Social Media: 2019 Update



  • The „social media for artists“ topic has been discussed several times here on the forum, but I thought I’d start another thread for „looking ahead“ and planning for next year. I’ve been binging on Gary Vaynerchuk books and vlogs recently (owner of the digital consulting agency VaynerMedia and quite a personality in the social media world) and that gave me lots to think about.
    Since there are also digital marketing specialists in our midst (talking to you, @Nathan), it would be nice to have some conversation on trends and strategies to inspire some new-year-resolution.
    For example: is it worth investing more time on YouTube? Should I take a lot more care of my FB page? Start posting videos on FB? How about paid promotion? What’s happening to LinkedIn (i.e., why all of a sudden I’m being contacted by other illustrators on LInkedIn? It never happened before, and I’m on LinkedIn since it was born - and I never built an illustrator profile there). Can I safely drop Twitter (though my agent found me there)? Should I outsource some of this stuff?
    Time is the limiting factor - and the signs are that it´s going to get worse - while I could consider re-investing some of last year´s earnings into marketing.
    I guess I have too many questions for a sensible thread, but would love to hear from the community where your thoughts and gut-feelings are on social media marketing right now...



  • This is such a great topic! I've been thinking about that too. Also, Gary is so crazy inspiring to listen to! XD I don't have all the answers to your questions - I'd love to read the answers to it too! - but I can share some thoughts.

    Obviously good quality work is #1, I'd recommend improving your skills over spending hours on interacting with everyone on social media (which works like a beast, btw, but you won't get any better if that's all you do). I guess a combination there is one way to go.

    When posting online use the right hashtags and try to keep a regular stream of work coming out. I'm not too good at this, but for me and my personal goals, just posting and answering comments is enough as of right now.

    And that's the main thing too, what you should do depends on your goal and where you're at. What is your goal? Do you get most of your assignments from Instagram? In that case I'd focus most of your attention on growing that. Youtube and Facebook could then be distractions. I think it's good to have them and update them (preferably with the linked uploads thing - upload something once and it's posted everywhere), but I'd measure them against my goals and place the focus where things seem to be going best. That said, Instagram and FB seem to be the top places to be now as most people use these two social media most, apparently.

    Paid advertising or LinkedIn - never done it, maybe someone else has experience there? 🙂



  • @smceccarelli This is a great thing to bring up! There is so much conflicting information from 'it's good to have a presence everywhere since you don't know where someone will find you' to 'just invest in one or a few that are really strong and that you can engage with the community in'. It's overwhelming, and as artists can take away too much from our creative time if we're not careful.

    And It's hard to give certain ones up though when you never know where you'll get a bite; I had been thinking of taking my Behance down after sprucing up my website when I was contacted by my now agent. I had assumed she found me on IG which I update more often, but nope. It was Behance that I hadn't updated in months and was ready to kill!



  • @teju-abiola Definitely don’t kill Behance! I got my largest contract to date from there and recently a book from Scholastic via Behance. It´s the best platform for me.
    Not to mention that in my job as AD, I almost exclusively use Behance to look for illustrators....my guess is that I’m not the only one, because it has distinct advantages for ADs over all other platforms ...



  • @smceccarelli I definitely won't now, haha!



  • i'm an old man (44yo) and have drawn pictures my whole life. i've always had big ideas and dreams of contributing to the art of the world but never did anything lasting, never built up momentum, never dedicated myself to the pursuit, never put myself out there. then... instagram! wa-POW! i've drawn every day since the beginning of inktober 2017 and have only gotten better (to the earlier point on this thread). i've been svslearning this entire year, i've challenged myself, completed challenges, and sold more artwork than i would have imagined previously. i have a clear idea now of where i want to go and how i can get there almost entirely because of ig and cross- posting on facebook. i ONLY use social media for my artwork, absolutely zero opinion/lifestyle posts. i can't imagine that i would ever be in the place i'm in now without ig, youtube (just viewing) and svslearn.



  • I feel like any youtube stuff I would create would appeal more to artists than potential buyers (tutorials etc.), so for now doing youtube stuff isn't a priority--I don't want to connect with artists, I'm looking for art buyers! I find that is my "problem" with Instagram, not that I mind connecting with artists there--exactly the opposite! But I want to connect with others in addition to artists. 🙂 I think when hashtagging, etc. I think like an artist, saying the medium, program, type etc. but instead I should try to think of hashtags that would be used by people looking for art... maybe? Any thoughts on hashtags that will attract art appreciators rather than just other artists?

    Looks like I need to get on Behance. I haven't really spent any time on it AT ALL. Any pointers for a total beginner?



