My article on Twitter was originally published in Professional Artist Magazine, Oct/Nov 2014. It is directed toward artists and those interested in contemporary art, who don’t “get” Twitter. In 2015, the piece won an award for best feature design, so congratulations to Art Director Kristen Schaeffer-Santoni and featured artist Marie Kazalia. (I can’t share the layout, just the text.) I hope you find it helpful!
Create a Twitter Feed that Virtually Feeds You
By Vicki Krohn Amorose
The goal is not to accumulate Followers for the sake of quantity, but to accumulate people and places of interest to you as an artist in business.
I enjoy reading tweets like this one:
SOLD! The buyer really connected with my painting “The Mists”@marysart
Even if the sale of the work didn’t result directly from Twitter, this artist is tweeting a clear message of activity and success. Twitter is an important strand in the web that connects the art world. Artists use Twitter to signal to a wide audience: “I am an artist open for business.”
Twitter is my favorite social media platform; I log in and out quickly at least once a day. As an outcome of that small amount of time, I’ve expanded my reach in the global art world, made professional contacts, enjoyed exposure to new art, gathered both ideas and readers for my blog, exchanged encouraging words with hundreds of artists, reached my niche audience of professional artists and sold more books. Without a doubt, Twitter works for me, but I learned how to make it work. Artists are wonderfully adept at figuring out how to make things work, so let’s examine a few ways to make good use of Twitter.
1.) Learn the lingo of Twitter and how to scan
When I hear artists say, “I don’t get Twitter,” what they don’t get is how to scan through the tweets. Twitter is a fast-paced real-time stream of information that points you toward longer articles and more images. Use Twitter to quickly scan for information, links, opportunities and art to consume and share. Links look strange, you won’t find the usual http://www. Twitter abbreviates links automatically to give you more space to write your 140-character tweet. Links appear in color and the @ symbol tells you the source of the tweet. You can adapt quickly to the lingo and look of Twitter, but it’s important to connect with people who share your interests. Then, and only then, will your scanning reap rewards.
2. Create a Twitter feed that virtually feeds you
You shape your Twitter feed – that streaming accumulation of tweets written by the people you follow – so follow, follow, follow! It’s a simple click to Unfollow, with no hard feelings as you might anticipate on Facebook. The more Twitter accounts you follow, the more likely you are to accumulate Followers. The goal is not to accumulate Followers for the sake of quantity, but to accumulate people and places of interest to you as an artist in business. Let your Twitter feed virtually feed you.
Here’s a simple way to begin building a more nourishing Twitter feed. Follow active and informative Twitter accounts for the arts: art museums, culture journals, critics, art magazines, artist coaches, art centers and galleries. Here are some lively Twitter accounts to follow; they’ll provide you with a daily buffet table of art world goodies.
@MuseumModernArt @hyperallergic @jerrysaltz @HuffPostArts
@designtaxi @artlog @topartnews @artistaday @sfj @nytimesarts
@blick_art @googleart@artsnews @artrubicon @inspirefirst
Use the search bar to see if your art heroes are on Twitter. Also, be sure to follow all of your local arts-related Twitter accounts.
Once you’ve located and followed popular art Tweeps (people on Twitter), check out the long list of others who follow the popular account. Go ahead and follow anyone who looks interesting. Now, who do the popular art Tweeps follow? This is clearly marked as Following/Followers for every account. Searching, selecting and following will lead you to discover lots of like-minded art world people and other artists.
When you gain a Follower, follow them back, using reasonable discernment. You can Unfollow or block accounts very easily if you change your mind. Likewise, most artists and other accounts will follow you back when you follow them. The top popular accounts aren’t likely to follow you back, and that’s okay. (It is a thrill if they do, like the day Viggo Mortensen followed me back.)
You may need to dedicate a few weeks to building your Following and Followers, after that you can let it grow organically. Plus Twitter provides you with daily suggestions of accounts to follow. Soon you will accumulate a stimulating group of Tweeps to fill your Twitter feed, and the real fun begins.
3.) Tweak your tweets in 5 simple ways
Promote other artists
Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, offers this credo about using social media: “If you’re only talking about yourself, you’re doing it wrong.”
Artist Leslie Parke (@mlparke) agrees, “The most important thing you can do as an artist on social media is help promote other artists. It’s the right thing to do and it creates good will. It also makes other artists more likely to promote you.”
Artists helping other artists is an unwritten code on Twitter, an attitude I admire and encourage. The Twitterverse is expansive and we can reach far beyond our studio walls or our small towns to gain encouragement and assistance when we need it. You can be an important support for other artists, by simply Retweeting or Favoriting their tweet, or thanking someone when they Retweet you. Share announcements, accomplishments small and large, and post the dates of art openings.
Reply to tweets and spark connections
Reply to a tweeted work of art with a question or compliment. Replying directly to a tweet almost always sparks a conversation. Artist Diana Probst (@dianaprobst) adds, “Twitter has definitely introduced me to new art styles and thoughts. I get to look at work that makes me want to paint that well, then ask about it. Artists tend to share explanations.”
