Thursday, November 10, 2016

72 Tips for Sharing Art on Social Media

Paddy Schmidt asks:
"There must have been much thought going into what to post where, with all those different social media platforms. Since you are present at all the major ones, I would love to hear how you decide on which platform.'
Tom Hart asks:
"What does Instagram offer you that other platforms like Facebook and the blog don't?"

Thanks, Paddy and Tom. Maybe the best way to answer your questions is to consider each platform individually.

Features / Benefits
1. Blog posts are archived and open to search on the Internet, unlike the "walled gardens" or password-protected feeds. The posts will always be available (hopefully) and will continue to attract readers long after you post them.
2. Comments on blogs are the most in-depth and thoughtful. There's a genuine exchange of information among members of the blog reading community.
3. The downside is that blogging isn't growing much. A lot of traffic has gone to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. But quality is more important than quantity, so I value blogging as a centerpiece platform.

My strategy
1. I post daily as a discipline to think about something new every day and to be accountable to that thinking by publicly writing about it.
2. The post can be short or long, light or serious. No one minds a short post if it's free. That's why I don't use Patreon or a paywall, because I want to give myself permission to do lightweight posts as well as researched or in-depth ones.
3. Sometimes I post an image first on Facebook or Instagram to see what sorts of reactions and questions it generates, and then I address those reactions when I write the blog post.

Suggested Dos and Don'ts
1. If you want to appeal to artists, make the presentation visual and keep the writing concise.
2. Give credits to images or quotes whenever you can. Link to other bloggers. It's a win/win.
3. It's OK to monetize and promote, but balance promo with useful info. Also, be open about how you're earning an income. In my case, I don't accept sponsored posts. I sometimes review things that people send me, but only if I truly like them.

1. Facebook gets the most traffic and comments. I've had videos get more views in one day on FB that they did in years on YouTube.
2. But that traffic dies down in a day and the post gets buried by other stuff and is soon forgotten. There's no search function and the user is not in control of what they see.
3. People are moving fast. Discussion is lively but it tends to be lighter.

My strategy
1. If I'm adapting a blog post to FB, I try to extract the single most interesting point from the post along with the most exciting visual.
2. I read all the comments and I appreciate them. When people ask questions, I try to answer them, or at least give a relevant link. I regret that I don't have time to really engage on the level of "liking" comments or commenting on other people's posts very often.
3. I try to keep my posts art-related, and I avoid voicing opinions on issues that don't have any bearing on my art career.

Dos and Don'ts
1. Be brief. Give everyone just one thing to think about, to share or to crack a joke about.
2. If a link to the blog can extend the reader's experience, add it. But if not, don't. Here's why: links leading out of FB can lower the placement that the post gets in the organic feed. In other words, FB's algorithm seems to optimize posts that keep people inside FB. From a marketing standpoint, I've noticed that links on Facebook are weaker on clickthrough.
3. You get much more traffic on videos if you upload the video to FB rather than just giving a link to YouTube.

1. The user gets to choose whom they follow and thereby control their experience.
2. Highly visual, ideal for artists and photographers. The audience is younger than FB or Blogger.
3. Video can be up to 1 minute.

My strategy
1. I post daily to Instagram. It's a random mix of early work, recent things, sketches, videos, and finished art. When I post an older work I don't identify it as old. It may be old to me, but most likely it's new to my followers.
2. I don't do lifestyle photos such as plates of food or pictures of me unless it shows insight into working methods. I only show my own art, not art by other artists who inspire me.
3. I keep my list of people that I follow under 100 so that I can see all their posts. I rotate people in and out of my feed to mix it up. Please don't be offended if I follow and then unfollow you. I'll probably come back again.

Dos and Don'ts
1. There are image processing filters, but if you use them, dial them back and make them understated.
2. Keep the number of hashtags to between four and ten. Try to use hashtags of a size that gets you into the array of "Top Posts." That way you're more likely to get discovered by new followers.
3. With a video, start with a frame that you want to be the thumbnail. You can end the video with that frame too. Instagram seems to favor video that feels raw and unedited, with a minimum amount of graphics, voiceover, edits.

Features / Benefits

1. Videos are the best way to reach a big audience to present your working process, to tell your story, or to express your personality.
2. Videos can be embedded in blog posts; however, embedded vids don't appear in posts sent out through email subscriptions.
3. YouTube advances your video in at least three ways: as a general recommendation, in response to a user's search, and as a subscription. The algorithm favors "watch time" and frequency of release. The number of views may not be as important in the algorithm as is the watchthrough and other factors. YouTube is a community, so interacting with the comments is important.

