Instagram best practices for artists

In the world of social, a question that many artists ask is “how do I improve my social media presence?” While that question is broad, there are some Instagram best practices for artists that you can go by.

Chris Daley is the Digital Content Manager for Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. He oversees public relations, organic video and co-manages RMCAD’s social media channels. Prior to RMCAD, the video producer worked in television where he created promos, commercials, social content, news stories and much more for Denver7 and the #1 ABC affiliate in the country, WSB-TV. Throughout his experience, Daley learned how to make engaging content across all platforms along with various social strategies.

Most recently, Daley improved RMCAD’s Instagram following by more than 200% through implementing a user-generated content strategy along with materials made by members of the marketing department. Based on his success in the social realm here at RMCAD, here are some Instagram best practices for artists.

Have a goal in mind:
Setting a goal is much more than a follower count – it means understanding what you want your social voice to look like. Think of how you would want others to describe your page if they shared your content with a friend. “This is the person who posts incredible _____ work. I suggest you follow them because ______.” Your goal should be how you want your work to be recognized, shared and remembered.

Find your niche:
Give people a reason to follow you. What do they get from your profile that they won’t get anywhere else? If you are a photographer that shoots a variety of content, what would you consider is your best work? If it’s nature, put your focus (pun intended) on those outdoor photos you spent hours shooting and editing. Having a niche is like giving your followers a promise. You can still post other work samples too, but it makes sense to post your best stuff most often.

Have a plan/strategy:
With the first two points in mind, you need to figure out how you are going to achieve your goal through your niche. How often and what time are you posting should be done on a consistent basis. If you already have a following, look at your Instagram insights to see when they are online. Post volume is suggested, but it will only work if it’s your quality content. When someone follows you, they are trusting you to continue posting the same content that prompted them to follow you to begin with. Don’t just post to post, make sure it’s something you are proud of that will deliver on your promise. In terms of your workflow, have your next 10 posts with a social copy ready to go. Set a reminder and post according to your strategy. If you don’t want to purchase a social scheduling tool, planning ahead is more practical than trying to create and post simultaneously each time.

Know your dimensions:
Dimensions play a HUGE role. For example, using Instagram’s portrait dimensions (1080×1350) will take up more of your smartphone’s screen as opposed to the traditional square or widescreen image. There are times when your work won’t fit in the portrait format, which is fine. However, that doesn’t mean to post a widescreen video with black bars to make it a square. Please don’t do that! 

Extend the life of your content by repurposing it:
As a content creator, you can document your work in several ways that is intriguing to your followers. Perhaps it’s a work in progress where you document each step of what you are doing. It can also be a behind-the-scenes look if you are working with lighting and cameras. If you are shooting photos or video, there’s a good chance you’ll have plenty of extra content that you don’t use in your final edit. Think outside the box and see what you can do with the extra content you capture during your creative process.

Stay ahead of the trends:
Topical posts typically resonate better than most because it’s relatable. If you are working on something that others are too, such as Inktober, you are joining a conversation in a creative community that wants to see work just like yours! You can also plan ahead by having content ready to go for holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Making something relatable that still ties to your brand is something that your followers will appreciate.

Focus on content, not followers:
This cannot be said enough. You don’t make art to please others, so why should posting be any different? Stay true to your brand and content and the followers will come. Don’t feel like you have to change your strategy after a month if you’re not growing like your favorite artists do. Ultimately, your page should be something you are proud of because it’s for yourself. Think of it as an extension of your portfolio. A big following may seem appealing, but true talent is what gets you gigs and job opportunities in the future.

Admittedly, Daley doesn’t do the best job with his own social media because his main focus is improving the brands he works for by following these Instagram best practices for artists. He recently wrote about three reasons why artists should never work for free, an absolute must you should check out!