Secrets to Social Media Success, by Lori McNee

Since 1975, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market has been a must-have reference guide for  emerging artists who want to establish a successful career in fine art, illustration, cartooning or graphic design. Beyond up-to-date contact and submission information for more than 1,700 art markets, AGDM includes informative articles and interviews with successful artists and art buyers. Read on for a 2012 AGDM article by Lori McNee, a professional artist and art-marketing expert. Also, be sure to check out, the new online version of AGDM—you can try it for free with the 7-day risk-free trial.

By now, most artists probably use social media in one form or another. On a daily basis I meet creatives with a natural liking for social media and its networking capabilities. However, many of these talented individuals still do not understand how to harness the power of social media to their advantage.
…..Social media offers large-scale reach for little cost other than your time. The successes you reap from social media will directly depend upon the amount of time you are willing to devote to this free marketing medium. There has never been another era in business when an individual could reach out to hundreds or even thousands of customers in one day.   Social marketing eliminates the middleman and provides artists with the unique opportunity to have a direct relationship with their customers.
…..For me, the main purpose of social media is to drive traffic back to my blogs, and Social media has put my name on the map, has given me international recognition, and been the lifeblood to my blogs and art business. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are the fastest ways to build brand recognition for you and your art business. I use all three of these social media channels quite differently.
…..Twitter is possibly the most intimidating social platform because everything happens so quickly. Once you jump in and start engaging, you will see that Twitter also has the broadest reach. Twitter updates reach like-minded people quickly and can effectively market a person or a service. Twitter offers an immediate response and is very addictive once you get the hang of it.
…..Twitter is much like a cocktail party where you can quickly meet and exchange information. But, the social etiquette rules still apply. Would you just walk up to someone and say, “Hey, please buy my art.” No, that is just rude. You need to connect and build a relationship first.
…..Facebook on the other hand, is more like a dinner party, where you build upon conversations and further develop your relationships. Facebook is about connecting with people and prospective customers you have already met. Facebook is a bit easier to market tangible products, such as paintings.
…..Facebook’s platform appeals to the social butterfly and can also be very addictive because it allows people to connect with old and new friends. In fact, Facebook has replaced e-mail, chat and photo sharing for many users.
…..YouTube is like inviting the person into your home movie theater to learn more about you, your product or service, and what you do. Currently, YouTube is the favorite site when searching for online video.
…..Remember this: Nearly every single person who uses social media wants to sell you something, whether it is art, real estate, travel, information or a service. This is the trick—how do you learn to market and brand yourself correctly on social media?
…..Brand identity differentiates you from the rest of the pack. We have all heard the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But, on social media sites, your cover or profile is judged and very quickly.
…..Below are my secrets to your social media success:

Twitter logo

Your name is the first thing that people will see on Twitter. Use the name you want to represent your art brand. For example, when I first started tweeting I used @lorimcnee, but quickly changed my Twitter handle to @lorimcneeartist and rapidly gained loyal followers. Why? Because it is easier for people to instantly associate me as an artist this way. Also, when people do a Twitter search for “artist,” my name appears.
On Twitter it is important to make your profile picture friendly. Recent studies have found that your profile picture or avatar is more than just a pretty face. In fact, one’s avatar affects how a message is received, and also how individuals interpret it. The higher the friendliness of the avatar, the more intimate people are willing to be with strangers. It is not a rule, but I suggest using an image of yourself rather than a business logo or a painting as your avatar.
…..To further your brand identity, it is a good idea to use the same avatar on all your social media sites. You can change your photo, but, be forewarned, this will confuse some of your followers. It is best to wait until you have a loyal following before you make any major changes.
On any social media channel, the profile or bio is your big branding opportunity to make your unique mark. This is your virtual personality. Sound interesting, witty, or clever, but, whatever you do, choose your profile words wisely. These few words will say a lot to the world about who and what you are. Make sure to include the link to your blog or website. If you don’t have a website, link to your Facebook page.
Custom landing page
Consider creating a custom Twitter landing page by using a site such as TwitBacks or Free Twitter Designer. A custom page is another branding opportunity. Potential followers and customers will immediately understand who and what you are just by your custom page. I made a collage of my artwork, together with some images of me painting in the field—at once, this states, “artist.”
Twitter Follower