My strategy
1.  Videos can be long or short, but the ideal length seems to be around 3 - 4 minutes.
2. Video trailers should always have useful content rather than being all sales pitch. You can link in the description or via "cards," which let you link to a site that you own and control.
3. Unless the music is central to the presentation, I avoid running it under everything, and prefer to use it at the beginning and end. I use natural audio FX under time lapse, which keeps it from feeling like disconnected reality.

Dos and Don'ts
1. Always start with your best stuff in the first few seconds. Talk and titles can wait. YouTube gives you analytics that let you track engagement over time.
2. If you're talking on camera, use a lav mike. Good audio is the most important element of professionalism.
3. Keep transitions simple (cut, fade, and dissolve). For more tips about shooting your art on video, please see my blog posts on How to Video Your Art—  1. Camera tech tips and 2. Audio advice.

Features / Benefits

1. Designed for people who love images.
2. Like Blogger, it's open to search.
3. Conveniently arranges images by topic.

My strategy
1. I divide my boards by media and add new images when they come along.
2. Pinterest is a great way to gauge relative popularity of images. If I have a board with 20 pins of gouache sketches, I can see by the number of likes and shares which ones people like best.
3. Use a title with words that help identify the image to search engines.

Dos and Don'ts
1. Make the images big enough (say about 800 pixels or so) to be able to be worth clicking on.
2. Don't watermark images.
3. Be sure to give the essential information of title, medium and size.

Features / Benefits
1. The enforced brevity brings out one's best.
2. Videos are limited to 45 seconds. They let you crop a segment of that length out of the whole video.
3. Hashtags let people who like your subject find you.

My strategy
1. As with FB, I post the main image of the day and a link to a blog post with more information.
2. I try to remember that Twitter is microblogging, so anything that works on a blog works in miniature on Twitter.
3. The power of Twitter is the hashtag and the retweet. People like to retweet things that make them look good to their friends.

Dos and Don'ts
1. Don't just use an automated system to propagate a post on multi-platforms. Instead take the time to customize each one.
2. Start with the strongest word if possible. People are moving fast.
3. Don't fill the 140 word limit unless you need to.
Am I missing something? Anything you've learned that I overlooked? Any suggestions for how I could improve? Please let me know in the comments.
I invite you to check out my channels and follow or subscribe if you like what you see:
JamesGurneyArt on Instagram
GurneyJourney YouTube Channel
My public Facebook page
James Gurney on Twitter
GurneyJourney on Pinterest


Tom Hart said...

Thanks James! A lot to think about, investigate and ponder. For me, your blog fits my interest and lifestyle more than the other options right now, fwiw. But I do catch you often on Facebook. I'm a newbie and (so far) not much enticed by Instagram and Pinterest. But I owe it to myself to investigate those with an eye to putting out my own work more.

Dany Salme said...

Thank you M Gurney, very useful post (as usual)

junipurr said...

Facebook is great for little quick snippets and time lapse videos, but I'm so glad for this blog because the info here is always comprehensive and more substantial.

How do you find/make the time to engage on all of these different platforms? How much time to you devote to it each day? I really struggle with maintaining a presence online because it takes me so much time to tweak a message (or even just the formatting, pics, and links) to work or display properly on each one. I know some people use third party services that will post to multiple sites for them, all at once; have you ever tried anything like that, or do you prefer to do it all manually?

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

Like Junipur I'm curious how much time you devote to this every day, while still writing books and instructional videos... I find I get sucked into wasting time on social media. said...

Great info! Thanks for posting. I think it's time for me to get on Pinterest.

Amanda said...

Would love to hear tips on getting views on Tumblr as well.

Luke said...

Exactly the post I was looking for, as always a great article

Karol said...

For me the single most important thing in social media is to be concerned more about the real work itself, not a selfpromotion. Sometimes it's easy to get confused with them, and to sacrefice hard work for cheap fame. Needless to say it's never worth it

Linda Navroth said...

This was a valuable insight and overview into the system of using social media--thanks very much. I've been a reader of your blog for quite a few years now and I find that is the place I spend most of my time looking. I don't think there have been too many of your posts that I haven't truly enjoyed or learned something from. I am very much image-driven, too, but you have never been stingy with those on your blog. Even though I understand the appeal and convenience of other platforms such a Twitter and Instagram, I think the neglect of a blog in favor of those 'shortcuts' is kind of lazy. Just my opinion. I guess it depends on how much time you really have to spend posting anything at all!

Luca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luca said...

Thanks for these tips, it's very interesting (i never thought about Pinterest in that way, i use it just a collector of reference images! :) )

Anyway, how to emerge on the web with your art is a very complicated subject, i'd say. I mean, if one has his or her audience yet (big or small, no matter) people will follow you everywhere, perhaps with different audiences in different platforms.

