Social Media Frustrations

Like, I have some. I seriously have some.

Pay homage to Her Highness the Monk Queen. She is available as of this writing.

It’s been a hard month, November. My husband had skin cancer on the end of his nose, the second schnozzal skin cancer of the year. The first one wasn’t that big of a deal, but this one was much more involved and requires two surgeries. He has been pretty down about it, and I’ve been unable to be as spoiled as he usually makes me. As you can see my part in the misery is mostly self-serving. (I love the guy. I’m doing my best to be nearly as good at taking care of him as he is at taking care of me. But he’s better at it.)

This has impacted my artwork life (and I’m fine with that. That’s the deal we have going here in this marriage situation). I went through a phase not long ago when for months I painted for several hours a day, completing commission after commission and dozens of small daily paintings, and a few larger more whimsical paintings. My mood was pure peace and contentment. I was taking baby steps in the direction of artistic success and fulfillment. So this is a mere bump in the road.

Its amazing how a thing that the doctor describes as “not too bad” can upset all your best laid plans and habits. It has been a big deal.

At the same time as all of that stuff in italics, Facebook and Instagram kicked me out. The first thing I did was really look at what, if any, good those Meta accounts did me.

It turns out Instagram was doing basically nothing for my business. It is supposed to be THE art marketing platform for artists. It’s all visual and junk. But around the time I joined they were changing the parts of Insta they pushed (namely they went from photos to reels). This meant that for me to get any traction, I thought, I had to make reels. I started making reels. I made a reel almost every day. And by the time I reached approximately 1,736 followers, I just couldn’t get any more. For the last many months I was on the platform I was stuck at the same number of followers. I was within 10 followers of that number for months, even with paid ads.

The mantra when something is not working on social media is, “They changed their algorithm”. I have no idea if they changed it, all I know is that I couldn’t get my account to grow. I spent way too much money on ads that did nothing for me. And I spent too much time on making reels that did squat.

I only sold one painting through Instagram over the course of 2 years of active posting. How is it that I kept doing it for that long? They call it vanity metrics. I was focusing so much on how many damn followers I had that I didn’t really notice that I was doing all that self-promotion for nothing. I was trained as a behavior analyst. In the experimental psychology world, it’s called reinforcement. Positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement through contingent social contingencies. (Don’t worry. There won’t be a quiz.)

I have an artist friend on Instagram that has almost entirely left Instagram in favor of fairs and art markets. She used to make most of her sales through the platform, and now she can’t even get people to like her stuff. Another artist friend has over 70,000 followers, but she said her page has become stagnant. Her views are down, her likes are down, and her followers are staying roughly the same. She’s staying because she still reaches enough of her large audience to make sales, but she is discouraged and concerned.

What I really missed during my time out of Instagram was following other artists. I love seeing their work, learning about their projects, and being inspired, so I’m happy to be back on there, I just know that it may not last, so I’m trying to enjoy it while I can. And I’m not counting on it as a business magnet.

I did way better on Facebook, but not through my business page. I made most of my sales through my personal timeline. I had about 2,500 friends on my old account that lasted from 2008-2022. Most of them were from past interests I’d been involved in, and the rest were friends of friends (of friends, and so forth). All I did was post pictures of what I was working on and people contacted me and asked if it was for sale, or asked me to do something for them. For two years, between Facebook and word of mouth from people on Facebook, my fledgling art business was growing this way. Facebook was opposed to selling from personal accounts for most of its existence, but now they’ve added the Professional mode for personal accounts. They say its goal is to entice more individual creators to promote themselves, so I guess they got over it. The thing is, after what happened to my old account, I’m wary. I know from personal experience that they can rip it out from under our feet whenever they want to. As artists we cannot depend on any social media platform, unless we own it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t own one.

The clients I have lined up right now are people I got when I offered the Name Your Own Price Deal on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I am behind on those paintings due to the husband’s surgery situation, but fortunately everyone seems happy to wait. So, Facebook is the frontrunner. I’m hoping that with some new stuff it’s rolled out lately it will help a lot of artists, but I just flat don’t trust it.

So, what about Tiktok? Tiktok is fun. There’s a lot of crazy, funny stuff on there, the usual cat videos, and some inspirational stuff. People respond to it when I post my art. But once again, the big frustration is that even with the attention I get on TikTok (trust me, they love a bawdy old woman who curses like a punk rocker – and dutifully bleeps it out), I don’t get customers from there. At least I haven’t yet. Basically I can get away with calling time spent on Instagram “research”, but time spent on TikTok is really just play time. You can follow me on Tiktok at @kellieyellow. And yeah, TikTok has been known to give users the boot, too, although from my limited vantage point it doesn’t seem to be nearly as common as with Facebook.

I have been able to create new Meta accounts, but from personal experience I know they’re not reliable. I may get one or two likes on Instagram for the same exact posts that on TikTok reach 300-500 people and get 40-50 likes. I understand that this is not Influencer level attention by any stretch, but it’s entertaining. And it’s only entertainment so far. It’s not selling any artwork. At this point I only consider Instagram a way to follow other artists. I don’t truly expect it to start working for small creators like me, and if it does, I know they can take it away or change it at any time. (Follow me at Kellie Snider on Facebook, and Artist Kellie Snider on Instagram.)

So, the lessons here are:

Thing 1: No matter what you do, life will periodically be a jerk and make everything harder for a while. It just will. There’s no point in wallowing in it, you just have to know it will happen so it doesn’t side swipe you when it burns rubber in your damn front yard. And it will divot your personal lawn once in a while.

Thing 2: While I did cheat and use social media (my new tiny baby Facebook account) to ask people to join my mailing list, I have a nice line-up of work for the next few months due to the Name Your Own Price offer, and I have some new people following my blog. Those are my people.

Thing 3: I’ve still got to get a bigger off-Social audience. Social media is fun, and it’s socially rewarding, but it’s not working as a business tool for many people. (Please tell Facebook that I was their biggest fan before they started putting me in jail and ultimately kicked me out! I’m not their biggest fan any more.) But since they can’t tell the difference between a cat pushing a bowl off a countertop and inciting violence, we probably won’t be all that close again.

Onward and Upward,

Aunt Kellie

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