SOCIALMEDIAART 240x180 The Art Of Social Business. Social Media Ideas For Artists, Art Shows and Art Galleries.Are you an artist who is having a tough time putting brush to canvas when it comes to using social media to help your business succeed? It was a stroke of luck that I happened on to the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show in Philadelphia this past weekend (since I was in Philadelphia for Philly Beer Week /#PBW2013). My big take-away for this event, aside from $400 in original artwork from Dave Bruner at, was that artists are in a social business. However, most of these artists seem to be not so good at promoting their business. Even worse, none of the 143 exhibiting artists integrated social media into the mix. They missed out on an incredible opportunity to let others evangelize their work and let others work for them after the show!

We all know that art is in the eye of the beholder. However, cash is in the hand of the potential buyer. So, should the 200,000 US-based fine artists and their ecosystem run like a business? First Research states there are close to 5,000 art dealers and galleries that generate about $6 billion and the overall global art business generate over $15 billion annually as stated by the Art Market Monitor. So, yes! I’d say that the art business is a real business and artists need to work like a well-oiled operation and … social media are a part of that operation. They have bills to pay too, right?

5 Big Social Business Mistakes I Found At the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show … That Can Easily Be Painted As Opportunities

As I perused the paintings, etchings (yes, I finally discovered what an etching was!) and mixed media offerings I found five key opportunities that each artist needs to pause and consider to sell more art. Integrating social media into your business will make it easier for your fans to spread the word to their friends and family of your work. And THAT viral message will help you sell more work!

  • Use Hashtags To Be A Part Of The Social Conversation. Every art showing or event like the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show is very social. Using a hashtag will connect you or event and will help you amplify your message! Let’s think of the application of hash tags. Smartphone photos + artwork + hashtags = free viral promotion. Artists should relax about fans taking a cell-phone picture of their work. No one is going to reproduce this work from a less-than-ideal setting. If a fan snaps a smart phone picture of your exhibition booth or a favorite piece of work, they are probably going to post it on a social media site. So, if you promote a hashtag that can be added to their post you then you will be associated with it. You are then letting someone else do your marketing for you! No marketing bill there! Yes, I know that this is the Philly Beer Week hash tag. That’s what got me to Philadelphia in the first place!

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  • Use On-site Social Call-outs. Remember, art lovers and patrons are consumers and want to understand how to continue the art conversation with you and others. Not everyone is going to buy your work when you are the first booth they visit in a 143-artist show. Social media, not email or websites, is a preferred way to make that dialogue happens on the buyer’s terms. By extending the art conversations after the purchase or during post-show consideration, you have an opportunity to make more sales. Do you know how many artists asked me “Do you own any of my pieces?” Also, kudos to 3 of the 143 exhibiting artists who displayed a QR code at their booth! Some advice … drive ‘scanners’ to a special landing page that connects their attendance to the event, even giving a special offer.

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  • Check In With Foursquare. Foursquare is THE location-based service (LBS) application that drives local event awareness, reaching friends of those who attend and check in. With 33 million Foursquare users, this geo-based social platform will help drive extra visits to your event. If you are an artist and will be attending a show, ask about the event’s Foursquare strategy. You should expect an official check-in selection and at the minimum a call-to-action message to drive incremental attendance from each show that you attend.

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  • Integrate Social Media Channels Into Promotional Hand-outs. No questions asked, artist businesses need to be on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and a blog. Each channel has a separate role to meet with the client on their terms. These social media channels are essential client follow-up:
  1. Pinterest and Instagram help to reach the crowd who’s searching and engaged with the ‘visual’. Imagine hash-tagging your Philadelphia-themed painting with #Philadelphia #art and then having someone inquiring about purchasing it. Yes, it happens!
  2. Blogging drives web site traffic since fans and prospects will find you based on Google searches and blog post syndication.
  3. Facebook is a great venue to build your social community. However, only 5-15% of your Facebook messaging ever gets out to your followers. This limited distribution cannot be counted on to drive your business or messaging. For instance, the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show’s Facebook page promotion probably only reached between 34 and 103 people.
  4. Twitter lets you connect with influencers, who will let others know about your work and shows. Twitter also lets you have a great conversation with followers and non-followers.
  • Make Sure You Have Updated And Correct Information. Artists work so hard to make their business work. Many artists and association site are making critical errors on their handouts and on-site presence. For instance, one artist I researched at the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show had a Twitter icon on their site, and it linked to an account that was not even theirs. That same artist had a Facebook icon that linked to my account! Remember, do it yourself marketing can cost more than you imagine!

Are you an artist that strategically integrates social media into your business? If so, please comment below and share your success! Or contact me directly at or on Twitter @GerryMoran.

Whether you are an artist, an art gallery or event a small business that has nothing to do with art, I urge you to look to integrate social media into your business and become a social business to help you amplify your art’s and your business’. That social business approach will help you paint with a little more green … and pay the bills a little quicker!