Beginning my social media tip series for the art industry as a whole, here are my 6 top social media tips for artists, art galleries, art suppliers and art publishers.

I’m sharing this because the art world, just like our publishing industry, is experiencing the biggest decline in decades as the public switch from shopping in the High Street to the quick and convenient alternative of making their purchases online.

In todays internet connected world the arts industry especially need to reach out to build loyal, on-line fan bases. Art galleries and art book publishers especially need to be able to showcase their artists works on a multitude of internet connected devices, from mobile phones, tablets, iPads, laptops etc. and deliver lightning-fast images over todays strained mobile networks.

Why are you doing this Ian?

Looking around the internet I’m frustrated and saddened by the lack of social media marketing strategies in place, particularly among UK artists, art galleries, art suppliers and art publishers. I think it would be highly beneficial to everyone if I shared some useful, simple to follow social media hints and tips that are pertinent to everyone involved in the art world. That way everyone can start building vibrant communities, help more people to get involved, interested in, and talking about art, and we can all work together to win back much of the business that’s rightfully yours, and stop it being lost to faceless online suppliers.

 Biggest reduction in foot-fall in living memory

In light of the recent recession art suppliers are witnessing the biggest reduction in foot-fall through their doors in living memory as more and more hobbyists are turning to the convenience of shopping online for their supplies with the “big-boys” of the internet, such as Amazon, eBay, and many of the other popular online stores. This is having a massive knock-on effect to the artists who produce the work, the publishers who help them make a living from it, and the galleries who sell their original paintings.

Introduction To Social Networking

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Social Media – Social Networking – What’s it all about?

If you are new to social media or social networking then check out this video that I made with my fellow radio presenter Mark Peters, the Managing Director of Star Radio. Although this was made a few years ago it’s still as relevant today as it was then. It’s an excellent introduction to social media and social networking for beginners, it explains everything in plain English, and it should a give you a great insight in to what social media is all about.

My top 6 social media tips for the art world

In summary, here are my top 6 social media tips for artists, art galleries, art suppliers and art publishers:

  1. Make your art accessible with mobile-friendly websites
  2. Make it easy for others to share your art
  3. A simple social media strategy for Artists
  4. Create clear “Calls-to-Action”
  5. Give people something to talk about, and get involved in the conversations
  6. Engage with your fans and followers to build vibrant communities


Tip 1

  • Make your art accessible with mobile-friendly websites

How? Talk to your web developer or provider about making sure your website is mobile friendly. Show them this article where I outline several tried-and-tested ideas designed guide them into providing you with a powerful website that will reach more people, encourage Virality, and which in turn will help you build a vibrant community of people interested in who you are, what you do, and what you have to offer –  regardless of the device they’re using to view your work.

Here’s a links to a couple of articles to help your developer get started:

Why? These days, the majority of people aren’t in one fixed place, or sat at a desktop PC to browse the internet. Everyone’s on the move, they’re using mobile devices and browsing the internet from everywhere, such as the café with their friends, on the train, waiting outside their doctors, or even up the pub. Art buyers, art collectors and hobbyists who surf the web every day will also be using mobile devices like iPads, tablets, smartphones, notebooks and laptops. You can’t rely on a site that looks sexy on a PC anymore, because unfortunately traditional websites no longer cut the mustard with time-strained surfers of a mobile world. Even though your site may look pretty awesome on a PC, by todays standards people think they’re slow, clunky, rendering graphics awkwardly, and take too long to download images to mobile devices, particularly on our crowded mobile networks. If the page or image the visitor is trying to look at hasn’t download in a matter of seconds they’ve gone somewhere else, and you’ve lost the sale.

Note: If you’re running flash anywhere on your website you’ve just shut off your web content to the millions of iPhone, iPod and iPad users who cannot see what you do, or what you have to offer. If your website is completely built in flash (as some are) it might as well not be on the internet at all because no mobile Apple devices will be able to display it. Of course the visitor will eventually find what they’re looking for, but it won’t be from your site, they’ll have found it somewhere else, and you’ve lost another sale.


Tip 2

  • Make it easy for others to share your art

How?: Talk to your web developer or provider about making sure your website displays easy-to-use social media sharing buttons and simple RSS links that are useable from any computer platform i.e.Mac, PC etc. Make sure these buttons work in any web browser i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox etc. Ensure these social media sites are have applications that are written for all types of mobile devices i.e. iPhone IOS, Windows Mobile, Android etc. You’ll have to talk with your web developer to decide which networks are important to you, but you can’t go wrong with at least promoting sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest. You might also want to make sharing easy on social-sharing sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and Delicious.