Get followers
Once you have an informative and engaging profile page, you will automatically start ­attracting new followers. You have already begun to build your brand.
…..Interestingly, I have found that most creatives use Twitter as a way to connect with other creatives. True, this is a great networking opportunity, but they are missing an important marketing opportunity to reach out to prospective customers.
Be a good follower
Decide if you want to actively engage with your followers, or if you want to follow everyone back. Do what works best for you. It is nice to reach out to your friends and followers. Do not forget the little guy as your following grows. They helped you get to where you are now, and they are loyal. I do my best to thank my followers because I truly appreciate them.
It is good to reach out to some of the bigger Twitter names. These tweeters have a lot of experience and if they retweet (RT) you, it helps with your own Twitter influence.
What to tweet
To gain new followers, be sure to pass along good content. Your followers are looking for tweets with value. If they do not find it, they will either delete you or forget you.
…..Engage with your followers and don’t focus on selling. Focus on giving. Learn to speak with your audience, not at them. You are here to build valuable, real relationships. By engaging your market, you are creating a community around your brand. This will lead to trust and eventually sales. About 80 percent of my tweets and retweets share useful information and resources, including links to my blog. The remaining 20 percent of the tweets are reaching out to my following, small talk, inquiries and relationship building.
…..Share photos of your latest painting using Twitpic or yfrog, ask for feedback from your followers and get instant replies, or share inspiring quotes. Link to your YouTube or Vimeo videos as a great way to engage your following in conversation and strengthen your brand. Learn how to abbreviate your tweets. You can use URL shorteners such as or TinyURL. Manage your Twitter following with helpful applications such as TweetDeck or HootSuite. To be effective, plan to tweet at least once a day. Ten to fifteen minutes of tweeting is enough to keep a consistent presence on Twitter.
…..Share links to your latest blog posts, and recycle your blog’s old content. Make sure your Twitter stream is interesting and vary the content and cadence of your tweets. Be consistent with quality. You can tweet a lot or just a few times a day—this is a personal and business choice.
…..Make sure your last tweet counts. At the end of each Twitter session, leave a valuable tweet. Your potential followers will judge whether or not to follow you by your last Twitter update.
Reach beyond your niche on Twitter
When I first started Twitter back in 2009, my target niche was artists and art collectors. To my surprise, my tweets and blog posts began to capture the attention of a much broader audience.
…..Why? My Twitter updates have an appeal that reaches beyond my own art niche. How? I am able to reach beyond my art readers by understanding that most people have broad interests. I tweet about art, and share my other ­interests that include blogging, ­social ­media, nature, quotes, photography and outdoors. Not only can I attract my own niche readers, but I can also appeal to multiple profiles while staying true to my target audience.

Facebook is the largest online social networking site. It allows people to interact and to share photos, videos, links, and more. Facebook is an invaluable tool for small businesses for its networking and marketing capabilities.
…..Facebook offers three ways to build your brand, and there are a few major differences between each: profiles are for people, fan pages are for businesses and groups are for special discussions and events. Each of these entities provide for different networking and marketing opportunities. However, you must have a personal profile before you can add or create a page or a group. Many artists incorrectly use their personal profiles instead of fan pages for their art businesses. For branding, both the profile and the fan page are necessary. As an artist you need a profile to network and promote your personal brand while using a fan page to promote your art business.
Facebook profile page
Your profile gives you visibility as a real person. Be sure to set up your profile with your real name. It is against the Facebook terms to use a profile for your business. Profiles limit Facebook users to 5,000 friends. I like to use my profile to connect with my family and art friends. However, I can still connect with friends on a business level via my profile. Nowadays, people want to connect with the person behind the brand; this is a good way to interact with them.
…..In order get the best return on investment (ROI) out of your Facebook experience, update your Facebook profile status and keep it active. Once a day, or a few times a week at minimum, is enough. Share interesting thoughts, links, and videos or informative content.
Mari Smith Facebook fan page

Facebook fan page
The purpose of a fan page is to link to your website or blog. Fan pages are set up to target your customers with bigger viral marketing potential. Pages are public and can be linked to externally. Fan pages are an important part of your search engine optimization (SEO), while profiles are not. Fan pages allow you an unlimited number of “fans.” Facebook has been touting the pages as the strongest marketing vehicle.
…..The pages allow you to customize a welcome page, add your company’s newsletter sign-up box, embed widgets and other social media buttons, and add on applications.
…..Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith’s elaborate fan page is a great example of a welcome page that invites more followers and provides a sneak preview of her service.
…..Facebook also allows you to have multiple fan pages. This is important for people who want to promote more than one business. Using a fan page allows you and your art business to connect with current or prospective customers. Your followers and customers can easily receive any offers, special announcements and promotions. The pages allow for extra applications to be added. Pages are generally better for long-term relationships with your fans, readers and customers. In order to simplify my life, I manage just one fan page. My fan page, Fine Art Tips, is named after my art blog.
Facebook group
The main advantage of a group is that it offers the ability to message all the members via Facebook e-mail, and these messages will show up in their personal e-mail inboxes. A Facebook group is set up around a special group of people rather than your art business or brand. Unlike fan pages, groups allow you to send out bulk invites that easily invite all your friends to join. These people become members and can also send out invites. Groups are generally better for hosting quick, active discussions that attract attention for a specific purpose. For instance, I set up the PowerArtists Club group. This group consists of the artists who I have interviewed on my blog for their excellence in the arts and social media.

