By Denise Pietsch
Want to increase your reach on Instagram? Whether you're interested in building your photography brand or just sharing your passion, there are some simple strategies that you can use to gain traction in social media.
Types of Accounts
If you're a photographer trying to build exposure and expand your photography business, you want to convert to a creator account. You can update your account type in the Instagram Settings menu. This will open up features like Insights, which allows you to compare the performance of your different posts. It gives you charts and graphs to help you visualize trends and how people are engaging with your content. It will also give you access to a feature for scheduling posts.
Start posting consistently. Most people follow hundreds of accounts, yet only a small percentage of those are shown to them when they scroll the app.
The Instagram feed is like a grocery store shelf. A store stocks products in response to consumer behavior. Something with very inconsistent demand is going to be removed from the shelf. So don't dump a bunch of photos on Instagram one day and then go dark for three weeks.
Choose a sustainable posting schedule and stick to it. You can post once a week, three times a week or every day. Just make it consistent.
Now that you have a creator account, Instagram gives you access to content scheduling. Treat it like meal prep for social media. Devote some time every week or two for selecting media, writing captions, and scheduling out your posts.
When you get ready to post, make sure you're creating great visuals. You're used to looking at your photos blown up on your computer screen, but that's not the way your Instagram followers are going to be consuming them. Try reformatting your photos to fit the medium.
A 4:5 portrait photo will take up more of your audience's screen than a horizontal photo, demanding more of their attention so try cropping your horizontal photos to this ratio. Image © Grant Thomas
Another option for a horizontal photo is to break it up into a carousel. You show the right and left half of the image separately, followed by the complete image. This will keep viewers engaged with your posts by scrolling through to get the full visual.
Reels & Stories
Our still photographers out there need to start thinking about putting your photography into motion. Go beyond just posting photos to the grid. Motion gets people's attention and the fastest growing accounts incorporate some video element into their posting schedule.
Make a short reel showing a photo before and after being edited. Film yourself talking about one of your best photos and then pan the photo across the screen. Or simply combine a few photos into a reel with a trending sound.
Instagram has templates where you just select photos from your library, edit the textbox, and the video is created for you.
The more time you can get a user to spend on your post, the better. You can drive that behavior by telling a story.
A simple way to do this is by writing longer post captions. You'll see several benefits: Your image will be more memorable when attached to a good story. And, when people stop to read your caption, they spend more time on your post that gives you extra points with the algorithm and can give your next post a boost and that user's feed.
A lot of us get ready to post a new photo and end up with writer's block. Try telling the story behind how you got the shot, interesting facts about the subject or the location, or share some kind of advice that relates to the capture like photo or travel tips.
Captions impact how many people will find your post organically. Your caption can help people find your image by Instagram Search. Instagram can also use it to suggest your posts as related content to users who don't already follow you.
Don't be afraid to get personal! There is a social aspect to social media. Make sure you respond to your followers comments and messages and make sure users feel connected to you - Instagram will reward you for it.
Think about asking your audience a question in the caption. Encouraging users to make a comment on your post will help you maintain and grow your audience.
You want to show yourself in your post occasionally. It's a classic conundrum that photographers don't like to be in front of the camera, but statistics show that users find it easier to connect with a face and a personal story. Behind the scenes, content is a great way to connect with your audience.
Instagram Stories are also an excellent way to make a more personal connection and help followers understand who you are. People love being asked about what they think or know. You can engage your audience through a poll, a quiz, or a question on your Story.
Tag people products and places you've worked with: clients, dive shops, equipment. This incentivizes people you've tagged to share your work. Don't forget to like and share posts from other accounts you enjoy too.
Utilize tagging and hashtagging, but don't overdo it. Spam tagging won't help your content rise to the top.
Lots of people talk about the algorithm as if you're cracking some code or need a secret password, but there are no shortcuts to long term success in social media.
Focus on creating relatable content in a sustainable way. Be consistent. Put out quality content. Be relevant to your audience. This will have greater effect than any trend or hack. Make the algorithm work for you, not the other way around!
I hope these tips were helpful, I'll see you on Instagram! Looking for more information on underwater photography? We have hundreds of pages of tutorials, cheat sheets, videos, and inspiration on our website in the Ikelite Photo School.
Denise Pietsch (pronounced “Peach”) currently manages Ikelite’s Photo School and social media presence. Denise hails from New Jersey, where she obtained a degree in Dance Therapy. After years teaching dance she migrated into the corporate world and eventually came around to Ikelite via the natural career path of fruit distribution and early childhood development. In the end, her lifelong love of photography and octopuses combined into the work she does now. In addition to sharing her energy and enthusiasm with the underwater community she also manages social media for her dog, Joe, collects vinyl records, and enjoys creating memories with her friends and family.