Artists and Social media

I am curious everyone’s thoughts and experiences with using social media to promote your art in the age of filter bubbles and algorithms how do you navigate these sites and continue to get the work out there without going broke or wasting too much energy and time. Years ago it was Livejournal,blogger, MySpace then Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram and on and on.


I have been just treading water with social media. I have tried to have as many as possible to cast a wide net, but it was eating up my art time and I was getting very little result. A friend in marketing told me to focus on my three best social media sites so as to save time and be able to provide better interaction. That too has been getting me no where. Paid ads on FB resulted in no new followers so I’ve given that up.

I’ve recently started using Recurpost which schedules and recycles those evergreen posts according to best times on FB and Twitter. I can see how this would help to make sure the work is eventually seen by those who might have missed it the first time around, but if you have very few followers to begin with it’s kind of like walking in a circle and wondering why you’re not gettin’ anywhere. Benefits are that it will save some time in the long run as I don’t have to think about what to post every day. It automatically does it for me. I just add new posts as I come up with them and they are cycled in.

I have yet to crack the code on social media promotion, but I don’t give up tryin’. Hopefully someone will answer your question with something that clicks for both of us.


I quit social media, and I’m a lot better off for it, mentally. It doesn’t seem to have done anything to my sales either. I think some part of me looked at the number of twitter/instagram followers I had and compared it to the number of people who actually engaged with me or bought anything from me and said “Wow, I am wasting a lot of time trying to turn these people into clients when they’re not interested and haven’t been for years.”

So I moved my entire operation to Patreon and locked most of the content and surprisingly, I make better money.

I still upload to DeviantArt, but I don’t think of that as social media. And I have a mailing list. That’s it.

I suppose some part of me wonders where new customers will come from if I’m not on social media, but word of mouth always works better when it’s started by someone other than the artist, so I’m just hanging on and watching what happens next.


I’m really tempted to quite social media too. I’ve streamlined things as much as I can (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads), and use to automate cross-posting between different platforms. However, I agree with you: interaction/interest from people on these platforms seems negligible. Twitter seems very politicised these days, which has maybe overwhelmed other interest groups - there definitely used to be more casual interaction and sharing than there is now. Pinterest seems completely devoid of interaction - it’s almost voyeuristic, and I doubt very many people click through to my profile to see why I’m there. Instagram is OK - I generally always get some response to things I post. Goodreads is pretty dead. I gave up Facebook a while back - I never really enjoyed being on there, and I didn’t like the way they forced you to have a profile in order to maintain a page (if you understand me).

Interestingly, you mention DeviantArt. I actually rejoined that about a year back, and was shocked by how little response there was to new work compared to a year or so before that. I don’t know if they’ve changed the algorithm regarding the way members seem new posts, or what, but it seems pretty pointless me being on there.

Conversion rates between social media (even YouTube) and crowdfunding are very low, in my experience, and I’ve read others say the say (about between 1% and 5%?). And, as you say, social media can be mentally damaging - the trolling, the ceaselessly depressing news, and so on. Nice not to be on there, I’m starting to think… Just need to find somewhere else to promote things.


Well, I’ve been using Tumblr mainly for personal interaction with people I know, and I notice that art gets shared around pretty quickly. I don’t know if that could help, but it could work. I also noticed, that when I use Facebook for my content, I share it with my personal account instead of my page doing the all the work. With Facebook, the algorithm decreases the likelihood of seeing a post from a page the more popular it becomes unless one buys publicity.

it never stops. you just have to kill your free time, but when it gets going its worth it.

I use selected social media only, and I treat them as a way to funnel people to my email list. My goal is always to convert social media followers to email subscribers.

I’m on FB, Twitter, G+ and Instagram. I use Buffer to set up posts on all four. My usual rotation is post something to Patreon, then use the same images on social media, with shorter text, and occasionally, a link to something longer on Patreon. I almost always video my pieces while I work, so I often drop links to the video posts on Patreon to social media.

Every so often, I tell all my social media accounts about something I only sent out to email subscribers. What? You’re not a subscriber? You should get right on that, because subscribers hear about things first.

That usually converts a bunch of people to email subscribers. I keep a clean list, and I have people who are still opening my emails and clicking links after being subscribers for a decade or more. No social media can give that kind of engagement.


People say social media is a powerful tool, but I think it’s more accurate to say that it’s a power tool.