I think it's a totally different matter if you are at the beginning of your career and you'd like to emerge on the web: posting your images in art focused sites like Artstation or Deviantart it's like throwing a bottle in the sea and hope for the best. A source of despair in the lucky days :D

On the bright side, i found my way to use Facebook smartly : i've friendship with illustrators from all over the world, of every kind of level. It's my newspaper: contests, tutorials, job opportunities, useful links, tips...everything passes through Facebook these days, so it's a way to be up to date. :) With the occasional boost to self esteem that is never a bad thing... :D

Kyle said...

I've recently decided to move from blogger since it works terribly with my tablet. I can't post images or artwork from it, as it won't recognize the photo app. Otherwise I've loved blogspot for going on 7 years now. It has been mostly a journal for me, and it's fun to read my thoughts and see progression. I only have 3 followers, but I never intended it to be a social media outlet. If I were more skilled...more of a professional artist, then I might share it more.

I hesitate to use facebook, though. I'm a bit shy about their being able to claim or use your images.

Tobias Gembalski said...

Thanks for all the insights.
I´m quite surprised that your are present on all those plattforms. Even though I like instagram, I prefer blogger especially because you can alter the appearance of your blog and keep the blog posts organised. And as long as I don´t have something to sell (not very likely) or content that resonates and keep the visitors interested (something like a web-comic-series or cartoon series) I stay with blogger for now.

doug goodale said...

Thanks for the info and your thoughts on the different platforms - I learned a lot about them that I didn't know. I like the archival nature of the blog as it allows one to review past posts - it exists a great resource. Keep up the good work and many thanks for your efforts.

emmanuel said...

Thanks for all the time you put into sharing this. Social media is a game changer for artists. More than half the people I follow or friend in Facebook are artists I like. Good point in rotat ing your feed. I've found that Facebook seems to show more of the same over time, leaving artists that I like into oblivion.
Thanks again. I had comoletely forgotteb about Blogspot. Seems like a good time to shine new light into it, Noé that I know its best use.

MK Buike said...

What Kyle said about Facebook. Instagram's Terms of Service are even worse. Are you at all concerned about the TOS on these platforms?

Unknown said...

Thanks James! great insights.

patiently awaiting your casein video :)

Unknown said...

I've always struggled with social media and this was a very helpful post. Like others I wonder how you find the time for this, or how much time you do spend. Something that should take 5 minutes always seems to take me forever because sites don't like each other *cough instagram and twitter *cough*.

I've found though that on instagram I got more of an audience when I started putting more hashtags, so long as they were relevant. I don't know if this hurts you in some other way, but as far as I understand, the "search" for #sketch and #sketches are completely different because it's really a tag system so putting common variations of words seemed to helped me. Like a landscape painting would have the tags #landscape #painting #landscapepainting and #landscapepaintings because that's a common two word tag as are it's variations, and neither are included by just the first two tags.

Oh and instagram lets you choose your thumbnail for videos, it's a little gallery icon (three squares) at the top, but then twitter doesn't so you might as well make it the first frame.

@ Kyle and MK Buik: About the Terms of Service, the "you grant us a world-wide, royalty-free, bla bla bla" they put in there is in EVERY social media site. Mostly it's there because you need to agree to that so that they can distribute your content. I've never seen anyone abuse it, like grab a photo and use it for profit in some unexpected way. At most they might use it to advertise their site somewhere else and usually along with other images. The problem I think comes in with sites that allow reblogging like tumblr or pinterest where if someone reblogs you and then you delete the original post, the reblog stays (the terms are expanded to include this), so you lose control of your posts. Yes they all say you "own your content" but in those cases it really feels like you don't. Regardless, you should always assume whatever you put on the internet is out there forever.

Paddy's Block said...

James, first: thank you for following up on my question. The sheer mass of SM channels can surely overwhelm. There are so many comments here where time is a real factor, because when you are like me, you are sitting way too long on a post to make it right and interesting.

Some tips, which I found of much help, are:

1) Structure your SM channels, to make it absolutely clear to you, why and for what you are using that channel. Flickr for sorting and collecting pictures, FB for staying in touch and giving the daily update, sketch, info, etc., Twitter for linking FB posts to Twitter Fans... you get the idea. For me, that step gave me reason to dump some channels because they are of no use to me or have the same purpose as an other one (just more work).

2) Set yourself a daily time limit and a specific time to roll over your SM channels. Once you do that, you will feel the pressure drop. You won't check your channels all the time all day long and have more time to plan out longer articles, or just to draw and have fun otherwise.

3) Collect ideas for later use. A database of interesting stuff to post is a real time-safer.

