Instagram has rocketed to the top of social media charts in just a few years it has been around mainly due to the growing realization that in an age that is marked by increasing impatience and the need to get everything done immediately, communicating by way of pictures was far better than text. Also, the timing was just right for a whole new generation of mobile phone users who were experimenting with the capabilities of their smartphones to go online with Instagram and express their feelings with images. While this opened up a new opportunity for photographers, they soon realized that Instagram photography was a whole new ballgame, and certain aspects needed to be relearned. Some practical tips for Instagram photographers trying to make their mark and catch the attention of agencies, curators, and even clients looking out for new talent:
Develop and Implement an Effective Hashtag Strategy
With more than 60 million photographs being posted daily, the chances of anyone seeing your photographs are quite slim, unless, they happen to be a follower. If you don’t want to pay to promote your posts, the only way your photos will be seen is to add a relevant and descriptive hashtag, which acts as a search parameter for discovering new content. While Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags in your photo description, usually adding 5-7 per post is considered good enough if they are relevant yet not so common that the photo gets lost in the mountain of search results. The best way of adding the hashtags is after the description as this does not affect readability. For a clean look, you can hide the hashtags by inserting them in the comments section or by listing them after five lines to take advantage of the fact that Instagram truncates captions after three lines.
The best results are got by avoiding the very common hashtags that will ensure that your photo is one among the millions uncovered. Use some of the less common ones; however, make sure that they are relevant to increase the chances of your photos getting noticed. Use analytics to find out the relative volumes of hashtags that are pertinent to your work and also use the platform’s search facility to generate new ideas that can be quite valuable to attract by real Instagram followers.
Try To Be Present Everywhere
As is evident, you need to display your photographs in virtually every online forum within Instagram to increase your chances of getting noticed. Instagram “feature accounts” or “hubs” as they are also called, present a very attractive opportunity for having your photos discovered and shared – there is a multitude of hubs with each of them specializing in a particular photography genre or a subject. To get featured on an identified hub, all you need to do is to use the hub’s dedicated hashtag and hope it will sooner or later be discovered by enthusiasts.
Post Regularly and Consistently
Unlike other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter or even conventional email, there does not seem to be any time that is particularly favored by Instagram followers, with the exception of weekends where traffic gets a little boost. What this means that you should be ready to post whenever you spot an opportunity of clicking a particularly attractive subject. You should also develop a habit of posting regularly as this creates an expectation among your followers that can be converted into loyalty and hopefully, business in the future. While as a professional photographer, sticking to a single genre might sound restrictive, it is best to limit yourself to something that excites you so that you are able to develop a signature style that will be instantly recognizable among a multitude of images being scrolled through in an Instagram feed.
Make It Fun for Your Followers
Don’t make the mistake of treating your Instagram account to be your main photography site. Treat it more like a daily journal where you can post a lot more informally so that people can discover your many talents, delight in the photos that you post, find inspiration, and have fun, all at the same time. Use the opportunity to share the more human side of your personality by posting casual and even candid shots. Make it a point to acknowledge every comment in a warm and friendly way so that you can lay the foundation of a one-to-one relationship that both of you will benefit by.
Instagram is a wonderful platform for both budding and professional photographers to showcase not only their talent before an audience of millions but also to treat it as an extension of their personalities. Focus on clicking the best photos you can and then go about sharing them in such a way thatthey can be easily discovered and enjoyed by your audience.
Gaurav Mittal is a social media analyst. He has recently published a study involving the online behavior of more than a million real Instagram followers of various popular lifestyle businesses.