Commercial galleries make a living out of their sales, so to maximize their sources of income, they must also increase their publicity and visibility. This can also be achieved with a more substantial online presence, especially since the covid pandemic situation has significantly changed online sales and art buying habits.

Change in art buying habits

According to Hiscox's1 latest online art trade survey, online art sales have soared during the pandemic from 4.8% in 2019 to 64% in 2020, just as auction houses are also experiencing solid online growth. Some of them broadcast their auctions in more and more places online, not only on the traditional website but also on their Instagram page, for example, in Sotheby's case. Customer trust is also increasing. More than half (53%) of online art buyers surveyed in 2022 said that the pandemic and the online migration of the art market increased their confidence in online purchases of art and collectibles. In 2020 this was almost 11% less. A new generation of art buyers has appeared. Three out of ten young collectors bought their first work of art online, compared to 14% in 2020. A new generation of buyers has emerged, many of whom have never ventured into galleries or auction houses. For many, the online art market and its social media form are a bridge to galleries.

A gallery's presence on social media can be helpful in several ways. As mentioned in the study above, online art purchases have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years as a new generation of art buyers has appeared. Therefore, the gallery's online presence on several platforms increases the chance that a new buyer, collector, or even an artist will discover the gallery for themselves. More extensive visibility will generate more collaborations and sales. The presence of artists can also be significant from the gallery's point of view, especially if it is a gallery that collects contemporary pieces. In this way, the gallery not only gives others a chance to get in touch with them, but they can also embark on the path of online discovery and search for up-and-coming, talented artists on these platforms, even establishing a future collaboration.

Digital thinking is thus inevitable for most businesses, just as it is for galleries, which they should include in their marketing strategy. Of course, to achieve the desired result, it is also essential to develop an effective plan with the help of professionals, including using social media. Here are some tips on getting started quickly and cost-effectively.

Increasing awareness and media presence. The key lies in the communication strategy

Online sales take place where the audience is. Therefore, the gallery should appear on the most popular social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and some have already started to appear on TikTok. These platforms allow discovery, selling, buying, and promotion. Not only in the case of individual works of art but exhibitions, publications, art fairs, and artists are also promoted worldwide. For the goal, i.e. increasing awareness and media presence, to be successful, the gallery needs to develop a strong communication strategy and follow the current social media trends. Thus, it is worth using the help of a colleague who is up-to-date with current trends, which can even give you an advantage over your competitors. When it comes to gallery communication, continuity is essential so followers can learn first-hand about new artworks and upcoming events. It is not enough to post every month or every two weeks. It would help if you strived for activity at least weekly, preferably several times a week.

Furthermore, you should keep in mind that the message should be interesting, informative, and at the same time, easy to consume. Not only for the domestic but also for the international audience so that the message reaches them. In light of this, it is worthwhile to use social media in your mother language and in English. The posts, pictures, and videos must reflect the gallery's image, professionalism, represented values , and profile. If followers see an authentic, aesthetic image, they will trust you more quickly and will be more likely to buy from the gallery or visit its events. Sophisticated posts are also necessary because they can serve a kind of educational purpose. The enhancement of the cultural experience also extends to the virtual space so that the potential customer or interested visitor spends quality time with the gallery beyond the walls of the gallery.

Make your profile stand out from the crowd with social media features

It is advisable to be present on several platforms simultaneously and to connect them, to enable visitors to navigate quickly and easily from the Facebook page to Instagram, or from the Instagram page to a more traditional form of contacts, such as email or phone. Although they are all useful, different platforms have different capabilities, and we should take advantage of the opportunities through various functions. Instagram, for example, is introducing more and more functions, and in some aspects, it may offer the most, but at the same time, some age groups belong to the Facebook generation and do not intend to switch to another. It is advisable to share high-quality pictures and videos on the gallery's Instagram page, but not only based on the so-called traditional scheme, which is a photo of each artwork and a detailed description. Nowadays, something extra has to attract not only the follower's attention but also bind the individual. It is necessary to produce interesting and exciting content, even to tell the story of an art piece, to introduce the artists to the public, especially if they are contemporary, to be better known, and present, and to make them more personal. Even the galleries with the most significant number of followers make sure they don't just post dry and dull art history data, but also make their profiles more colorful.

An excellent example is when we share behind-the-scenes stories with our followers, such as the life journey of artwork from entering the gallery, through research, to restoration. We can do the same in the case of exhibitions and even auctions. People will always be interested in the detail they would not be able to see upon entering the gallery, so they have a chance to gain insight. The gallery can take advantage of these opportunities and, thanks to these virtual tours, show what services it can offer to its customers and visitors. In the case of galleries that cooperate with contemporary artists or even manage one artist at a time, it is definitely recommended to involve the artists in the process and use their perspective. The artist's perspective is also available with online studio visits and insights so that we can bring them closer and authentically present not only the artist but also their works. They can also serve as an online tour, providing digital visitors with a different gallery experience.

Keeping up with the changes

Although to make stories and posts are also available on Instagram and Facebook, it is good to keep up with the continuous developments of Instagram. In the highlights, we can quickly and simply present stories important to the gallery, such as exhibitions, restorations, educational stories, artists, etc. We can expand our profile with special collections thanks to Instagram's new Guide function. We can recommend places in the city, products or organize the entries created or saved by our account. This can be useful for the gallery if there are many posts on a specific topic on our site and we want our followers to be informed about the topic in an easy, organized way. For example, about a year's temporary exhibitions, auctions, or the catalogs available for purchase, the different art trends and categories of artworks in the gallery, or press releases. Many galleries already use this feature but still miss this great opportunity.

It is worth using Facebook because the older generation will not use the new applications, no matter how fashionable they are. On the other hand, it is excellent for creating online events for the gallery, inviting friends to an offline exhibition, and promoting publications, as you can also advertise and place advertisements here. Twitter is also another category. With this option, it is essential to be concise and to the point, because the application only allows you to publish a post with a short number of characters. Here, the gallery can publish short but valuable art data, its most significant online and offline events, through concise, attention-grabbing, thoughtful messages.

It doesn't matter which option we choose, the main thing is that the communication should be continuous, and the posts should be aesthetic, informative, and engaging. The gallery is not a product, so we do not manage our profile that way, but we make it unique because the gallery also offers unique and exclusive content, the art. In this way, the potential visitor, buyer, and future artist gain an insight into the gallery's life in such a way that we create an authentic, professional image of the gallery, where they would be happy to visit and even buy.


Kitti Váradi

Kitti graduated from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics with a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media Science, specializing in Visual Communication. She continued her studies at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, receiving a Cultural Manager qualification. Her work experience includes working in a commercial gallery and organizing cultural events, but she has also worked in the National Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.