  • @sarah-luann I have no proper knowledge of the inner workings of Behance, but it's basically Adobe's free portfolio site you can upload work to in 'projects'. It takes a little more time to upload than just posting to insta, just slapped my work up on there and had contact info and a website link in my bio. A cool thing is that you can upload multiple images as part of a project too. It's 99% professional artists on their which is why I think ADs like to look through it vs other sites. It's not really an engagement platform though.



  • @sarah-luann That´s the main issue I want to address next year - how to target my social media activity more specifically to art buyers, without losing the sense of being part of a community of artists.

    Behance - It takes a while to get it to work: it took me a whole year of tinkering before it started taking off. Projects need to be curated and look good also in terms of layout - the level is quite high. For very successful accounts, I would say the level of work and presentation is some of the best I’ve ever seen. You’ll find a lot of artist who are not seen anywhere else - probably because they are too busy doing work for big clients to care about social media 😉
    You have to organize your work in projects rather than single images. Some artists are very successful with „yearly collections“ of their best work.
    It´s not a fast platform. Projects become part of a „portfolio“ and live on the site for as long as you let them - and harvest engagement slowly and steadily.
    The feed is completely curated by the admins and a very selective algorithm. You only get to see what you like based on your previous behavior AND what has received a high level of engagement. So if you are an AD in editorial (like I am in my day job) you only get to see good work from editorial illustrators. Also, there is the possibility to create private or public „collections“, similar to Pinterest.
    You can add up to 10 keywords to your project as well as a description. That´s the only way you can steer interest. And engaging with other people through likes and comments can help drive some traffic to your stuff.
    The system publishes how many times your project was viewed vs how many times it was liked: the ratio between the two should be as good as possible. I’m at an average of 25%, which, I’m told, is quite good for the platform.



  • OMG. I was just trying to research what hashtags art directors use and I accidentally sent a LinkedIn connect request to the Senior art director at Harper Collins. My LinkedIn site is not groomed. I guess we'll see if this was serendipitous or not.
    Had to share, back to #research. =)x



  • How much time do you guys put into the marketing? Do you set aside a special day for doing that, or special hours where you focus only on that?

    With Behance things also need to be not just scanned and cleaned up but also maybe photographe and so on. It takes a looooong time. How do you balance all?



  • @irina I used to dedicate half a day to a day per week. At the moment I can’t, so my social media is sleeping since about a month and a half. But I don’t want this to happen again: next year I want to be a bit more disciplined and not accept breakneck deadlines anymore.

    To quote Chris Do: “If you don’t dedicate part of your time to getting new business, you don’t have a business”.



  • @smceccarelli Yeah, i get it and thought it.s the same. I've been focusing on making better art at the moment but will start going into the social media thing more in depth in the new year too. There are different apps that help with crossposting and managing platforms and hashtags and can also schedule posts for consistency.

    I myself resist Twitter but i see many illustrators in the us have one. Do you find it useful? At the moment i want to work on makingmore and better art, post on instagram, revive my dead facebool maybe and post better projects to Behance. But main focus is the art itself and Instagram where i post more in stories showing process and such.

    I've also been thinking about youtube but that takes more time for me to set up to look professional and i can.t do it now since i.m in the process of moving to another country.

    I love your youtube videos btw and would love to see more content in the future 🙂



  • @irina Thank you! I’m still thinking about Twitter. Gary Vaynerchuk says it´s an “extroverts” medium - similar to a global cocktail party. That would explain why I never felt comfortable on it.But it´s the place where all the publishing world hangs out, so I’m reluctant to drop it. At the moment I’m not doing anything with it, but maybe not yet scrapping it completely.
    I’m thinking of re-focussing on Facebook and YouTube next year. Maybe try to understand what’s going on on LinkedIn. And yes, get a lot more active on YouTube.
    I´ve actually set my studio up just yesterday to record my working space. I’m playing with the idea of simply recording anything I’m working on one day per week while I chat about the work at hand or maybe some other unrelated topic and edit it down to about one hour, ...something like Will does, but while I work. Not sure I trust myself yet, but I recorded yesterday and the tracks are not too bad....and it was actually quite fun to talk to the void while working 😉
    The problem is, as always, client work restrictions. But I think I can find a solution to that. Build a time-capsule and only use it when possible or something like that.



  • I would love to watch and listen to those 😃



  • Currently listening to this, thought it was applicable: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/sell-art-social-media



  • @smceccarelli I just found your youtube acc. 🙂 I will watch your videos. I would love to see your things more on Youtube but as @Sarah-LuAnn wrote it might only be interesting for other artists. The more compact you are on Youtube the more traction you can get. Maybe show a piece and talk briefly about a few challenges during the creation.

