Social Media Strategies for the Artist: How I Use Social Media

Self-development

Updated: January, 2020

As of this writing, there are four places that I post my work: this website, Instagram, Facebook and to my email list.

I don’t like any social media platform much, and I use them for different purposes. I’m writing this post so I have something to refer people to when they ask how to keep up with new output.

My email list and website get my favorite works. They are the only places where I can post what I want free of censorship. I shopped around for a web host and settled on Dreamhost because they had the loosest “Terms of Service” among the 5 hosts that I evaluated. Basically, anything that is not against the law is fair game, according to their TOS.

For NSFW stuff, I’ll usually make a quick blog post and link to it in my monthly emails. I do this so people don’t open my email at work and have NSFW stuff pop up on their computer. But some pictures of T&A occasionally sneak into the email if I’m pressed for time.

Email list

If you do one thing to follow me, then please join my email list. I send mailings no more than once per month. Social media “community standards” are constantly shifting. Every now and then, the big social companies tighten down on their guidelines and they will shadow ban artists who post risqué and provocative content.

Theoretically, I could spend years building an audience on a big social platform, and then have them shaft me when they get a bug up their ass to retroactively enforce new milquetoast standards. I’ve seen this happen to other excellent artists.

I’ve responded to this by toning down the things that I post to social media because I do have an outlet that I control, so I may as well use it.

Bottom line is if you like my work, then get on the email list. Click the link now and sign up. It’s painless!

This website

Everything I wrote about the email list also applies to this website. Although, I am always behind schedule in updating this site, so it doesn’t change often. Your best play is to just join the email list and I’ll mention when the website is updated.

Instagram

Of all platforms, I am most active on Instagram. I post there several times per week. I do find Instagram helpful to scout for models to work with, and get inspiration from top-tier photographers and other artists.

Instagram drawbacks:

  • You’re looking at a tiny picture on a 3″ phone screen.
  • Racism against vertical compositions; they only allow square photos and horizontal photos. Yes you can do a 4×5 vertical, but that’s practically a square. Please don’t split hairs.
  • Instagram is engineered to put its users into a zombie-like trance. And zombies are unlikely to appreciate fine art.
  • Censorship / banning / shadow banning accounts due to subject matter.

Instagram accounts to follow

These are photographers whose work I love, who are currently shadowbanned. In other words, you’d never find them through the app unless you went looking for them specifically. Check them out and give them a follow if you like what you see:

3 great photographers who are a hair’s breadth away from being banned from Instagram! How would you find them if I didn’t mention them here? Will they even be on Instagram a year from now? Hopefully you get my point.

Facebook

I post to facebook if I do shots at a public event, or if I work with someone with a facebook presence. Facebook’s advantage is that it allows for easy sharing == more exposure for me. So if I post to facebook, and the person in the picture re-shares the post, then that gets my work out there via word-of-mouse. For abstract and more experimental work, facebook is useless to me.

Facebook drawbacks

  • It sucks.

Quick reference chart comparing media distribution

WebsiteMailing listInstagramFacebook
Frequent Updatesxxxxxxx
Free of Censorshipxxxxxxx
Friendly to a variety of artistic stylesxxxxxxxx
Controlled by artistsxxxxxx
Controlled by Silicon Valley dweebs, and beholden to their whimsxxxxxx

Conclusion

I’ve dabbled with a variety of platforms, some of which I’ve since abandoned, like Flickr and Steem. I try to optimize the balance between artistic integrity, and also getting my work in front of people who appreciate it.

Working creative people often bitch about social media community standards or being put in Instagram jail due to an algorithm’s decision: check the #freethenipple hashtag and you’ll see a ton of examples. They also complain about how the social media sites will bury your content and not show it to anyone unless you pay them advertising money.

Rather than whine about it, I decided to follow the strategy outlined in this post. Social media companies are not about artistic integrity; they are about making money for investors. As they try to grow and expand into other parts of the world, with more conservative social standards than Europe or the USA have, I expect that they will get even more restrictive.

I understand that the game they play puts the artists’ needs at the bottom of their concerns. Rather than complain about this, it makes more sense to me to play a different game.

What do you think? Questions for discussion:

  • As a consumer, what is your personal method to discover new content?
  • As an artist, how do you get your work noticed? Does it work?

Photo credit: David Mark via pixabay.com

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