The importance of social media for artists
A reader writes:
What role does social media play in helping sales of an art work? How can artists help to ensure the success of their exhibition?
There are many ways to market an exhibition – from social media to press coverage to email lists to good old fashioned printed flyers. Galleries will usually choose the streams that work best for them, their brand and their expertise, and one of the best things artists can do to amplify the marketing push and generate sales is to have a strong social media presence.
Our best selling exhibitions have without fail been those where the artist has a decent social media following, posts regularly, and engages in an authentic way with their followers. The exhibitions that have sold the least have been those where the artist isn’t on social media, or is but didn’t use it to promote their show. This has become important enough that I now take an artist’s social media presence into consideration when deciding whose work I will show – something I didn’t do when I first started the gallery.
An artist and a gallery that are both sharing images and information about an exhibition can increase each other’s audience and reach many more potential buyers. I have sold about a dozen artworks through Instagram alone, as a result of me and the artist sharing images from the exhibition. I’ve had people come from Canberra and Sydney to see an exhibition purely because they follow the artist on social media and found out she was exhibiting in Katoomba.
Artists need to view their exhibition as a partnership with a gallery, where both parties will do best when everyone is an active participant. If an artist relies on the gallery to do all the marketing they will be missing out on one of their biggest buyer segments – friends and family. A gallery can bring in collectors and buyers interested in particular mediums or themes, but only an artist can bring their inner circle.
When artists approach galleries about exhibitions, it pays to highlight their social media handles - both to show examples of their work, but also to demonstrate they have the ability and reach to help market their exhibition. This will make an artist a much more enticing prospect - and hopefully result in more art sales for everyone.