Hiscox reports Instagram has overtaken Facebook as the top social platform for the online art market - here's our top Instagram marketing tips for artists
Hey guys. Welcome to the Art Marketing podcast. Patrick with you here today. And I'm starting things off today with the Hiscox Report. I'm going to be reading a few quotes from it.
They're a London-based insurance business that puts out this art report every year, kind of on the state of the online art market. And as far as I know, it's the only one of its kind, or certainly one of very few, doing this type of polling and giving us these types of stats for online art sales and marketing, so obviously, naturally I love it.
Now while this report is skewed to higher dollar art a bit, rather than the lower end of things, prints, I think the intel that they gather always makes for a fascinating read as to the direction of the online art market. So for the data set, I think they primarily survey all the auction houses and then a whole range of different art galleries that are selling art on line. So all linked to the report in the show notes, or if you want to read it yourself, which I highly encourage you do, you can fire up the Google on the internet machine and type Hiscox, which is H-I-S-C-O-X Report, and it'll come right up and you can download it.
So some of the interesting findings and quotes that I pulled out of it is one, 65% of buyers bought more than one piece of art online in the past 12 months. So that's a good sign. 60% of art galleries said online art buyers are getting more confident buying art at higher prices online.
Also great news. Some other interesting things - Instagram overtakes Facebook as a preferred social media channel for the art world. Social media is becoming an increasingly important tool for galleries and dealers. 91% of the galleries surveyed said they actively use social media to promote their gallery and art and artists. Another quote they had was 57% of art buyers say that Instagram is now the most frequent social media platform used for art-related purposes. They even go as far to publish a story of a $24 million art sale, all based on an Instagram post.
So anyway, it's an interesting read. I highly recommend you guys check it out. Again we'll link to it - artmarketingpodcast.com if you want to get it that way.
The report aside, read it or don't, I don't need the report to tell me certainly that it's all about attention, and the attention is on both Facebook and Instagram. Put it another way, if you're trying to sell your art, then you need to think of yourself as a fisherman. Facebook and Instagram is where the fish are right now. So you want to be there. You need to be there. You need to be in these platform story telling and growing your platform.
So one of the things that we argue, and we really push our customers on, is having presence on both of them - on both Facebook and Instagram, and everybody's there. It's pretty much the greatest opportunity that currently exists to grow your following, to grow your email list, and yes, buyers and collectors. So whether you're just getting started or picking up steam on either of these two platforms, Facebook and Instagram, we wanted to drop a podcast episode around this question we get all the time from our customers and our storefronts is, "How does one story tell on Facebook or Instagram?" And the variations, of course, abound.
"I'm a painter. You know, Patrick, I'm a painter. I realize it's really easy for photographers to post all the time, but how can I do that? I only paint four pieces a year," or whatever the case may be, or "What kind of content works best on these platforms?" "What should my posting frequency be?" "Can I share and curate other material that fits my niche?" And on and on on. So we get these questions all the time. So I wanted to go over a technique, a hack if you like, that I think can answer all of these questions for you, so let's do that.
Now I think the best part of this hack, too, is whether you plan on hitting Facebook or Instagram or hopefully both, with a little bit of email marketing thrown in on the side, it's important to know that it's all just story telling. That's what it's doing. It's story telling. It's getting people to know, like, and trust you such that they want to do business with you. They want to buy your art. So to the extent that you get good out of it on any one of these platforms, it works for all the other platforms just as well. They all feed each other just so beautifully.
What do I mean? You can compose an email and use that for your marketing purposes, and that email has a story. You then pull some pieces out of that email and repurpose them and you shoehorn them into Facebook and Instagram. But it's all the same story. You do all three of those things at the same time - email, Instagram, Facebook, all a cohesive message, and you are cooking with gas. You're cooking with gas, baby. So let's get to that.
And it all starts on Instagram. So you'll need an Instagram account to get started if you want to do this. So if you've not done that, stop the podcast ... You don't have to do that really. But then go start an Instagram account. It's critical. From there, it's just understanding how Instagram works, and many of you know this already, I know, but it's just such a powerful way to follow trends and learning.