Use artsy hashtags
Hashtags make topics searchable on Twitter. Include hashtags like these in your tweets: #art, #watercolor, #encaustic, #followart, #oilpainting, #artist, #artwork. It is generally advised not to use more than 2 hashtags per tweet. Diana Probst created a clever hashtag to make her tweets stand out. She tweets photos of her work in progress along with the hashtag #WhatIDoAllDay. She explains, “I use it to tell people what I do and how. It keeps me on radar.”
Make yourself newsworthy
Twitter can help you become newsworthy, so if you’re tweeting about a local event, don’t forget to add a city/state hashtag! When reporters and bloggers look for local events to write about, they search for hashtags such as #Denver.
Leslie Parke shares this success story of how she gained media attention for her art group: “For a long time I was in charge of PR for a professional studio tour in our area. I was not able to break into one of the larger regional papers to cover our tour. So, on Twitter, I connected with the person who covered arts and entertainment for that paper. When I saw that he posted something, and knew that he was online and looking at Twitter, I posted several of the stories that other papers had done about us, demonstrating that we were a big serious story and he needed to be covering us. That year they covered our event.”
Include images with your tweets
I think artists make a mistake when they tweet something like, “I just posted new work on Facebook,” and then they include the Facebook link without including an image with the tweet. Why would someone leave Twitter and log onto Facebook, without any visual enticement? You don’t need to include an image with every tweet, but it certainly adds interest. You might include images of your studio, cropped sections and close-ups of art, or works in progress. Tweet images of your visits to galleries and museums.
4.) Keep your account active
People will not follow an inactive Twitter account. You’ll need to tweet several times a week. Even if you only Retweet, with one simple click, keep those tweets coming! The constant in-the-moment activity on Twitter is what drives the energy and lets other Tweeps know you’re in the game.
Here’s a tip I like to use when I’m short on time or inspiration. Instead of simply hitting the Retweet button, I modify the original tweet. Use “MT” to signify “modified tweet” and always include the source –the @. For example, Huffington Post Arts and Culture tweets this:
Swiss artists create the biggest picnic blanket you’ve ever seen http://huff.to/1qITigV
I click the link, then skim through the article and decide to share it with my Followers. I pull a short quote from one of the artists in the article and rewrite the headline. I include the original link, add “MT”, and site the source @huffpostart. Notice that I add a hashtag to the word “art.” I tweet:
Think up novel headlines for your Tweets. Consistently share useful information and updates on your activities, and you’ll receive a steady stream of new Followers.
5.) Use management tools to sharpen your Twitter focus
When you embrace Twitter as a vital marketing platform, you’ll want to look into Twitter tools and apps that are available to help you manage your Twitter account.
Artist and art marketer Marie Kazalia (@TransmediArtist) has more than one Twitter account to represent her various art business endeavors. She explains: “I use tweets to promote art—my own and others—along with uploading images to Twitter. I use TweetDeck for easy image upload and for sending tweets out from multiple Twitter accounts. My Artist Marketing Resources blog is set to auto-post a new tweet, with the link, when I publish a new article. I post new articles 6 times or more per week. Then I also share the article again, during key times such as 8 a.m. and again at noon. These tweets bring readers to my blog. I check my blog stats and watch the numbers soar.”
Marie mentioned the tool TweetDeck. Other useful management tools include Unfollowers.me, Current.ly, Just Unfollow, HootSuite, and many more. Fliplingo is a Twitter management tool that helps you tweet in multiple languages, reminding us that the art world is global and accessible. When searching for recommendations and features of these Twitter tools, type the current year into the search engine so you’re not reading outdated reviews. These tools and apps are inexpensive and usually sold by yearly subscriptions. They are particularly useful for automating and scheduling your tweets, sorting your Followers, and efficiently using Twitter for a marketing or crowd-funding campaign.
You can easily link one social media platform to another, and many artists do this in order to maximize their potential reach. As Marie Kazalia explains, “I have my Pinterest account connected to one of my Twitter accounts, so my art pins routinely appear in my Twitter feed as images, and I’ve had several top Blue Chip galleries favorite certain Pinterest tweets. Also, I started my own Twitter thread #artistmarket, and I Retweet artist’s tweets when they use that hashtag.”
To explain, a Twitter thread is a popular hashtag; many appear and disappear in the “Trends” box on your Twitter Home page. When #art, #followart, or something similar is trending, jump in the conversation and see who else is using the thread.
Marie summarizes, “In short, I find Twitter to be a valuable line out to new connections, to bring in readers and buyers, and build my online presence and reputation.” I agree. Every artist mentioned in this article is someone I met through Twitter. After a few friendly exchanges over the past year, I reached out to them for their ideas to make this article more helpful to you. The art world goes round and round, and Twitter helps it spin.
If you need to review the basics of Twitter, read more at Discover Twitter https://about.twitter.com/what-is-twitter/story-of-a-tweet