For all the talk these past few years about harnessing the power of social media to promote your business, your products or your art, when it comes down to it, many people don’t know much about social media at all.
Of those who do, many if not most don’t understand how they can use social media to make themselves and their businesses and products better known and in the process, increase their income.
Networking Can Work For You!
Very briefly, the term “social media” means the use of a group of internet-based social-networking sites that allow fast and easy communication between people. It’s become a hot topic because of the enormous growth of two personal social media sites – Facebook and Twitter – and one site organized primarily for business – LinkedIn.
Each of these three sites (and they are just a few of the many communities that have sprouted online) allows you to connect with existing friends, make new friends, and better yet for all of us in the field of art licensing, they allow us to connect with artists, photographers, designers and with key people in companies that thrive on access to compelling art, photography and design. In other words, artists, licensing agencies, and prospective licensees.
Necessarily tied in to these social networking communities are a vast number of internet sites, search engines, bookmarking sites, bulletin boards, blogs and other internet features that encourage communication among like-minded individuals.
Your Way to Free Advertising
Thus we now have a way to advertise and promote art and art-related products that costs virtually nothing and yet can reach out into an extensive and expansive group of prospective clients, customers, and licensees.
But free advertising is only worthwhile if it’s effective, and a basic knowledge of how to use social media to promote your artwork is essential to making it all work.
Use a Basic Portfolio Site as Your Media Destination
My own system of utilizing social media to create new licenses for my artists is to have an extensive art portfolio site as the hub to which all promotion via social media is oriented. To give you a real example of such a site, visit Porterfield's Fine Art Licensing.
I strongly recommend that every artist who wants to promote his or her work have an art portfolio site online.
There’s no faster, easier or better way for any artist to show their work than to have a site which allows a visitor to see what they have created and to be able to contact the artist or even better, to purchase original work, prints or other products with the art then and there using their credit card or Paypal.
Free Templates and the Value of Blogs
There are lots of relatively easy ways to develop such sites, and they’re often either free or inexpensive. Many site providers have a range of templates available at no charge for site development, so you don’t have to learn a whole new language in order to create a lovely site that promotes your artwork.
Many artists have also created blogs which they use to discuss what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, show the process they use in creating art, and thereby gain a group of dedicated readers and followers who are essentially highly-qualified prospects for future purchases of their art. I would recommend that you look at starting with Blogger, a wonderful blog creation site made available for free by Google.
Once you learn more about blogging, you might want to try one of the other services available; many artists use Wordpress or Typepad and find them easy and effective. Having a blog allows you to write about and show examples of your art. They’re wonderful for self-promotion.
Even better, all the blog sites that I’ve come across allow you to update your blog live online, without having to add to it in a complicated program offline and then upload it to the internet.
One of my artists uses his blog to show how he develops a piece of art, from start to finish, in a very effective presentation that takes you through the process of creation of the work.
How to Use Facebook for More Free Publicity
Once your art portfolio site is established, join Facebook, which has an astonishing 800 million subscribers worldwide. Most people use Facebook as a way to connect with friends but an increasing number of people are using it to promote their businesses and products.
If you want to focus your usage on business, then create a page on Facebook just for your business and direct people there. Use either your main personal page or your art business page to interest and involve people in your work, and get in touch with other artists, clients, associates, customers, and potential and active licensees, always directing them to your art portfolio site where they can see all that you currently have available for sale or license.
Twitter? LinkedIn? Why Not?
Similarly, you’ll want to join Twitter and use that platform to send out small messages directing people to new postings on your Facebook page or your blog, or directly to your site. It’s easy to search on Twitter for people of similar interests, and it’s remarkable how quickly the number of Twitter followers will grow.
Another good source of professional contacts is LinkedIn, which is used by many artists to connect with companies that need compelling artwork for their products.
I’ve discovered that each of these five components – main art portfolio site, art business blog, Facebook business page, Twitter, and LinkedIn – tends to support my overall effort to promote the works of my artists and thereby bring in new licenses for their art.
Publicizing New Art
One of my approaches to using social media for free publicity is to debut a new art collection on my art portfolio site, put an image or two from that collection with a promotional description on Facebook, send out tweets about the new collection to my followers on Twitter and occasionally I’ll even discuss it on my blog or put a notice about it on LinkedIn as well. I do love free publicity.
I’m not alone. Lots of artists and a ton of companies that depend on compelling new art for their products are now using social media.
For example, Michael R. Woodward, the president of Out of the Blue Licensing, has “found social media to be increasingly important in reaching potential and active licensees for our creative group of artists and photographers,” for his art licensing agency.
“Major corporations use these platforms to increase their business, and I’d strongly recommend that artists expand in social media and also look at using video email marketing to present their work to prospective clients.”
Another associate who works in brand and character licensing has focused on using LinkedIn as a way to locate and cultivate potential new licensees around the world.
He regularly invites individuals to connect with him on LinkedIn, goes through their list of contacts for prospects, and also reads the discussions in the many groups that are related to his field, finding even more interesting and potential prospects in the process.
And, of course, other people do the same with him.
And thus social interaction grows, and with it, the viability of our business of art licensing.
Social media is a revolution in advertising and promotion, so don’t let it pass you by.
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(c) Lance J. Klass. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the author.
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A version of this article first appeared and was featured in the Spring 2012 issue of Art Buyer, the British art licensing publication that's distributed worldwide.