Social media can be an incredible asset to visual creators, helping you land new clients, high-paying customers, and notoriety around the world; But it can also be incredibly overwhelming. Watching fellow photographers take off (seemingly) over night while you’re ignored by the so-called “magic” of social media can leave you feeling deflated, confused, and even doubtful about your talent. You’re happy for them but… what are you doing wrong?
First of all, you aren’t doing anything wrong. Social media, especially Instagram, is always changing. A little over a year ago, reels didn’t even exist; Now they’re the app’s most supported feature.
As a photographer, watching Instagram change can be scary and leave you feeling unsupported by an app that once helped you connect with your community. But supported or not, Instagram does have something to offer. Afterall, if you can’t beat them, join them.
Here are 7 tips that are guaranteed to help you change your Instagram experience and grow your photography business with the platform!
Utilize story links.
If you haven’t been sharing content in your Instagram story, it’s time to start! For years, Instagram’s “swipe up” link feature was only available to accounts with 10,000 followers or more. This made the highly advantageous feature just out of reach for millions of creators. Now, Instagram’s sticker links are accessible for all Instagram users. Simply tap the sticker button at the top right of your screen while creating a story, click the “Link” option, and copy and past the link you’d like to feature in your story.
Want to make your story links look extra aesthetic? Layer a sticker or imported image on top of it. Your link will still be clickable, even if it’s layered beneath a “Click here!” sticker.
Don’t limit your link features to just your products. You can use them to connect followers to your other social media platforms, draw attention to new projects, and direct traffic to your website through blog posts.
Create engaging content with photo prints.
Jason was able to turn photos he’s already shared on his page into a post that garnered 1,500 likes and dozens of comments. How? By printing them!
With 50 prints of some of your favorite photographs, you unlock a whole new world of content. You can spread your photos out across a table, stack them like Jason did, hold them up in unique scenery, line your photo up with the location featured in the photograph; The list goes on and on.
Better yet? Printed photos are an awesome way to make one-of-a-kind reels content – the exact type of content that Instagram loves right now.
Jason used the same prints that were used in his well-liked photo post to create this incredibly successful reel. He received 12.2k likes and 159,000 views.
Turn still images into reels.
There’s no debating that Instagram is prioritizing video content right now – so where does that leave photographers? While you wait for your print order to arrive, start creating some awesome videos with the photographs you already have! The photography community has been seeing extreme success with video compilations of photos synced to trending songs.
See our Instagram guide of trending photography sounds for quick inspiration! It includes links to 27 unique sounds and examples of how to use them.
Engage with your community.
Community engagement is a massive part of growing your Instagram presence. Make sure you respond to every comment and message you receive. Respond genuinely and ask meaningful questions; This will not only help you form a relationship with your followers – making them less likely to unfollow you and more likely to purchase from or book you – but it will help your posts get 3x as many interactions. This greatly amplifies your chance of going viral!
Beyond responding to the people who interact with you, you should be instigating interaction with new members of your niche as well! Scroll through your most used hashtags and like and comment on recent posts.
Here’s one specific way to approach this:
If you don’t gain followers from this approach, you’ll at least receive some engagement in return. The best part is that you’re not doing anything spammy or ingenuine – just showing love and support to other photographers in your community!
Engaging with your community can also mean supplying them with helpful information. Share the presets you use, your favorite photography tricks, what type of gear you use, and so on. Gatekeeping is out – finally! Instagram users love following people who genuinely care about their success and add value to their lives.
Listen to your audience.
This brings us to the next tip: listen to your audience.
Say you start engaging with your community more actively. In each of those engagements, your audience is telling you something. They’re telling you their likes, their dislikes, and what they’re interested in. This translates directly to: Here’s what I want to see more of.
We are 100% against changing your style just to go viral on Instagram. But what followers want from you isn’t something less authentic or less unique – they want more of what they love specifically about your work! Share what you do before a session; Share how you edit your photos; Share your most you creations. You’ll learn whether your followers care more about the business side of what you do or the creative side. You’ll learn whether they prefer to look at your work, or learn how to make work themselves.
The key here is to take that information into consideration and run with it!
Target re-share accounts.
There are tens of thousands of accounts on Instagram that rely solely on curating and resharing content from other users. While it can be frustrating to watch a page thrive on content that doesn’t belong to them, as long as they’re appropriately crediting the creators we say: take advantage of them!
Find a handful of re-share accounts with huge audiences in your niche. For example, if you shoot primarily in New York City, tag large New York City pages; If you shoot wildlife, find popular wildlife pages; And so on! When you share photos, tag them or share your post with them via direct message. Let them know they have permission to reshare your content with proper credit!
If you send each of your posts to 10 relevant pages, you give yourself a really strong opportunity to reach 50,000+ targeted audience members every day. Just make sure these accounts are crediting you!
To make this tactic a bit extra efficient, save every post you’re tagged in to a specific Instagram collection. Revisit these posts regularly and respond to any comments complimenting your work! This way, fans of your photography are sure to know exactly who to follow to see more of it.
Giveaways are an awesome way to engage your audience while promoting your products. The basic formula for a giveaway is this: You have something to giveaway. Instagram users have the chance to receive it by entering a pool of people that you will pick a recipient from. Instagram users enter that pool by doing a specific action that is easy for them and benefits you.
In application, this might be as follows: You have two fine art prints to giveaway. Instagram users can enter to win the fine art prints by following you, liking a post, and tagging a friend in the comments. This entry took them 5 seconds, and boosted your audience and engagement!
The best way to run a giveaway is by partnering with another person or business in your niche. For example, partnering with a popular Etsy artist! By giving followers the chance to win a combination of photography prints and art prints, and sharing the content on both accounts, you’ll get exposure to all of their followers – and them to yours!
Create fresh spins on old trends.
We saved this tip for last since it’s a bit less of a given, but can make a world of difference as you grow on the platform. Afterall, as a photographer you have a huge advantage to begin with: you’re a natural creative!
The two videos below are a perfect example of a fresh spin on a trend. The left video is one application of a trend, where a user zooms into their eye and follows it with photos that match their eye color. The right version is a different spin on this trend, where a user zooms into their camera lens and shows photos that were taken with that camera.
By creating a fresh spin on an old trend, you’re operating in a medium that Instagram users are already comfortable with. Whether you saw the eye color video or camera video first, you would have a greater understanding of the video’s format thanks to the other. This makes viewers more likely to appreciate and enjoy the content. Plus, if they see a fresh take on a trend they love, they’ll likely engage with and save your video for reference later – and follow you for more creative ideas!