    I am focusing on instagram at the moment and all my posts are forwarded to Facebook too. They work really good together. Not sure how they work the other way around. You can add Twitter too and just reshare all posts there without even looking.
    I tried Facebook's and Instragram's paid promotions. It didn't do anything. I also tried free and paid shoutout pages on Instagram. They can create more traction by crediting you.

    I feel that the most important is a regular posting that people can look forward to. Minimum a weekly post showing that you are still around. There is a momentum after a successful post that can be lost if you don't post for a long time.

    There is potential in instagram and facebook stories. I am still getting used to it. Eg. you can quickly redirect people to your new youtube video.

    As I am not a professional I don't use linkedin, it is too corporate for me. My dream is to put all my work on Behance and use it as a portfolio and create a very simple portfolio site. I started but it is super slow. 🙂



  • I just came over here to ask about Behance, so this conversation is perfect timing for me! I deleted my old Behance earlier this year because it had really old work, and I didn't know what I was doing. I wanted to scrap it and start over after I had a better portfolio of work built up.

    My question about Behance is, what goes into a project? If I have several individual pieces that aren't from one cohesive work, how do I go about presenting those? Or do I wait until I have a book project under my belt? Would something like a set of drawings from a drawing-a-day challenge do well there if the quality was good?

    The thing about social media is, you have to use the one that works best for you. My husband KILLS IT on Twitter. He has 80,000+ organic followers. He says the way to do Twitter is to interact with people, comment on their posts, retweet their posts, etc. He says if you only post your own content and never retweet anything you look selfish. He calls Facebook a family reunion and Twitter a party, which in my experience seems accurate. I've found that participating in drawing challenge Twitter accounts (like Animaloon Collective) helps with Twitter following because the artists that host those share your work when you participate and often follow you, as do other artists that participate.

    I feel like Facebook is a pit, even though I've gotten a really good client there (plus a few smaller jobs). I don't even bother with a Facebook fan page, because unless you pay for priority, no one sees your posts. I just use my personal Facebook page for my art posts and make the art posts public so that family and friends can share my work. I also allow people to follow me without friending me, so that if they like my work they can keep track of it without that awkward "I don't know you" friend request. That way they see only my public work, not what I post for friends.

    The good thing about Facebook is the groups. I'm in a needle felting group, for example, and a woman there posted a photo of a felted opossum pin she made. I told her to go post it in a certain opossum fan group, and she did and got a bunch of orders for similar pins. It's not the best tactic for children's book illustrators, per se, but if you do pet portraits or people portraits or fan art or things like that there's the potential to see a profit. The one steady client I got from Facebook is primarily a graphic design client that I met in a group dedicated to an author called George MacDonald. I've been laying out complex 500-page books for this client for the past 3 years (mostly novels with side-by-side translations), but sometimes they throw illustration work my way, too.

    And Instagram I'm still trying to figure out. I got an app to tell me the best hashtags, and that's helped a little, but I can't figure out what time of day to post to get the most views. A fair portion of my follows from my daily drawing challenge were spam accounts, too, so that's also discouraging. Although a few times I've gotten a follow from a really big account, and I can't believe it when it happens. I'm like, "They have so many followers! And their work is so good! And they're following ME? Wow!"

    Sorry for the book; I guess I have a lot to say about this.



  • @twiggyt I think your analogy with FB being like a family reunion and Twitter a party is spot on. I find Twitter exhausting 😉
    I find my FB business account hard going too...but I’m reading so much about how FB has the most clever algorythm and the most sophisticated targeting tools for marketing, that I’m seriously thinking of putting some budget behind it. Especially in view of my first book coming out in April.

    Behance - a project should include pieces that at least feel cohesive, even if they don’t come from the same set. Many artists make a „best of the year“ project and these are often really successful. Or a „characters“ project, featuring many different characters. Or „editorial“ with all their editorial work. Things like that work well.
    Another option is to include process shots and mockups, so even if it´s only one illustration, you can show aspects of its creation or show how it looks as an art print. It beefs up the project a bit if there’s not so much art in it. Another option is to design some nice themed typography and use it for your title. All that can make the project look like more than one random image or two is appropriate.



  • Oh man, I'm loving this thread. It's great to hear everyones take on different social media and the way people are approaching it. (The relationship between Behance and Art Directors is really great to know!)

    It's also interesting to hear what people are struggling with. Hopefully, I can help with some of that stuff. I've got a bunch of things I want to cover regarding social media. I'll separate them into different posts to make it a bit easier to read.

    The first thing I want to cover is the foundations. Like art, marketing has its foundations. The main two can be put down to knowing who you are (branding) which I mentioned in @smceccarelli branding post here and knowing who you are trying to reach (your target market).

