The New Role of Influencers in the Art Market

The New Role of Influencers in the Art Market

Source: Artsper for Galleries.

Are you looking for new ways to expand your network of clients and art buyers? Or maybe you need advice on how to strengthen your digital marketing strategy? Influencers are just one of the ways you can achieve your goals today. A recent yet ubiquitous phenomenon, influencer marketing has proven itself in the art market.

You’ve probably already met these young personalities at an opening or consulted Instagram accounts that have become references in art history… But do you know exactly what impact they have on the art market? Artsper decrypts the new role of influencers in the art market.

What is the role of influencers in the art market?

Steve Gale, Selfie, 2018

The marketing world is an ever-evolving place. Strategies of last year have been tweaked to reflect the changes of this year and will continue to shift in the years to come. This is seen in real-world business strategies as there is a greater demand to engage with larger and larger digital audiences, solidying a strong online and in-person presence. Let’s focus on an important player in reaching visibility goals: influencers. But what exactly is the role of influencers in the art market?

Social media is everywhere. It has crept into the lives of most people, near and far. More and more of the world’s population uses it in some capacity. And as it is the easiest channel to cross international borders, tapping into a sea of people located all around the world, it has become a major player in the art market. Art world buyers have their hands on smartphones and scroll through social media feeds. So, it only makes sense that as professional art buyers are on the same applications as the rest of the world. They, too, are influenced by current social media trends. Because of this, it is unsurprising that the art market has shifted its advertising and marketing approach towards one that includes the most powerful figures of social media: influencers.

Why is influencer marketing so powerful?

There’s a possibility that in the past you would have dismissed the term, “influencer marketing,” or the role of the influencer in the art market. However, the reality is that influencers are a powerful tool for art players and the results are impactful. As more and more works are purchased via mobile or digital devices, it is logical that marketing and advertising follow suit. Influencers are now the ones at the center of the discussion for the main market players: galleries, museums, auction houses and institutions. They have large followings and with that, obtain a powerful ability to sway the minds of consumers from every sector. They are the new face of digital advertising.

Social media influencers have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people at their fingertips. Their platforms are powerful because they hold the ability to influence buying trends. And because of this, they are a valuable marketing tool and should not be ignored. This is why there is a noticeable increase in influencer marketing, as social media has tightened its grip on global purchase power and market trends throughout most sectors. Companies all over the world are shifting their focus towards Instagram influencer campaigns.

But why is influencer marketing so successful?

Galleries, museums, art institutions, etc. The list goes on. All facets of the art industry are able to reap the benefits of digital visibility. With social media, and more specifically with influencers, online subscribers can be converted into exhibition visitors, or even, buyers.

Companies in the art market now have the opportunity to communicate online to specific audiences. Influencers are ambassadors of developing a brand identity and tone of voice. Because of this, their followers ideally are interested in objects, items, or content of a similar light. Companies are utilizing these targeted groups to sell their product. On top of this, there are influencers that are genre-specific for nearly every sector of the art industry. All you have to do is find the right people. When you find the proper influencer who matches your brand identity, you can utilize their base in productive ways.

What are the different genres of influencers?

Many might assume that the best approach to engage with influencers in terms of a marketing strategy is to find someone with the most amount of followers. This might work for some, but it is not essential. There are influencers that span various following sizes. It is important to find someone who has developed a similar interest that will not only inspire their followers but your own as well. There are four categories to consider when choosing an influencer based on number of followers: Mega influencers, Macro influencers, Micro influencers, and Nano influencers.

  • Mega influencers are often the hardest to reach. This category includes anyone above the 1 million following threshold. This subsection incorporates not only major voices but also celebrities. If able to connect with influencers of this level, your gallery will be visible to millions of people. 
  • Macro influencers have anywhere from 100k to 1 million followers. They have a high level of engagement and are typically more in reach than Mega influencers but can still present difficulties in terms of responding. 
  • Micro influencers have between 9k to 100K, they are cultivated voices in whatever they do while coming across as relatable to their followers. They have a following that is deeply connected and personal. This level of influencer typically seeks corporate sponsorships or partnerships, as it is also visibility for them, encouraging an increase of followers. 
  • Lastly, there are Nano influencers. These influencers have anywhere between 1k to 9k followers. Their content is often less rooted in specific brand identity. When working with this level of influencers, you will gain less platform visibility but they will be authentic and intimate in terms of content. They also will most likely be the easiest to connect with in terms of solidifying a partnership. 