So for those of you that don't know, Instagram is all centered around the hashtag. Basically it can be thought of as a key word of sorts with a number sign in front of it. The easiest way to think of a hashtag, if you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, is a television channel.
So Instagram is a TV and a hashtag's a channel. Let me tell you, this is a little bit better than Direct TV. There's about a million channels that you can tune in to for your particular niche and interests, which is fascinating in and of itself. Your job is to find the ones that correspond to what type of art you do and see what's working out there.
So how do you go about doing that? For the example purposes, I want to use, let's just say a landscape photographer.
Okay, so you're going to fire up Instagram on your mobile phone. You're going to go the search icon at the bottom of the screen. You're going to type in landscape photographer, all one word, and you're going select tags as the filter. By the way, yes, I realize that we're on a podcast. This is kind of techy, so what I'm going to do is I'll embed a video showing you this technique step by step. We actually filmed doing it on a phone and figured out how to get that into the computer, which was an interesting process. So if you go artmarketingpodcast.com, today's episode, you can see the video. So don't feel like you have to pull your phone out or take notes or whatever, assuming you do take notes. I'd be flattered if you did. You don't have to take notes. So the video will be waiting for you there.
Anyway, so you select tags as the filter, right? And you're now looking at a whole bunch of different hashtags, and ... Where did I go? Let's back up. Okay, so you fire up Instagram on your mobile phone. Sorry. You go to the search icon at the bottom of the screen. You type in landscape photographer, and you select tags as the filter. So your next step is you're going to go ahead and look at the number of posts on the hashtag. It's a healthy number, let's say in the thousands to tens of thousands or even millions, then you want to check it.
So immediately you click this hashtag and it gives you two grids of results. You get the top posts and you get the most recent posts. The top posts are going to be posts from people that have high follower counts, that have the most engagement, likes, comments, all of that. And then on top of that, you even get this tiny little bar that gives you corresponding hashtags that you can browse and you can check out. So this is just amazing in and of itself. The fact that you can perform this search this quickly and get the social signals is just, it's phenomenal.
So start clicking through the top posts. Start investigating artists you love and that catch your eye. See what their follower counts are. If somebody's got 225,000 followers, they're probably doing something right. They're probably really, really good at story telling on Instagram. Follow them. Click through their posts. Check out their posts. See what kind of engagement their posts have, by which I mean likes and comments. Are they commenting and responding to people? What kind of hashtags are they using on their posts?
So there's just so many data signals you can see of what's working on Instagram. You can see what hashtags they're using. So go and write a few of those. I mean, you literally, you just go down the rabbit hole and you explore. You start following a bunch of folks, and the next thing you know, you're Instafeed has turned into a veritable cornucopia of creativity, simply oozing with creative ideas of ways that you can story tell on Instagram.
And you know, as I was penning my notes for this podcast, it reminds me of my clothing company days. So back in the day, like during and after college, a buddy and I started a clothing company. And during the course of that time, we had a mentor that had been in the business for a while that showed us some of the tricks of the trade, if you will. And so what we would do is ... This is ... I still live ... But we lived in southern California. And we would drive up to LA, and we would just march into all the top selling clothing stores. You know, back in the day, it was Fred Segal ... I don't know if that's still the case ... I'm out to lunch now.
But would walk into Fred Segal. We'd go and hit a bunch of shops on Melrose, and we walk into like 10 or 15 of the top stores in LA at the time. And we'd walk in and we'd walk right up the salesman and say, "What's selling? What brands are doing really well? Why are they doing really well? What are your thoughts? What are some really cool emerging styles? What's working? What are the big trends?"
And the treasure trove of information that you would get from the guys that are on the ground, in the stores, working, saying what's selling is just such powerful intel. It's amazing. And you know what? All the smart clothing buyers for all the stores and all the chains and everything else that we were trying to sell to, they were doing the exact same thing. Exact same thing.