    The way you would go about getting your art in front of Art Directors and Publishers will be very different to trying to Kickstart your own book. And which social channels are best, and how you use them will depend on who your target audience is.

    So in this post, I want to address target audience and how it will can turn your social media effort from a shotgun approach (spray & pray) to a targeted sniper approach. Which will save you a bunch of time, and money, if you chose to go down to the paid advertising approach.

    Firstly, many mistakes people make is they think that when they come up with a target audience, they think they are addressing a crowd. Even though you might be putting your message in front of hundreds, or thousands of people, the key is to market as if you were talking to one person. Your ideal customer, also known as Avatar in marketing circles.

    Your ideal customer is someone who shares traits to you, gets your work, likes similar things that you like, hires you/buys all or most of your art, gets other people to hire you/buy your art, and is someone you want to make more art for.

    The idea of creating an ideal customer, is instead of trying to communicate with a faceless mass of people, you create value and communicate with a specific person. It is easier to chat to a friend and form a connection, rather than trying to do that to a crowd.

    So how can this apply to social media?

    Part of understanding your ideal customer is understanding where they spend their time, how they like to communicate. If they are an art director, it looks like Behance is a place they hang out to find new talent. If they are an interior designer, maybe using interior design related hashtags or reaching out to interior design blogs to get your work featured on there might be a good strategy.

    This can also apply to Facebook. Many times when people use paid advertising they will list some of the peoples interest as "likes Disney" and "Female", "25-35". You might reach a lot of people, but your message is broad, so people likely won't relate. However, imagine if you had a specific person in mind that you were trying to reach. Lets call her Jane. Jane is 33, female, loves disney, pixar, also loves "Kubo and the Two Strings" (which is great, because thats very similar to your style), lives in LA, has 2 kids aged 5 and 8, is interested in promoting healthy choices to kids (so follows Jamie Oliver's Kitchen Garden Project on Facebook). If you were to put those attributes into your paid advertising filters, and create an ad specifically communicating to Jane, you might not reach millions of people, but the people you do reach will be VERY interested in what you offer and will be more inclined to reach out to you, buy your product, or sign up to your email list. (This is a very broad example of Facebook Ads but you get the idea.)

    So how do you come up with your ideal customer? We are going to use what we are all good at. Using a creativity and imagination to create a character 🙂

    • Firstly, give them a name. Write it down.
    • Next come up with some of their general attributes aka demographics. This include age, gender, marital status, education, location, occupation, annual income etc.
    • List down their interests: Loves, hates, wants, what they are committed to, dreams, hobbies, favourite books, favourite movies, favourite tv shows etc
    • Purchasing/Hiring habits (depending on whether you are looking for freelance work or selling your art): where do they go to hire/buy art?, how often, prefers print or digital, what would stop them from hiring/buying
    • Their source of information: blogs/websites they frequent, social media, events they attend, anything else you can think of.

    Likely as you go through this there will be some big holes. That's actually a good thing. It highlights things you don't know yet. Go and find those things out, it will uncover potential gold mines of information that you can use to reach out to people. (Imagine if you found out that most art directors will attend and likely hire artists who show their work at 1 specific event - and it's in your local town!)

    In the past, I've actually reached out to someone who fits my target audience and asked some of these questions to them. Those conversations have been amazing. I always come from a place of "how can I give value to this person" and it has always had good results.

    Once you have written down all this info, write a description of you ideal customer. Just like you would be describing a real person (hint: they are), or a character description you might receive.

    A good idea is to print it off and post it up where you can see it. Use it to make decisions:

    • What would Jane like to know about this piece?
    • What hashtags does Jane like to follow?
    • How can I use this facebook ads thing so Jane will see my new art and love it?
    • What's Jane struggling with that I can help her with?
    • What value can I give to Jane?
    • How can I make it a no brainer for Jane to hire me?

    The benefit of this is you will have a good understanding of who you are who you are talking to. You will have a better understanding of what you can do to reach and communicate with them, but even more importantly, you will know what you shouldn't do. We all have a limited amount of time, so knowing the most effective place to put your effort, can greatly increase your chance of success.

    Btw, this is not just a once of thing. As time goes on, you should continue to understand your ideal customer more. Just like getting to know a friend over time, you will know more and more about them as your relationship deepens.

    If you can do the work around both Branding and understanding your Avatar, you will have a good foundation to filter through the different tactics and strategies to get your where you want to go.

    Hopefully, I have been clear with this. It is a broad topic, and the idea of doing the ideal customer actions above might seem obtuse, but it is something that will benefit everything you do in your quest to market yourself. Feel free to ask questions if I haven't been clear on something.