Social Networks For Artists, Part 1: Facebook

Tips: How to Make Your Art Go Viral by Sergio Lopez

A big part of being a professional artist these days is learning how to use online social networks for marketing your work. I put this guide together with the intention of helping other artists who are trying to build their fanbase online. I think I’ve learned enough tips and tricks that most of you who are navigating this new terrain can learn something useful.

Please note: Though I have been using social media to promote my art for years now, I make no claims about being an expert. I do feel like I know what works for me at this point. These are just how I like to use these sites, and would never say that these are the only ways to use them, or even the best.

As with any other way to put yourself out there, the best marketing tool you have is your own good art. Not only are you trying to get your work out there yourself, but you are also trying to get other people to share your work for you. The better your work is, the more people want to show your work to other people.

Choose the Networks that you Enjoy

In order to get the most out of your network, you are going to have to spend a lot of time building a following on it, so make sure you actually enjoy being on the network. It’s not supposed to feel like a chore. The creators and managers of these networks want you to have fun on them so that you stay on their sites. You don’t have to be on every single network. It’s way better to master a few of these rather than spreading yourself too thin, not to mention being bored. Spend that time becoming a better artist instead.

Have a Plan

What are you hoping to get out of this network? Do you want a lot of fans? Once you have those fans, what do you want them to do for you? Having the answers to these questions will give you a good idea for what you want to focus on for these networks.

Put in What You Put Out

Social networks rely on their users not only creating interesting content, but also sharing quality content. People like to be turned on to interesting links and pictures, but for every thing you think is awesome, there is probably someone who thinks its stupid, so you should be careful.There is a thin line between under-sharing and over-sharing.


As much as people tend to gripe about it, Facebook is still by far the biggest social network and it’s going to be here to stay. It’s becoming as ubiquitous as Google. Most people, when they want to find artists to follow, they search for them on Facebook first. The more you know about the way it works, the more people see your work and comment on it.

How to Gain More Authentic Followers

Upload your Art to Facebook Instead of  Linking it from Elsewhere

This may sound a little obvious, but Facebook gives priority to things happening on their website (it keeps people on Facebook instead of going elsewhere). This means that your uploaded photos will stay in your friends’ news feed longer than photos linked from other sites.

Change It Up

Since Facebook broadcasts just about everything you do to your friends and followers, it’s to your advantage to make sure those things are about your art. For example, changing your cover photo, or profile picture will show up on your friend’s timeline so why not make it a picture of your art, or anything else you are trying to promote? A picture of your art with some info about an upcoming show is the perfect thing to make your cover photo.

Join a Popular Art Group

There are a lot of Facebook groups of just about any interest. Just look for anything in the search bar and something will come up. I think joining the ones with the most members are the most advantageous because your work will show up in the group feed regardless if they are your friends or not. You are hoping to pick up new friends and fans by posting where there are a lot of new eyes to look at your art. Remember to upload directly into the group instead of linking from your page onto the group. Things tend to stay at the top of the group feed if they are more popular in terms of likes or comments, and for some reason groups favor work directly uploaded to them. Some groups have thousands of members, so it’s a good opportunity to grab new fans.

Start A Fan Page

Besides all the extra tools, you get to promote your artwork. It’s just a good idea to have a separate page for business versus personal reasons. People who are only interested in your art, and don’t care about your political leanings or love of fluffy animals can follow you on there instead. So keep it about your BUSINESS!

Pages have insights, which tell you about how many people are looking at your page, how many people are looking at individual posts, and how far the posts are reaching virally. Viral reach on Facebook just means how many people are interacting with the post in some way. Are they liking it? Commenting on it? Sharing it? That is what you’re hoping to happen.

Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit of money to get more people to look at your page. The biggest bang for your buck is “Promote.” For as low as 5 dollars, you can get up to 3 times the amount of people who would normally see your post. Here’s how it works:

.Tips: How to Make Your Art Go Viral by Sergio Lopez

You can see how it scales. Personally I’ve never spent more than $15 to promote a post, but it always pays off residually because of how many new fans I end up picking up afterwards. It is the cheapest advertising and you know exactly how many people you are going to reach.

Remind People to Like/Comment/Share Your Art!

Having people like/comment/share your art on Facebook is what makes it spread. Sometimes you need to give people a reminder to do so. Think back to how much new art you’ve seen because a friend of yours shared someone else’s work. Don’t only encourage your friends and fans to do this, but do it for other artists as well!

Something I’ve noticed happening lately are pages that post a picture and ask people to solve some sort of riddle about it. These are extremely effective ways to get people to comment on your photos, therefore making them show up on their friends’ feeds. Perhaps there is a clever way to come up with something that will compel people to comment on your picture while still relating to your art?

Coming up next: Part II - Twitter, Instagram, and Vine.

Sergio Lopez
Sergio Lopez
Painter and Instructor, Sergio's passionate about painting the figure and blogging about his experiences as a plein air and studio painter.
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