Making Art Work: Social Media and the Artist (Part Three)
“Welcome to the Making Art Work Series! Through this accumulating and growing collection of resource articles, we hope to give insight and suggestions to artists in their journey to becoming their most successful creative selves!”
Part Three: Choosing your Platforms
We have previously discussed strategies of developing and distributing content and adapting to platform algorithms and authenticity when discussing social media and how an artist can use online activity to help get their name out there and cultivate a following/community. In this part, we will be further breaking down the different social media platforms, how they operate, and how they can best benefit you as a creative.
Facebook: Founded in 2004, Facebook boasts one of the largest social media platforms in the world, with over 2.45 billion accounts (nearly 35% of the world's populace, wow!). Facebook has a global presence in over 140 countries. You can find thalo's Facebook page here.
- The Good: Facebook's ability for people to create personal, professional, and business pages for their interests has been a major help, especially for people just beginning to experiment with social media and their art. Facebook also has several ways to engage with large audiences, either through Facebook Groups, Pages, Events or direct messaging. You can manage the reach of your work by choosing to make things " public," "private," or available only to select people. Facebook also allows for people to "go live" and do more in-person interactions.
- The Not So Good: Facebook has an ever-evolving algorithm that affects the reach of your content. If you post on your Facebook channels, your content on average, may reach 10% of your followers. If you pay Facebook to promote your content, you might be able to reach more of your followers or expand your reach, but it is generally a gamble to do so. Even with Facebook's impressive ability to curate your audience is a difficult space. Trolls on Facebook are a constant challenge (Troll: someone on social media who purposefully antagonizes people for personal entertainment) and there is no shortage of online arguments to be seen on the platform. Also, Facebook being a 16-year-old platform, is not the most popular among younger internet users.
Instagram: Now owned by Facebook Inc, Instagram was founded in 2010 and is arguably the most popular place for artists and visual people to share content. With over one billion users across the globe, Instagram is another staple in the social media arsenal that every artist should have in their repertoire. Instagram over the years has contributed heavily to the "social media influencer" culture, where having a high follower count can be a strong business resource. You can follow thalo on @thlaoarts
- The Good: Instagram is a primarily visual platform, which makes interaction generally more favorable to other platforms. Content is easy to generate, the posting is fun, and you can build a body of work and get interactivity with people in a fun way. You can also use Instagram's "Going Live," and "Highlights" features to help better curate and cultivate your community and presentation. Instagram also offers a large array of photo editing that can help you better present your work.
- The Not So Good: Instagram, having been purchased by Facebook, has a lot of the same challenges with reach as Facebook does. A constantly changing algorithm with a base reach of 10% to followers makes it difficult to build your online presence organically and forces you to pay to have your content seen without investing more time and labor than should be necessary. If you are more interested in organizing classes, events, or other in-person activities, Instagram may not be the best option to get that done.
Twitter: Founded 14 years ago and with 321 Million Users, Twitter has primarily been a platform used by internet celebrities, writers, comedians, pop culture personalities, and businesses. Once a platform limited to only 140 characters a tweet, a twitter user can now post up to 280 characters, images and videos directly to their account. You can find our twitter account here.
- The Good: Twitter, despite a lower user count, has a dedicated and connected user base, generating nearly 50 million tweets a day around the world. And, with the recent implementation of photos and videos, artists have a better reason to use this platform to connect and build an audience.
- The Not So Good: Twitter suffers from a lot of the same issues that Facebook has in terms of social constructs. Trolls, harassment and other sources of frustration are present, but not unavoidable.
LinkedIn: With half a billion members, LinkedIn is an employment-based platform that caters to job hunting, job searching, and other services about labor. Users can fill out their profiles and upload resumes, network with businesses and follow groups. Over the last few years, LinkedIn has been developing new ways to help users interact with each other, incorporating a lot of the standard platform features that other sites have, such as direct messaging, news feeds, user posts and more.
- Pros: LinkedIn can be a great place to network and show your work to a business-minded audience. The ratio of potential clients is significantly higher, and the quality of interaction is unquestionably higher than any other site (the site being employment-focused contributes to a more productive and non-combative environment compared to other platforms). LinkedIn also operates without the algorithm issues or other hindrances that other platforms currently have, allowing content to have a longer organic reach that sponsored content. Your LinkedIn page can be a fantastic way to build your resume and online portfolio for others to see, especially if you are interested in galleries, commissioned work and freelance opportunities.
