So, unless you’ve been living under a rock or similar, you may not have seen this announcement:
Changes are coming to video on Instagram 📺— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) June 30, 2021
At Instagram we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging. pic.twitter.com/ezFp4hfDpf
The quote that basically everyone jumped on, lost their sht over and nearly deleted the app for was that Instagram is “no longer a photo-sharing app“.
All of us hung on that and missed the next bit, he added onto the end of that… “or a square photo-sharing app”.
Yah, the last bit is kinda key.
So anyhow I mentioned this in a post on the gram and asked you a question:
You guys said you wanted a video on the basics of IG for photographers to get clients, but honestly, this is an astronomically huge topic and a teeny YouTube video was never going to hit all the spots. Here are the bare bones though:
Some core elements of that video ⤴️ include that you want to try and get away from using IG as purely a “discovery” platform if your aim is to convert clients into customers (as opposed to collecting thousands of photographers as followers, in which case, discovery is key). Instead, look at Instagram as the validation centre of decision making.
You are FAR better focussing on your Engagement Rate (ER) over of your follower count. ER is the key to most things on the old socials.
(Repeat that again for the people at the back)
This little tool can help find yours.
Sure, as a photographer on Instagram you can definitely be discovered there – the later parts of the video linked above go over a few things to help with this – location-specific tags and hashtags, for example – but really you want your social profiles to be a window into you and your business, what you can bring to the proverbial table and what you’re doing at the moment.
You see, humans work super simply. We make decisions based on a tribe mentality and so adding a sprinkle of sales psychology into the pan here will result in a dish that is best served hot, of which everyone wants a plate.
Food analogies aside, you need to identify what the purpose of your IG profile is in the entire sales process. Your best bet is to have a small number (relative to accounts of photographers followed by photographers) of highly engaged*, geographically local, invested potential clients.
How do you do that though? Where be these peoples at?
Yah, I know. Seems so simple. Really though, it’s just a case of determined, dedicated relationship building, careful sharing and a focus on the magic word: engagement.
* Engaged = followers or people who see your content that interact with it in some way, either by sharing, liking, saving, commenting, following or another similar action.
When someone engages on your content, Instagram learns that that user liked your stuff, so they will give your stuff a boost in that persons feed next time around. Similarly, the algorithm also finds similar people to those people and suggests your content out. By using this knowledge, you know that you can use Instagram to develop that super-engaged community by asking questions, replying to any interactions with a conversation starter and using engagement tools in stories (polls, ratings, questions etc), and in the process, you are actually helping your overall discovery too.
Engagement and validation first, discovery second.
So what should you be posting, and when?
Really this is a “how long is a piece of string” question. Kind of. You’re far better posting quality over quantity. So post regularly, at least once per week, with a super hot bit of content that will get the engagement flowing – tag people, locations and use location hashtags over general hashtags. Stay away from #photography and #photographer hashtags because your target market is unlikely to be following those. They’re more likely to be following #dogsofinstagram (HUGE hashtag, not a great choice!) and #dogsofyorkshire than a photographer tag.
You CAN use your feed as a portfolio. If you want to. But it needs to be awesome.
That’s posts, into the feed. Instagram said last year the feed wasn’t a huge priority, and instead, people should focus on engaging story content, reels and other new things on the platform. That means that you can use your stories more frequently (2x per day if you have the juicy things to share), utilising story highlights to group validation-centric things (think behind the scenes, or awards, instead of speededits or before and afters (unless the B&A is a BTS before…)).
Use video where possible – whether that’s in stories or reels or IGTV, using those videos to really get the audience involved, commenting (ask questions!) and interacting will help you, not hurt you.
Always remember: people don’t care about you. They care about themselves. What can you do on your social feeds to help them think about themselves, their lives and how you can fit into it? That’s the winner.
Anyhow, I could ramble on about Instagram for Photographers for over a thousand years… I’m not going to lie, it isn’t my favourite platform because of the FOMO and self-worth issues it raises as a user, BUT it does have a place.
I mean, you could just do what we did: post with a strategy for 6 months to get to 10k and then back off to post what you want, when you want, as you want. Nobody is going to slam you for that (well, nearly nobody).
As with all business things, keep your head in the game and think of the customer first, you second.