If you're like me, you might have spent a lot of time wondering which social media platform is the best in 2019 for marketing your art.
Pinterest and YouTube are now my main choices to drive organic traffic to my website. What is great about these two platforms is that both are not really social media. They are search engines. What these two sites offer as well is "evergreen" content. What this means is that once you post something, it's active for a very long time. A video on YouTube, or a pin on Pinterest, can be very active years after you post it. Facebook and Instagram posts die out after a few hours or days.
In this post, I'll explain a bit more about why I feel Pinterest and YouTube are the best social media platforms for artists, or any business person for that matter, as well as touch on Facebook and Instagram. I'll save the best two for last, so be sure to read all the way.
There was a time when Facebook was king, and it still is a valid platform, but it's just not what it used to be if you want to grow your following organically. Those days are gone and organic views have been dropping for most people. Unless you fork out cash to promote your posts, relying only on Facebook to market your paintings is going to take a lot of time and frustration. I still use it, but it's not my main focus anymore.
Now, if you want to boost your posts, you can get a lot of traction from Facebook, and even if you don't. I've sold a LOT of art on Facebook, mostly pet portraits. I have noticed reach dropping though, especially in 2019. That sucks.
Gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk think it's still the bomb, and he is an expert, but I'm not all convinced. He's hardcore business and all about boosting posts, but you need to understand one important thing about boosted posts. You pay for reach and not clicks.
What this means is that you pay for a certain amount of people to SEE your post. That doesn't mean much if they're not actually going to click and visit your website. If you're going to pay to play, then you want conversions and ROI (return on investment), and not just reach. You need people to actually CLICK on your link. And, this isn't organic since you're paying.
Organic reach has dropped a lot on Facebook, and there's no denying it. I'm seeing people with over 20 000 followers barely eek out 90 likes on a good post. That. Is. A. Joke.
The other negative about Facebook is that you have to comment and interact in order for Facebook to show your posts to more people. If you just post and walk away, you won't get much. You need to reply to your followers, and this takes up a lot of time. My time is important now, and it becomes overwhelming to have to spend a ton of time on Facebook and others.
Facebook wants you to stay on Facebook. Your posts only have a life of a few hours to a few days at the very most, if it's a really popular post. In the past couple of years, I've focused more on my personal page rather than my business page, and have had more success that way. The key is to not be spammy. I just post my art, and interact with the people who comment. But, it's still a lot of work for a post that will die in a few days.
Yes, Instagram is still hot. I've gotten a lot of art sales from Instagram. The downside is that like Facebook, posts are not evergreen and you don't get linkbacks to your website.
It's very much like other platforms where you have to be consistent. If you want to promote your art, then post ONLY ART!!! I can't tell you how many times I see people posting all sorts of things that are not art related and expecting to get a following. People follow niches, so if I'm going to follow an artist, I want to see nice art pictures, not food or a meme about whatever. I get enough of that on Facebook. If you want to post personal stuff, then have two separate accounts, one professional, and one personal. And for heaven's sake, if you want to market your art on Instagram, make your page public! Nobody can follow you if your page isn't public, and you'll be wasting your time with hashtags on a post that can't be seen.
Instagram is about visuals, which makes it great for artists. Just be professional and post only art, and be consistent. I grew by almost 1000 followers in less than two weeks just by posting consistently. If you've been an artist for a long time and are new to Instagram, bonus! You've got a lot of art to share.
Oh, and use hashtags, please use hashtags. You can use up to thirty. Research your hashtags and try and use small, medium, and later, large hashtags. What this means is if you are new and are using a hashtag that has over a million posts, don't use that one. You'll get buried by popular posts. You would do better by using smaller to medium hashtags. Do your research before posting, and you can even keep a list of hashtags in a word processor so you can copy and paste. Just don't use the same ones all the time or Instagram will think you're a spam bot. Change them up.
Also, trust me, stick with a personal account unless you want to cough up money to promote. Yes, you get analytics with a business page, but it's really not worth it when you're starting out or if you don't have a large following , unless you pay. And if you have a website, you should have analytics set up there anyway, which is where it counts since that's where sales are made. Once you have 10,000, then it's worth changing to a business account since then you're able to share links via stories. That's another post later ...
Wow. YouTube. This has been such a scary thing for me. It really has, but I've bitten the bullet and started creating, and it's driven people to my page. There is no better way for people to truly connect with you than to see you in action creating art, talking, and showing yourself. People can relate to you and trust you when they feel they know you from seeing you in video. I'm still working on the showing myself bit, but I will soon. Sigh.
With YouTube, people go there to be educated and entertained. How to videos are popular, and budding artists love nothing more than to watch artists at work. Create how to's and demos, or vlog about your art journey, but do become a YouTuber!
YouTube is also a search engine, and when people search for things on Google, a lot of videos will pop up if the proper keywords are used. It does take a very long time to build up a large following, but if you post consistently, your audience will grow. If you post a lot, like twice a week, then it will grow very fast after a while. I try to post once a week. It takes a lot of work to create videos, but it's worth the effort. You don't need expensive equipment to start either. If all you have is a phone, then get yourself a little tripod and use your phone. Start where you are and work your way up. Also, since it's owned by Google, your videos can also eventually pop up in Google searches, which is pretty sweet.
Another YouTube benefit is that eventually, they pay you. You can't say that about Facebook. They will make money off of you and your content, while YouTube will pay you. I don't know about you, but I like a situation where my content is respected and valued, and not used for others' profit. Granted, you probably won't get rich off YouTube, but many artists are making a nice little income from it. And very importantly, YouTube content is evergreen, so whatever you post, will still work in your favor years from now. Just create it and park it, and keep working it. Posts you made five years ago will still work for you.
