Which are the best Social Media Platforms for Artists to Sell their Artwork?
There’s no denying that social media has been a huge benefit for artists and other creatives in general and for many has become their primary marketing channel. Social media gives artists direct access to millions of potential customers worldwide with an estimated 53% of the world’s population on social media! Rather than solely relying on 3rd parties to sell and market our work for us we can explore new avenues, discover new audiences, new collaborations and sell directly from our social media platforms.
The number of Social Media platforms is growing and the digital landscape is constantly shifting and changing. Which social media platforms are the most suited for artists to market and sell their work?
Social media platforms can be broadly speaking categorised into two main types. Looking at the some of the biggest platforms used today:
Facebook and LinkedIn for example require a reciprocal connection and they prioritise content from existing connections, or content that those connections have interacted with.
No Reciprocal Connection
Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest for example do not require a reciprocal link connection. They prioritise different ways to discover new content.
Which of the 7 main content sharing Social Media Platforms have the most active users in 2021?
Here is a comparison of the top 7 social platforms in order of number of active users in January 2021.
1. Facebook - 2.740 Billion
2. YouTube - 2.291 Billion
3. Instagram - 1.221 Billion
4. LinkedIn - 772 Million
5. TikTok - 689 Million
6. Pinterest - 442 Million
7. Twitter - 353 Million
(Statistics taken from https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/ )
Comparisons of the Top 7 Social Media Content Sharing Platforms for Artists
Who, Why and How do People use Different Social Media Platforms
All of the above platforms are used by Artists to market and promote their art businesses and most artists will choose one or two to specialise in. To decide which platform is best for you as an artist it is important to understand how and why people use each platform, how it fits with your ideal customers and how it fits with you and the type of content you like to create. (Demographic data from SproutSocial)
WHO: Largest age group: 25-34 (26.3%), Gender: 44% female, 56% male, Time spent per day: 38 minutes
WHY: To keep in touch with friends and family. To present their content and shared content to their connections. To find local businesses, to shop and find out about services, products, likeminded groups and support causes.
HOW: They will share your posts if they think it is good in its own right, if it fits with the image they are projecting of themselves, or if they want to help you spread the word (advocates). They will interact if the post touches them in some way and often to support a local business or entrepreneur.
VERDICT: Facebook remains the most used and engaged-with social platform and is many people’s “home base” when it comes to social media. Due to its size and engagement rate it makes sense to use Facebook to promote and sell your art. It attracts an older demographic with more money to spend. Having said that the younger generations have not totally ditched Facebook but if this is your target audience bear in mind it’s not their number 1 platform. One to one connections are strong as are referrals and the fact that there are reciprocal connections means that the know, like and trust factor is high amongst your connections and page followers leading to a high chance of converting any interest into sales. It is also possible to set up a Facebook shop for your artwork.
WHO: Largest age group: 15-25yrs, Gender: 72% of all female internet users and 72% of all male internet users, Time spent per day: 41.9 minutes among viewers 18 and older
WHY: To consume video content. Interestingly, it is the second biggest search engine after Google.
HOW: They will follow channels where the content is of interest and be alerted to see the latest videos added.
VERDICT: YouTube’s popularity among younger users highlights the ongoing, long-term shift toward video content. 62% of YouTube users login daily so it is still undoubtedly the video platform of choice. Only 18% of YouTube users claim to use YouTube to find brands and products. Artists need to find a balance between entertainment, instruction and advertising and obviously need video content to post. Many Artists do have channels and have built large followings on You Tube. Make sure you top and tail your videos with your logo, your name and a call to action and in the description a link to your webpage or other social media. Videos for promotion and marketing should be kept short. On “The Artist’s Guide to YouTube,” https://mashable.com/2009/03/12/youtube-artist/?europe=true#x4xaJMQAvsqA artist and blogger Natasha Wescoat suggests aiming for a video between thirty seconds and three minutes long. Time-lapse videos can be very popular. As it is the second biggest search engine it is important to use key words on your descriptions that target your audience. The videos made can be promoted on your other social media channels and embedded or linked to from your website.
WHO: Largest age group: 25-34yrs (33.1%), Gender: 57% female, 43% male, Average time spent per day: 29 minutes
WHY: To look at and covet beautiful things. To post lifestyle photos. To shop - 83% of people use Instagram to discover new products and services and 87% said they took specific action, like making a purchase, after seeing product information. (Facebook for Business). 90% of people on Instagram follow a business. (Instagram).
HOW: They will share and interact if they think the content is good in its own right and fits with their personal ‘brand’.
VERDICT: Instagram’s steady growth is well-documented, cementing it as the second largest network after Facebook. The fact that Facebook and Instagram share the same ad platform presents many cross-promotional opportunities. Recent Instagram statistics highlight the value of influencers and Instagram content for motivating shopping. Instagram is many artists’ platform of choice. Instagram is image led so ideally suited to artists. One drawback is that outward links are limited and not available on posts. Videos, photos and guides can be posted and you can set up an Instagram shop showcasing your items for sale.
