With over 350 million monthly active users, Twitter is used by many artists to sell their work. Learn how the best approach tweeting today.
With a focus on conversations and over 350 million monthly active users, Twitter is a social media platform used by many artists to promote their work. Launched in 2006 as a simple text message sharing app, in 2021, the platform offers a range of features.
There are two ways to grow your profile as an artist and attract interested buyers for your art; through hard work or through paying for Twitter ads. We’ll assume that you lack the latter’s budget and have the time to spend on the former.
Forget about trying to game, trick, or hack Twitter. Many of the strategies you have heard about no longer work. Nowadays, the platform is monitored by sophisticated systems that automatically detect and punish such behaviors. Instead, align your behavior with Twitter’s interests. This way, its algorithms will increasingly favor your content, and you will reach a growing number of people in your target audience.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and if you go through them to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision on whether or not you decide to buy something is entirely up to you.
While Twitter can be used for many purposes, it is designed for sharing news and discussing it. For this reason, it is possible to tweet without any accompanying visual element such as a photo, gif, or video. Many users tweet text-only and get massive organic reach.
As an artist, showing off your artwork is a priority, but your fans also want to know you. Below are some general guidelines.
- Length: Tweets can be up to 280 characters long. This count includes standard text, hashtags, usernames, emojis, and links. Each link will count for 23 characters regardless of its original length.
- Positioning: If your goal is to sell your art, focus your account’s overall theme around that. If you sporadically rant about politics or share your breakfast, that might be a turn-off for some followers.
- Tone: Unlike Instagram, where the text comes after/under the visual, the text comes first on Twitter. To avoid misunderstandings and trouble, it’s best to keep your tone positive, supportive, and helpful.
- Language: Many users are distracted and not paying close attention. Furthermore, for many, English is their second language. So, avoid being overly clever. Use simple language and avoid expressions or references that only a particular crowd would understand.
- Intent: It’s a natural impulse to want to push people to buy your artworks, but resist this because it will usually backfire. Twitter is flooded with artists trying to do this. Instead, focus on adding value to conversations and building relationships. As a general rule, it’s best to let people find your online store(s) via your bio link when they’re ready.
- Mentions: Like other platforms, Twitter allows mentioning users by adding their username with the @ symbol before it. Typical scenarios might include giving credit to persons or companies who provided something relevant to the post. Alternatively, you might tag someone whose attention you want to get. However, this should be done sparingly to get annoyed and flag your post as spam.
Twitter allows the sharing of still images, looping animations, and videos. We can refer to them as “visuals.” When planning what visuals to post, the obvious route is to find the most successful accounts in our niche and emulate their style. Another is to do something unique that will stand out and attract word-of-mouth recommendations among our target audience.
On Twitter, we are competing with the best visual content creators in the world. While production quality can give an advantage, success on Twitter is all about how our content makes people feel.
If you have somewhere online where you publish your art, one option is to tweet an announcement about your latest release and refer people to follow the link. However, keep in mind that most Twitter users prefer to stay on the Twitter website or app rather than venture out to an external site. For this reason, it is best to publish your art “natively” to Twitter in one form or another. Then, you can provide a link for those interested in taking the next step, such as purchasing prints, printables, or bidding on an NFT.
It is possible to select up to four images to be shared with a single tweet. In the photography genre, it is common to see tweets by top accounts that include four photos.
Aspect Ratios & Automated Cropping
- Remember that most people access Twitter via mobile devices and seldom click/tap to see full-size images.
- Twitter may collapse your image so that it fits in the stream. AI is used to find the optimal preview crop for each image, but sometimes it does a poor job.
- Typically, horizontal/wide images with a 16:9 aspect ratio are favored for tweets.
- Experiment and check how your tweets look on both desktop and mobile.
- Twitter account holders with more than 1,000 followers often use private accounts for testing before tweeting publicly.
To show a sequence of still images, one option is to use an animated slideshow video maker such as Animoto or Magisto. This way, the movement will catch people’s eyes as they scroll through their feed, and they don’t need to do the manual work of swiping through four images. However, keep in mind that most users will have the sound turned off by default.
It's easy to miss, but taking the time to fill in the alt-text field for all tweets may help search discoverability.
On Instagram, it is common to use up to 30 hashtags. Since the caption comes after the visual, and the hashtags can be added at the very end, they don’t stand out so much. Some users place hashtags in the first comment. This works fine on Instagram because of the way the user interface is designed.
However, the hashtags will remain in plain sight on Twitter because the caption comes first, and “hiding” them in the first comment doesn’t work. Thus, using more than three hashtags often results in a tweet looking spammy. Using hashtags mid-sentence can affect readability. We suggest using no more than two hashtags per tweet. Ensure they are relevant and place them at the end of your tweet.
Twitter allows users to search for tweets by users near them. Thus, adding the location will enable your tweets to be discovered by people near you. You don’t need to pinpoint your exact location. You can just mention the city.
- Frequency: Unlike other platforms, Twitter is all about what is happening now, and some popular artists tweet throughout the day.
- Quality: Favor quality over quantity and use Twitter to add value to other users.
- Consistency: Try to find a regular schedule that is sustainable. For example, rather than blasting out thirty tweets in one day and then going silent for a month, it would be better to tweet once a day. Ideally, you want to be active daily.
- Tools: There are several tools available to prepare tweets, preview how they will look, and automatically tweet at a scheduled time. Buffer and Hootsuite are popular third-party tools. Tweetdeck is free and made by Twitter.
- Outreach: The great thing about Twitter is that you can jump into any conversation. As long as you are helpful, respectful, and adding value somehow, it can lead to gaining new followers. Some tools will automatically Like, Comment, or Follow according to specific keywords or hashtags. However, it would be best to avoid these because they often result in tone-deaf interactions that do more harm than good to your online persona. Furthermore, Twitter monitors for such activity. If they detect it, your account may be penalized or even banned.
- Following & Retweeting: Find artists that create similar work to yours. Follow them and retweet their works. Over time, this will get noticed and position you as part of the community. Furthermore, it signals to Twitter’s AI that your account is in the same genre and makes it easier to recommend to other Twitter users.
- Engagement: Twitter determines the value of a post by how much engagement it gets. It is recommended to reply to all positive comments. If a comment doesn’t warrant a specific reply, just Like it. If you receive any abuse or spam, go ahead and report this to Twitter. You can also block such users. This helps you stay focused on your community. Avoid getting into disagreements, debates, and arguments. It’s not worth it. Focus on supporting and encouraging those who deserve it.
Ready to Tweet?
Not everybody loves Twitter or believes it to be ideal for showcasing art. However, it has become so popular that artists are expected to have a strong presence on the platform.
The best way to learn is to first study the most successful accounts in your niche and then practice what you know. Rinse and repeat.
Twitter likely won’t remain popular forever (remember MySpace?). So, it would be best if you diversified your online presence across the top platforms that fit your brand and target audience.
Want more? Get Your: