have signed up for and tried them all, almost… as it seems that there is one more social media app lurking around the corner, promising ultimate exposure and immediate access to “your” public.
After attending the workshops and recovering from all the “exposure”, I have gained a bit of advice and personal insight. I went in deep… here is what I have learned from my adventures in social media. They may appear seemingly obvious, but after taking a vacation from our alternate, web-based reality and returning with fresh eyes, I wonder how many of us are actually using these simple rules as a structure for crafting our social media presence. How often are we overlooking these important suggestions?
- Use the best camera you have available. A phone camera is not always going to provide the highest quality photograph. It is your work, after all, so take the extra time and care in photographing the work. And edit! Don’t always accept the first picture, or the picture taken, as the final product. Cropping and light corrections are essential to producing photos that represent how your work looks in person.
- When using multiple social media accounts, do not post the same images and narratives across platforms. Mix it up! Take multiple pictures, find variety in perspective or presentation, or both. Not just for your images, but also in the text. Perhaps even share different stages of a process, document well and often. Getting in the practice of documenting your work and practice is really a priority. There are also services where you log in to one site and manage all your social media accounts from one dashboard, which makes it easy to see and remember what you are posting across the world wide web.
- Share and share alike. If you have a blog, an Etsy, a workshop you are teaching… If it is shared elsewhere on the Internet, share! Share when you write a new article or blog entry, share when you join a new community, share when you have a new item for sale, share when others share you and your events. Promote shamelessly! Don’t forget the convenience of linking social media accounts, so what you choose to share will be shared in multiple places allowing you to reach a larger audience without paying for it.
What I have found most useful is to decide what I want to showcase then find the social media platform that suits the content. Each platform then has its own specific “identity”, purpose, or function.
Facebook is for Newsworthy information; events, finished products, some production information, personal milestones and achievements, content appropriate for sharing from other Facebook posts from related businesses and organizations, etc. Keep it professional and on topic.
Twitter… I can’t say that I was a fan, as most users do not Twitter responsibly. It is too likely that your posts and even you will get easily lost and carried away in the current that is a Twitter feed. Others enjoy it, you may.
Instagram is delightful. This is where I share work in progress, “in the studio” snippets, me doing what I do. This also includes the unfinished, the rough around the edges, the stuff without a place; including, what I do outside the studio that relates to my art-making, such as learning and teaching. It is a wonderful place to share your process. Remember to document as much as you can!
WordPress as a blog platfrom is what I have found to be the most comprehensive and professional. I have tried Blogger, Tumblr, Weebly, and WordPress. The blog should be personal, insightful, introspective… This is the place to connect to your audience outside of the professional scope of being an artist, and I consider it a virtual/visual journal. It is a collection of personal thoughts, points of interest, an online document of inspiration, experimentation, and other musings; albeit digital and publicly available. This is for letting your audience into the mind of the maker, a place to share all the beautiful about art-making that happens behind the scenes. What I also enjoy about WordPress is the ability to link accounts like Instagram, and your images appear in the sidebar of your WordPress site with no extra coding skills or unneeded headaches.
After numerous trials, reinventions, and relaunches of both my studio and artistic image, I can leave you with these suggestions:
o Stay uniquely you! Don’t worry about adopting a bigger than life, big business online personality. You won’t be able to maintain it. We, as humans, evolve. Let you shine and your business will evolve with you.
o Use social media accounts responsibly, your audience will thank you and your sanity will remain intact. You are one person, and more than likely not in a place to hire someone to Tweet their tits off all day long. Stick to what’s important and what truly relates to your art and practice, and your audience won’t feel burdened just trying to keep up while they desperately attempt to not miss anything.
o Keep consistent and fresh. Provide the same character of content, but introduce new things along the way. Don’t feel obligated to keep anything around either. Take it for a spin, if it isn’t working don’t buy it. And if anything… just keep working, sometimes persistence is the only thing that determines success or failure.
Tabatha Jarmulowicz, Artist/Owner Lendquvist Studio