Posting On Instagram
With a landscape of social media platforms, offering formats for everything from long-form essays to short video clips, the possibilities to express yourself can feel infinite. But the one that ranks top with photographers, because it prioritizes still and video content, is Instagram. But whether you're just getting started or you've been running an account for years without making much progress, there are a few elements to consider in making Instagram work for you.
On Instagram, your branding is front and center through your handle, profile pic, bio, and link. Keep in mind that it's a different vibe than a personal account. Keep your info polished and professional, and switch your account from a Personal account to a Business account. The benefits include rounding out your contact info, getting insights on your post engagements and audience, and opening your ability to run ads and promotions.
Don't focus on posting what you think people want to see. Focus on the work you found rewarding. Whether it's portfolio images, a BTS view of your life as a commercial artist, providing insight and information about issues facing your industry, or a mix of all three, get clear on what you want to put out into the world. With a business account, you may want to limit the number of personal posts (like pictures of your family or hobbies). While plenty of big brand accounts provide profiles of their employees or company culture, it's likely balanced against other content that can be more relevant to their viewers.
Instagram is still working out its policies regarding whether or not its embedding feature provides publishers with a sub-license to share your work without permission or compensation; the latest communication is that it does not. Until there is a way to limit embeds, you cannot be protected 100% unless you make your account private (limiting your growth) or don't share work that you don't want to run the risk on.
If you want to add any design elements (i.e., copy, borders) to your posts – get clear on your image specs and use a tool like Adobe Spark or Canva to comp it out before you post.
Once you have your content stream down, think about the voice of your post copy. Think about your or your brand's personality to inform your messaging's facts, tone, and flow. While a quick quip may be fun – and put the focus back on your images for more information – context about the inspiration, client, project, or talent can inform your audience on all that it took to produce the stunning work you do.
Expand your reach with hashtags
Once your visuals and captions are solidified, it's time to think about reach. Beyond reaching your followers in your feed, how do you grow your audience? Hashtags are likely the first avenue you'll explore. And there are a ton of sites to generate caption ideas and provide rankings in popularity. Keep in mind the kind of things people will find exciting and search for – and keep it as simple as possible (i.e., #dallasfoodphotographer vs. #dallasauthenticstylefoodphotographer). You're likely to amass only a few extra likes/follows from niche accounts, but there certainly are those one-off stories of people landing jobs after being found via a hashtag. Since it's not a ton of work, it's worth the effort to experiment.
Your advertising options
Once you've hit a wall with growing your account organically, consider running paid promotions. Without diving fully into Facebook's ad manager (which provides the advanced audience, targeting, budgeting & scheduling, and placement controls), Instagram allows you to run more straightforward promotions where you can target followers like yours to visit your profile. Unfortunately, Instagram can feel like a pay-to-play field, so it may be very difficult or time-consuming to reach the kind of influence you're after without a paid promotion.
Engage in comments in a way that's appreciative and informative. Contribute to others' accounts by liking and following, and don't be afraid to slide into the DMs of others to connect in a way that's respectful but not expecting.
With all your elements considered – you may want to consider automating some of your tasks. With a service like Hootsuite or Sprout Social, you can schedule posts, engage with your followers, and locate conversations in your industry quickly by targeting hashtags and streamlining your messaging across platforms at scale.
With all this said, it's essential not to get too stressed out about doing everything' right'. Like any marketing endeavor, it's trial and error in finding works and what doesn't. Plus, it's important to have a bit of fun or feel a bit of reward from your efforts. Otherwise, it'll just be another task on your to-do list.
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