Instagram has become the art world darling for social media marketing, due to its obvious visual strengths and the natural discoverability factor it provides art lovers. Art fairs, museums, and artists were the early adopters of this platform. Many art galleries have found great success on Instagram attracting new, buying, art collectors.
Is your gallery using Instagram in a way that is producing results?
How useful Instagram is as a marketing or sales channel depends on your gallery program, marketing know-how and the type of art collector you serve.
Who Makes up the Majority of Instagram Users
Statistics from 2018 social media market research show that the core global user-base is between 18-34 years old. Art world specific findings from the 2018 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report regarding Instagram art buyer usage shows the following:
- 79% of art buyers under 35 years old use Instagram for search and discovery of new artists.
- 32% of art buyers claimed social media had an increasing impact on their decision to purchase art.
- 62% of art galleries surveyed said Instagram was their most effective social media channel for raising awareness and promotion.
That is indeed a compelling argument for dedicating more marketing resources to this platform as part of your overall social media strategy.
Let’s look at how Instagram serves its users.
How the Instagram Algorithm Works
It is essential to understand how Instagram’s algorithm determines what shows up in a user’s feed. There are three primary factors that influence what a user sees:
- Interest: Instagram tries to predict what a user will most care about based on their past behavior and interactions with posts. Types of content that a user has shown the most interest in are what ranks highest in their feed. This makes engagement the key to success for art galleries. Interaction from the user with a post, such as commenting, liking and tagging, is essential.
- Timing: Users see what was posted since they were last on the app. Of all of Instagram’s users, half visit the site daily. Posting 2-3 times a day will help ensure your post has the best chance of being seen and interacted with in an increasing crowded feed.
- Relationship: The closer a user is to the person or brand who shared a post, the more likely that user is to see the post in their feed. This means growing your following.
All three factors must be in mind when executing your Instagram strategy. To build your following, it is a good idea to consider investing in advertising your more important messages to increase your followers and relationships.
Vary the types of posts you advertise helps targeted audience have a better sense of what your gallery offers and how it is relevant to them. For example, for your paid campaigns select a blend of sales, educational, humor and messages about the people behind the gallery or artwork.
Instagram Rewards Those Who Use their Features
Instagram has many cool features that were designed for a more exciting user experience. For example, you might experiment with features like Stories, Highlights, image filters, stickers, and of course video.
Using these features is entirely to your advantage because Instagram often puts more value on content that is created with their features. This can increase your chances of having your posts seen organically.
To improve your gallery’s Instagram visual impact, engagement levels and branding, check out some of the recommendations below to incorporate into your art gallery’s Instagram strategy.
- Develop a visual brand. Take cues from your gallery website and branding. This helps to create a consistency. Visual elements might include fonts and colors of text overlay, filters, the way you group exhibition photos, etc.
- Group images together around a show for a more comprehensive visual story. Try creating carousel posts of a work of art that includes multiple detail shots.
- Experiment with different grid layouts. This is an interesting strategy to get attention when someone lands on your page. Apps like Preview make it easy to plan and post different grid patterns.
- Posting in the early morning and mid-day tend to receive higher engagement rates.
- Photos of people, especially faces, can spark higher engagement.
- Instagram Stories delivers a stronger connection with the viewer than single images. They are only live for 24 hours unless made a highlight in your profile. Highlight an Instagram Story for each exhibition, so it has a more significant impact.
- Using poll stickers and asking questions in the comments to starts a dialog.
- Video posts are a crowd pleaser.
- Tag artists, partners, and organizations in relevant posts and encourage them to reciprocate.
- Engage with your followers. Be active on your top collector and artist feeds. Engage with feeds from organizations in your community as well that attract a similar target market.
- Be responsive when someone comments on a post. Instagram tracks your level of engagement as a brand as much as it does your followers.
- Use more relevant hashtags. Tags such as #art, #artist, #contemporaryart are so overused that your posts within a search will likely be lost. Many galleries seem to use a lengthy boilerplate of the same hashtags. It is more valuable to customize your hashtags to the image.
- Use text overlay on some images to briefly communicate the vision of artist and gallery.
- Create a highlighted Instagram Story on your profile about your gallery’s mission and services.
- Post testimonials on occasion with client installation shots.
Instagram, like other social media platforms, has unique features and users. It is a superb sales and marketing tool for nurturing younger art lovers to become lifelong art collectors.
Post variety keeps followers interested and engaged, but be mindful of how it is organized for the overall aesthetic. Don’t be afraid to show the human (or more gritty) side of running an art gallery or being an artist. Those types of posts enable your gallery to connect in a more authentic and approachable way with art lovers who may still feel intimidated about buying original works of art.
Understanding how the algorithm works, will help guide your strategy and more quickly build a following of prospective art buyers.
Museums are doing an outstanding job with Instagram. Follow some of the big ones to observe what works for them and how they are using Instagram’s features.
Running an art gallery today is a brave new digital world. Instagram has a lot of potential to help you succeed in that world.