I have received a number of requests to share my "secrets of success" on Instagram. Keep in mind, there are many Instagram accounts with tens of thousands of followers. My following count is minimal in comparison, 16.6K as of today. Not only that, but I've only been doing this for a year. I have no secrets. I'm certain I'm not doing everything I could be doing, and I don't have all of the Insta-lingo down. So, I'll just give you pointers on what I have done that seems to be working.
Seven Tips from an Instagram Novice
1. Identify your brand and stick with it. Your brand could be paintings, wildlife photography, outdoor recreation, selfies (for those of you pursuing modeling careers 😉), mushroom collecting, woodworking, etc. Once identified, don't stray far from what you have identified as your brand.
2. Post one image each day, if possible. Don't post more than one image. Save there rest for later. If you can't post every day, choose times that seem to gain most interest (Monday nights, for instance).
3. Post quality photographs. It's not just content that draws the eye but photo composition.
- Some intriguing art posts I've seen are by Sarah Pike Pottery and RivuletPaper. They combine their art with images of true life, and their lives interweave beautifully with their work. Their posts tell a story.
- When you post your photograph, add text that shares your story. You don't have to be too wordy, but give people a "behind the scenes glimpse".
- Respond to your audiences' comments.
- Visit your new followers' pages and leave thoughtful comments.
- When your audience offers suggestions (i.e. to post videos of your process), follow through if you can. Let them know you are considering their input.
5. Follow other accounts that pertain to your brand. Engage with them through (thoughtful) comments. Don't just leave a comment that says "cool work." Honestly? Personally, I breeze over comments like that. If someone leaves a comment that means something or causes me to pause, I click on their profile and check out their photo stream.
I have chosen to follow several silversmiths as well as botanical artists. Since I support Outdoor Project through 1% For the Planet, it makes sense that I follow their page as well. People who check out your page also check out who you follow. In addition, Instagram suggests accounts to follow based on your interests.
6. Give your audience a clear understanding about what you do. Is your work hand fabricated? Do your paintings look like photographs (and can easily be overlooked because they're so precise)? What is it that separates your work from the rest of the world? Whatever that is, make it obvious.
- Take/share videos of your process. Don't edit out imperfections. Your mistakes show how challenging your work can be, and your audience will appreciate knowing there's a human being behind your account. They want to establish a connection with you.
- Take photographs that show your process. For instance, place your hand or a tube of paint in the picture to show that it's a painting or illustration, or position the painting in front of the view it depicts. Inky Leaves is a botanical artist who does this with her work which helps her followers see the incredible scale of her work.
7. Finally, what's up with those darn #hashtags? It took me a while to figure them out, and my conclusion was this (you're welcome to comment and correct me if I'm way off base): hashtags are used as an online searching tool. If you type "#nicoleringgold" into the Google search engine, you'll come up with about 1,300 results, some of which are my Instagram posts because I consistently use #nicoleringgold to tag my work.
I think of hashtagging as a two-way street. One purpose is to send a message, a shout out about who you are, what it is you're trying to convey. The other purpose is to draw your audience toward you, beckon them to check out your message. Therefore, you should ask yourself two questions:
- What message am I trying to convey (i.e. what is my brand)?
- Who is my target audience?
What message am I trying to convey (i.e. what is my brand)? I will speak for myself. I am an artist. I am a silversmith. I create one-of-a-kind botanical jewelry. My work is hand fabricated. My work is not cast and cannot be replicated. With this in mind, key hashtags include (but are not limited to): #botanicaljewelry, #handfabricatedjewelry, #natureinspiredjewelry, #silversmith, #metalwork, #inspiredbynature, and of course #nicoleringgold.
Who is my target audience? Given that I create botanical jewelry, I want to draw in gardeners, herbalists, outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, as well as botanical-themed boutiques possibly interested in selling my work. So, key hashtags include (but are not limited to): #gardener, #herbalist, #naturelover, #plantboutique, #inspiredbymountains, and so forth.
Be consistent. Be real. Be intentional. Let the passion for what you do shine through your photographs. Once you do, people will come.
I hope this helps! Again, I'm just a novice. I'm sure there are many more beneficial tips out there. Feel free to leave comments with your input or thoughts.