An instant connection to a whole world of potential admirers

Instagram is an increasingly popular on-line community built around an “as-it-happens” stream of photos (short videos now too). Members upload their photos and add a short description that often includes hashtags – a word or phrase beginning with the # sign. These hashtags become clickable links, so that when someone searches a particular hashtag such as #artist, all of the images tagged as #artist are sorted together. Members can “like” your images, comment on them, as well as “follow” you, so that your images appear in their image feed. Instagram is very easy to use and navigate (as compared to Facebook with its intricate settings). There are also easy-to-use photo editing options if you want to fix up your images or add a photo filter. You can link your account to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or Tumblr, so that the photos you post on Instagram are posted on your other social media accounts at the same time. Instagram is generally a happy community – negative comments are rare.

Is it right for artists?

The great thing about Instagram for artists is that it zeros in on what artists are good at – making great images! Unlike other promotional tools, you don’t need to sweat over writing long descriptions and thinking of just the right wording. People are looking for nice images and you can provide that. If you are looking for some instant feedback or kudos post something on Instagram and the response can be instantaneous. It can be very gratifying to post a an image and have people from all over the world like and comment on it. It’s a really nice way to feel connected with an audience with very little effort.  Many artists have found success on Instagram, so if you post a picture, be ready for inquires on sales.

What should I post?

When considering your approach to Instagram, consider that you are curating a “behind the scenes” experience of your work. Most artists don’t have a new work to post every day, so feel free to add in images that inspire you, pictures of your supplies, your works in progress, your work in shows, and anything else that paints a picture of what you are all about. Put in a few pictures of yourself too, people will want to see you! You want to give a nice visual package that speaks to your style and interests. Artists will often add hashtags like #sneakpeek or #artistsofinstagram in their descriptions. You can find a list of suggested hashtags for artists here.

How often should I post?

It’s a good idea to build up a collection of images that tell the story of you, the artist, and posting more often means more interactions and chances to catch someone’s eye. So, post often, but be realistic about it. Once a day is a good goal, but if you are tempted to post a mediocre photo just to fill your quota it’s better to skip! If you aren’t in your studio every day, take a few photos on the days that you are in and you can post them throughout the week. You can also set up the Latergramme program and schedule your posts.  If you really want to get fussy about when to post, check out this Huffington Post article on the best times to post (Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST happens to be a winner).

Getting started

For more advice on how artists can use Instagram read this article from the excellent Art Business blog. To get started with Instagram download the app onto your smart phone, iPad or iPod touch. You can edit your profile and look at photos on your laptop or desktop computer, but you can only upload photos from your phone/iPad/iPod. Instagram has an official guide to getting started here.

I find Instagram one of the most fun ways to promote my art. Somehow I overthink Facebook but with Instagram I find it easy to put up an image and a silly comment. When I find a promotion tool that’s enjoyable, it is much more likely that I’ll follow through on my marketing goals.

– Karina