How to Contact People
About Your Art on Social Media
Artists I've never met and don't know constantly message, DM, or email me on social media or through my website artbusiness.com for all kinds of reasons and with all kinds of requests and questions, mainly about their art and art careers. How I reply depends on factors like how they introduce themselves, what they want, how they ask for it, and how they present themselves overall. If you happen to be one of those artists who likes to contact people you don't know but who you think can help you out in some way, here are some tips on how to do it right and hopefully increase the chances you'll get the kinds of replies and responses you're looking for. The outcomes are up to you.
But before we start talking about the fine points of making contact online, know that one of the great benefits of social media these days is that you can put yourself in front of pretty much whomever you want to without ever having to hype yourself, your art, or message or email them directly. About all you have to do is follow them and like or comment on their posts with some sort of regularity. Assuming they don't have hundreds of thousands of followers, chances are good that they'll at least notice you. And if they notice you enough, they may decide to check out your page or even your overall online profile.
In other words, your profile and especially your art will be doing the talking for you. So step one is to make sure it's reasonably complete, up-do-date, organized and presented in such a way that anyone can get a grasp of what you're up to without investing too much time or trouble. This is especially true for your social media pages. No matter how or where people find out about you or your art these days, whether intentionally or by accident, the first thing they almost always do if they like what they see is search you online.
If your social media pages, website, image pages, or blogs are incomplete, disorganized, outdated, sloppy, random or confusing, your chances of making any headway at all with your art are minimal, whether you message or email people directly or not. Your art must not only be ready for close critical inspection, but also be able to survive increased levels of scrutiny. Make sure it's organized and presented professionally, ready to impress anyone who sees it. Images must be good or better in quality and accompanying explanations clear, concise and compelling. Most importantly, provide enough basic guidance for everyone to understand, appreciate, navigate, and engage more deeply with your art.
And don't forget your website. Too many artists these days are neglecting their websites in favor of social media and letting them get out of date. Always remember that your website is your headquarters, the one place online where you control the show, where you can refer people to see the full scope of your work. No matter how focused you are on social media, anyone seriously interested in your art is going to visit your website anyway. Make sure it's working on your behalf.
Assuming you've got your online profile together and are ready to reach out, here are some good ways to introduce yourself and your art to others on social media:
No matter who you want to meet or how badly you want to meet them, follow or friend them first and study their online profiles. Before making any contact at all, you need to know who they are, what they're about, why what they do is relevant to you and your art, and if or how they might be able to help you.
Watch how they post, what they post, what they like, what they don't like, what kinds of people they follow or friend, how they interact with others, what kinds of comments they respond to, what their favorite topics are, and so on. Also go over past posts and activities to learn a little about their histories. The best way to get to know anyone is by reading and seeing what they have to say and what their followers have to say about them.
Don't limit yourself to social media. Visit their websites, links or content that mentions them on other sites, and whatever other resources you can find to get a good solid sense of what their priorities are and where their interests lie. Be thorough here because when you finally decide to reach out, you want them to see that you know (and care about) who they are.
When you're ready, you can start liking some of their posts-- but only if you really like them, and not in self-serving ways. You can comment as well, but only if you have something to say about the posts, not about you or your art. The more you participate, the more likely you are to get noticed. Keep in mind though that people can tell the difference between someone who wants to be part of the broader conversation and someone who only wants to make it about them.
The good news is that if you respond to someone's posts with enough regularity, honesty and thoughtfulness, whether with likes or comments, chances are really good that you'll get on their radar. And whether they respond to you or not, there's also a good chance they'll take a look at your profile, your art, and maybe even follow or make contact with you at some point if they continue to like what they see.
Additional tips and pointers:
* Stay active and become a part of whatever communities, groups, hashtags, types of artists, or types of art you are focusing on. Comment and participate regularly. Hopefully others will begin to respond in kind.
* Send direct messages or emails only when you're relatively sure you're getting noticed. Keep them brief at the start. You'll have plenty of time to elaborate later, if you get replies.
* Personalize every message or email you send. Most people can easily spot generic or "prepackaged" content or requests.
* Always address recipients by name. Show that you know who they are. Briefly say something about them. Establish a connection.
* Introduce yourself and in as few words as possible, say who you are and why you are messaging them. The clearer you are, the greater the chances they'll reply.
* Briefly state what you would like them to do or how you think they might be able to help. Make your intentions clear.
* If you can do something for them, say so, and talk about what it is.
* Always provide adequate links and contact information. When people aren't sure or can't tell who you are, they rarely respond.
* Spelling, grammar, and punctuation count. People pay attention to these things, especially ones who don't know you. Always look professional.
* No matter how short your messages are, make sure they look like you spent time thinking about and writing them, not like you're whipping of 10-second texts to your friends.
That's about the best you can do for starters. Hopefully you'll get the types of responses you're looking for. If not, stay active and continue to participate, never give up, and make sure your profile is always working on your behalf.
In case you're interested, I do social media consults with artists all the time. First I review your pages, posts, and how you engage with your followers. Then we have a half-hour phone consult where I make recommendations on how to improve your overall profile and ways of engaging with your followers and fans. The total cost is only $75. Want to make an appointment? Call me at 415.931.7875 or email email@example.com.
(digitally animated video art by Chris Doyle)
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