This last week, just for fun, and to see how many people I could reach, I offered a free online virtual art show (HERE). I created the show, and included a free downloadable print as a thank-you gift for coming to see the show.
My plan was 4-fold:
1. Email my newsletter list of almost 5000 people, plus every last personal-friend and family kind of person I could think of – about 250 people – about the show and to ask them to pass the news to their friends and families.
2. Make posts with images of the show (like the one above) on my Facebook Art and personal profile pages to invite people to the show.
3. Buy Facebook ads to get people to the show.
4. Ask people to share my show with their friends.
MADE OOPSes – DECENT RESULTS ANYWAY
I made a couple of major mistakes, but overall it worked quite well – out of the 3700+ people on my Facebook friends list, I had a number of shares, over 150 ‘likes’ on Facebook, and a reach of almost 1400 people. The emails weren’t even close to being so successful.
In this age of massive technological stimulation, it has, on the one hand, become easier to show images of artwork, and on the other, even harder than ever to spread the word about one’s work because of that same massive electronic stimulation.
The email campaign went over like a lead balloon – maybe 9 people in all emailed me back with any comments at all; and my website stats showed no evidence to prove they even came to the show, never mind opened my emails.
Out of 16 family members emailed, one responded. Thanks, fam, nice to see you care. Forget that group for the next campaign!
#1 BIG MISTAKE
My #1 mistake was to not be absolutely clear that it was an exhibition, a show, not a sale, and that I was campaigning to get more people just to see the work.
I think people assumed it was an attempt to get them to buy. People don’t respond well to push marketing, and I’ll bet anything this was taken like that because I didn’t specifically say, Free Exhibition or something like that.
Plus I think they assumed I wanted them to be good little salesmen to their friends by asking them to share my posts. That wasn’t the case, but…well, you’ll see the results in a minute.
It was an interesting thing to watch – when I first announced the show was coming up, there was a LOT of excitement for 3 whole days – kind of a record on Facebook, where now-I-see-it, the-next-minute-I’m-attracted-to-something-else is the name of the game.
Then, when I opened the show and asked people to share with their Facebook friends, they disappeared like water down a drain! It was amazing!
To say the least, I was really disappointed, but I kept announcing the show every 2 hours during the afternoons and evenings in my time zone.
Eventually, there were 18 people who responded and shared. Out of a reach of 3600+ FB and 5000+ email contacts, that’s rather pathetic. But it was a beginning, and I learned from it.
AN INCREDIBLE REACH, ANYWAY
However, there was a recorded ‘reach’ of close to 1400 people through Facebook, which was a phenomenal success – out of 3600+ people, I’d have expected about 500.
We have become so wary – we’re inundated with over 5000+ ads a DAY, so we have mental ad-barriers come up every time anyone makes the slightest move towards showing us something. I know I do. So to not clarify that I simply wanted a lot of people to come see the new work was a major mistake.
When I do have a sale or a show, I need to make my intentions very clear. I also need to send my sales announcements only to people I know who really care and would either buy or recommend my work to friends.
The second mistake I made was not being able to track who shared the posts well.
On the 2nd day of the campaign, I started using a hashtag (#) in my requests to pass along the announcements in their Facebook posts, but I think I missed some of the people previous to that.
Consequently, the numbers are probably pretty skewed as to who really shared.
I offered a prize for whoever shared the most with their friends – I created a really nice one-year wall calendar (value $20), plus I added one of my sculpture ebooks (valued at $19.95 as ebook, and $32 in print).
I like surprises, so I surprised the other people who shared by giving them access to another one of my ebooks as a thank you gift. 99% of them were grateful and excited about it, and really liked the book.
One person wrote an enthusiastic reply of, “thanks.” Mmm. I guess there will always be a wet blanket in any group.
Next time, I’ll use an app or a professional contest organizer – counting posts and trying to see who shared was pretty annoying because it was so inconclusive. There are people who can do that far better than I can and I ought to have used that outside resource.
The most interesting thing came at the very end, AFTER I announced that the promotion was over: I added a totally on-the-spur-of-the-moment video I shot of my messy studio, saying it was time to clean it up and get back to painting again.
I had had to move all my paintings out of the studio a couple of weeks before to get them out of danger when 2 hurricanes were supposedly going to hit. They never did, and when I moved my paintings back to my studio, they ended up in piles in every corner.
When the video went up on my Facebook page, a sudden spike occurred in the stats, and an additional 500+ people were reached, with more likes than ever. Go figure.
I guess the claim that videos are top marketing tools is true!
In all, I consider the campaign a success.
Maybe if I were to look at it as a sales attempt, it would be a near zero, but as far as getting more eyeballs, it worked great. I did get one little sale of a print of one of the pieces. (Thank you, my friend Malinda!)
Next time I’ll be really clear what my intent for the campaign is; I will make it easier to share and to track the people who do share; and I’ll have prizes people can really jump up and down about (if I do offer prizes).
If you were one of the people who so generously shared my show with your friends, please know how much it means to me.
I’ve been a hermit most of my life, and getting out of my cozy little studio – even to have my exhibition online – is a big deal to me.
My artwork doesn’t argue with me or confront me with unsolvable political or social issues that make my stomach churn, or demand that I dress up in stiff uncomfortable clothing or fly thousands of miles just to show my work – I’m nice and safe in here, and I don’t much like to leave!
My paintings and carvings are like extensions of my soul, and to have them on exhibit is completely nerve-wracking to me.
It used to be that one little word against them felt like my whole world dissolved. So to put my new work out on walls and have swarms of people milling around it all feels potentially pretty dangerous.
I’ve gotten a whole lot better about having a thicker skin, but it still hurts when it seems like my work isn’t appreciated.
So to have your kind, loving appreciation and support is really, really special. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.