Social Media Strategies for Craft Artists
Connecticut artist Marcy LaBella shares essential tips to help makers grow their business using Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
It’s hard to know how to promote our work with the ever-changing nature of social media. However, you really cannot do without a bit of social media savvy to get your work noticed and seen by new customers. These are the platforms I consider to be most important to the craft artist: Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
First, a Note About Your Website
Websites are an important tool in your web presence these days, but their role has changed. Today, an artist’s website should include a gallery page, up-to-date contact and social media links, upcoming show dates, and a place to list classes and workshop info if you also teach. In most cases, your web page does not need to be updated more than every 1–3 months until you are updating images or adding new dates to your page. Social media is where you show up every day and interact.
Instagram is the top place for artists to market and sell their work at this time. There are over 1 billion people on Instagram, and it continues to grow. It is the place where artists, gallerists, curators, and collectors meet and mingle. Here is the place where you can interact with your peers and form direct connections with customers.
Since Instagram is such a visual medium, it is the perfect one for artists. Your Instagram feed is your place to show your best work and tell your story, and the platform gives you a variety of ways to do that as you create a visually interesting feed.
Here are four key ways to post on Instagram:
- Photos and videos for your feed: High-quality images and captivating clips are the key to a beautifully curated feed.
- Stories: Short, dynamic content that stays live for 24 hours.
- IGTV: Longer video posts—whether pre-recorded or live—that appear as a short teaser on your followers’ feeds, which they can click to keep watching.
- Reels: Short, snappy video content that keeps followers engaged.
Instagram will boost your post depending on engagement and how long people spend looking at your content. Do consider creating short video clips for IGTV, using stories, and using the carousel feature for feed posts, which enables you to put up to 10 images in one post. Longer engagement on your post can lead Instagram to boosting your post to a wider audience.
Post ideas include curated shots of your best work, posts that show parts of your process, your studio, and tools, gallery images, and work installed or in use at a client’s home.
5 Tips for Making the Most of Instagram
- Include bits of narrative and stories in your content, which builds connection with your followers.
- Be sure to respond quickly to comments and messages from followers who like what you do, as they often turn into buying customers.
- Your Instagram handle (that’s the one that has the @ symbol) and username are two important ways people can discover your profile when searching, so using keywords will work to your advantage. Use words like beaded, pottery, handweaving, metalsmith, etc. in your handle and username. You can also include hashtags and keywords in your bio, giving you more searchability.
For example, Skutt Kilns has @skuttkilns as their handle and Skutt Kilns as their username. In their bio, they have created a call to action for their followers, letting them know that using their niche tags #madeinaskutt and #skuttkilns gives them a chance at being featured on their feed.
Using keywords like kiln, pottery, art, or fiber, in your brand name can benefit you in terms of searchability, so if you are just setting up a new business, do consider including a keyword when choosing your brand name.
- Instagram only allows you one link in your bio. Work around this by changing it when you have something to promote and add “link in bio” into your promotion. You can also opt to use Linktree and have multiple links on your bio at all times.
- Using Instagram Business will give you access to useful data and analytics like best times to post, and your user demographics, and in which cities your account is most popular and best of all, it’s free.
Next Steps: Hashtags and Automation
Hashtags are not complicated if you do a little research first. Look for similar accounts and see how they are tagging their work. Use no more than the allowed 30 hashtags, and mix it up with high-use, medium-use, and niche hashtags under your comments.
Automation can make things easier, so if you need to, consider using an Instagram scheduler like Tailwind. You can share posts from Instagram to your other social media accounts. I post to Facebook and Twitter from my Instagram account, which means I don’t have to go to those sites and create separate posts, saving myself valuable time.
Pinterest is a website that catalogs images and directs people to other sites. It isn’t a social site per se but is still an important place for craft artists. You can pin images from your sales listings to Pinterest, leading followers directly to your sales pages. On Pinterest, your posts, or “pins,” can stay active for many months or even years, and their links can continue to lead traffic to your pages for a long time. Therefore, pinning your own blog posts, Instagram photos, and other important links to your Pinterest boards can generate traffic for a long time.
Facebook can be useful, especially when you are trying to launch or grow a local business. It is easy to set up a business account and tie that to your Instagram account. Facebook pages are easy to grow, especially if you are already on Facebook personally, because you can invite your friends and other contacts to your business page. If you belong to artist groups and professional organizations, be sure to include those contacts as well. You can also use targeted ads for sales, classes, and promotions.
Makers Who Have It Down
I love the beautifully curated feed of Lindsay Johns from @insidethehem! This is a maker who has really made the most of Instagram and used every advantage her bio allows her to draw in followers. She makes slick use of keywords in her handle and username, and uses both hashtags and keywords to maximize SEO in the limited space allowed in her bio section. Her 12.1K follow shows how this maker is doing Instagram right.
Another maker who knows how to use the power of Instagram to her best advantage is Jessica Wertz of @jessicawertzceramics. Jessica has an impressive follow of 11.2K and creates gorgeous functional pottery and jewelry. Her bio contains strong use of keywords, and she prefers to hashtag in the comment section rather than in her posts, giving her feed a clean, crisp look. I love her Instagram for its clean and professional presentation.
I came across the wonderful feed of the group BIPOC in Fiber (@bipocinfiber) which is the home of an initiative highlighting Black, Indigenous, and people of color working in the fiber industry. In addition to hitting all the marks on their bio by the use of keywords and featuring LinkTree with changing links to their featured artists, they have an amazing varied feed with products, artist features and links to panel discussions. They are masterfully using niche hashtags to attract their demographic, and it’s working. At 15.7K, they have a vibrant, growing community where they can network and connect via Instagram.
About Marcy LaBella
Marcy LaBella (@bellamarcella1212) has been making art since early childhood. Based in Durham, Connecticut, she works in a variety of craft mediums as well as painting and drawing, with her main focus being painting, sculptural ceramics, and metals. Her work in these mediums draws on her love of color, composition, texture, and space—recurrent themes that are present throughout her body of work. Perpetually excited about art and about engaging with artists from all disciplines, Marcy is also a teaching artist and is passionate about community-based arts programming.
Marcy was also a curator for ACC's Maker x Maker series, helping shine the spotlight on 10 artists whose work she admires. Read Marcy's Maker x Maker posts.
Learn more at bellamarcellaart.com, or connect with Marcy on Instagram @bellamarcella1212.
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