Ah, social media. Some creatives love it, others loathe it. But wherever you stand, there's no denying that it can be an essential tool for marketing your work. One creative who definitely has it sussed is world-renowned artist Loish, who took to the virtual stage at last month's Vertex conference to share some invaluable tips.
With over two million Instagram followers and a hearty list of supporters on Patreon, Netherlands-based Loish is undeniably a social media sensation. Her presentation is now available to view until 27 March on the Vertex website, along with countless other fantastic talks and showcases.
Scroll down for Loish's core concepts of social media for artists, as taken from her Vertex 2021 talk: How to market yourself on social media. And if you're new to digital art, be sure to check out our best Illustrator tutorials. For more advice on social media see our article on how to make social media work for you and our essential social media tips.
01. Social media is not a portfolio
"A lot of artists like to treat social media like a portfolio," says Loish, with many hoping to get noticed "for putting great work out there". But while this is a positive thought, social media is like a "very busy square," where it's hard to get noticed – and there's a ton of people, rules and, yes, advertising. "Imagine if you just went up to a stranger in a square and gave them your art," Loish says. It probably wouldn't be the best way to promote your work.
Instead, it's best to see social media as a conversation. Plus, social media is built to show your most recent posts at the top – making it much more of a timeline than a portfolio. Therefore, much better than treating it as a showcase of your best work is to stay as active as possible, as only your recent work will get seen.
I like flamingos because they are majestic and awkward at the same time. pic.twitter.com/oNp2Zzas59February 18, 2021
02. Tone of voice
"I think tone of voice is incredibly important when it comes to social media," says Loish. "A common mistake that people make is that they post their art, and they think that just because they made it, people will like it."
But because so much is happening on social media, with so much competing content, it helps if the people you're trying to connect with are given a sense of context – of both you and your art. It's best to find your strong side, Loish suggests – which often best to hear from someone else. As long as your tone is authentic, it will help you to create a strong brand identity as an artist.
03. Micro content
For better or worse, algorithms tend to favour accounts that post regularly. "That sometimes feels antithetical to being an artist," says Loish, "because you can't create a masterpiece every single day." So how do you stay active without pushing your creativity to an unnatural level?
This is where micro content comes in. From Stories to polls asking for feedback, these are more casual 'tidbits' of content designed to fill the gaps between more finalised posts. This is not always your best art, but "fun little posts in between," which not only please the all-important algorithm, but can help to build your brand and tone of voice.
"Even though we've all heard the term engagement, it's actually hard to define," says Loish. "On different platforms, it's going to mean different things." Broadly speaking, it means how much interaction you're getting – and this is rewarded by the platform.
While it can be tempting to constantly try to grow your follower count, it can be more challenging, and effective, to encourage engagement from your existing followers. Knowing your followers (age, interests, and so on) is important, and this information is often available in analytics. "In the end, passion equals engagement," Loish says – and those who already follow you are more likely to develop a passion for your work.
The sketch The painting pic.twitter.com/2DOpeKlWRvFebruary 5, 2021
But one of the most important things to remember, says Loish, is that social media is, above all, a tool. "It's not a rating system to value how good your work is or how good you are. We often feel like the number of Likes we get is a reflection of the quality of our work or who we are. It's not. It's just a marketing tool – something separate from your abilities and who you are."
If you're looking for more social media tips, check out these 5 easy ways to transform your social media videos. And be sure to visit Vertex 2021 before 27 March for loads more incredible talks for artists, designers, animators and more.