How to choose the right influencer?

George Milton, 2021

Finding the influencers that are best suited for your gallery is the most important aspect of influencer marketing. It is essential to find someone who captures your brand identity. Perhaps someone who has integrated into the art market, or if not an active participant, someone who is passionate about art and culture. This is necessary so that there is a common goal in place for a collaborative partnership. If you reach out to someone who is uninterested in art, why would they be interested in engaging with your platform? And beyond this, perhaps their followers feel similarly. So from the very beginning of this initiative, it is crucial to find influencers who benefit from this collaboration as it is a passion of theirs, just as you will benefit from their audience.

Another important question to keep in mind: what is your strongest social media platform? Influencers vary from platform to platform. The application will inevitably impact the content that is promoted, influencing follower engagement. Instagram influencers are powerful but perhaps your gallery has a stronger voice on YouTube or Twitter. If this is the case, it would be best to find an influencer on the platform you use the most to communicate with your audience.

What are the best ways to approach influencers?

Once you’ve carefully chosen the influencers you would like to work with, it is important to develop the best approach when contacting them. Before proceeding with the initial point of contact, you should research the influencer, to better understand their point of view, finalizing whether or not your identities are in alignment.

If you are set on working with Instagram influencers, keep in mind that the more followers the influencer has, the more message requests they will have. If the influencer doesn’t follow you and you decide to message them directly on the application, your message will go into their request folder. However, if you have a verified account, your message will go to the top of their message requests. Another option is to send them an email if their email address is listed on their account or on their website. Again, if they have a lot of followers you should anticipate that they will have plenty of emails.

Keep the content of your messages short and to the point. This also includes a catchy email subject. You can also flag the email as important. In emails or platform messages: be as clear as possible. Explain what it is that your gallery does and why you are contacting them. You can provide previous examples of collaborative partnerships but do not be too specific. If they want more information, they will ask you for it. Be straight to the point while also being personal. Make your tone of voice heard, convince them that you, too, have a similar vision and that you both could benefit from an exchange of visibility. It can be the beginning of a wonderful relationship. It is essential to note that if you add links in the email content, there is a possibility that your email will be sent to their spam folder. Finally, don’t forget to follow up or vary the channels (first an email, then a message on Instagram for example). Be prepared to let go if you don’t get a response after several messages. Knowing that the response rate can fluctuate, we generally advise you to contact several influencers at the same time – personalizing your message for each person – in order to increase your chances for success.

Some of our favorite influencers…

Georgia de Lotz, 2019

Are you looking for inspiration? Here are some of our favorite influencers who are integral to the art and cultural market!

Danielle Krysa, known to the world by many as, “The Jealous Curator,” is an author, curator, and artist. She began her path in the art world as a painter, but like many creatives, felt discouraged by her own potential, and shifted gears towards curation and writing. Krysa has written several books and is the voice behind Art For Your Ear. Discover more about her in our interview!

2. Tezza

LA-based influencer and creative Tezza has built an artistic empire, amassing over 1 million followers while doing so. In our interview, she discusses advice on finding beauty in everyday life, the artists she loves, and the place she feels most inspired.

Badara Ndiaye is a former Senegalese basketball player, who now wears several hats in modeling, fashion and marketing. Meet him in our interview, and don’t hesitate to think about these kind of influencers, with multiple talents, to reach multiple targets.

Matchwithart’s Instagram account is sure to captivate visual art lovers. By coordinating her outfits with artwork, she makes art accessible to everyone. Learn more about her unique creative process in our interview.

From her childhood in Northern France to the catwalks of the greatest names in fashion, Constance Jablonski has managed, in just a few years, to become one of the most famous models of her generation. Her shining personality, charming humility, and her affinity for art have captured our attention. Discover more in our interview.

Art dealer Arushi Kapoor is the founder of ARTSop Fine Art Consulting in Los Angeles and the director of Arushi Arts Gallery in the USA, UK and India. She uses her instagram to explore art market predictions, up-and-coming artists, as well as highlights of her own personal collection. Read more about her inspiring career and platform in our interview.

The influencer Matchwithart in front of a painting by Claire Tabouret at the Perrotin gallery (©matchwithart)

There are no more secrets regarding influencer marketing. Althought sometimes looked down upon in the art world, the arrival of these personalities in the market nevertheless contributes the accessibility throughout the digital landscape. Especially, highlighting younger generations. With their passion for public relations, influencers have become a new way of communicating for the main actors of the market, that you can also implement! Ready to get started?