Instagram is a powerful tool for artists. Here are 23 tips to help you make the most of it!
There's not a lot of space and yet there's so much opportunity to tell your audience about you and what you do!
1. KEEP IT SHORT
Instead of writing in full sentences, try separating the text into simple phrases. Focus on what is most important and consider using bullets or emojis to help break it up visually.
Your best option is a link that shows multiple links (like a Linktree or a links page on your website - I currently use Biosite) that allows you to direct people to several important pages at once. A few examples would be including links to see current available work, join your newsletter, read a recent media feature, visit your gallery's website, or request a commission. Prioritize what is current and important in your business right now and make sure to update this as needed.
3. YOUR NAME
Repeating your name is fine, but if it's already a part of your handle then changing the bold title name underneath your photo could be a great option for you to improve your ability to be found in searches. If you choose to do this, be relevant to your niche and concise - i.e. Boston photographer, fluid abstract artist, LA sculptor.
4. MENTION KEYWORDS
Besides using keywords in your name, include a few in the bio text itself related to your style, location, or the type of art you create.
5. CALLS TO ACTION
Use calls to action across your account - definitely in your bio, but also in stories, captions, highlights, and more. Use action verbs to tell people what you want them to do: click, sign up, DM, email, etc. For example, I wrote a caption for one of my art career articles that said "you're going to want to bookmark this for future use" and the post was saved HUNDREDS of times!
Here's a list of 100 Calls to Action for Artists to get you started.
Whether you love to hate them or can't get enough, you can sometimes get a higher organic reach by taking advantage of this feature versus still photos.
6. JUMP ON TRENDS
No, you don't have to learn silly dances. What you should be on the lookout for are audios that resonate with you and that you can apply to your niche. Have fun with these. Try to see them as a chance to be creative rather than a chore. Another simple tip is to choose 'trending' music as it can also help your reels be seen.
7. SHOW YOUR PROCESS
Process videos are often popular on Instagram so consider setting up your phone or camera to record you while you work. You can set it up in timelapse mode or speed up the video when you edit it later. If this type of video is difficult for you to make for whatever reason, show steps of something else: packing artwork for a shipment, setting up your studio, organizing your supplies, mixing colors, or installing a show.
Try to alternate between videos that have quick cuts and long-form content where you might be talking to the camera answering an audience question or showing a process in full. Although shorter reels can mean more views because they replay faster on loop, longer vidoes could bring you more engagement based on the content.
Add text overlay to your videos when you're speaking to be accessible and hold the attention of people who watch reels on mute.
It's great to vary your content with video, but you may still want to throw in a few still posts every now and then.
Especially for those who share educational content, carousels can be a great option for posting your advice. For example, you might have an idea for a post about '5 Ways to Do X'. You can have one introductory slide with the hook and then have one tip per slide after that. Use the remaining slides to tell people about a product or service, guide them to your website, or encourage them to follow you for more content like this.
Your videos and images ideally will grab people's attention, but you can also create valuable engagement with a well-written caption. Include spaces so it's not a large block of text and try asking a question at the end so people leave comments.
12. BE SOCIAL
Spend time engaging with your audience before and after you post. Write comments, like photos, and make genuine connections. You can also encourage interaction through stories with questions and polls.
Simple tweaks to elevate your profile and make it easy for others to learn about & connect with you!
13. PINNED CONTENT
Use this feature to showcase your best-performing content or posts/reels that share the most important information. Think sales, exhibitions, and other announcements. You can also pin an introduction post or a 'Start Here'-style post so that there is an easy way for people who have just landed on your page for the first time to get to know you.
14. FAQs IN DMs
At a certain point, you may find that you're receiving many of the same questions in your DMs. Instead of having to type out or copy and paste the same message each time, set up an automatic reply.
15. BAN SPAM COMMENTS
While we all want more engagement, nobody likes to get those annoying bot comments like 'DM it on @____' or 'I invested 1,800 and earned 8,00 in just three days with @scamaccount'. But what can you do? Well, you can go to your settings, click on privacy, click on Hidden Words, and then add the most common words and phrases from the spam comments you get into a list. After you create and save the list, when a bot comments with any oof those words, it will no longer appear under your posts. Hooray!
16. SET UP HIGHLIGHTS
Use highlights to group together stories that share more about your practice, available work, exhibitions, or whatever is significant in your career. I've seen artists create a highlight of how they handle commissions so that it streamlines the process for potential clients. What you choose to keep in your highlights is totally up to you - the only thing to remember is to refresh them every once in a while.
17. REVIEW INSIGHTS
Check your insights periodically to see what your top-performing content is. That said, don't get too sucked into your numbers. Slight fluctuations are normal and we all lose followers sometimes.
18. YOU DON'T HAVE TO REINVENT THE WHEEL
Repurposing content is 100% okay and will save you time & energy! Feel free to share a reel or image you posted a while ago. You likely have gotten new followers since then, a lot of the people who saw it the first time won't remember, and people need to be reminded of sales/events/etc in order to take action.
These didn't fall under the other categories, but I still felt they were all important to mention.
19. PLAN AHEAD
Content creation is time consuming. Make this process easier by recording several videos at once, keeping B-roll clips handy (you working in the studio or doing other admin tasks), and coming up with ideas of what you want to post by week or month. Also make sure to save audios you like so they are easy to find when you're ready to use them.
Can't think of what to post? Here's a list of 100 FREE content ideas for artists.
20. SHOW UP
One of the most consistent ways to give your account a boost is to post a video or image with YOU in it. Hold one of your artworks, stand next to a piece for scale, or use a headshot. This is also often a great chance to reintroduce yourself to your audience.
21. RELEASE THE PRESSURE
Since we're talking about showing up, remember that if you are posting regularly & intentionally then you're doing just that. You do not have to post every day to grow your account or make progress. There are people whose full-time job is to manage social media accounts for businesses. Nobody expects you to run your account at that level and still have time to create your work.
22. SET BOUNDARIES
Set time limits and boundaries, especially if you start to feel worn out or discouraged by comparing yourself to others' progress.
23. SHIFT YOUR MINDSET
Please don't stress yourself out about Instagram! Some days it will be frustrating (I've been there), but ignore any negative comments or when it feels like you're shouting into a void. Always remember that it is just a tool. Nothing is certain, nothing is a given. However, you still can make meaningful connections - so focus on that aspect as much as possible.
Most importantly, build your audience on other platforms as well so you don't rely on IG alone for sales or for finding new clients.
For more comprehensive advice on social media and all things marketing your work, I invite you to check out The Smartist School, an affordable beginners business course for emerging artists.