Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, Pinterest – there are so many social networks to choose from. It’s tough to decide which ones to set yourself up on, and which ones to focus your time on. The good news is that for photographers, the choice should be simple. Instagram is your number one social network. Here’s why you should be investing the bulk of your marketing time into this platform.
The main attraction of Instagram is the display of images. The fact that you are a photographer should make this a key influence on your choice right from the start. You can’t post an update with just text, and you can’t post in clickable links. It has to begin with an image, and that makes it perfect for displaying your work. Instagram can be a vast online portfolio of your work, allowing you to share all of your best shots rather than just the ones that make the very limited cut for your website.
It also allows you to showcase things that you might not share elsewhere. Behind the scenes shots and videos are a great example of this. You can show people what you get up to on set, and how your editing process works. You can also showcase products that you produce, such as printed photographs or photobooks.
Not only that, but it’s the best place to go if you want people to actually pay attention to your photographs. On Facebook, they might be more interested in reading their friends’ status updates. On Instagram, they are around just to look at the images. This makes it more likely that you will find real customers and even fans on the site.
The great thing about Instagram is that it’s the fastest-growing social network, and is rapidly starting to challenge older channels like Twitter. Young teens and adults in their 20s and 30s are the most numerous group using it, so if you shoot seniors or family portraits you are definitely in the right place. Models are also using it as a way to kick start their careers, so fashion photographers should have a ball on the site.
What this means is that your ideal clients are already on Instagram. If you want to market directly to them, this is the ideal place to do it. Rather than trying to bring your customers to your site, you can head out and find your clients where they hang out every day. Because it updates so often, especially with the new Instagram Stories feature, most users check their feeds several times a day. That gives you all the more opportunities to put your message and your brand right in front of them. Instagram is the perfect place to stay top of mind for your ideal clients.
It’s laughably easy to build a following on Instagram – all you have to do is check out some of the fake spam accounts and see their follower counts to know that. If you want to build a dedicated following, it’s not even that much harder. There are three main steps to getting an engaged and large audience on Instagram. The first is to post high quality content. That’s obvious, and it’s the same no matter where you put your work.
The second is to know how to use hashtags. There are a lot of hashtags to try, and since you can add up to 30 on every post, you have a lot of opportunity to experiment and see what works best for you. When you get your hashtags right and a lot of likes on your posts, you will be featured in the top posts for the day for that hashtag. That means even more views on your work!
The third principle is engaging where you want engaging back. Follow people, like and comment on their work, and so on. You will find that it is repaid in spades. You can also now set up your account as a business profile so that you even have a special button allowing people to contact you directly. It takes a matter of a few clicks to do it, and you’re all set up. It couldn’t be any easier.
Engagement rates on Instagram are higher than they are anywhere else, which in practice means that you are likely to get more comments and likes per post. This of course depends on your follower count, too – you won’t see the same results in week 1 that you do with your 10,000-fan-strong Facebook page, for example. But the more you build, the higher the engagement gets.
Part of this is down to how easy it is to find content on Instagram. You don’t have to follow someone to see their posts. You can find them via hashtags, or by looking at the location that the images were tagged to. You can even find them in your ‘explore’ tab. This is hugely valuable as it means that more people will stumble on your work by accident.
It’s also great for you to figure out what parts of your work are the most popular. Not only does this help you to do market research, but it’s a bit of an ego boost. Most of us need that nudge at least from time to time to be told that our work is great! A little encouragement can always go a long way.
Brands and even users are starting to catch on that a higher follower count and engagement rate makes for better advertising. They may be swayed to hire you as their photographer as a result of the exposure that you can give them. This isn’t guaranteed, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind – especially at the higher end of the follower counts.
If you aren’t on Instagram yet, it’s time to get that account set up and start posting. The longer you delay, the more ground your closest competitors are gaining. Can you really afford to miss out on the number one most effective free marketing tool out there?