A couple of months ago, I posted an article about how to grow your audience on Twitter as an artist. It was pretty popular, so I thought I would do the same for Instagram!
I want to preface this article by saying that I have only started to develop my Instagram account recently. I am much more advanced with Twitter, as it is my main platform and the one most adapted to a writer like me. However, I’ve always been curious and tempted to develop myself on Instagram. These tips are therefore things that I’m doing at this very moment, and also things that I’ve seen work very well on my popular friends’ accounts.
1. Post. A Lot.
Same rule as for Twitter: you need to be on people’s radar. Therefore, you need to post often, at the very least once a day, but more if you want to be noticed. In my course I have a whole module about how to create interesting content, but here are some examples of things you can post on Instagram:
- Finished projects
- Selfies: they show you and your personality
- WIP and Before/After if you are a visual artist
- Short videos
- Inspirational quotes
- Photos of your equipment / setup / material
Don’t forget to also post in your Story! Photos but especially ultra-short videos in Stories will show other users that your are active and interesting. Your Story will show your followers your personality and humour.
2. Engage With People
The problem with Instagram is that even if you post 10 photos a day, you are not guaranteed any interaction with people, and therefore any following. Take some time to think about the text that goes with each post. Could you frame it in a way that makes people want to comment? Could you ask questions, advice or feedback?
The same way, don’t just like other people’s content. Leave comments, ask them questions, reply to other commenters. Every time you follow someone new, try to engage with them.
Don’t hesitate to tag people in your stories for example. You could highlight a post that you really liked and call for your followers to follow them. Or tag them in a post that is a reply to their post. Anything that is above a simple like will get you a lot of interactions, and as a result an increase in followers.
3. Hashtags are a MUST
Very much like other social media platforms, you have to learn to use hashtags efficiently. Not only hashtags make you more visible, but they also help you find more people to follow and interact with.
The good thing about Instagram is that you don’t have a limit of characters, which means that you can add many hashtags to your posts without any issues. Try experimenting with different hashtags, different lengths, different spellings (singular or plural example).
4. Consider Switching to a Business Account
I have just done that and it brought me THE essential feature I was missing before: analytics! On Instagram it’s called “Insights” and it’s very important for anyone who is serious about developing an audience. Simply said: you need data to see which posts are performing better and are bringing you more followers. Without that, it’s guesswork.
A business account also allows you to have a “contact” button on your profile, and when you reach 10’000 followers you can also post links in your stories.
It’s very easy to switch to a business account. And the best part is: if you don’t like it, you can switch back at any time!
5. Follow People… SMARTLY
You can speed up the process of getting followers by following other people and hoping they will follow you back. A lot of people online hate this technique but that’s how I developed my Twitter account and I intend on using it on Instagram too.
However, I don’t advise you to follow blindly everyone you encounter. First, because it’s not genuine. Second, because you won’t get a big ratio of followers back. Third, because it is likely to get you noticed for the wrong reasons.
Instead, you need to follow people in a smart way that will result in more follow back, more interactions and more engaged audience.In general, you want to follow people who are:
- Likely to enjoy your content
- Already following accounts similar to yours
The way I do this is by checking hashtags and identifying accounts using these hashtags that have a lot of followers (= influencers). Next, I check their posts and see who commented them. And I follow the people who commented who are visibly interested in the influencer’s content. I always check their profile before following them, to make sure that they are not bots, advertisers or private accounts. That way, I get a large portion of quality people following me back.
Remember: It’s a Marathon
If you follow these five tips, you will see your audience on Instagram grow. But don’t imagine that you will get to a million followers overnight. Just like any other social media platform, it will take time until you see a steady increase and reach numbers that will put you in the “influencer” category (such numbers will change depending on your field).
In the meantime, don’t burn out trying to do too much too quickly. Social media platforms are like a natural organism, with breathe in times (= posting content) and breathe outs (= give your followers time to react). The most effective way I’ve found to develop any platform is to give yourself some time every day, for example half an hour in the morning. half an hour in the evening, and then let it be for the rest of the day. That way, you don’t burn out and you grow at a sustainable pace.
If you want a global strategy for your online presence, check out my post that explains how I do it, simply and without taking too much time.
And If You Want to Follow Me on Instagram:
Writer, founder of The Part-Time Artist (motivation, advice & mental health for creative people: theparttimeartist.com). Author of #fanfics & #scifi.
Céline is an author and podcaster passionate about helping fellow artists reach their potential and live a happy, balanced life.