4) Try to be interesting all the time and try to avoid cheap double postings on different channels. You can always direct from one to another SM channel, but at least be a little creative and make that intro sentence catchy and different.

and I think most important:
5) Make it all a habit! Which sounds easy, but everything plays into it: The daily set time limit, clearing up that SM mess and exactly knowing why and how to post on your chosen SM channels, a table of release content (one video per week, on info post on FB a day,...). It takes much effort and planing at first, but in the end everything goes much easier the less you have to think about it and the more you get that routine running.

Your detailed post, James, and all the comments so far are so welcome!

James Gurney said...

Paddy, those are great tips. I'm glad you suggested gathering a folder of half-formed ideas for future posts--plus a few super easy posts you can rely on when you're pressed for time or don't have any ideas. Posting at a certain time of day is also a good idea. There are websites that give stats on when engagement is best on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook also has lots of stats and analytics if you go into it as if you were planning to pay for advertising.

And you addressed some of the points I was going to say in response to Captain Elaine's and Juniperr's question about how to find the time. All the feeds are designed to pull on our Pavlovian desire to score high and be accepted. I find I have to resist that. One way to think of it is to divide your time on the Internet between A) Time producing content, and B) Time passively surfing or commenting or checking likes. I think the key is to keep A efficient, and reduce B as much as possible. For me, I try to keep my time on the SM to about an hour and a half.

I know, as you say, MK Buike, the Terms of Service are not what I'd like to see, and they're not negotiable. I think what Alan North said is right. They're not going to commercialize anyone's content because if they did that it would alienate users. And they need people to keep producing content. Without that SM wouldn't exist.

Kyle, that's too bad Blogger doesn't work on your tablet. My son is working on an app that will let you see GJ posts without having to go to find it on your browser. Hope that will help make it easier to visit the blog. Linda, thanks! Glad you're enjoying the blog.

Luca, as you say, FB has become a first — and major — stop for a lot of people. Amazing how a lot of big newspapers are moving their comment section over to Facebook. I was mainly talking in the post about using FB in a professional context. How people use it personally is another matter I guess. I never have used it as as a small closed network, and have always thought of it as a place for comments to a broad public.

Hypnopoodles. Thanks. The edit is done and DVD is underway. It should be out in about 10 days.

Warren JB said...

"2. Highly visual, ideal for artists and photographers...
1. I post daily to Instagram. It's a random mix of early work, recent things, sketches, videos, and finished art...
2. I don't do lifestyle photos such as plates of food..."

I might start visiting Instagram.

Luca: I don't know if it narrows things down much, but you can follow, submit art to, or even create various groups on Deviantart. At the moment I follow a few, focused on topics like oil painting, palaeoart, realism, etc.

That's the closest I get to modern social media, apart from using flickr as an image host. I'm still too fond of a bookmark list full of forums and blogs - though I'll be interested to see that GJ app.

Kit Bell said...

I just wanted to thank you for posting your blog each day. I look forward to it every afternoon. Several of my friends also subscribe and we chat about you like we actually know you.

Thanks again! Kit Bell

coryneale said...

The astounding amount of information here is so valuable, thank you James for this and all the other inspirational postings. This would take someone like myself so much time to learn and get the groove of, if at all!

sfox said...

I have found Evernote to be irreplaceable as a central point to store ideas for blog posts, anything about social media I want to refer back to, my marketing plan, cut and pasted marketing information I find on the web, images of art I like (Underpaintings auction coverage is a great source of inspiring paintings), keeping track of juried exhibition and competition entries, painting tip and technique info.,pretty much my business life both on and off line. I'm starting to think about creating a few online courses and I'll plan those in Evernote, too. I paid for the "Pro" version so all my Notes and Notebooks are available and kept sycned on all my gadgets, iOS and OSx.

I'd also like to give a shout out for Wordpress as a blogging platform. I started my blog there in 2007 and have been very satisfied with the platform and their very good customer support...quick response, problem solved.

This post has been very valuable since I'm starting my annual year-end evaluation of both my painting process and my marketing efforts. Definitely refining my social media choices, which are now Facebook (separate personal page and public page; important not to use personal pages for "fan" pages because of the exposure to scammers and spammers), Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Those are the ones that have been the most useful. I also maintain a presence on LinkedIn and have a shop on Zazzle, which I plan to promote in more organized way this coming year. Just signed on to SmugMug to explore the possibility of selling a selection of my Mongolia photographic images that I know I won't be using for painting reference.

The Un Stable said...

James, how much time do you spend on creating content? Do you dedicate specific hours per day or is it part of a "business day" designated for your studio? I'm constantly examining best practices!

Matt Dicke said...

Great post. Thank you. Will have to apply some of your do's and don't to my feeds.

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Allyx said...

Thanks for the tips. Instagram is the best social media platform right now, in my opinion. I use for it - it helps a lot to get rid of the spam and has other useful features.

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