Come at from at it from another way, another angle. Also retail, but I think it's pressing news. I just finished reading this Walmart book, and it's by Sam Walton, and he's telling the whole story of Walmart and how he grew it and everything else, and it's so funny. Because he would go on family vacations, and his jam was to load the family up in the car and go to a national park. That was his thing, and camp. They loved doing it.
And he talks about how on half of these family vacations, every single solitary time he would have to go leave for hours each day and go check out all the retail stores in all these various different areas, because he wanted to shop the competition, see how they were doing things differently. See what he could learn from it. Later in the book, he talks about how he would go on trips all over the world with his wife, and half of those trips were just dedicated to going into stores and checking out what everyone else was doing, getting ideas. He'd bring back the best of those ideas, and he would incorporate them into Walmart. And I think we all know how that worked out for Walmart.
So it's really shopping your competition. There's some of that rolled into this technique, but also just the amount of creative inspiration that you're going to get. So let me stitch a bow on it by firing off just a few more pointers.
Yes, this technique is for Instagram. I get that. You also need to be doing this work on Facebook, but Instagram is just such a powerful search engine in this facet, the way that it works and the way that's situated and set up, is just ... It's phenomenal. I mean, it just works so well for this technique. But guess what? You're going to follow a bunch of people using this technique.
You're, over the coming weeks and months, going to get to know these people because you're going to be seeing them in your feed on a regular basis. Once you find the ones you really like, go and follow them on Facebook, too. 90% of the people that are kicking butt at story telling in Instagram is not because they're just good at Instagram. It's because they know how to story tell and their Facebook posts are going to be absolutely amazing, as well. So go ahead and follow the great ones on Facebook. Now you're going to be learning how to do both incredibly well.
Then I know inevitably the question this is going to bring up - "Patrick, you're encouraging me to go and follow hundreds of people. I don't want to clog up my Instafeed with a bunch of this stuff. I like being able to look at Instagram and see family and friends and photos and all the rest." I do, too. Start a dummy account. It takes two seconds. Start the dummy account. And when you're in the app in Instagram, it takes literally ... Not only does it take two seconds to start an Instagram account, but it takes two seconds to switch between the accounts.
I mean, you go to ... It will include screen shot and the shot notes of how you switch the accounts, because it's not immediately clear. But once you get the hang of it, I mean, you're switching between accounts in two seconds. So you can have your ... I'm following all these guys and learning and getting creative ideas account, and then you can have your personal account. In fact, I recommend you do it that way. It's just a lot cleaner.
And another pointer - don't follow just artists. This one's important. Because as we know, most artists suck at marketing. I mean keyed, I keyed, only kind of though. So don't follow just artists. So roll this same technique into some of the other things that you're passionate about and do it the exact same way. It might be cooking or it could be dogs or it could be craft beer or it could be parasailing, gardening. It does not matter.
Go and follow some of those others and see how some of these other people in completely different separate niches from you are story telling and how they're doing it on Facebook and Instagram, and you'll get some amazing creative ideas, and then you can bring those back into the type of material you're generating for your art on Facebook and Instagram. And I mean it's just ... This thing is so powerful. It's also so fun, too. Even just researching and going through this, I'm like, "Ah man, I've seen so much cool stuff I had no idea existed."
So I think powerful, powerful technique. Completely free. You can start doing it the minute that you finish listening to this, and instantaneously you'll become ... You'll start learning how to be a better story teller on Facebook and Instagram. So invest some time on the margins of your day. You'll be rolling in no time. Get at it.
Hope you enjoyed the podcast. As always, show notes. Anything else? Artmarketingpodcast.com. And leave us a review on iTunes. We love the reviews. I think we're up to like six of them. On some future episodes, I'll probably start reading them. But thank you for those that have left reviews, all six of you. And thanks for the review. Okay. Thanks. Have a great day.
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We help artists & photographers open and run their own art gallery business online.