Social Networks for Artists. Part 2: Twitter, Instagram & Vine

Social Network for Artists: Twitter, Instagram & Vine by Sergio Lopez

Twitter: My Weak Point

A confession: As a marketing tool, I’m not a big fan of Twitter. Even though I use Twitter, it’s my least favorite way of keeping up with artists. The simple reason is because it’s a text-based site, and you have to click on the links to see anything else. I don’t have the patience to click on every link in hopes of seeing a cool picture. I keep my Twitter page active by connecting my other networks to it and auto-tweeting whenever I update one of my other websites.

Twitter is still important in social networking because of the two concepts it helped pioneer and make popular: Hashtags and retweets. I will get into these concepts in better detail once I go deep into the other networks that I utilize these tools more effectively.

I’ve read different ways of how other people use Twitter to market their work effectively, but frankly I'm not that interested in spending the time. This comes down to the idea that I introduced in Social Networks for Artists, Part 1: Choose the networks you enjoy and want to invest time building a following within.

Instagram: Twitter for Pictures

A lot of people still don’t know what Instagram is, so I will explain it briefly. it’s a smartphone-based social media app that lets you upload photos from your phone to your profile. Those pictures show up in the feed of whoever follows you. The layout is almost the same as Twitter, except the photos automatically show up in your feed instead of having to click a link to see photos. There is no character limit to the descriptions you can add to your photos, which lets you take full advantage of hashtags.


If you don’t know how hashtags work, they are keywords that are marked with the #-symbols. They are used by other Instagrammers to find photos of whatever they are interested in finding. For example, interested in plein air? search #pleinair in the searchbar. Want other people to find your plein air photo? Add #pleinair into your photo description. This is key for gaining new followers, because you can pretty much add as many hashtags as you want.

Anatomy of an Effective Instagram Picture:

Anatomy of an Effective Instagram Picture,  by Sergio Lopez


You can create a custom location and name it whatever you want. If you take a photo in your studio, you can enter your website url instead of your address if you want to.

Unique Hashtag:

Use this as a unique identifier as your art. For example, the name of the series of the piece of art you are posting. You can make it whatever you want, but the point is to have a tag that is identifiable as your own, so they can find you if your tag is searched.

Descriptive Hashtag:

These are the most obvious ones to use. These are the tags like #painting, #oilpainting, #figurative, #pleinair, #blue, #trees, #clouds, #nature, etc. You can brainstorm some good ones for yourself.


This is a tag that is the opposite of a unique tag. Using the most popular tags will get you in front of new eyes. This is the key to gaining many new followers quickly and consistently.

  1. Open an account on This will show you analytical data for your profile as well as popular tags used by other members.
  2. In Statigram, go to Statistics>Optimization>Tag Impact. There are a lot of other cool stats on this page but let’s look at tag impact for now. On the right side, it will say “Top Tags On Instagram”.
  3. Create a new note on your phone where you can easily access it. Call it “instagram tags” or something. Go through and copy/paste about 15-20 of your favorite "Top Tags" to the note page and add hashtags to the beginning of them.
  4. Save this note. Now, next time you post a piece of art, copy these hashtags from the note and paste them into the caption of the picture you are about to post.
I find that using popular “art” tags gain me lots of likes, comments, and new followers.


This tags other Instagrammers. In captions, I will use it if one of the models I used for a painting is on Instagram and I want to tag them in it. In comments, I will use it to communicate with the Instagrammer I tag. Tagging a user will make the picture/comment show up in their news feed.

Share Button:

Use the Share button to post from Instagram into other social networks of yours. You can post to Facebook, Twitter, Email, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. This is good for getting people who are already fans of your work into your Instagram network.

Use Squaready to post Odd-size Photos to Instagram without Cropping

When you start using Instagram, you will notice that the photos are all square-format. Pictures will automatically crop to a square, so how do you post the entire picture to your feed? There is a free app called Squaready that will size your photo to a square format (and will add a white border around the rest of your photo to make it a true square). Simply export your photo from Squaready into your phone’s photo album and load it into Instagram like any other photo.

Notice how I didn’t say anything about putting filters on your photos? I almost never use them on my photos of art, except occasionally to balance the contrast.

Vine: The New Instagram

Vine is a brand new app from the folks who make Twitter. It’s basically an Instagram for videos. You make 6-second videos by holding down your finger on the screen when you want to record. I’m still playing around with it. Some things artists are doing are making short slideshows of their art, flip-throughs of their sketchbooks, step-by-step demonstrations, images of paintings with close-up shots, and many more.  Because the videos are so short, they load pretty quickly and are therefore pretty easy to browse. Easy browsing is key to a good social network.There is a lot of potential in this app, and I’m going to be checking it out to see what clever artistic innovations people come up with. There are a lot of features I’m used to in Instagram that aren’t yet there for Vine, so I would want to see some of those put into Vine to make it an effective marketing tool.

Coming up next: Part III - Artist As Curator.

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.
You can also find him here:      CONTINUE READING MORE

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