In today’s digital age, it goes without saying that any artist who wants to succeed (as measured by sales) needs some kind of internet presence.
Everywhere you look, you see articles, blog posts, podcasts, and videos about the importance of having a strong social media presence. The advice is as wide-ranging as the number of people talking about it.
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One thing most people agree on, however, is that Facebook should be part of your social media plan. The idea is that whatever else you do, you should also be using Facebook because that’s where most of your potential audience is.
Some years ago, I tried Facebook myself for just that reason. I tried to engage in all the right ways without spamming. I’m not claiming I did everything right because I didn’t, but I did the things I knew to do in the best way I could.
Reality did not fulfill my expectations. And one of the problems I had with Facebook (and most social media) was that I expected immediate results.
I know, I know. I’m old enough (a baby boomer) to know there is no such thing as easy success, but that’s the way it was. We’re all capable of getting caught up in the excitement of new and shiny things. Sadly, I was no different (much as I might like to think otherwise).
The problem with Facebook. . .
I encountered a lot more people interested in venting, ranting, or promoting personal agendas than in engaging with an artist about artwork.
In other words, the majority of the Facebook posts and comments were. . . trash. And back then, I didn’t know how to circumvent the trash and concentrate on the treasure.
I also couldn’t turn my mind off when it came to Facebook. I knew those sorts of posts were showing up in my feed whether I looked at them or not. It was like knowing there are earthworms in the ground whether or not I saw one. The trash preyed upon my mind to the point it was paralyzing.
The negatives so far outweighed the benefits that I closed my account and turned my back on Facebook for several years.
But recently, I decided to try again
A few months ago, I decided to give Facebook another chance. Perhaps it’s grown up a little, I thought. And most of my readers were there, so I needed to be there, too. I reopened my old account, set it up as a business page and have been doing fine ever since.
What’s different this time around?
It could be a number of things, but most importantly, I changed the way I do Facebook. I found a way to promote my art business through Facebook without being driven to distraction by the trash. I don’t even see the trash anymore.
How I use Facebook to promote my art business
It’s not that difficult to tailor Facebook to suit your business needs without getting caught up in everything else. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Find groups that fit your art.
A group is out there for you, guaranteed, no matter what kind of art or art-related services you offer. You just have to look for them.
I teach colored pencil courses, so I’ve joined one group that’s exclusively for colored pencil artists, and another group that simply includes colored pencil artists. I’ve also found an excellent group about marketing that’s targeted to creative individuals. That has really been beneficial in number of ways that I never experienced in my first attempt at using Facebook.
2. Even better, start your own groups!
Starting your own group allows you to limit membership, set rules of conduct, and decide how you approve or decline requests from others who want to join the group.
I currently have a couple of my own groups, both of them private. One is for plein air and life drawing with colored pencils, and the other is for my current email drawing class. Both have allowed me and the other group members to interact with each other without having to wade through rants and other unwelcome content. The student group has been especially encouraging and helpful to all involved.
(Bonus tip: want to stay in touch with friends and family? Set up a group for them, too!)
3. Unfollow people who routinely post trash.
Don’t be afraid to do it, either. If you follow someone because you like their art and all you get from them are rants and foul language, unfollow them! You can still friend them, but you don’t have to listen to them.
4. Apply the same rules to Facebook that you do to in-person relationships.
If you don’t hang around people who use divisive, confrontational language in person, why would you continue to hang around them on social media?
5. Stay away from your timeline—just ignore it.
I’m serious. It may take a long time come to terms with this idea, but you do not have to scan through your timeline every time you log into Facebook. I hardly ever look at mine, and tend to regret it every time I do.
6. Stay professional.
The best way I’ve found to abide by all these suggestions is remind myself that Facebook (for me) is a business tool, and nothing more. Yes, I do still correspond with others on personal matters, but not very often. It’s a business tool, just like that listing in the local telephone directory or my website.
Lastly, there is one more thing I can suggest and it’s this: if your target audience isn’t on Facebook, there really isn’t any reason for you to be, either. As I mentioned previously, I decided to give Facebook one more chance because that’s where most of my current readers were.
Facebook may not be the perfect fit for artists, but there are definitely ways to use it without becoming overwhelmed by hostility, rudeness, or any of the rest of it. Just make sure to tailor your use to your specific art goals. . . and you may find that it’s a fantastic place to promote your art business.