Social Media is a powerful tool that can be used to gain exposure and develop your brand(s). Most people are familiar with Facebook and are active users of this platform. Instagram (IG) however, seems to be a bit more of a mystery for some in terms of how to best use and leverage this Social Media platform.
First,what is Instagram?
"Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing site that enables its users to take pictures and share them either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr." (source Wikapeida)
Instagram is all about the image - it is visual marketing at its core. That is why for artists it can be a very effective way to build an audience & fan base. Through sharing your images, you can tell your story, convey who you are and what your are about as an artist, entrepreneur, mother; whatever you want your story to be.
When you first jump in, Instagram can feel like a waste of time, a platform where progress is slow and with little to no tangible results after what feels like a lot of effort. If you are able to build a meaningful targeted fan base, it can also be a powerful tool, that can help develop/grow your "Brand", drive traffic to your website and/or help you sell your art & or services. The later is not easy to do, and it takes a concerted, focused and consistent effort in order to achieve success.
Another important factor in building a targeted fan base is to ensure that you are clear about your brand identity and what your objectives are for your IG account. If you have a specific strategy for building your brand and what results you hope to achieve, then you can easily focus your IG images/content so that they support your brand identity, and you gain followers that meet your targeted criteria.
For example, in my case I want followers that are interested in art, workshops, art education and art tools/materials etc., I try to gear my content so that it will appeal to an audience with these interests. I use hashtags and post images that are relevant to my targeted audience. I choose to also include a small amount of personal photos (my cat, or food, for example) so that my followers over time can learn a little bit about me and feel to some extent that they know me on a more personal level.
(Example of a recent post "The Empress Eats The World" - click on the image to link back to to this painting in my online Art Gallery.)
I do think it is important to balance out your posts, as too many of yourself (the dreaded selfie) and or family could turn people off, and as a result you will lose followers. If you want to leverage IG to develop your brand (for business versus family connections) then create an account with brand focused content and perhaps a different account for your family centered content if that is of interest to you.
Bottom line is that you can create different accounts that support a variety of brand strategies (if applicable to you), which allows you to maintain targeted/relevant content in each.
Now for a review of the basics...
- Content is key! Keep all content you post relevant to you and your brand. Make sure your images are great - don't post an image that is out of focus, or just not visually interesting.
- Use relevant hashtags on IG to help other users find your content. Try to use about 12 hashtags per post, too few and your post won't be seen, too many and it can feel spammy. Just because Instagram will allow up to 30 hashtags per post it is not a good reason to use that many. The fewer you can use to encourage a positive response, the better – the interactions will be better from users that see your content.
- For example, If you are an artist you might consider hashtags such as: #artist, #encaustic, #encausticart, #contemporaryartist, #abstractart, etc.
- In order to save time, you can keep lists of the hashtags (in groups) you use most often on your phone (in your notes page) and just copy and past them into your post.
- Avoid using extremely popular hashtags if they are not specifically relevant to your brand/strategy – this can be annoying or even overwhelming to other users. (Examples include #selfie #nofilter #tbt #toofunny and #love).
- Include shortened links to your website in your profile.
- Like others’ posts in your niche – and comment where appropriate.
- If others comment on your posts, reply so that the interaction is two-way. This shows you are present, paying attention and that you care about your business and your followers.
- Use the direct messaging tool for more private one-on-one conversations in the Instagram platform.
- Add your location via the geo-tagging tool. This is great for interaction and gaining relevant followers in your area
- Gain inspiration from others in your niche – both on post content as well as hashtag use. This can help you understand what works and what does not.
- Embed your Instagram posts on your website.
- Be consistent, and spread out your post frequency. In other words, don’t ambush the platform with a huge number of images at once and then remain silent for any protracted period of time. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience or allow them to forget you. Spacing your posts and varying your post timing will help you build a loyal and engaged following on the Instagram platform.
- Ensure every image is well captioned and high in quality and appealing to the eye.
- Informative posts enjoy significantly more engagement than any other type of post – so share instructions, advice and how-to as much as appropriate to your business and brand.
- Use keywords in your image descriptions.
- Connect your Instagram profile to your other networks and add the Instagram button to your business website.
I hope that you enjoyed this post. If you have feedback or additional advice please feel free to share it here by making a comment! I welcome your comments and feedback.