Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The varying functions of different online platforms

I don't just maintain a website. I don't just manage this blog. I don't just post to my personal Facebook wall. I do all three of these things, as well as post on my Facebook business page and to Instagram (@LadydeanArt). Is it a lot to juggle? At times, it seems to be. But is it worth it? Of course it is, because each platform serves a very specific function, and I'll share with you why in this post.

Artist's Website
The actual website is key to presenting a professional face to the world. It serves as a digital portfolio; an at-a-glance look at my current body of work. And because it is manageable (I limit myself to 35 images), it is also the only place where I list pricing, as well as current hang locations of pieces so that it's clear whom to contact about purchasing a piece. For example, if a painting is currently hanging in a gallery, I want that to be updated on my website so that the potential buyer knows they have to call or visit the gallery for the duration of the show in order to buy the artwork; as long as the work hangs in said gallery space, I cannot sell it out of my studio. Would I try to manage this information on my blog or my Facebook Art Biz page? No. There are too many past posts for me to realistically chase, so I limit those types of updates and only go back and mark work as "SOLD!"

And speaking of, I limit the number of photos of sold work that are left displayed on my website. Since I want the site to function as a portfolio of my best and most current work, it doesn't make sense to include work that is old or sold; however, I do want visitors to my site to know that my work sells, so I always keep one or two images of very recently sold work up on the site. This also serves to let people know if a popular new painting is no longer available.

Artist's Blog
This blog is my play space. It's where I exercise my writing muscles about art; however, recently I've wondered if I should expand this to some general life type topics, so you can learn more about me as a person! This is my platform for posting in-process photos, and I used to record reference information for myself, such as what paints or media I used to get a certain effect. Nowadays, I track that information in a log book, but it's been invaluable for reviewing how I made works back in 2012, etc. In general, I try to post about issues that other artists may face (under the artistic musings tag), showcase other people's art (under the art admired tag), share information about local art events (under the upcoming events tag), and occasionally just share a photo of a new piece of art. On this platform, I only indicate (through a tag) whether an artwork is for sale or sold, which isn't too hard to manage as I am able to remember most of what I've posted about.

Personal Facebook Page
My personal Facebook page unfortunately still contains a lot of art posts. While I'd like to migrate most of my art-related postings over to my Facebook business page, the reality is that I get more exposure when using my personal page. First of all, it's my network! And the people you know and have watched you pursue your art career probably want to know how things are going. Second of all, the exposure on the biz page is limited by how much you pay to play, which has to be budgeted for. At this point in the game, I can guarantee that more people will see and react to a post on my personal page, so I have to continue to include pertinent information about shows and events there, as well as sharing new art images on occasion. (It's also the page linked to my Instagram, which I'll talk about more below.) There is a definite risk of saturation, however, so I am careful about how much I post to this platform. If you are my friend on Facebook and want to see future posts about my art, then I invite you to like my Facebook art biz page and/ or follow me on Instagram, if you haven't already.

Facebook Art Biz Page
This platform is great for reaching a local and regional audience that maybe you don't know personally, but who would come to your art events if you invited them. It's also the better option for being professional on this social media platform; if you are serious about your business, you should have a Facebook page for it. But it has to be actively managed, which includes remembering to invite new contacts periodically (but at the proper moment; i.e., don't invite someone to like your page the day they accept your friend request). You also have to post content and interact with people who engage your site. If you don't, then activity will plunge; the algorithms will drop you if you aren't present in the game. One way I like to create content for my Facebook Art Biz page is to post a link to my new blog posts, to drive traffic to my blog. It always works, although it hasn't been very successful in gaining me new blog followers!

This page is where I maintain a wider portfolio of images for both sold and available pieces; however, I don't include pricing information here, mostly because I'm not sure where Facebook stands on this. And I keep up photos of sold work indefinitely, mostly for the sake of keeping the comments that people leave about my art, which serve as testimonials. If I delete them, I can't get them back!

Instagram
I'm relatively new to Instagram and am still trying to learn how best to use the site, but I've already got a few opinions about it. It is great for reaching a global audience, particularly if you are appropriate with your hashtag use (for example, when I post drawings, I use the hashtag drawing, as well as dibujo, to reach a much wider potential audience). I have people from all over the world already following my account and/ or liking my posts. I couldn't have dreamed of this sort of connection on Facebook, although the jury is still out on whether this platform actually influences sales. It's also easier for a person to be a passive observer on Instagram, scrolling through a feed that consists only of images, both moving and still. This allows the art to do the talking, and people respond to it if it's good. This is where I post photos of studio shots, behind the scenes art photos, new sketches, or occasionally an old photo of a finished but unsold painting. What I'm aiming for on this platform is a certain artistic consistency: do all of my images clearly come from the same artist? It's a form of auto-critique, I suppose.

One comment about Instagram... while I do occasionally share a post from Instagram to Facebook (usually when I'm feeling like double exposure or if I want to compare how the image fares on one social media site versus another), I try to limit this, for the sake of my Facebook friends. Several people who I am connected with on my personal Facebook page are also following me on Instagram, and my philosophy is, "If they've seen it in one feed, why blast them with the image in another feed?" One thing I've noticed that other people do is everything they put on Instagram also goes to Facebook. As a viewer, I end up with a very strong sense of déjà vu, which has led me to unfollow friends on Instagram. I see no harm in this; no offense to be taken, because of the way the platform is set up. The focus is not on a reciprocal connection, but on a voyeristic position. So basically if you are immediately posting all of your Instagram posts over to Facebook, you're probably not giving people a reason to follow you on Instagram unless they don't know you. At the end of the day, I want people to find new content no matter which site they are checking in at, so I try to limit how much I cross-share. Am I always successful with this? No, of course not. But hopefully, I'm getting better at it...

I hope this post has been useful and interesting. Please note that I am not on Twitter or any other social media site not listed above, because it's already a juggling act to post new content to the five sources cited here! And, as always, if you see a painting that you just have to have, please email me at: ladydeanart@gmail.com, and we'll get the purchase conversation rolling. Thank you for being a fan.

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