With the news that Instagram has now reached 500+ million active daily users, we’re reminded of its importance as part of a photographer’s overall marketing plan. For our studio, Lin & Jirsa, we try our best to track the source of leads. More and more, our leads are coming directly from Instagram, with about 15 leads (of the 300+ booked on average each year) being traced directly to the social media giant. Of course, there are also the untraced leads that may have originated from IG in addition to the leads that IG may have assisted in convincing and converting. So how does a photographer start building a following? Here are 10 tips on how to increase Instagram followers for photographers:

10 Tips on How to Increase Instagram Followers for Photographers

  1. Start with Your Immediate Network
  2. Interact with Your Target Audience
  3. Schedule Your Posts
  4. Post High-Quality Content
  5. Post Consistent Content
  6. Use Your Account Sparingly for Marketing Sales and Products
  7. Don’t Focus All Success on Numbers
  8. Find the Best Times to Post
  9. Integrate with Facebook
  10. Learn How to Use Hashtags, Tagging, and Locations

1. Start with Your Immediate Network

Nobody likes to drink at an empty bar. While you never want to be “that annoying friend” that continually markets his business to his friends, a subtle “follow” from your business account is absolutely acceptable and establishes a foundation to build upon.

how-to-get-more-followers-on-instagram

2. Interact with Your Target Audience

Really, this tip on how to increase Instagram followers for photographers deserves a longer explanation, but we’ll keep it concise for the sake of this article.  In short, participate on Instagram with your target audience, following them, commenting on their posts, and liking their posts rather than only interacting with your current network.  This involves strategies like following the followers of your fellow industry professionals and even competitors.

[Related Reading: 5 Ways For Photographers to Use Instagram Guides as a Key Marketing Tool]

3. Schedule Your Posts

Posting consistently can be difficult and time-consuming. That’s why it’s worth paying for a post scheduler.  As much as we all hate additional monthly service fees, in this case, the investment is worth the time saved, and the consistency gained.

4. Post High-Quality Content

When it comes to content creation, consider these 7 ways to ensure you’re posting high-quality content.  We use the Acronym CHAIRED, which stands for the following:

C | Concise or Short

H | Humorous or Cute – e.g. Pet photos, flower girls, baby photos

A | Amazing – e.g. “Wowzer” sunset photos, impressive floral setups

I | Intimate e.g. Deeply personal posts about life

R | Relevant e.g. Tips for your target audience

E | Engaging – Including questions with your photos

D | Diverse – e.g. Posting photos and videos

While every post does not have to include every aspect of CHAIRED, the more aspects it does include the higher the likelihood for success as measured by engagement.

Below is our all-time most successful post as measured by engagement (featuring the beautiful newborn of our former studio manager). Notice how it fits qualities of “Cute, Intimate, and Relevant.”

The following was also a very successful post. It fits the qualities of “Amazing” because of the unique location and the photography tricks applied. But it’s also relevant and intimate since it’s actually from my very own engagement session.

5. Post Consistent Content

What do you want your Instagram feed to be known for?   If someone said “Check out this account!  It has great ___________,” what would you want that blank to be for your account?

Caroline Tran, a renowned photographer and educator, often stresses how important it is to curate your photos and show a consistent style.  Below is an screenshot of her account, which clearly illustrates how she walks the walk.

caroline-tran-instagram

Clients tend to book what they see, so maintaining a specific style lets them know what to expect, and lets you know exactly what to deliver.

Of course, the degree to which you make your feed consistent is a business choice that should depend on your style, niche, and audience.  You can get some inspiration from the best social media campaigns of 2021 here.

At Lin and Jirsa, for example, we have decided to show more diversity in shooting, lighting, and post production styles simply because we know that our clientele is so diverse in their style preferences, and we do our best to accommodate.

6. Use Your Account Sparingly for Marketing Sales and Products

Sometimes people use their accounts to over-market themselves.  “Yes, we know you have mini-sessions going on!  We don’t need a reminder post every two hours!” But more often than not, photographers underutilize Instagram for marketing.   Don’t be afraid to announce a mini-session or subtly showcase/market your new albums or canvases.

7. Don’t Focus All Success on Numbers

Related to the last point, some posts will do better than others and THAT’S OKAY!  You don’t have to aim for hundreds or thousands of likes with every post.  If your post on your new albums only receives 1/4 of the engagement as your regular posts, it doesn’t mean you should stop posting them, especially if they are leading to sales.  Just use your judgement by using the numbers to help you make decisions, without being a slave to them.

instagram-followers
Example screenshot from 2016

8. Find the Best Times to Post

You can use Account Insights within Instagram or consider paid services like Iconosquare to track pertinent stats, including the best times to post, engagement, and follower growth over time. However, you can also use your intuition and think about when your users are most likely to be engaged with your content. For our Instagram account, it happens to be 8AM, 12PM, 5PM and 8PM. You can also use best practices based on mass data like this.

9. Integrate with Facebook

We can’t stress enough the importance of developing time-saving workflows.  If you’re posting manually from your mobile device to Instagram, you should also consider linking your Facebook account so that images post directly to your timeline as well.  Besides, the Facebook algorithm loves Instagram posts.

instgram-popular-hashtags-for-photographers

10. Learn How to Use Hashtags, Tagging and Locations

Of all the tips on how to increase Instagram followers for photographers, this may seem the most obvious, but we still see many photographers not using or misusing all three.

  • Hashtags – Get into the conversation by finding popular and unique hashtags that cater to your specific audience.  What hashtags are being used by your target audience and future clients?

how-to-get-instagram-followers

Tip: Put a list of 30 maximum hashtags in your first comment rather than cluttering your caption space. Having a paragraph as a caption takes away attention from the image.

  • Tagging – Be sure to tag your clients, models, and all vendors involved in the shoot!
  • Locations – Be sure to add a location to your image so that anyone searching that location will see your work!

[Related Reading: Answers To Why Your Instagram Is Stuck At Low Engagement]

Conclusion

The last bit of advice is to remember that every business is different, including yours. So make sure you don’t do something just because you hear of others doing it, including the advice given in this article. With any social network, being genuine and being yourself is important to attracting and retaining engaged followers. So have fun, develop your own voice, and come up with your own strategy. You can find more in-depth information on building your photography business in our Photography Business Training System. In it, we share ALL of our strategies, templates, and workflows that we’ve used over the past decade, to build one of the most profitable photography studios in the world.

Did we miss anything? What works for you? We’d love to know in the comments

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