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If Vincent van Gogh Was on Social Media Today

This is an article “If Vincent van Gogh Was on Social Media Today” by Marc Primo Warren


Some might think that linking technology and art is a far-fetched idea. The mere thought of social media algorithms reviewing human expressions that can border on nudity, violence, or rebellious undertones can give modern marketers a huge headache.


But what if the famous Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh were on social media today? Would he get rich by advertising his exquisite artworks rather than spiral downward to insanity and brokenness which led him to take his own life? Would he have the time from his eccentric existential perspective to review search engine optimization (SEO) and all that comes along with digital marketing? Let’s try to find out.



Who is Vincent van Gogh?


Vincent van Gogh is one of the greatest painters who ever lived, though his artworks were only considered classics more than a decade after his death. While he was alive, the artist struggled to sell his paintings which led him to a profound depression that would later translate into one of the most horrific bodily mutilations in the history of art.


His posthumous success remains significant to this day, with some of his most prominent works that include The Starry Night, Starry Night Over the Rhône, The Potato Eaters, and his self-portrait among many others still being studied all over the world and have influenced such contemporary painters as Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso (at least his early works), Maurice de Vlaminck, and whom many regard as the American van Gogh – Stefan Duncan.


His post-impressionist masterpieces reflected a unique way we all view beauty and individuality which many have tried and continue to mimic for over a century later.


Unfortunately, not everyone believed in his art during the 19th century which made him poor for most of his adult life. This dark turn eventually led him to suffer from psychotic episodes, delusions, and physical degradation. During one heated exchange with the French avant-garde artist Paul Gauguin, he severed part of his left ear with a razor.


Eventually, the shy and withdrawn artist got more socially aloof making his great art die with him via suicide at the age of 33.


The Vincent van Gogh Syndrome


One thing is for sure– van Gogh was not a fan of any type of marketing when he was alive. Marketers have even labeled businesses that do not focus on strategic marketing as those that suffer from ‘van Gogh Syndrome’. While the famous Dutch painter’s works had made millions posthumously, he didn’t even get a cent from its profits except for one sold painting (his brother purchased one of his works out of pity) until he died poor as a pauper.


When growing a business via digital marketing, do yourself a favor and refrain from copying van Gogh’s model and mindset. The artist believed that his art would sell itself without any marketing. When he sold one and discovered that his brother had made the purchase, he grew angry and more sullen thinking that no one appreciated his art.


If the plague of poor sales happens to your business, isn’t it a better move to upgrade your marketing efforts the best you can rather than get depressed? Besides, most entrepreneurs make their first sales from family and close friends before they get orders from general consumers, so van Gogh’s reaction can never be validated when it comes to the world of marketing.


However, considering that van Gogh was an artist who valued appreciation more than money, it might have been good for his ego to concentrate his efforts on social media where people can give him his much-needed ‘likes’ and ‘shares’.


Figuring out a strategy to become an online influencer through your expertise is one good way to jumpstart lead generation and eventually increase your conversions. Perhaps, what every business can learn from van Gogh is to leave the nitty-gritty of digital marketing to the experts and concentrate on building a community around your work. Yes, cutting off an ear may generate some huge media attention (though probably not on social media with all the community guidelines being implemented), but there are a lot of ways the artist could have increased his value and reputation through digital marketing.


How digital marketing could have benefitted Vincent van Gogh


Reviewing Vincent van Gogh’s life and trying to speculate how he would have lived as an artist today, his genius would surely thrive given the fast and many avenues to connect out here on the digital space. He could have easily been an influencer or celebrity who could get good mileage in such networks as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or any platform that encourages community building. In this day and age, he could allow his art to speak for itself but if he wanted to profit from them, more digital marketing efforts would surely be required.


For example, creating a dedicated blog for his artworks and optimizing its content for SEO can lead more interested buyers to his eCommerce landing pages. His marketing team could then position him as an authority in post-impressionist art and target specific audiences within their marketing funnel to create more social media engagement, generate leads, and increase conversions, with van Gogh secluded in his studio to paint, away from the maddening crowd.


As an artist, surely van Gogh knew the importance of communication and marketing but simply aimed to make a profit. Since the artist had the product, it would be easy enough for his marketing team to sugar-coat it online and influence customers to buy and follow his brand. Marketing has indeed changed a lot since the 19th century but reputation management, of which van Gogh seemed to be at a loss during his heyday, remains an important factor if you want to sell and remain prominent.


While it seems far-fetched for van Gogh to keep abreast of the constant updates and changes that accompany today’s digital marketing trends, having a team of experts to back him up would have certainly worked wonders for the artist who could align his ‘artist persona’ to his target audiences using relevant data from Google Analytics to increase his online traffic, broaden reach, and spike his search rankings.


To sum it up, van Gogh would benefit in today’s age of social media and digital marketing provided he had a team that could efficiently analyze data and handle updates without going insane. van Gogh provides the candy, and his marketers the gleaming wrapper that attracts consumers, so to speak. And with that arrangement, the revered artist could sink comfortably into his solitude while the rest of the world celebrates his art without any marketing opportunity left unchecked.


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