Art Social Media Has Changed –How To Master The Algorithm
Art Is My Career | 23rd April 2023
We’ve talked a lot about How To Get More Followers On Instagram – it’s something that many artists spend countless hours trying to perfect, often without much success. According to the Digital 2023 Report by We Are Social , there are now 4.7 Billion users of social media worldwide – that’s a staggering 59% of the population!
It makes sense to be on there then, but how do you make it work for you? If you’re really determined to succeed as an artist on social media, you need to understand one thing more than any other – the algorithm.
Algorithms are the processes and calculations that social media platforms are doing behind the scenes to decide how high you rank, and how many people they should show your content to. Social platforms like Instagram change their algorithm all the time, causing a headache for creators like you who just want to post and be seen.
But don’t worry, in this article, we are going to decode the algorithms that social media platforms use and show you exactly how to grow your art accounts this year.
1. The Only 3 Social Media Platforms Artists Should Use
There are so many social media platforms now that it is easy to get overwhelmed from the start. Lots of us started using one platform, then another, then another, and before you know it 50% of your week is spent creating and editing content. This is very inefficient and often leaves artists frustrated.
Here is our pick of the best social media platforms that artists should be using this year:
Yes it seems old-fashioned now, and the interface isn’t exactly inspiring. However, artists who have stuck with the platform have seen significant growth this year. Facebook attracts a slightly older demographic than some of the newer platforms, and with that comes money and appreciation for fine art. The layout allows you to engage with customers well, in fact, many artists don’t even bother building a website because Facebook has all of the tools they need – and the audience to go with it.
Often overlooked in favour of Instagram, Pinterest is a hidden gem for artists. It has two things going for it. 1. Your content is forever searchable and doesn’t disappear and age as soon as you post. 2. People are on Pinterest to get inspired and to shop, making it the perfect place to find art fans ready to buy. We’ve been amazed this year at the website traffic Pinterest can generate. One tip though – it’s a search engine really, so post quality content and use some great keywords to get found.
YouTube doesn’t always spring to mind when you think of social media but stick with us on this. Artists like Julian Baumgartner and Andrew Tischlair are building huge audiences by posting videos on YouTube. The benefit of this is that your videos continue to gather views long after you’ve posted them, it’s searchable content that doesn’t expire as a post on Instagram would. That means all your hard work creating enjoyable content isn’t wasted – in fact, you will end up with a huge library of content that can be an income source in itself.
2. Why Artists Shouldn’t Use Instagram
Ask anybody starting an art business what was one of the first things they did and we bet they say “ I started an Instagram account for my art”. The first thing we typically say back is “Why?”.
This seems counterintuitive. After all, according to DemandSage Instagram has over 2.3 Billion active monthly users in 2023.
So why shouldn’t artists jump on Instagram and start posting? Here is our take:
- Instagram themselves have made changes to their algorithm that favours short form video content over photos or long-form video, mainly in order to compete with TikTok. This makes it difficult for some artists to be seen among all the noise, let alone get views by sharing pictures of their work. Instagram themselves acknowledge this has upset some users, and from 2022 they vowed to promote photos more equally with video. However, for some artists it’s too little too late.
- As soon as you post on Instagram, your post often gets lost in the feed, never to be seen or heard from again. How often did you look at someone’s Instagram post from 6 months ago? Never. Posting on Instagram has a very short shelf life, your post is immediately out of date.
- People go on Instagram to follow their favourite influencers and kill time. You know how it goes, they open the app, swipe for half an hour while sipping a coffee, and then get on with what they are really meant to be doing. This isn’t great from a marketing perspective, where you want to be in front of people actively searching for your product, ready to buy.
- Among all the social media platforms, Instagram is often the most cited as having a detrimental effect on its user’s mental health, particularly in teens. This is backed up by a study by the Royal Society for Public Health. Short-lived dopamine hits and endless comparison with others can be a negative cycle that is hard to jump out of, putting some users off the platform all together.
If Instagram is your thing, and you’ve found it contributes positively to your art or your art business, don’t be put off. There are lots of amazing creators on there with incredible communities. However, as with all social media use, it works best when you have a very clear goal, and you set clear boundaries.
3. What Do Social Media Algorithms Want Us To Post?
Most social media platforms build their algorithm ruthlessly around three concepts:
- The people whose content keeps eyeballs on the app for the longest will be promoted the most.
- Users who show a strong relationship with each other (frequent engagement, DMs, likes, comments, shared friends etc) will see each other’s content more often.
- The platform will assess how relevant your post is. Relevance is everything in search engine marketing, and its not a big part of social media ranking. Your content is deemed more relevant if it is new, original, trending or specifically fits the interests of another user. Less relevant content includes content that is old, vague, anomalous or of poor quality.
That means in order to keep the views coming in you need to be posting content that is high quality, frequent, and up to date. Think of your social media feed as a big conversation, your job as a user is to post content that keeps that conversation going.
4. How To Use Social Media As An Artist
To get the most out of social media, artists should focus their accounts on one activity. Trying to be all things to all people will leave you exhausted and unfulfilled. On the other hand, a streamlined, focused social media account with an engaged community of followers can be a joy to run.
Here’s our pick of the best ways to use social media as an artist:
A place to engage with your fans, talk about your work and your process and indulge in your medium. Sharing your passion and having a dialogue with your followers.
A Portfolio of Work
Using photos or video, social media is a great place to host your portfolio and share your work. Think of it as an online gallery exhibition.
Networking and Finding Customers
Discover new people, and allow them to discover you. Social media makes it quick and easy to grow your contacts in the art world. Collectors love to keep an eye on up and coming artists who the industry follows, so make getting noticed a priority.
Some artists use social media purely as a place to discover new and inspiring muses. Pinterest and Instagram area great for this, places to bookmark things you love and things you want to revisit when creative block strikes.
Use your social feeds to sell artwork and prints. Many platforms integrate shopping functions into their feeds, so make the most of them.
News, upcoming events and exhibitions can all be shared as social media posts, allowing your audience of collectors, curators and fans to stay up to date with all your latest moves.
5. Can You Be An Artist Without Using Social Media?
Of course! There are lots of very successful artists working today who don’t have social media accounts. Remember, social media is just one tool out of many. If you over rely on social media for your art business you may neglect tried and tested methods like working with galleries, building word of mouth and networking, advertising and public relations, exhibiting and collaboration. Lots of artists take a hybrid approach, posting infrequently on social media and putting most of their time into other activities.