In other words, it doesn’t work unless you supply it with energy.

“Ugh… I don’t want to put energy into social media…”

Here’s the problem, if you’re like most artists, you’re doing social media all wrong.

That’s because, as artists, we feel the need to use social media to express original thoughts and content.

But good social-media outreach is so much more than that. It’s…

  • Sharing your personal life / thoughts and posting original content
  • Self-promotion — such as “Buy my book” or “attend my gallery opening”
  • Sharing other social-media posts that you find interesting and promoting other people’s work

On my tutorial site, I call it the three Cs — Content, Commercial and Curation

We artists focus — overly so — on the first one — “Content.” We usually feel self-conscious about the Commercial, and we don’t see the value in Curation.

And, as a result, our social-media feeds are tool quiet to generate the activity required to grow new followers and cultivate the ability to make messages go “viral.”

I always use George Takei’s Facebook page as an example of the power of Curation. The man is a social-media powerhouse. But… there’s barely a shred of original content there! Most of the stuff that has brought people to his FB page is other people’s work that he has shared.

He’s not a creator of content; he’s a curator of content.

And people flock to his page because he curates the kind of content that they appreciate, and they want more.

Now… go look at your social media. It’s all about you, isn’t it?

You do an awful lot of Content. And you do a fair amount of Commercial. But I’m willing to bet you don’t do nearly enough Curation.

“I don’t know what to say”

I hear that from artists all the time, when we talk about social media.

The irony there is that social media doesn’t really value “something to say.”

It values “something to share.”

So when you’re not posting Content and Commercials, you should be sharing other people’s content (that you feel is relevant) and promoting other people’s work.

Then, as your audience grows, when you do have something to say, you’ll have a lot more people who are liable to hear it.


This is an excellent observation. I still wonder whether having lots of followers translates into anything worthwhile - one of the early lessons regarding crowdfunding was seeing how few followers on social media are willing to put their hands in their pocket (even for hugely popular Youtubers). However, I take your point: curation creates followers because people want shareable things, not just your content/opinions, and by doing this you increase the likelihood of potential patrons seeing your stuff.

I shall let you know how I get on… :slight_smile:


This is just my opinion, but if you have good organic reach, you should be able to translate a strong social-media presence into pledges on both Patreon and Kickstarter… not to mention merchandise sales on your own store.

When I run a Kickstarter, I can look at my analytics and see Twitter/Facebook posts resulting in pledges. I have the same experience with Patreon.

But that’s the key — organic reach. I think things like paying to boost Facebook posts has an overall dampening effect on your ability to reach people who are truly interested in following you. That kind of thing can’t be bought. I think it has to be earned over a long period of time.


I dunno. I spent 15+ years building my social media presence, and while I had excellent communication with the people following me, that didn’t translate to money. I had thousands of followers, but only about 300 “true fans” and that number didn’t really change no matter how much effort I put into it. (And I wasn’t one of those 'just post links to things to buy" people; I loved social media because I’m gregarious and enjoy meeting people.)

Did I see movement if I asked people to buy or pledge for stuff? Sure, but it was from those 300 or so people. And those 300 or so people were already signed up on my mailing list. So I really needed to ask myself: is this worth my time, or is it wasting it?

The final straw: I bought one ad with a book advertiser, and that one ad did more for me in a day than 15 years of social media did for me. There are forms of advertisement that work…and there are forms that are self-gratifying but don’t offer much ROI. I tell people now, “do social media if you enjoy it, but don’t expect to get much out of it.” And I suspect, for 95% of us, that’s true.

(There’s always that outlier who becomes a social media superstar and manages to translate it into wealth… but you know, I haven’t met one yet.)


Hi Angie,

I find that the paying social media platforms can harbor some of the nicer people out there. On Tsu I made lots of online-friends and fans that I still have today. Unfortunately these platforms are the least stable and can go bankrupt quite quick. Facebook’s money grabbing strategies are what make it so strong and overbearing.

So I stay present on the big platforms and always search for nice little platforms to get real fans and find new collab partners. It’s time consuming but I don’t have any better ideas.

I made some vids about this on my channel if anyone is interested:

Now I’m on Tapastic and very happy there:

Take care! Hope it helps.

