Photographers, Here’s How To Get Followers on Instagram
You may know about photography, but you need to learn more about Marketing
If you’re a photographer, chances are you are active on Instagram.
You’ve listened to all the gurus on YouTube, and you’ve read all the content available about personal branding and social media. Deep down, you know that you made the right choice by launching your Instagram account.
You’ve started posting now and then. You’re sharing the photographs you’re the proudest of, but you might be kind of disappointed by the results you’re getting in return: not that many likes, your number of followers isn’t growing quickly, and you’re not getting more jobs because of your account.
You thought that you had the advantage of being a photographer on Instagram since the platform is so visual. You thought you could produce better content than most people since you’re using fancy gear, you edit tastefully in Lightroom and Photoshop, and you’re using the best hashtags.
Now you’re disappointed because you realize it’s hard and it takes more time than it seems.
As a marketer, who also does photography on the side, I can tell you one thing, though: photographers are great at taking pictures (duh), but they’re terrible at marketing.
You can be the most talented photographer on Earth, if you suck at putting an audience in front of these photographs, no one will know you’re the best!
That’s what marketing is: putting an audience in front of your images.
For some reason, most photographers have a tough time doing that.
Acknowledge The Competition
Lots of photographers have decided to use Instagram to share their work. That makes total sense: Instagram is a social platform that relies on sharing images.
Photographers add an unfair advantage at the beginning of the platform, as most people were using their phones and the built-in photo filters to share images of their daily lives. With an expensive DSLR and a good quality lens, it was quite easy to create much better content than what was already posted on the platform.
Naturally, photographers started to get on the platform and posting amazingly looking content.
Nowadays, in 2020, the quality of the average picture shared on Instagram is so high. Almost every photo posted comes from either a very high-end camera, or the latest iPhone. Everything is professional looking, very highly edited, and so thought through to get more exposure, likes, and comments on posts.
Needless to say, while being an excellent photographer with a little bit of gear was a fantastic way to do much better than others in 2013 is certainly not enough in 2020. Professional images are now a standard on Instagram.
The photos alone won’t be enough to stand out on Instagram.
I’m sure you’re highly talented, but take a look at all these pictures that are posted. I’m not even talking about brands and photographers. Look at regular people, bloggers, celebrities. Even your friends with the latest iPhone that do not know about photography can post fantastic content on their feed.
It’s important to understand that your talent is not going to be enough if you want to have some success on the platform. Of course, it’s better to be excellent and talented than bad and tasteless, but being good at photography is now the minimum on Instagram.
Using the Right Hashtags
One of the best ways to get people to discover your work on Instagram is by using hashtags. If you are not using any, good luck with your growth.
I know it’s tempting to go on the profile of super successful photographers to copy their list of hashtags and paste them on your posts. That may seem like the right thing to do, but this is a wrong practice.
The best way to get any traffic to your work from hashtags is to be featured in the most popular posts of these hashtags. This means that if the hashtag that you are planning on using is very highly popular, you will need a lot of interactions on your post to get in the most popular posts. The successful photographer that you are stealing the hashtags from may have enough likes and comments on his content to rank on these general hashtags, but that might not be the case for you.
If you want to find the best hashtags to use for your post, try looking for smaller hashtags that are maybe more specific. From there, look at the most popular posts in it and try to see how many likes and comments they have. If you get the same amount on average, that means that you probably can use that hashtag. Otherwise, keep looking for different ones and even smaller ones.
I know it’s tempting to use the most popular hashtags possible like #photography or #landscapes, but unless you’re averaging 10,000 likes per post, I wouldn’t even bother using them.
Attract the Right Followers
This is an important one: who do you want to attract to your work? Do you want other photographers to look at your images? Do you want regular people? People in a particular industry?
These are such important questions to answer.
The answer to these questions is going to determine the hashtags that you are going to use. Now that you know which size of hashtags you should look for, you need to focus on which tags you will be using the attract the right people.
If you are a wedding photographer, the chances are that you want to attract engaged people to your work. You probably don’t care that much about other photographers since they probably won’t give you business. In this example then, it’s a better idea to use tags such as #WeddingPhotographer, or #Engagement, or #BrideAndGroom than using the hashtag of your gear, your lens and so on. Engaged people planning a wedding and looking for a photographer are not going to look through #SonyA7III or #24mmGM.
There are no “good” and “bad” hashtags. It all depends on who you want to attract to your content. Always keep in mind that you are posting your photos to show it to a specific audience. Your job with these hashtags is to make sure that you put that audience in front of your work.
Interact With Others
The one last thing about Instagram: Instagram is a social media platform.
That means that you shouldn’t only post your work on there, you should also interact with other people. You should spend time on the platform, follow who you want to follow, like posts, comment, reply to comments, DM, use stories, and so on.
This point is always forgotten or underestimated.
People love interactions, and that’s why they spend time on social media. If they want to look at pretty pictures, there are millions of accounts to follow, websites to visit, and so on. It doesn’t matter how talented you are at that point; you probably can’t compete with the outstanding volume of fantastic content out there.
Not only should you be engaging in your captions, but you should reply to the comment you’re getting, you should explore other people’s accounts, follow them, give them some likes when you like what they do. That’s what Instagram is all about.
Too often, I would see photographers post a shot, without any caption, with just a list of 30 general hashtags. That makes no sense at all. As a user, we don’t have context. We don’t know why you took the shot, how you took it. There is no story, no context, nothing. The shot may be good, but that’s not enough for people to like, comment, and eventually share it with others.
The more you engage with people, the more they will engage with you and the more they will discover your work, like it, and become fans.
Next time you post on Instagram, keep all this advice in mind. Make sure you’re posting content that’s relevant to an audience you want to reach. Make sure you’re using the right hashtags and the right size of hashtags. Don’t forget to be social, to give your opinion on other people’s posts, to provide context about who you are and what you do, to follow other accounts that you like.
If you do all this, I guarantee you’ll get more results in a week than you got in the past two months.
If you don’t, reach out to me, and I’ll try to help.
Do you feel like you tried everything to grow on Instagram? Hopefully, what follows will be the last thing you will have to do to reach your goals.
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