Why?: Let’s assume that people visit your site to look at your work, and they like it. They might want to share your work with their friends, but they won’t want to work too hard to do it, or they might want to save a social bookmark so they can share your link from there, or read your content later. If you have all the right plug-ins and buttons for social sharing and social bookmarking then this encourages Virality, bringing more visitors and potential fans, followers and customers to your site. In the marketing industry this tried-and-trusted technique is called Content Marketing and is a hugely powerful way of growing your business.

Note: A new form of information browsing and sharing is growing very popular at the moment, with new free applications coming on the market such as, Flipboard and Pocket which makes it far easier for people to search for, consume and share information across a multitude of devices. As you can see by clicking through to the links of these services, they give users the ability to create a highly personalised, professional looking magazines around the subjects they’re interested in following. These applications automatically update their content minute by minute, and if you don’t have the tools in place that enable people to add your website and content to these applications then you are shutting yourself out of a huge potential marketplace and missing out on countless opportunities for free, mass promotion.


Tip – 3

  • Simple social media strategy for Artists

What?: A social media strategy ia a high level plan that defines one or more goals to gain website traffic, or attention through social media sites from people who are interested in who you are, what you do, and what you have to offer.

How?: It’s fundamental to outline two key things at the start: your objectives and goals. Sit down with pen and paper and spend time to work out exactly what you want to achieve through social media, such as;

  • Increasing awareness of your brand and your activities
  • Build your reputation as an authority in your field
  • Connecting with new and existing customers
  • Build a vibrant online community
  • Support local artists, publishers, suppliers,  groups, or associations
  • Gain new commissions or sales

Content: Next you need to plan your content, which is key to any good social media marketing strategy. In order to keep users engaged and coming back for more, you need to be continually delivering content that is compelling to them, so much so that they’ll share it with their followers for you.

Activities: There are many tools out there which can help you distribute your content,  automate your social media activities, and engage with your audience.

Here’s five easy to use social media tools to get you started

  • HootSuite Pro –  Manage your social media activities from one place
  • TweetAdder – Automated Twitter Marketing Software & Promotion
  • Buffer – A Smarter Way to Share
  • Socialoomph – Build your own traffic machine
  • – Connect with your customers wherever they are

Why?: Just by having a simple, and carefully structured strategy, and having the right tools in place allows you to spend as little as 20 minutes a day on promoting your work, or your publications and artists through social media. It won’t take you long to before you’re growing a vibrant community of thousands of people who are interested in you, what you do, and what you have to offer.

Note: Having a social media strategy in pace, and the right management tools to make the job easier is a bit like moving your shop from a dimly lit back street on the outskirts of town to a spot-lit studio right in the town centre – with a town crier standing outside encouraging  people to come through your doors – even while you sleep!


Tip 4

  • Create clear “Calls to Action”

What?: A call to action, or CTA, is a banner, button, or some type of graphic or text on a website meant to prompt a user to click it and continue down a conversion funnel, or lead your web visitor towards a desired course of action. It is an essential part of inbound marketing as well as permission marketing in that it actively strives to convert a website visitor into a lead, and later into a customer.

Typical “Calls to Action” may include things like;

  • Join my mailing list
  • Book onto this event
  • Read more about…
  • Get freebies
  • Buy this print
  • Etc.

How?: Talk to your web developer or provider about adding clickable text or graphics on your website that will  prompt a user to advance towards the next step in your conversion funnel. Here ia a link to a Google Analytics online training resource that will help your developer with this: Conversion tracking with Google Analytics goals and funnels

Note: Having no clear calls to action on your web pages means that it’s difficult to turn your “page-hits” into sales leads. You must have at least one call to action on each page, but don’t over-crowd your pages with them because it will confuse your visitors if you have too many, and they’ll be unlikely to click any of them!

Tip 5

  • Give people something to talk about, and get involved in the conversations

Why?: People are naturally nosey and voyeuristic about what others are getting up to.

Here’s a few ideas that should help:

  • Artists: People will be interested in what you’re working on, how you go about organising your projects, the thought process you go through, the materials you use, social media tips for artists etc.
  • Art Galleries: People will be interested in how you are putting your shows together and the preparation behind them, as well as behind-the-scenes insights to the featured artists daily life etc.
  • Art Suppliers: People will be interested in new and innovative ways the products you sell can be used, which artists visit your stores and what they’re buying, competitions you may be running, events, clubs or organisations you may be supporting, grants for art supplies, used art supplies for sale etc.
  • Art Publishers: People will be interested in up-coming book launches, video/audio interviews with authors, “Meet The Author” events, book signing events, insights on what your authors are currently working on, art competitions, special offers, best-seller awards, special deals with your partners i.e. complete “How To” book packs that include all relevant art materials etc.

