Artists continue to learn how. to be discovered on Instagram, and social media in general. We take a holistic approach and offer some ideas in this post we hope will be helpful.
It Starts with Your Artwork
It seems pretty clear to me those visual artists who consistently make appealing (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) artwork for their buyers, consistently post their artwork, and share something about who they are and their creative processes, tends to have success organically growing a large following in Instagram.
Among their followers will be some Collectors.
Look at some of the more successful artists, those with over 10,000 IG followers, gallery affiliations, and a professional website presence, and you will see that they focus on their work and consistently produce new, high-quality work.
Above all else, sound marketing and generating sales stats with your commitment to your work!
What Sets You and Your Artwork Apart?
Think strategically right from the beginning. Think about who you are as an artist, yes, what is your personal artistic brand? Now, think about what about you and your work is most interesting; what sets you apart.
Once you have a picture in your mind of who you are and what art best represents you, you're on your way to attracting buyers. The more you find a way to be unique and differentiated, the better chance you have to be discovered by buyers who relate to your work.
In addition to what you post, make sure you put some effort into your Instagram profile and bio. Say something about you and your art that sets you apart from others. Write it and post it. Then, go back in a week and review what you've put in your bio. Looking at this with fresh eyes at least a few times will help you fine-tune your bio to achieve optimum impact. I had a former business partner who said good writing is like making soup. Keep reducing, reducing, and reducing until it becomes soup.
Finally, make it easy for visitors to your bio to know how they can buy your art. Since IG only allows one link in your profile, you may want to use a separate app like Linktr.ee as a tool to give access to multiple links where buyers can purchase your art. Your e-commerce can be on your website, an online gallery that represents your work, or even an NFT marketplace.
Yes, you have to post Stories on IG. But remember, Stories are mainly for people who are already following you. They really don't help much impact to get you discovered by collectors, but they do help keep you visible to your Followers. Regardless, it's important to keep your stories on brand, whatever that is. Yes, everything you produce and share reflects your personal artistic brand.
Also, think beyond the Story and into IG Highlights when creating Stories. Everyone knows that Stories only last 24 hours and then "poof", they're gone! But, and this is very important, your Story can live on in Highlights.
Think of Stories as a way to stay visible and current with your followers and think of Highlights as "evergreen" content; that means they live on much longer.
This brings me to a strategic principle of content marketing; always think of repurposing your content in different ways. So, if you think about what Highlights you want to keep when you're creating your stories, you'll be able to strategically repurpose Stories and get greater value for the time you're putting into developing content.
One excellent form of Story content is videos that show your process. And don't be camera shy when creating process videos. People like seeing the artist. But be smart about how you present yourself. Regardless, process demos help people see what's behind the finished work of art. Collectors like to see your process and read something about your process and philosophy.
Once you've completed different Story videos you can stitch a number of process videos together into your highlights. Be sure to create titles for your Highlights that fit the content. Remember, you want buyers to easily find content. I see far too many artists who don't put any thought into their Highlights titles.
Some theme ideas for highlights can be:
Me - (collectors want to know something about you)
Processes - demo your work being created
When you post think about the impact of what you're posting from a buyer's point of view. What if you only have one post to get a collector's attention? Would you post regularly selfies of yourself doing something totally unrelated to your work? Don't get me wrong, it's helpful to show some of your personality, but I'll keep saying this, think strategically and be mindful that your selfie may be the only thing a collector sees when they stumble upon your post.
Engage With Followers and Following
Social media works best as an H2H (human-to-human) conversation...Making your next sale depends on building relationships. Unfortunately, this can take time, but it's important. Take the time to watch for comments and likes and reply in a timely manner. It's a good idea to take a few minutes to look at the profile of the person you're replying to. And, it's sometimes a good idea to look at some of the followers of the person who made the comment. You might just discover that the person who liked or commented on your work may be a collector.
If you want to be discovered by collectors you will need to post content consistently. But, the mix of posts, Stories, and Reels is important to gain favorable exposure by the IG algorithm.
Most Instagram consultants recommend posting a Story a minimum of three times per week, but others suggest multiple times per day. The fact is that as a working artist, full-time or part-time, it's difficult to post more than a few Stories a week from my point of view.
Behind the scenes, Instagram's algorithm is rewarding artists who post videos as Stories and as Reels by pushing their content into more user accounts. Apparently, IG made a statement a few years ago that they wanted to be seen more as a video platform than photographs. To encourage members to publish more videos, IG rewards you with greater exposure in feeds of IG users that tend to look for content similar to what you produce.
The general rule of thumb is your Stories can reveal more of your personality because they are most visible to people already following you. The right mix of sharing your artwork and sharing more about you seems to be a successful formula.
On the other hand, think of Reels when you want to expose your content to new followers and potential buyers. If you’re going to post on Reels, make sure your content is attention-grabbing and engaging. Reel viewers are looking for content that’s either entertaining, educational, or a mix of both, and they’re attracted to authentic content over content that looks scripted or formal.
When was the last time you scrolled through your IG feed? Have you noticed how many more Reels show up, and if the reel has excellent content it grabs your attention? Reels start running when a user lands on your reel/post. This truly is one of the best ways to capture the attention of buyers.
Another thing I like about Reels is, unlike Stories, Reels show up in IG users' feeds and the number of Reels continues to go grow every day.
Personally, I like to save Reels into different categories so I can retrieve them in the future. Lastly, you can share another IG user's Reel in your Story, but it's critical that you do an @mention of the artist's reel you're sharing. This can be a helpful tactic to have great content to share in addition to the videos you create.
Lastly, IGTV is especially useful for content that is educational, like how-to videos or product demonstrations. On IGTV, you have a captive audience that typically knows they’re about to watch something that’s a little more in-depth than the other options on this list, so you can get away with content that’s slightly more of a time and attention investment.
IGTV also works well for content that doesn’t quite fit any of the criteria above. If you have a video that’s over 3 minutes long that would be difficult to parse into stories, IGTV is great. If you have content that might be suited for Reels but is a little more produced and formal looking, IGTV is a great alternative. And like Reels, IGTV is a great opportunity to reach new viewers with your video.