Last modified: December 29, 2016
Instagram has over 400 million active users. With more than 60% of them logging in on a daily basis and sharing around 80 million photos a day, it can only mean one thing:
There’s a great potential to reach a large audience on this visual platform.
So stand out through your eye-catching, beautiful photography, showcase your professionalism, and there’s probably little that could stop these people from loving your photographs as well…
It’s true, a significant percentage of these users are females under the age of 35. But a savvy marketer would quickly realize what a perfect opportunity this would be to present them photography services.
So are you wondering how to put together a smart strategy for building an active community that:
- Reacts to your photographs;
- Initiates dialogues by commenting your posts;
- Increases your visibility by sharing your photos with their friends;
- And grows your clients’ list by referring your services directly, telling their followers how much they love your work?
Today’s post is precisely about that: a selection of simple tips that will allow you to effectively promote and get new clients for your photography business using Instagram.
Keep your profile up to date
Your goal isn’t to simply increase your visibility but also to allow people who find you and are attracted by your work to:
- Have the proper means to get to know you even better;
- Know where else they can find you other than here;
- Be able to contact you directly, if they feel the need.
So make sure your profile is public, meaning that even the persons who currently don’t follow you can see it. Also, craft a clear, condensed but catchy bio of up to 150 characters and post your website URL, blog address and even the email address. Speaking of your bio, feel free to update it every now and then and see what catches the eye of your followers.
Be active and foster new connections
You need to give before you receive. So begin by following other people, not just family and friends, but also acquaintances and even other professional photographers. The more you do so, the greater the chances that other people will notice you and start following you.
Whenever you bump into someone you’d like to know more about, go to the “Activity” tab and click on the “Following” button. You’ll see in there what other persons they follow, together with a selection of the photos that they liked.
Aside from that, interact with your followers as much as you can. Like their posts, reply to their comments or leave comments on their profile before they even get the chance to comment on yours. If you get questions, reply timely and tag their profile name with the “@” in front of it, just so they will get notified of your answer.
Be consistent but selective with your posts
Your goal is to wow your audience with the photographs that you post. Selecting the best samples is essential, but don’t go overboard posting more than one or two photos a day.
- That way, you give them time to gaze at and truly appreciate the value of your photos instead of flooding their news feed with photos they won’t even have time to look at;
- You also let some room for anticipation and excitement, your most avid followers having to wait in order to see what you posted.
Plus, when you post that way, you’re also sending the message that you are a serious and busy photographer, who makes a bit of time to post one or two photos, but doesn’t spend the entire day on social networks.
Label your photos with lots of hashtags
You’ve probably seen at least a few hashtags so far, on different social networks. They’re those keywords accompanied by a “#” sign that basically allow users to surf through information centered on a particular topic.
If you remember our previous post on optimizing Squarespace websites for SEO purposes, you see how these hashtags resemble with the keywords we talked about in there.
On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags with every photo, as a way to increase exposure. What you choose will very much depend on the specific of the photo, but you could consider any of the following:
- Photo details (#weddingflowers #christeningcandles #babyfirstphotosession etc.)
- Location details (#detroit #palmerpark #lakestclair etc.)
- Your brand (#christinphotography #sachikostudio #bonnievelazcophotography etc.)
- Photography type (#weddingphotography #familyportrait #newbornphotosession etc.)
- Equipment (#nikon #film #105mm etc.)
- A combination of details such as type of photography and location (#weddingphotographerlosangeles #dcnewbornphotographer etc.)
In a nutshell, think of these hashtags as the words that people would use to search for your services and add as many of them as possible with every single post. If you’re worried that they will ruin your clean, sweet and short photo description, do what most other Instagram users do: write the hashtags as a comment on the post itself instead of piling them up on your description.
Share photos of your blog posts
Yep, Instagram is still a photo and video sharing network. But you can connect your account with your blog, showcasing photos of your latest posts. Obviously, you will also have to make it clear for your followers that they can read the story behind that photograph on your blog.
