Welcome back to our series Ask Angella, where we do exactly that.
If you’ve ever had a potentially sensitive creative question, we want you to throw it our way so that we can hand it over to Angella: our resident art writer, expert, and all-around kind, funny and wise human being. Here’s the question we’ll tackle this month:
“I know that I need to be using social platforms to promote my work, but honestly it’s really overwhelming—Instagram’s confusing algorithms alone are enough to make me want to give up and go off the grid. Can you give me some simple, straight forward, ACTUALLY helpful tips on how to use social media in a way that works and won’t melt my brain??”
For the shy artist, networking might sound like the last thing you’d want to do. But in our digital age, networking can be as easy as opening Instagram. I asked social media specialist Grace Lee what the top four most important things to remember when navigating social media in order to leverage your influence as an artist.
Understand your brand (no rhyme intended!)
As averse as you may be to it, social media is a necessary evil. It’s also an incredible tool to show the world your work. “Branding is such an annoying word but it’s relevant if you’re trying to market yourself,” says Grace. Start simple. Ask yourself who your audience is. If you’re trying to sell your work, consider pros and cons, take some risks and see which posts are successful and which slip through the cracks. If the word branding sets your teeth on edge, think about it this way: If you had to describe yourself and your work in three words what would they be? What colors do you use the most? What kind of subjects do you photograph? What’s your style? Think hard about what you make and why you make it and envision social media posts as an extension of your oeuvre.
Consistency is key
Once you’ve made a loose sketch of your brand, decide how often you want to post. Now that social media is ruled by phantom, in-the-cloud algorithms, posting more often seems to be the way to appear in your followers’ feeds regularly. However, pleeeeease avoid over-posting and try and give each post some space and time to stand alone. I find that the most engaging posts on Instagram are dynamic and spaced apart. Post as much as you want, whether that’s 3x a week or once a day, but stay consistent. If you post everyday, avoid multiple shots of the same place or work over and over, unless you’re showing your process. WIPs (work in progress), for example, are an engaging way to show your fans your progress and how you work. It also keeps people interested and looking forward to your finished product.
Take advantage of how often everyone is on their phone so think bite-size (or rather, phone size). People are on the go and scrolling mindlessly, so think–what would grab your attention? Utilize insta stories or Snapchats for timely announcements, flash sales, and links. It’s also a chance to let people see what you’re up to when you take breaks from working, which leads me to our next point…
Show us your personality! We like you! “Authenticity is everything; people can smell an ad from miles away,” says Grace. Let your captions be casual and don’t be afraid to speak your mind or crack a joke. What inspires you? Not every post needs to be of your or your work. I personally love it when I see what an artist I admire sees throughout the week. Whether that’s a museum trip, or a gift shop in Chinatown, funky mugs from the thrift store, all those snapshots give us a peek into your creative mind and connect it to your and the art. You are human, after all.