- Cons: Because LinkedIn is still an employment-centered platform, there are not as many users that are actively looking for artwork, necessarily. Your audience may not be as big as other avenues, and the kind of event-building or audience interaction may not necessarily be present. LinkedIn certainly does not carry a "fun" atmosphere, which can affect the distribution of your content.
Reddit: Reddit is a news and discussion site, ranked the 5th most visited site in the world as of March 2019. With a rich global user base and endless forums or "subreddits" to explore, there are several places where an artist can share their work and expand their online presence.
- The Good: Reddit has a lot of users and a lot of eyes. It is very easy to find new people to interact with and "subreddit" forums to post their work. If you create a profile, it is best to share your work from other sources to Reddit and let the organic reach grow from that activity. There are plenty of Reddit communities to get involved in and discuss topics.
- The Not So Good: Reddit can be challenging if you are not familiar with the site. Reddit is known to be an extremely impersonal site, where most users post and operate under a level of anonymity. Because of this, it's difficult to promote your brand or be an active entity on Reddit without running into potential issues from other users. Most subreddits also ban self-promotion posts, so you may need to search to find a place for your work.
TikTok: Having been founded in 2016, Tik Tok is the "youngest" platform, but is the most popular for younger internet users, reaching a billion downloads faster than any platform before it, and is considered the 7th most downloaded mobile app of the decade by major news outlets. The platform is an evolved version of the previously popular "Vine" platform, based on video content for entertainment purposes (comedy, music, lip-sync, time-lapse, and other creative disciplines).
- Pros: Tik Tok is accessible and has a vibrant fan base, utilizing video as the primary form of content, anyone with a good phone, and some patience can create video time-lapses of artwork and music. Existing outside of the "algorithm" curse that plagues other platforms, Tiki Tok has a better organic reach that can help get anyone into a wider audience.
- Cons: Tik Tok has a much "younger" audience, which means if your work is not well-received by younger audience users or is simply not an interesting option to you, it may not be your best choice.
Platforms for creatives who are interested in video-focused content:
Youtube: Youtube, a video sharing site, is the second most visited website in the world. Five hundred hours of content are uploaded to Youtube every minute. Youtube has a massive community and can arrange so that users can get paid for the number of views their content can get either through marketing and advertising or promotion/sponsorship opportunities. Youtube is great for how-to videos, instructional or personality-related content, especially for artists! You can find thalo's channel here.
- The Good: If you are charismatic, know technology or have a talent that is marketable through video, Youtube can be a great avenue to document your work, as well as establish an online presence. Youtube content is highly sharable and distributed across almost all social media platforms.
- The Not So Good: Like most platforms, Youtube is not without its bureaucracy and troubles. Algorithm, monetization and other constantly changing policies make it extremely difficult for content creators to make money off their work. The youtube user community is also a very critical one, which can make feedback more challenging if a creator is not ready for that kind of reaction. Youtube video is also a highly demanding technological medium, and unless you are already comfortable with being a producer of content as well as a presenter, it may not be the best option unless you are working with a team to help streamline the incredibly heavy workloads to get content made. There is also the monetary challenges involved in creating high-quality content, which is not cheap.
Twitch: At eight years old and over 1.5 million broadcasters, Twitch (aka Twitch TV) is a live-streaming service that rose in prominence through video gaming and creative arts broadcast. Instead of just posting videos a la youtube, Twitch Users 'Go live' much like operating a television station. Twitch has a subscription platform, and content can either be kept exclusively on Twitch or uploaded elsewhere. Users can have donations set up for their content, as well as corporate sponsorships or partnerships.
The Good: Over the last few years, Twitch has been pushing their "creative" channels, focusing on online artists and their endeavors. Twitch is a great avenue for people who are comfortable doing art demonstrations and talking about what they are doing.
The Not So Good: Like Youtube, Twitch is a technologically demanding medium, and unless it is already in your repertoire, it may not be the best avenue.
Hopefully, this is helpful to you! Did we forget any platforms or details? Let us know in the comments!