Social Media Etiquette for the Art Professional (5 tips)

No one likes to be told what to do. I ordinarily hate when people give me unsolicited advice but sometimes, we have to listen. I'm certainly not in the business of changing minds or forcing opinions on anyone - it's not my style. The only desire I have is to inspire and encourage anyone who's walking down the same challenging path.  That being said, let's take a moment to talk about your art business presence on social media. 

The one major mistake I see fellow artists making is complaining about their private lives or worse, discussing the taboo subject of politics with a vicious and unapologetic nature on social media. Really? You want to go there as a professional? You want to alienate potential clients, business partners or students by exposing your personal affairs or beliefs on social media? You might be angry that I'm suggesting that you conduct yourself professionally on Facebook and that's fine. You can take this advice or you can lose money and valuable connections by continuing to turn people off. It's entirely your choice. But remember, if your looking to promote yourself and garner positive attention, you'll not achieve that goal by causing people to roll their eyes as they scroll through your posts. If you want to have a successful business presence on the web there are certain rules of decorum you should adhere to.

1. Don't air your dirty laundry on social media.  I know it's all too enticing to share your problems with your friends but certain things should remain private.  If you're an artist doing business on social media there is a good chance you have potential collectors, potential galleries and many other colleagues in the art business receiving your feeds each day.  We all work so hard to put our best foot forward creating new art, posting our accomplishments, new articles and reviews on our work.  Do you think that someone wants to hear what a jerk your husband was for not putting down the toilet seat?  Don't turn people off.  Keep your dirty laundry where it belongs - in the washer, not on Facebook.

2. Political rants, they aren't worth it.  Let's face it; we're in a crazy election year and people are passionate and becoming irrational. I’ve seen well-known artists demean colleagues over pretty bland comments on their political posts. I was left dumbfounded and quickly lost respect for them – not because of their political ideology but for their lack of class and restraint. To call someone stupid for expressing his or her opinion is a sign of weakness. A reserved and intelligent individual takes responsibility for provoking a heated debate and refrains from shaming a person for reacting. Trust me, no one has ever changed my political views on Facebook. There’s a great way to avoid such uncomfortable and career damning errors – stay away from commenting on the political environment.

3. Be mindful of how you present yourself. If you’re a college student looking to show off their beach body in hopes of attracting a mate, by all means, post away. If you’re a professional looking to attract clients, please reconsider posting pictures of yourself scantily clad, puking in a gutter or worse, any lewd shots that are cringe worthy. No one of value is interested let alone a potential client who wants to employ your services. Please, for the sake of your professional reputation, save your sexy pictures and documentation of your drunken nights for personal, private pages.

4. Try your best not to be reactive to negative comments. This is by far, the hardest thing for anyone with even the slightest ego to do – trust me. There were times when I simply posted a new painting and nowhere to lie; I elicited some really hurtful, mean-spirited responses. Some individuals even felt the need to demean me personally. My first reaction is always the same; I want to tell these cowards with their internet muscles where to go. But, I practice self-control. There is no reason or personal gain from engaging – in the end; it only makes you appear weak and unconfident. If you’re going to put yourself out there, expect to hear nasty remarks from people who don’t have anything better to do than troll walls and start verbal wars. Trust me, take a breath and move on.

5. Practice self-control – or as I like to call it, keep scrolling on. Social media is brimming with hypochondriacs, narcissists, exhibitionists and know-it-alls who love to junk up your newsfeed with utter nonsense. How many times have we all been tempted to go crazy and pop one of these individuals bubble? I know I have. But again, you’re trying to maintain a level of professionalism and appear approachable. If one of your clients sees you flipping out on Aunt Sally about constantly posting her vacations photos, you look bad – not Aunt Sally.

In the end, you can chose to either create a solid, professional media presence or cave into the maddening, irrational vortex of social media. You can either attract gallery opportunities, potential collectors and colleagues who’ll support you or, you can attract a bad reputation and repel business. I may have pissed you off, brought up sensitive topics or hurt your feelings – but it certainly wasn’t my intention. I want to see you succeed and to be mindful of how others view you and your talent. You can be the world's most magnificent painter but if you present yourself poorly, no one will want to patron you. Be smart and practice self-control.