I am terrible when it comes to managing social media for myself. It is practically impossible for me to keep track of all the different things that go into social media. I have a Facebook account because I sort of need to (for family, work, etc.). There’s also a Twitter account that I use as a news source; I do not engage really, I simply read all the relevant happenstances around the world that interest me. Instagram however, is a slightly different story.
As of now, I have two Instagram accounts, one of them being practically brand new (created as part of PR strategy for this blog). The other one, I have had for a while. That’s my personal account and also where I share most of the photos I take. My portfolio site only has a handful of the best of the bests, but Instagram is where I sort of let loose and post the photos that did not quite make the cut for the portfolio site, but I like them none the less.
A little disclosure is needed here. I am still bad at Instagram engagement (the personal account has a little over 150 followers and 120+ photos as of now). I had realized early on that social media and I are not exactly made for one another. Too much of it makes me dizzy, but none of it makes me lonely. So I had to play around quite a bit to find that sweet spot where I could use this platform to my advantage without burning myself out, and get the best out of it while at it.
So, given that I do not actively pursue followers, nor do I care to follow others if I do not find an account inspiring; what, you may ask, gives me the right to type up a sage advice piece on Instagram? I’ll tell you why. Regardless of the small number of following, I still managed to snag my very first print magazine commission thanks to Instagram! Crazy, huh! I wrote an elaborate account of all the hows and whats on a previous post, so I’ll only give you a little summary here.
It was 2015 and I had just found a print magazine that I fell in love with instantly (called UPPERCASE). I had noticed a recent fad on Instagram where people took photos of magazines and books they like. I thought of doing something similar, but slightly elaborate. One fine morning, my buddy and I headed over to a local coffee shop and did a whole photo shoot with him as the model reading the magazine. I came home, edited the photos, posted the one I liked the most on Instagram, and tagged the magazine. later that day the publisher of UPPERCASE magazine left a comment to my photo saying how much she loved it! In the next week or so, the photo was on the magazine website, and also on the newsletter. Few months later, my first print publication was on the pages of UPPERCASE magazine.
Neat, right? So you see, while I do not have a stream of followers and hundreds of thousands of likes, I believe if used properly, Instagram can be an extremely powerful tool! While the whole saga mentioned above may have just been pure luck on my part, I still think I got the opportunity because of a few calculated (albeit unknowingly at that time) steps I took. I took a good photo (if I may say so myself), and I remembered to tag UPPERCASE.
So, in this post, I will tell you 7 things you as a photographer, or a blogger, can and should do that can help you garner targeted attention to your content (which is NOT equivalent to increasing followers, by the way. This post in NOT about “How to Increase Instagram followers”.) I am a photographer, so I can only speak for someone in my own shoes. But hopefully, some of what I have to say can be helpful no matter which profession you belong to.
1. Content is the Key in Instagram
And it is especially true for a photographer. If you do not have awesome photos, then why would someone hire you to take awesome photos for them? Now the definition of awesome varies from one person to another, so let’s not go there. But ask yourself, who do you wish to work with? Then research them, see the kind of photos (or other content) they like, and then curate your content in a similar fashion.
2. A Little Flattery Goes a Long Way
Take my story as an example. I took a good photo, yes, but the reason I caught the attention of UPPERCASE’s publisher, Janine, is because I took the photo with her magazine as the focus. If you are trying to get the attention of someone, figure out what will guarantee it! If you are a fashion blogger, and wish to work with a certain brand, before you start cold calling them, why not create amazing content focusing on their products first?
3. Make Sure to Tag the Concerned Party
So, you managed to get your hands on some products, and made amazing images. Now what? Now you make sure they see it. Tag them!
4. Branch Out
I’ll say this again. What happened with me and UPPERCASE was partly pure luck. Janine, the publisher, manages her own Instagram account, so I got lucky! But what if she had a hired employee who managed the account? Then Janine never would have seen my photo, and she never would have found me! That’s why, branch out with your content. Try different brands, and different people (assuming you are trying to attract a potential client.) One may not work out, but another might!
5. Be Consistent
I’m sure everyone will tell you this. Social Media is all about consistency. I know this for myself, because when I post regularly, I definitely see an increased engagement on my account. But once I get out of the loop, engagement decreases. Also, when I say “be consistent”, I do not mean you have to post every day. But try to stick to some form of schedule. May be you post twice a week. Great! But do not post two days in a row and then forget about your account for a whole week. May be post every 3/4 days or something. So it doesn’t look like you post a lot at times, and then disappear other times. Also, the consistency part is most important at the beginning. Once you have a good number of REAL followers (actual people who follow you because they truly love your content), you can go easy on the whole consistency thing. However, if you’re starting from scratch, and you don’t have any other great outlet to show for, then yeah, Be Consistent!
6. Follow the Right People and Engage Like a Human Being
Do not follow people blindly. Ask yourself if you really like a certain account. Does it inspire you? Motivate you? If yes, then please, do follow! Also, follow your potential clients! If I want to be featured on a certain magazine, I make sure to follow that magazine. If I want to work with a certain brand, I follow that brand. As I mentioned towards the beginning of this post, I recently started a second IG account for this blog only. This blog is about local swags and coffee shops. So, the first thing I did was find some local shops I like and followed them. Also, if you are following local shops, brands, people, etc., make sure to engage with them. Leave them a comment. Show their posts some genuine love, and not just an emoji. Type up sentences that actually mean something relevant to their posts.
7. Use the Right Hashtags
Some of the shops you like may have their own set of hashtag(s) that they check out regularly. Research them, and then use them. But do NOT abuse them for God’s sake! Totally irrelevant hashtags are only very slightly less annoying than walking out the house to realize right away that you’ve left your keys inside.
With my second Instagram account that I created for this blog only recently (not many followers nor images at the moment), I am giving myself a challenge. I am at the very beginning stage, and I hope to take my own advice and see how things go. I’ll keep you updated 🙂 If you have any other awesome tip to add to the list, please share in the comments below.
The photo was taken at Thump Coffee in Denver, Colorado. Shared for the sole purpose of beautifying this post; has no relevance to its content whatsoever :/