I spend a lot of time on social media looking at art and searching for possible artists to interview. Having done that for several years, I've noticed some things that I think might be more helpful to the artists themselves. Consequently, here's a quick list. By the way, most of these things have nothing to do with contemporary art. They're simple, common sense things that somehow get overlooked. However, they can really mean the difference between success and failure. They're crucial...
1. MISSING CAPTIONS OR COMMENTS: So many artists ONLY post photos of their work online. Is the work you've posted for sale? Are you seeking opinions about it? Why have you posted the photo? Potential buyers and galleries NEED to know this. Don't keep potential buyers guessing. Give us the 4-1-1. Include a caption and some quick comments. Be CLEAR about your intention for posting. Write it out.
2. MISSING WEBSITE ADDRESS: I cannot tell you how many times I've seen cool photos from artists online and there's no website listed or place to visit to do further investigation. Really? Check your profile pages every few weeks to make sure your website address is still listed on your social media pages. And yes, you MUST have a personal website in addition to social media presence. A social media profile page is not a replacement for a professional website that you own and operate.
3. MISSING EMAIL ADDRESS: You're obviously on social media because you want to reach out and be seen. No? How can a potential gallery or buyer contact you? Many people would prefer to contact you privately and not via social media. Why not list your email address in your profile? Check to make sure it remains listed.
4. POSTING DEAD ARTIST WORKS: No one loves Caravaggio, Picasso and Warhol more than me, but I always get confused when I see works of dead, rich and famous artists posted on the profile pages of living artists who are striving to maintain their careers. If Andy Warhol were alive today, do you really think he'd be posting photos of YOUR work on his Instagram? Maybe, but I doubt it. If nothing else, Warhol was an early master of self promotion. I'm sure he would encourage you to promote YOUR OWN work on your profile page as opposed to his work. How do you think HE became rich and famous? He knew what he was doing and so should you.
5. TOO MANY HASHTAGS: I've literally seen artist tweets that have so many hastags (#) and @s that I cannot decipher the actual message. This is not cute. No one has time to break away and do all of those searches and visits. What is YOUR message? Make it clear.
6. NONSENSE: Do you actually spend your precious time trying to figure out nonsensical tweets and posts? Who does? What you post on your profile pages represents who you are. Artists are people, but your profile page also symbolizes who you are as a small business too. Be careful about how you present yourself to the world. Nobody wants to deal with someone who can't spell, writes like a four-year-old or posts nonsensical things.
7. OVERPOSTING: I recently unfriended an artist who is clearly obsessed with social media. The problem is, I never really saw any of the artist's work. The posts were always about weird things. Lots of weird things. You can post practically anything you want on your own profile. That's your business. But overposting things that have nothing to do with your work actually eclipses your work and you as a serious artist. Post what you wish, but I'm just sayin'.
8. STRONG PROFILE IMAGE: This is a no brainer. First impressions still matter big time. Your profile image is obviously the most important thing that determines whether or not people will continue to peruse your page. Why not use photos of your best work or shots of yourself at work in your studio or your logo or something that advances your brand?
9. END GAME: I've found that most artists use social media as their "end game" rather than starting point. They see it as the end rather than the means. Here's what I mean ... Social media is merely a tool to help you put yourself out there. It's just the beginning. You really need to use it as a networking tool. Use it to full advantage while it's still free of charge. The days of FREE social media are coming to an end.
10. BE SOCIAL: Social media cannot do the work for you. You can post and tweet all you want, but it's up to you to actually be social. Take the initiative and reach out to people you don't know well. Isn't that what social media is all about? BEING social? If you get rejected, so what? I still get rejected by some artists whom I seek to interview. So what? It's their loss. I've interviewed more than 350 art world people - mainly artists - most of whom I reached out to online. I do the actual work of socializing online. You can too. If you meet someone creepy, just unfriend them and move on. I have unfriended people and people have unfriended me. I can't imagine why, but that's fine. LOL. That's also how life works. Be social, be professional, be an adult. Reach out. Rejection happens to the best of us.
One thing that I've found is that if you're using social media to your best advantage, it's A LOT of work. However, I wouldn't trade it for the new contacts and even a few friendships I've made. It's work and it's fun, but you cannot be shy. Don't just post, really put yourself out there. I'm not talking about nude photos either. :)