Instagram has become a new marketing frontier for creative entrepreneurs. In particular, the visual appeal of snapshots and videos can be of great benefit to those trying to grow their following or sales of their artwork. It has been one of the most popular tech topics suggested to C4 Atlanta over the past few months.
On Monday, March 28, 2016, we convened a panel of “Insta-Experts” at Mammal Gallery. Their experiences spans a wide experience uses for Instagram as a business tool for their arts careers. Combined, the panel has amassed an ever growing following of over 188,000 on Instagram. The panelists included:
Jeremiah Cowan (@jeremiahcowan) : Freelance Photographer
Jessica Durrant (@jessillustrator) : Illustrator, freelance artist
While we had originally planned to post the audio for this panel discussion, our recording inexplicably cut out 10 minutes into the talk. Instead, we have attempt to provide a distilled version of the answers presented by the panel for this talk and a list of helpful resources on this topic for professional artists and creative workers.
Here are some of the recommendations and tips of the panel from that day:
Don’t be “Sell-sy” – social media is a platform, not a bullhorn. All of the panelists emphasized that while using Instagram had been a boon to their arts businesses, it was largely based on their ability to build relationships with other users and create a dialogue around their work. Portraying themselves authentically and genuinely was sited over and over again as an important part of building a strong Instagram following.
Be a real person. Speak to your followers and to other users whose work you admire. Answer questions authentically, not in a way that you feel would help to “build the business”. Be positive and let your joy shine through.
Limit hashtags. Use no more than about 5-6 at any one time. No one likes to scroll through a sea of hashtags.
Some hashtags are more useful than others. Try to use tags that are trending or have a following. Avoid hashtags that only you are using or which have been so over saturated with posts that it could be difficult to be noticed by new followers.
Focus on building a community around your art by curating your feed just like you would curate your brand. Think quality over quantity. In order to truly build a following, also it takes time. Many of the users with large followings have spent literally years cultivating their feeds. Have realistic expectations around what you will be able to achieve in a reasonable timeline.
Consistency is key for building a following. Some of the panelist mentioned creating a regular posting schedule when trying to build a following, posting 3-4 times a day each day at the same time. For Instagram in particular, if you only post once a day or once a week, you will not a achieve a large following. Posting at the same times each day creates anticipation around your work and help to engage with users in International markets, who have different schedules. Participating in one of the many artwork a Day challenges that seem to be ever present on Instagram can help to build a following. In this case, joining this kind of small movement with a following can help not only to get your artwork in front of new faces. but also to build a network of likeminded artists who are fans as well.