Artists sharing on social media is getting harder.

Dear Artists, Social Media is NOT on Your Side.

Art and Business

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to promote my work online. Now that I think about it, I’ve been at this for 20 years. Like most creatives, I’m not a natural marketer. It’s a skill I’ve had to learn over time. I think anyone can get better at it. You just need to put in a little effort and some trial and error. After all this time I can tell you one thing I’ve discovered. Dear Artists, Social Media is not on your side.

Part of the struggle is that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc are always changing. The way content is suggested or displayed gets tweaked. And all the while the mysterious algorithms are processing and presenting what they “think” users are looking for. I’m sure it’s all more complicated than most of us even know.

In a simple world it would be as easy as a person signing up for your Facebook page and every time you posted they would see what you have to say.

Unfortunately, the way it actually works is this: Say I have 1.5k followers who hit the like button on my artist page. I post brand new content. What follows are single-digit interactions. When I “boost” a post and turn it into an ad, it shows the post around a bit, but interaction is still low.

Now, if the content was just pure crap, I could understand. How do I know this isn’t the case? Consistent crap content from a page would result in people unfollowing, making (rude) comments, etc. And people would have to, you know, actually see the content to roast it.

When you have decent number followers, but very disproportionate low views, then your content just isn’t getting shared by the platform. I’ve talked to lots of creators. Some with hundreds of thousands of followers. Others with a few thousand. Lots just getting started. All of us have noticed.

So what’s the solution? I think we had it right 20 years ago. The website you own (like this one!) and the people who like your work who sign up for your mailing list (like mine!). The most effective way is direct contact with your audience on a platform you own. Not someone else’s sandbox.

Keep using social media. But treat them as outposts on shifting sands.

More: Watch my social media for artists rant on YouTube:

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