It used to be that everyone had to have a website to show their work in a digital format to the world, but now with platforms like Facebook, Flickr, and other sites, it is free and easy to put up images. And with Facebook, you can put up images as they are made and get comments right away. I think that a website, a fairly simple one, is necessary, but social networking will help drive traffic to your website. There is much more to Facebook in that you can actually meet people who can help you and who are real! For example, most of the people I friend on Facebook are involved in the arts. I look at other pages, in particular Jerry Saltz’s Facebook page, and comb through people who are interested in the arts: collectors, museum directors, artists, and more.
It is amazing how you can connect directly with people. If you search on Facebook for “art collectors” and then check “people” on the left, you will see amazing resources for meeting collectors. There are groups of collectors and all kinds of pages for them. This is a valuable resource. I have written directly to collectors introducing myself and asking them to lunch. I have met with museum directors this way as well, and I think it is one of the best networking tools for artists out there. The other photo-sharing sites are an easy way to upload a set of images and share them, but Facebook is good for actually meeting people and talking to them.
Friending on Facebook
There are many ways to promote and share your work on Facebook, but I will go over a few basic steps.
- Begin adding about five to ten friends a day at the most (or Facebook will stop you). Make these friends art-related, such as artists you admire or collectors, curators, gallery, and museum staff. When you add someone as a friend, send a personal note, even if it is the same one to everyone. Something simple like, “I would like to be your friend because I like the work you are doing with [the name of a museum or some- thing related to them], and I would like to keep in touch. Sincerely, [you].”
- As you build up friends, start writing to them all the time. Spend part of each day, maybe thirty minutes or so, sending notes or making comments on other people’s postings. Write thoughtful comments on images that people who you want to be friends with upload. If you have a Facebook page already, you know the value of this. If someone comments on a photo or comment of yours, you take an interest and often write back. The more sincere and interesting the comment is, the more response you will get.
- In your status updates, send out links to new work you are doing. Try to avoid talking about your pets, children, domestic minutiae, and other nonessentials. You want this to be productive time, so use it that way.
- Warning! Do not use the same password on your Facebook account as other accounts, like Gmail, because that makes you an easy target for hacking. That means someone else breaks into your Facebook account and sends commercial messages to all your friends. Beware.
- The last Facebook tip that I would suggest is to limit your time on it, for while it may be a helpful tool, in excess, it is a major time waster. As of this writing, in 2011, Facebook is the biggest platform, but there are many, many others, some of which are yet to emerge. I personally try to keep it to a minimum, so I don’t spend too much time in front of the computer, but keep your eye out for new forms of social networking that are sure to arise!
To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here. To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.