As a photographer, you must put a lot of work into accompanying your blog posts with the most vivid and representative photographs for the topic you write on. So why not pick the most attractive image of that post and upload it on Instagram?
A photo may worth a thousand words, but if the caption you write is just as enticing, people will want to discover the whole story. And that would be a great way to generate traffic from a social network to your website.
So after you’ve chosen that perfect photograph and wrote that irresistible photo caption, you have one essential thing left to do. Go to your bio and change the link with the one of your new blog post. Then, add the words “link in bio” to your photo description. Now, you’ve given them all the means to go to your blog if they really liked the photo.
Share photos that advertise your special offers
This would be no different than a printed ad that you are developing for your business. Instead of paying to display it in public spaces, in a magazine or on another website, you’re putting it on Instagram, in front of your many followers and potential new clients. Sounds good enough?
Say you’ve worked hard and created a wardrobe guide for your customers. And you’re giving it away, just like I did on this comprehensive what-to-wear guide. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to post a photo of that kit on this social network?
Of course, you could be doing plenty of other things, such as:
- Giving discounts;
- Offering free counseling sessions prior to the actual shootings;
- Prepping some themed mini-sessions.
A visually compelling ad to any of these offerings would work wonders on Instagram. Just make sure that you’re increasing your ad exposure with the most representative hashtags such as #photodiscounts #discountedphotographyservices #photoshootgiveaway #photographygiveaways and so on.
Explore with video sharing
Putting together a short video will be time-consuming, but the benefits could be tremendous. Just think of it: with a photo, you are exposing a moment; with a video, you are exposing a process, allowing your followers to get a better sense of what you offer or how you work.
And you have plenty of options to try:
- A behind-the-scenes video where you present yourself while interacting with your clients and taking photographs;
- A presentation video where you display your best work and say a few words about yourself and why you have chosen to become a photographer;
- A selection of themed photos, from the same event (like a wedding) or from similar events (different engagement parties or baby shooting sessions).
For this type of content, hashtags like #instagramvideo #instavideo #photographyvideo are the best.
Tag clients to raise their interest
As a photographer, there’s probably a lot more than still life photography that you’d like to post on Instagram. If you’re planning to post photos from your shooting sessions as well, with your actual clients, never forget to ask their permission before you do so!
And when you upload those photos, tag the client by typing “@” followed by the exact name of his or her profile. They will receive a notification about you tagging them in your photograph, which is extremely helpful if that person isn’t following you on IG yet.
In this way, you’re tossing the ball and letting them like, comment or share the photo with their friends. The more buzz they create around your photos, the more followers, interest, and exposure you could gain from other users.
Protect your work with watermarks
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there looking to steal photos and use them without crediting the author. Since you’re displays images with the faces of your clients, the stake is even higher:
- On one hand, you risk having your photos stolen.
- On the other hand, you put your clients at risk of having their photographs used as illustrations on who knows what kinds of websites.
So watermarking your images is the least you can do and there’s really no problem if you use a more visible watermark to include both your business name and website URL.
Aside from protecting your photos, displaying your website URL in all your photographs could increase your visibility. Just like an outdoor advertising you pass by every day and its name sticks into the back of your mind, the watermark on your photographs could stick into your followers’ memory.
Next time when one of them will think about taking a photo session, chances are that your business name will pop up “out of nowhere” on their mind…
According to the latest statistics from BrandWatch,
- Over 30% of all the internet users are now on Instagram;
- About 80 million photos are shared here, on average, every day;
- Nearly 50% of brands have an account as well, predictions estimating a whopping 70% by 2017.
- Engagement with these brands on Instagram is 84 times higher than on Twitter, 54 times higher than on Pinterest and 10 times higher than on Facebook.
All these are more than enough reasons for you to wet your feet and enter this big arena. The numbers might be a bit intimidating, but you are a talented photographer so there’s more than chance standing by your side.