Thank you for your breakdown of the three Cs. I have friends that will focus on content only. I think they have some notion that the commercial aspect is selling out or in some way shameful. They’re also the ones wondering why they’re not making any money. I’ve only recently added curation into the mix. I have often promoted other artists who have done artwork for me, but I’ve just started sharing relevant comic strips, memes, and other items of interest. I will definitely up that some more.

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Hello, @angiemasonart! It is easier to promote your work these days on social media compared to the age of Myspace. But sometimes, when you promote or market your work, you won’t get engagement right away, even your family, friends, and relatives will not even care to like or share your content, but that’s just the way it goes…we just have to target the right audience for our content/creations so that we don’t get burned out or exhausted promoting in the wrong crowd or community. Instagram is an amazing platform for promoting to other people outside your circle of friends and social network with the power of hashtags.

On YouTube, even when your videos are great or you put your heart into them, people will dislike it for the sake of disliking it, it is expected, we cannot please everybody. We just have to be consistent and focus on our craft.

Technology the internet today really made promoting much better, we just really have to put a lot of work, :slight_smile: Thank you for your time!

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I think a key point to note here is the “right” followers. I have a community I sincerely love and put time into. They enjoy my work and like me. There is reciprocity as a result. If I have a bunch of followers who didn’t enjoy my art or art courses, they would be useless to me (and I them!).


It seems to be all about schedule, effort, having a perfectly thought about brand that people can understand and link to you. These are things I’m currently working on with the rebranding, and already I’m seeing change even though it’s not in yet. Why? Because I’m letting my community in on my hard-ships and my work…
From personal Social Media experience I’ve noticed that if you’re not open about yourself and telling your story, people will be less willing to support you. This was taught to us in my Illustration degree, however I’ve always been a naturally open person so I thought nothing of it.

Recently I’ve noticed something when comparing my and a friend’s social media/patreon: She has thousands upon thousands of followers, she has the niche and the ideals, people share her stuff, but she barely posts about herself or her story; I have less than a thousand followers on all social media, I post a ton but it doesn’t really get anywhere, yet I have a tight-knit community that support me to no ends through donations, patreon, and non-monetary means. I’m almost at her Patreon amount with twice as little donators.

Of course both are fine, but since we’re on a Patreon forum, I can certainly attest that if you tell your story, you share with your community, they’ll help you through both morally and else-wise.
Brand-wise: You need a good brand about you. You need to know who you are, your values, your look, what you want others to think about you; if you don’t know who you are, others won’t either and people will be less likely to invest. If you have this, you’ll also know what to post that suits your brand, what to share, what to make a deal about. I learnt all of this on a Skillshare trial, plus god-knows how much else on branding and social media, and I cannot recommend it enough. If you use this link, you’ll get a free month trial (being transparent, as will I, but I only endorse this because oh my gosh has it saved my business life).

Everything that Bradguigar says is spot on too. There’s so much to social media and it does take a lot of time and effort. I’m actually really looking forward to finally having the full time to work on my social media and brand as a job. :heart:


At the moment social media is where I get all my commissions and basically my whole income from. I am on FB, instagram, google +, twitter(although that doesn’t seem to work for me) and then Deviantart, Youtube and Patreon. Most of my commissions come from FB, but I find that I’m having a hard time comverting my social media followers into paying customers. I have a following of over 200K when combining FB, intagram and Youtube together, from which I have the largest following on Instagram. On instagram though I don’t seem to attract the ‘right’ followers. Most of them are young, want everything for free and don’t have much money to spend. So at the moment I’m really trying to work on reaching my target audience, instead of trying to just reach as many people as possible.
Very interesting to read all the different views on social media. I need to step up my game!


Totally agree. Still haven’t figured it out but this makes sense to me.

Any advice on how to use Instagram this way?

ive been on DA since forever and the thing i noticed is that when you interact with the community (instead of just dumping your stuff and running) you get more feedback and possibly a new watcher. the deviantart community isnt necessarily dead its just alot of people now dont take the time to bother with talking to other artists on it.

instagram id have to admit is hard when it comes at gaining a following… although i think its easier to build friendships with other artists and if they shout you out, bingo there’s your unning start… but the tagging system sucks… absolute doodoo. dont bother posting to something with over a million posts on it.

im just scared of twitter. there are some real crackheads on there that will smite you with the fists of jesus if you so much as breathe the wrong way. but id have to admit its easy to gain a little following.

im really interested in posting on facebook but idk where to begin