Extra Fan Page Tips
•    Choose a page name that reflects your brand. Once you have one hundred connections, you will not be able to edit or change your fan page name.
•    To gain more fans and followers, add a Facebook widget on your blog. By adding a fan box or “like” button to your blog, you will encourage visitors to join your page.
•    You should always post your blog links to your fan page wall. You can choose to use a blogging network such as NetworkedBlogs or Blogged to automatically integrate a feed of your latest posts.
•    A good rule of thumb for the frequency of Facebook updates is at least four times a week, but no more than five times a day with these postings preferably spaced apart. You might start to get complaints if you flood your followers’ feed with too many ­updates.

Artists should discover the value of video marketing. The basic marketing idea behind video is to drive traffic back to your website or blog. Video marketing will help your website ranking and page results on Google, Yahoo and all the other search engines.
…..Since 2008, YouTube has been recognized as the number two search engine, after Google. YouTube has continued to dominate as a specialist social network for video content. This means millions of people choose to use YouTube as a general search engine for researching and gathering information. Approximately 65 percent of all people are visual learners. Once your video is uploaded it is immediately available to the rest of the world. YouTube’s compelling statistics cannot be ignored.
YouTube stats
Here are YouTube’s impressive statistics at the time of printing:
•    YouTube exceeds 2 billion views per day.
•    The average person spends 15 minutes each day on YouTube.
•    More video is uploaded to YouTube in 60 days than the major U.S. networks created in 60 years.
•    24 hours of video is uploaded every minute.
•    70 percent of YouTube’s traffic comes from outside the U.S.
You don’t have to be the next James Cameron to create an entertaining video that generates views and increases traffic to your site. Keep reading for tips on making video marketing work for you.
Make videos geared toward your audience
There are many topics you may want to cover in your videos:
•    demonstrations
•    how-to
•    product reviews
•    interviews
•    portfolio presentations
•    gallery tours
•    upload relevant and entertaining video
Create a video title that stands out
Use keywords within the title of your video. For SEO purposes, use keywords that are applicable to your product, service or brand.
Video length
The most popular videos on ­YouTube average about 3 minutes in length. People’s attention span begins to wander after only 8 seconds—keep the video short so you do not lose them. The optimum video length is 2 to 4 minutes long.
Copyright laws
Intellectual property law protects digital music and other recorded music, just like it protects the rights of visual artists. Just because you have bought a CD or can download music for free does not mean you can use the music without paying a royalty for it. The use of copyrighted works for nonprofit documentaries or educational purposes may be considered, but ask permission of the artist. Consider purchasing a legal music license from royalty-free music websites such as You can choose from thousands of sound tracks by paying a one-time affordable fee. YouTube will take down your video if it violates copyright law.
Tag and categorize for video SEO
Use description words or tags that users most likely will be searching for on the Web. Add as many keywords as you can, and try and match to the existing content—this will help your video become “recommended” in the sidebar. Video optimization is becoming more important as a mainstream aspect of SEO.
Include your URL
When you post a video, make sure to add the URL to your website or blog at the top of the descriptive text. This way, when the “more info” is collapsed, the user will still see your link and can click it.
Create a channel
Creating a YouTube channel is your first step towards becoming a video creator. A channel gives you the opportunity to create a profile for yourself and your content with links back to your website and blog. To be successful on YouTube, you should consider adding video consistently. This will help build your brand and help people find you, and, as a result, it will drive more traffic to your site.
Promote your video
Use your social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook to virally market your ­video.
…..See, there really is a method to this social media madness: When used properly, the various platforms work together to give value to your audience, and then social media drives the traffic back to you! This in turn grows your brand and your business, which is the purpose of a successful social media strategy. Be sure to pull in your audience through engagement and relationship building, rather than pushing and forcing your message upon them.

Helpful Links­entries/77641 (check for use of ­Twitter logo)

Any new small business venture takes a while to build before you see your ROI. Measure your ROI and influence with social media measuring tools such as Klout, TweetReach and Twitter Grader. Be patient and do not expect it all at once. Just like with your art or craft, it takes time to develop your skill.
…..Remember, compensation comes in many forms. Yes, I have sold artwork via Twitter and Facebook, but, more importantly, social media has provided me with unique business opportunities and relationships that would never have happened without this new marketing medium. In fact, I wrote this article because of my social media relationships.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
—Seth Godin

Lori McNee is an internationally recognized professional artist and art-marketing expert, who writes about art and marketing tips on her blog Lori is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America and ranks as one of the most influential artists and powerful women on Twitter. She was named a Twitter Powerhouse by The Huffington Post.

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