If you’ve been posting beautiful photos of your art every day and getting no traction, you might be wondering: How do I get my art noticed on social media?
To get your art noticed on social media, you will need to go around the algorithm. Instead of waiting to be discovered, you should target your ideal audience and take steps to gently engage with them on their profiles. As you nurture meaningful connections, your ideal audience will naturally engage with you on your profile.
What’s an Algorithm?
Each social media platform is made up of an algorithm that determines what posts and videos will be served up to its users. In a way, it’s like an equation that picks out the content you are most likely to be interested in. The algorithm considers your search history, prior engagement, and what other people like you are engaging with.
Unless you were an early adopter of a platform and gained a large following early, it is very difficult to convince the algorithm to send you an influx of new followers. Remember, ideally, every platform would prefer it if you’d pay for ads. Social media platforms are incentivized to send you enough traffic to keep you on the platform, but not so much that you have no need to buy ads.
Flip the Script
Most of us use social media platforms like an introvert at a high school dance. Dressed in our best outfits, we stand against the wall and wait for someone else to notice us and ask us to dance. If no one asks, we assume it’s because we’re not pretty enough, or dressed well enough.
But this is social media, not a high school dance. We don’t have to wait. Remember, social media relationships are a two-way street. We do not have to hope to be discovered. We can use our profiles to discover and meet our ideal contacts and buyers.
Proactive connection is a little different than passive posting. Instead, you are going to proactively target the people you would like to connect with. Whether you have chosen Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok, the following steps apply:
Clean up your Profile
First, clean up your profile. Make sure that what you have posted helps people to know, like, and trust you and your artwork. This means your photos and videos should be the best quality you are capable of.
As you review your profile, make sure your content is a good representation of what you have to offer. Your profile will act as your portfolio when your targets check you out. You will likely only have one opportunity to impress, so if you feel that one of your posts does not meet muster, go ahead and archive/delete it.
Identify your Targets
This may be the most important aspect of beating the algorithm. Instead of letting the algorithm decide who you should connect with, you will decide for yourself.
Identifying your targets will take a bit of self-reflection. Who are the people who are most likely to buy your art, or sell your art for you. Likewise, you can also target venues where you think your art might do well, and even places you might like to teach classes (if that’s your thing.)
Next, create a list of categories of people likely to buy (or sell) your art:
People Most Likely to Buy Your Art
For most art, the people most likely to buy include people who are decorating a new home, redecorating an existing home, or finishing a remodel. Other art-buying occasions include gifting at the holidays and milestone events (ie: significant birthdays, anniversaries, graduations.)
Your art subject is also an opportunity to target. For example, if your art centers around geographical areas, people that live or vacation in those areas are a good target. You may also have crossover. For example, if your art is centered on California beaches, your targets could also include people who engage in beach activities such as surfing, hiking, or fishing.
Make a list of 10 – 20 occasions and subjects that relate to your work. For example, if your are a landscape artist, you might choose home renovaation, new home, hiking, mountains, naturalist. These will be the hashtags you will search for and engage with.
People Likely to Sell Your Art
Galleries (both online and off), catalogs, museum stores, interior designers, art consultants, curators, and art licensing companies are examples of excellent targets. Make a list of 10 or more types of people you might like to work with in the future. These will be the people you follow and engage with.
Make Gentle Contact
Going back to our high school dance analogy, instead of waiting around to be noticed, take the initiative yourself. Your goal is to notice and converse with the people and subjects on your list.
Armed with your targeted hashtags and interesting accounts, take a moment to look over their content once a week. Like one or two posts and leave a meaningful comment that adds value or ask a question about their work. This will trigger them to engage with you and check out your profile to see who you are.
It’s very important to go slow and remain genuinely interested. If you like a bunch of their posts at once, or leave comments about your own work, it will be considered spam. Instead, keep the focus on them and their account, keeping up to date and build the relationship over time.
Patience is critical. If you want to beat the algorithm, you have to be willing to play the long game. Creating meaningful relationships on social media is far more powerful than tens of thousands of followers. You really only need a few of those relationships to pay off.
Do’s and Don’ts
Make a list of relevant topics and people that are relevant to your art.
Make gentle contact with the people on your list as well as the people hashtagging your topics.
Gentle contact means making a meaningful and helpful comment or asking a question on the target content. The comment or question should be about the content, not yourself.
Return once every week or two and make another gentle contact.
Update your target list every few months. If your target is not responding to your comments and questions at all, move on.
Continue to post on your own account. Make sure you are posting your very best. Your outreach is designed to foster curiosity in you and you want your profile to be fresh when your targets check you out.
Do not like multiple posts in a row. This is considered spam and you will come off as tone-deaf. One or two likes are more than enough when you are discovering a new account.
Do not comment on multiple posts at the same time. Leave a comment, then come back another time and leave another comment or question. Leaving multiple comments comes off as thirsty for attention.
Do not send unsolicited DM’s. Only send a direct message when it has been asked for. Again, this is spam and the number one reason people get blocked on social media.