How?: Artists can share examples of their work on a blog, or share pictures of their progress as they work their way through their creative process. See one of the examples I have on my site here – The Road From Stanton Lees project by Geoff Kersey. The photographs on this post were taken, Tweeted and shared on Facebook in real-time as I worked my way through the project. It created a great opportunity for my followers to get involved in the project with me, it gave us something to talk about and they shared my progress with their many hundreds of friends, which in turn grew my number of followers and helped me to build a vibrant community of artists, wannabe artists, and many more people who are interested in watercolour art.

Don’t let opportunities pass you by 1: I was disappointed by the fact that Geoff Kersey wasn’t on Twitter or Facebook so he was unable to give me encouragement and constructive criticism as I worked my way through his project, as his involvement would have helped him grow his fans and followers too. Search Press (who published the book) Tindalls book store (who sold me the book) Winsor & Newton  and Daler-Rowney (who manufactured the art materials I used) are on Twitter and Facebook, they could have joined in with my conversations but they didn’t. These organisations were either not listening to my conversations, or didn’t know that there are social media tools available like HootSuite Pro that they  could have used to listen into what I was saying about their products on Twitter.

Don’t let opportunities pass you by 2: Another great example of giving people something to talk about is David Bellamy, he has a very popular, long-running blog on blogspot, and more recently a new blog on his updated website at , where David is regularly sharing very useful and insightful watercolour hints and tips. Sadly David rarely responds to comments that people write in response to his posts, and another observation I’ve made is that both blog sites have difficult to find RSS links which makes them both awkward to subscribe to and share his content. Unfortunately, this means that David is missing out on a lot of free promotion and publicity from his fans who want to be kept regularly updated, and maybe want to share his watercolour hints and tips with their followers too – which leads me nicely onto my next tip…

Tip 6

  • Engage with your fans and followers, build vibrant communities

Why: In an ideal world social media is 90% listening, 10 % speaking. Of that 10% of speaking you need to be engaging with your followers as you share your knowledge and know-how by giving helpful support and answering their questions.

How: As mentioned earlier, there are several social media tools you can use to listen for specific keywords that your follows mention, and these social media tools allow you to cut through the noise so you can deal with what’s important. There are plenty of social media tools to choose from, but I suggest you look at Twitterfall,  HootSuite Pro, TweetAdder, and to begin with.

Example: Recent examples of great social media engagement have come from Terry Harrison and Charles Evans who are both tuned-in, listening to, and engaging with their fans on Twitter. While I’ve been blogging about their books, or sharing the various stages of their watercolour painting demonstrations from their books they have both got involved, shared their opinions, offered their help and advice, and politely thanked me when I’ve mentioned them. Within a matter of weeks it seems like Terry and Charles have become close, valued friends. You can see by the number of followers they both have that they’re getting very good at it too.

Note to Art Galleries and Art Publishers: If you own a gallery selling a particular artists paintings, or publish how-to books written by featured artists then you need to be encouraging your artists to use social media so they can do the same as Terry and Charles. This will help all of you to connect with your customers, and build up vibrant communities of people who are interested in their specific works that you are selling. Even if your artist is Tweeting or posting status-updates on Facebook about their progress on a private commission, your artist will be demonstrating their competency, which will hopefully lead to more commissions, sales, and demand for new publications.

Social media tips conclusion

Although during my career as a social media consultant I’ve mainly concentrated on social media for business or using social media for marketing, by slightly tweaking and adjusting the lessons I’ve taught will make social media work brilliantly for artists, art galleries, art suppliers and art publishers – In fact the entire art industry!

I hope you’ve found my social media tips article of use, and I intend to share more social media tips for artists, art galleries, art suppliers, and art publishers over the coming weeks and months.

Some of the things I’ll be sharing in future social media tips:

  • How to set up your social media profile to attract more fans and followers
  • Where to find the best social networking sites for artists
  • Facebook – How to use it to sell more work, get more followers and earn new commissions.
  • Pinterest, what is it and how to use it to grow your business
  • QR Codes, what they are and how to use them to build a loyal fan base.
  • Social Media Top Tip Videos for;
    • Twitter (beginners & advanced)
    • Facebook (beginners & advanced)

Upcoming Social Media Guide for Artists, Art Galleries, Art Suppliers and Art Publishers

By the end of this social media training project for artists I should have produced enough material for a full-blown social media guide for the arts industry as a whole – watch this space!


What’s your experience of using social media to promote your art, has it been a good or a bad experience? It would be great to find out your thoughts and feedback, or you may even have some social media marketing tips of your own that you would like to share with us here, or even some questions about the points I’ve written about above, if so, please use the comments below.

Many thanks 🙂


Next Steps:

If you’re and artist, art gallery, art supplier or art publisher then I may be able to help you get the best from your social media marketing activities…

For a free, no-obligation, informal chat please call me: 07979 593 970

or email

I’ll be glad to help in any way I can – See here for more details about how I can help you>>>