WHO: Here’s a breakdown of US Internet users who use LinkedIn by age (source HootSuite): Largest age group is 46-55 yrs (37%) and 36-45 yrs (34%) however, 25-34 yr old group is growing rapidly and are LinkedIn’s biggest advertising audience because of their high purchasing power.
WHY: For professional networking, job opportunities, marketing, collaboration, to show they are an expert in their field. See updates on networking connections.
HOW: They will share and interact if it fits with their business/professional persona
VERDICT: LinkedIn is like an ongoing networking event giving you access to professional people who you would not meet in your everyday life. It has the oldest demographic of all the platforms. Artists can use LinkedIn to meet gallery owners, corporate art reps, interior designers, collectors, and other successful art professionals. This can greatly extend your reach and expand your horizons as a professional.
WHO: Largest age group: 18-24yrs, Gender: 59% female, 41% male, Time spent per day: 45+ minutes
WHY: To watch fun, short and trendy videos on their phones. They can re-purpose audio footage from other videos and create a unique take on someone else's idea. It focuses on people’s creativity.
HOW: They will follow other accounts and create a feed of new content from the creators they enjoy most. They will interact with posts that they find amusing, innovative or interesting.
VERDICT: The platform’s young user-base is dedicated to this platform, with the average user spending an amazing 21.5 hours per month in 2020 (compared to 12.8 hours in 2019). TikTok’s use by adults is growing, so it may switch course to serve older users in the future. There are artists who have embraced this new platform some who have achieved a lot of success with their innovative posts going viral. You can share tutorials, time lapse videos, or leverage duets and react videos. Miranda the Hybrid is an author, illustrator, and art teacher from Pittsburgh who amassed a large following through tutorials and tips for artists and critiques of other artists’ work, she says “As silly and raucous as TikTok is, it will attract more viewers than any other platform out there — if you know how to use it. This is something that took me a while to pin down, but it all boils down to being relatable. Although your art is certainly very interesting on its own, TikTok users want to relate with the artist on a more personal and casual level.”
WHO: Largest age group: 30-49yrs, Gender: 78% female, 22% male, Time spent per day: 14.2 minutes
WHY: To find/covet beautiful things. To scrapbook collections of photos of things for inspiration. To identify products they want to buy.
HOW: They’ll save/interact based on how the image looks and categorize them into their “boards.” They can also browse Pinterest’s main categories like “Art” and “Design” or search for a certain painting by typing in keywords.
VERDICT: Pinterest users are predominately female and over 30yrs. However, recently, users under 25yrs have grown 2x as fast as users over 25yrs. It is probably the most product focussed of all social networks and there are huge advertising opportunities due to the high earnings of its user base. The images they save link back directly to the website where they were first posted, making it the perfect social media site for potential buyers to find art they love and go directly to the artist’s website to purchase it.
WHO: Largest age group: 30-49yrs (44%), Gender: 32% female, 68% male, Time spent per day/week: 3.53 minutes per session
WHY: To find out the latest news or developments in subjects they are interested in, to see what’s trending and spread the word. Many curate content and mainly just Re-Tweet content in their area of interest.
HOW: They will interact and share if the post is good in its own right, it fits with their view of the world, it is newsworthy and within their sphere of interest.
VERDICT: Twitter’s usage, user-base and growth have remained fairly consistent year-to-year, its user base is older and a high proportion are male. The platform’s relatively straightforward, shorter-term interactions signal it as a place to gather quick news or conduct customer service. Notably, 42% of Twitter users are degree-holders which highlight the platform’s demographics for higher-earners. Twitter’s status as a place to discuss events and gather breaking news make it a prime place to share content and drive discussions, but advertising is still tricky. 80% of tweets come from 10% of the platform’s most active accounts, signalling the prominence of influencers and “power users” on Twitter. Many artists have found Twitter to be a particularly useful platform for getting their artwork discovered and obtaining commissions. You can Tweet about what you’re working on, share your insights into the art world, and showcase the work that you’ve produced in the past. As most users do not log on every day HootSuit suggest, “Repeat a Tweet twice a week. When you repeat a Tweet, slightly change the wording to keep it fresh and appealing. By inserting images, repeating Tweets, and using clever applications, Twitter can be a great social media marketing tool for any artist. The most important thing is to be consistent and schedule your Tweets on a weekly basis.”
Marketing your work on Social Media takes time, especially when you are first learning how to use the platform. You can’t do all channels well so select one that you know already and ideally whose demographic matches your ideal customer/audience. You don’t want social media marketing to become a chore, so choose one you find easy and that you enjoy interacting with. Become a master of that platform and expand from there. Also consider what type of content you enjoy producing if videos are your thing then YouTube and TikTok could be best suited to you, or use the video options available on Instagram and Facebook. One time-saver to bear in mind is that you can automatically post on Facebook and Twitter when you post on Instagram which can give you a presence on 3 platforms with minimal effort. Although remember that interaction is key on all platforms so just posting alone will not improve your engagement and your know, like and trust factor which is what will lead to more sales.
To download my Top 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Artists go to: https://www.janepowellartist.co.uk/digital-marketing-for-artists