How to Use Instagram to Market Your Art

A new year has just begun, which means it’s a great time to step back and evaluate your art marketing strategy and tactics to see if there’s anything you could be doing more effectively. I thought maybe we could start with your use of social media, okay?

For years I’ve been saying that Facebook is your best choice for marketing your fine art online because it gives you access to the broadest possible group of potential art buyers. I still believe this to be true, but since more people than ever are now using Instagram, this might be a good time to add this platform to your mix of online marketing tactics. If you haven’t used Instagram, or haven’t been using it regularly, here are a few helpful tips to get you going on the right track.

Getting Started

  • For total newbies, let me just say that you might want to use your laptop or desktop computer to set up your account and your profile (I find it easier), but from then on you’ll want to have the Instagram app on your smartphone so that you can capture images and post them to Instagram on the fly. If you get in the habit of doing this routinely, you’ll be able to add to your Instagram content without devoting a lot of extra time to it.
  • When you set up your artist’s profile on Instagram, try to make it similar to the profile you’ve set up on Facebook and any other social media platforms, such as Pinterest or Twitter. Use the same headshot and professional artist name you’ve used elsewhere. Be sure to provide a brief description of the type of art you create, and try to mix in a few of your core keywords, such as “landscape artist” or “pet portraits.”

Creating Instagram Posts

  • The posts you create for Instagram should be very similar to the posts you create for Facebook in that your goal is to communicate something about your personality, brand, and life as an artist. Be creative with your posts, but always stay focused on your objective: promoting yourself as an artist.
  • Your images—which will show up in a square format, so think about that when you’re shooting photos—can include so much more than finished works of art! Take your followers behind the scenes, show off the materials you use, and give us a glimpse of work in progress.
  • Short videos of 15 seconds or less are also ideal for Instagram. That may not sound like much, but you can reveal a lot about your art in a short amount of time!
  • The written messages that go along with your images should be personal and engaging. Let your personality shine through. Also, mix up the types of messages you write. In addition to writing about your artwork, favorite subjects, and methods, think about including inspirational quotes, expressing gratitude to the people who support you, and making recommendations on the art-related things you enjoy. And, of course, as much as possible, you’ll want to invite people to engage with you by asking questions that might start a dialogue.
  • About one-fourth of the Instagram posts you create should promote your art very specifically, so those posts should include a call to action. Invite people to visit your website or other e-commerce sites, to respond to your post, or to participate in some kind of giveaway or contest you’ve got going on.
  • To help people find you on Instagram, you’re really going to want to use hashtags, but avoid the really obvious hashtags that get overused. Instead, incorporate more specific hashtags that might give you a better chance of being found. For example, instead of using #landscapes, go for the more detailed #mountainlandscapes or #riverlandscapes—whatever is appropriate to the work in the post.
  • You can also grab the attention of other individual Instagram users by incorporating their usernames preceded with the @ symbol in written messages. For instance, my username is connectwithjenking, so if you wanted to mention me in one of your posts so that I’d see it, you would type in @connectwithjenking.

Growing Your Following

  • I’m not gonna lie: growing your following on Instagram takes a daily investment of time and energy, just like it does on Facebook or any other platform. That’s why I still say artists should pick one platform and go all in. Otherwise, you’ll be spending half the day working on social media marketing. The nice thing about Instagram is that it’s tied to Facebook, so you can easily create posts for Instagram and then duplicate them on Facebook, which means you can save a little time if you’re using both. And don’t worry about boring people by posting the same content in both places—you will probably have a different group of followers on each platform anyway.
  • Finding and developing new followers will take deliberate effort, but it’s lots of fun and rewarding, too. Yes, some people may stumble across you through hashtags and start following you because they like what they see, but you can help the process along by following other people and engaging in conversations related to other people’s posts. The beauty of this is that you’ll start making real connections with real people who just may become real collectors.

It used to be that Instagram was primarily used by younger women, but like Facebook, more and more people are hopping onto the Instagram bandwagon. The demographics of Instagram users are gradually shifting to a middle-aged crowd of both genders, so perhaps it's right for you, too!

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