Ep 86: An Artful Approach to Social Media (with Robin Cembalest)

by Joan Garry

Learn how Robin Cembalest has built an enormous social media following and take away lessons that any nonprofit can implement.


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Robin Cembalest has more than 48,000 followers on Instagram (and growing). I just got started pretty recently on Instagram, so that feels like a lot of followers to me.

And so I was very interested to learn how Robin has built such a following as a social media and editorial strategist “for the art world and beyond.” She has a great feed!

But even more so, I was especially interested to find out how my fellow nonprofit leaders (that’s you!) can learn to bring a more artful approach to your social media outreach, to the huge benefit of your organizations.

We discussed the most important elements for a successful social media strategy, how to best use social media to tell great stories, and how the various social platforms differ in their messaging and audiences.

I sure learned a lot. I know you will too.

About Robin Cembalest

Described by artnet as “one of the leading lights of art-world social media,” Robin Cembalest is a journalist and editorial strategist. The former longtime executive editor of ARTnews, she has published widely in The Wall Street Journal and many other publications, and maintains her popular @rcembalest feeds on Instagram and Twitter. In her consulting business,

Robin Cembalest Editorial Strategies, she works with art-world clients to design and implement editorial and digital content. She also founded and directs the Niboristas, a mentoring and networking group for art-world professionals.

In this episode

  • Often, a picture has to tell a story by itself
  • Instagram as a diary of events
  • Building a huge following requires more than content alone
  • How to work within people’s attention span?
  • What language makes the reader want to know more?
  • How to design your message so the piece is demystified and inviting
  • What do the printed page and digital media have in common? Where are they truly different?
  • How do you get people to click on your link?
  • If you are not in the art world but instead you run a homeless shelter, how can the story of your mission be told through social media?
  • Who needs to be on Facebook? What is it useful for? Is everyone leaving?
  • The followings you build in one career will stay with you – keep that in mind
  • How far ahead of a launch or event do you need to build your platform?
  • What is the role of the board in social media?