With YouTube, you still need to learn about keywords and ranking, but once you figure it out, you can get a huge following on YouTube with evergreen content that will keep working for you for many years. It's one of my favorite platforms and more of my time is being spent here now since it's working smart. Hard too, but smart.
Over the years, I've seen a lot of artists complaining on Facebook that they didn't like Pinterest because people could share their work and they weren't being credited. This isn't something that has ever worried me about Pinterest. Business pages usually share pins that link back to original creators. If you have social sharing on your site, you shouldn't worry.
Pinterest is a different beast and is unique. If people understood the power of Pinterest, they'd love it as much as I do.
Why? Well, as mentioned earlier, Pinterest is not really a social media platform. Pinterest is a search engine. When people go on Pinterest, they search things and ideas.
Have you ever noticed when you do an image search on Google how Pinterest photos keep popping up? Imagine if that was your art? You'd get a lot of traffic. But to get traffic, first, you need a website. If you're serious about being a professional artist, you NEED a website! That's a whole other post, but get a website.
Once you have a website, it's a great idea to enable social sharing buttons so that people who visit your page can share. When people share, traffic gets redirected to your website, and the same goes for Pinterest. I personally love it when people come on my website and share my work or blog articles on Pinterest. Thank you!
When you have your site up and running, you will want to claim or validate your website on Pinterest. Once validated, you will want to set up rich pins. These will help to drive traffic to your site, and also, you will be able to see who shared from your site. With your site validated, your pins will have bold titles as well as your avatar next to each pin, along with your web link. This is how traffic is driven. A little FYI though, you need a business Pinterest account to be able to claim your site.
Create boards relevant to your niche, and pin a lot daily. You will want to feature your main boards so that people who go to your page see them. Space your pins throughout the day so you're not spamming. You also want to make sure your pins are relevant, and by this I mean, if you're an art page, don't share recipes. Those who follow you for your art don't want recipes! If you want to promote two different businesses, then create two separate accounts.
Another thing to do is to set up your Pinterest so your name also contains keywords, something like, "Suzie Q, Pet Portraits and Fine Art", or something related to your genre. Use keyword rich pins, meaning use keywords in your pin titles as well as the description. There is contention regarding hashtags, but if you use them, Pinterest will only use the first four so don't use more than four. I've also read that hashtags prevent you from getting traffic. I'm not decided yet. I have good and bad posts with or without hashtags, although my best ones have no hashtags. I'd need to analyze my pins more.
Which brings me to this point: you also have analytics with Pinterest so you know where you stand. You can also connect your other social media such as Facebook and Instagram, and Pinterest will also tell you if someone pinned from your website or even Instagram.
My biggest tips is to pin daily. Even just five pins will get you a following. If you don't create enough artwork to regularly share, blog. Blogging is an excellent way to drive traffic as well as gain a following. You can also share art from various artists you like. You can find excellent are to share from Instagram and they also have a share button where you can post to Pinterest from devices. This gets you traffic, and traffic means more exposure and people seeing your posts as well as visiting your website. Many artists also have share buttons on their websites, like I do. If you're afraid of having your art copied or anything like that, you can use watermarks, but make them discreet. The internet is the internet, and you can't live in fear of these things.
As already mentioned, the thing with Pinterest is that you want to be consistent. If you stop for a while, your views will drop, but they pick up quickly once you start working at it daily, and it doesn't take a long time either. Pinterest, like other platforms, likes consistency. And now, for the best little Pinterest tidbit which I just figured out myself ...
See the numbers on the top of this pin? This was accomplished in only five days. You read that right. Five. Days. And I didn't have to do anything except post it once.
This was an accident too. I merely wanted to test something. Pinterest never had a video feature unless it was for advertisement, so I was delighted to see a video heading on my page. I had also noticed a few other artists sharing videos, and I was curious about if I was able to upload one. I had read it was new but only available in the US. Anyway, I tried, and holy moley!!!
Now that I know this, you can bet I will be uploading many more videos. This one video brought my page from about 170k monthly views, to over 380k monthly views, and growing. The possibilities from this are mind blowing if you can really grasp the concept. Do you know how I plan to use this in the future? Man, let me count the ways!
I'll definitely be using this whenever there's a product or service I want to promote. It'll be as easy as uploading a short video. The maximum duration is 20 seconds, but as you can see, 10 seconds is about the max view time average, so I'll leave it at 10 seconds or shorter, insert the appropriate link, and voila!
It's extremely important to let you know also that Pinterest is the biggest traffic driver for my website now. There was a time when it was Facebook, but it's now Pinterest, followed by YouTube.
Now, see how Pinterest can be your best friend? It's organic, growth is fast and easy, you can explode your reach in no time with a bit of work, and the work is easy compared to other platforms. And the most important part is that just like YouTube, Pinterest is evergreen. What you post today will still work for you years from now.
I hope this helped. It's taken me a while to learn these things, and I had to read a lot and made a lot of mistakes, until I finally had several a-ha moments and put things together. There are no quick ways and each platform requires work, but anything worth doing will take work. I'm still learning a lot about these platforms, and when I apply new things I learned, I grow. If you want to promote your art, you want eyeballs, and the more eyeballs you get on your work, the better your results will be. I still have good engagement on Facebook and Instagram, but I'm learning to park my stuff where it will still benefit me later.
Like I said, Pinterest and YouTube are how I get the most traffic to my website. YouTube requires a lot of hard work. Producing videos isn't easy, but it's not as hard as you think. If you have a phone, you can produce YouTube videos. Pinterest was the little thing I kept neglecting because I never realized its value, but it has proven to be more valuable than other platforms. It's now my favorite. Both of these are evergreen, and evergreen is the way to go for longtime effectiveness.