The Influence of the WWW and SOCIAL MEDIA on the ArtWorld



We have had websites for a long time. Many online art galleries seem to be thriving. For artists the more recent explosion of interest in Instagram is quite astonishing. Pinterest is also hailed as a life changer for the visual art-world. These two social media platforms are joining Facebook and Twitter as major players in our everyday artistic lives.

The mighty Internet is overall.

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks and consists of websites on one hand and social media on the other.

So lets look at the difference between the World Wide Web and Social Media to see where artists could or should be concentrating.

The World Wide Web [WWW] is all about websites.

The Web’ is a collection of interconnected documents (web pages) and other web resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. 

Whereas social media [SM] is;

“Social media are primarily Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.” – Wikipedia 

Social media essentially is a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online.” There is a wide variety of social media, ranging from social sharing sites such as YouTube and Instagram through social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

These are the two sides of the coin.

A looser wider definition of social media could include websites that allow comments, or blogs that invite participation. But for the sake of this blog-post let us simplify and divide the online computer based universe, the Internet, into two parts. Fluid dynamic social media on one side and more static websites on the other.

Websites are like books, magazines and even newspapers.

While social media is like real conversations with other people, singly or in groups.

Which side of the coin has the most influence on our online behaviour? Is it social media or is it websites and search engines?

Recognizing the influence of social media.

The most well-known social media channels would be Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter etc.

One expert told us recently that social media has evolved into the most powerful tool. It has become quite unimaginably efficient. The big players have developed listening and analytical instruments to capture and link massive amounts of information supplied by interactive participation in social media channels. Then they target, influence, and sell advertising to, very specific audiences.

It is possible to ask Facebook or similar to promote your advertising message to an extremely focused group. The example that I heard would be advertising a product or service to people aged between 18 and 24, with parents with incomes over £100,000, who go abroad 3 times a year, who had been to a particular genre of schools, lived in a selected geographical area, were interested in sailing, and who had over a certain number of Facebook friends. Wow!

There might only be a hundred or so who fit this category.

Face book can let you send them a very targeted message. At a cost.

Then the advertiser can tweak the message to send a slightly different message to people who are interested in say … surfing, or horse riding.

Cambridge Analytica

The recent news revelations about a UK company that provided in depth detailed information like this was Cambridge Analytica. They claimed to ‘use data to change audiences behavior’. Plus ‘We measurably improve your brand’s marketing effectiveness by changing consumer behaviour’.

Many people believe that their claim was valid because they were so effective in the US election that bought in Donald Trump.

[On 1 May 2018, Cambridge Analytica and its parent company filed for insolvency proceedings and closed operations.]

The General Data Protection Regulation

GDPR is the recent attempt by European governments to control the power of social media leaders. It is probably at least five years behind the social media world.

So does that mean that the World Wide Web dead?

Does the explosion of interest and influence of social media on the Internet mean that the old WWW is defunct?

No it doesn’t.

It is probably a good idea to say to oneself that half of the business transactions on the web are triggered by potential buyers simply searching for the service or product online. It might be more or less than half depending on the particular product or service involved.

Websites are not dead. What is more is that the dynamic growth of the Internet as a whole is phenomenal. Just take a look at your local high street, or listen to the business news, to see the effects of online commerce.

So the half of online business just using the WWW is still growing fast.

We now have a double bladed sword.

The WWW and social media.

We can promote awareness and interest in our brand through social media. That is what it is so good at. But be aware that it is rather ephemeral. Interest on SM can be explosive with things going viral. But each message will only last until the next message. Some SM platforms do create a backlog while others do not. But how many people delve into the backlog?

Whereas, the WWW is much less ephemeral. But be aware that the WWW can go stale. It is scoured by search engines for updates and relevance. So small daily tweaks and other regular updates are a good idea. At least show the Google search engine creepy crawlies that the site is still breathing.


Be aware of your digital footprint.

Your Social Media presence is exciting, dynamic, and so tempting. We can get sucked into fascinating conversations. We can see the images and enjoy the speed of live reaction. So can your admirers and collectors. It can be a very effective tool. And it can be fragile, temporary, and so easy to digress.

We have two feet making the digital footprint trail.

Your WWW presence is your website. This is where your interested admirers and collectors can see your profile, portfolio, blog, latest news, and your online gallery shop. It is also the stable place that the creepy crawlies will visit. And then tell complete strangers all about you.