To be blunt, anyone in a creative or business venture (read: art is business) who doesn’t embrace social media is a fool. Social media is not only a vital tool for artists looking to promote work, but also for connecting with collaborators, for problem solving and even for creating art itself.
Facebook is foremost in social media, and is also rife with ways to self-promote, be promoted, chat with other artists and to discover new art. An artist can promote art via a personal profile, or through a business page. Artists can meet each other through profiles, groups or even through comments on posts from mutual friends and mutually followed personalities and pages. Event pages can be used to promote gallery openings, or to find them. Following museum and gallery pages can help keep up with exhibitions, talks and other events.
Twitter may not be as profitable as Facebook, but it is also quite popular. Methods of socializing are similar, just usually more stripped down. However, the brevity of posts and of most interactions can help increase the volume. Retweets can rapidly raise awareness, as can crafty use of hashtags, as marked by the # symbol. Several artists, galleries, curators and others Tweet about a variety of art-related topics.
In addition to Facebook and Twitter are apps and networks such as Instagram. If one’s response to Instagram involves not wanting to see pictures of people’s lunch, it is an out-of-touch and dismissive answer. While many posts do contain selfies, food and other fluff, they also promote artists, openings and are a useful way to share work. The posts can be shared between other social networks, and the hashtag is a useful tool for finding related posts and for helping others find work through common interests. Tumblr, Pinterest and other networks serve similar purposes, and should also be used or at least considered in creating a social media strategy.
Not only is social media useful for promotion, discovery and community, but it has been used as a means of creating art itself. Several performance pieces have been based around interactions on social media, and groups such as Improv Everywhere use it to help trigger their crowd-fueled performances. Richard Prince has notably used screen shots of Instagram as actual art pieces, garnering thousands of dollars in sales and large amounts of anger over intellectual property issues.
Social media is a leading source of interaction, news, promotion and has been largely active for a little more than a decade now. Though many still like to attach “fad” to the concept, it seems like the concept has staying power and will be sticking around in one form or another. It is probably time for “social media,” much like “new media,” to drop its trendy moniker and just be considered “media” along with broadcast and print.
When it comes to social media, artists need to log on interact, or log out of a meaningful career.