Updated: September 29, 202`1
Instagram has announced that it is more of a video platform and no longer a photo-sharing platform, so photographers are learning how to use or mix video and photo skills to stand out and be found on Instagram.
What I have learned this past year is how it is vital to utilize all the features of Instagram because they all act as it’s own mini algorithm. So what works in one feature may not work in another, but there is excellent news. Reels is here to stay, and now Instagram just announced they would be paying creators for reels and more.
Instagram Reels for Photographers
Instagram Reels arrived mimicking Tiktok but is not only about song and dance. Instagram is pushing reels in it’s explore page and I have never seen such a fast turn around time for views and even followers so if you don’t do anything for your photo business Instagram account, then please do 1 reel a week and then let me know what has changed.
What is Instagram Reels?
Reels is very similar to TikTok in the sense that it has trending songs, some dances, and overall topics of interest showcased in a short video format. Reels are short videos ( up to 30 seconds) that also has it’s own Algorithm so it will show you your top interests on the explore page. So for example, if you love watching dog videos, then a lot of these will be shown on your explore feed, so it’s if you are trying to attract people that love watching hair videos, then it’s important you add hair video looks, tips, and beauty.
As per Instagram: “ Reels are short, entertaining videos on Instagram where you can express your creativity and bring your brand to life. People come to Reels to participate in cultural trends, collaborate with the community and discover new ideas”
You can edit your video before posting it to reels or you can use reels to edit your video. Again very much like Tik Tok. Let’s chat about the types of Reels that you can create to help your business get found.
Your content has one of the following goals:
You can essentially rotate between these categories unless you are a major educator and want to educate the whole time or you love doing the song/dances and want to entertain all the time. Remember it’s about attracting your ideal audience and creating a true connection so selling all the time will turn people off.
A lot of this is about testing what will get the most reach and then replicating more of what is working.
How To Get Started With Reels For Photo Business
#1. First look at the reels that appear to you. Watch and observe. Then save any songs you like. Check out this video.
#2. Learning how to use text at different moments in reels.
#3. How to edit using another app ( Dheise)For my own business, I use the app inshot and I can do a video with a mix of photos and video, just video or just a photo slideshow. If you have Animoto, then use that.
Caption writing Tips. The caption section in reels is very similar to a post, but you can add more hashtags if you would like. We recommend that you also experiment with not getting any hashtags at all, to see if it also does well. Remember test, test, and test.
To share or not to share on feed. We see many creatives first posting it to their feed for a few days and then removing it as it still gets views. Why? Because these videos may not match your curated feed entirely so removing it may help the overall look of your feed. Secondly, these videos are still pushed out in the explore section and your content can be found by others.
Hashtags – If you have already done hashtag research for your brand on your Instagram, then we recommend using the ones you typically use. It is very important to use location-related hashtags so the algorithm pushes your content to people near you.
Avoid hashtags that are too competitive so one tip is to avoid hashtags that have over 1 million posts.
Instagram Reel Ideas For Photographers
- See what is trending and turn it into a photo related topic
- See memes that fits your clients not other photographers. If your ideal client are moms than look up some funny memes about that
- Do reels about things you and your ideal client have in common
- Showcase your product in your reels – LaJune King is queen of that
- Showcase specials like Geraldine Jeanot did here
- Take BTS footage of your shoots and turn them into reels. Kesha Lambert does this nicely
- Do a reel about 1-2 Frequent Questions you ask
It’s 2020, and gone are the days where photography businesses are pouring all of their marketing time on Facebook. Heck, there is even talk that photography business owners should be spending time on places like Tik Tok and even Linkedin.
The truth is many photographers are still gaining massive exposure and even getting booked via Instagram. Since Instagram is a very visual tool, it is still a terrific social media platform for photographers. But how can you get your photography account noticed on Instagram? How do you get photography clients from Instagram? Let’s dive in.
Get Local on Instagram:
I have spent the last few years teaching Local SEO, and there is a lot of overlap with social media. First and foremost, IG acts like a mini search engine, so ideally, the algorithm must associate your account with the location you serve at. The more they know you are affiliated with such an area, the better for you.
So how do you do that? First and foremost, add a location to your IG bio. Secondly, you should be consistently geo-tagging your Instagram posts and Instagram stories. Just because you may not have an actual photography studio, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t geo-tag. You should geo-tag everything: restaurants for personal posts, stores near you, city geo-tag, and so forth..
To geo-tag, just go to add a location when you post on your feed. For stories, click on the stickers button and then choose the city or area.
Businesses know that hashtags are relevant to Instagram, but many business owners still don’t know how to do hashtag research correctly. One tip that I have used is to mix high volume hashtags with lower volume hashtags. For example, if a hashtag has over 200,000 posts, it may be very competitive. I then look at the top 9 results. Think of the top 9 results like the first page of Google. If you see that the average top 9 results for the said hashtag is getting over 1,000 likes and most of your photos get 45 likes, well, you will probably never land that top 9.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use this hashtag, but it does mean you should also find hashtags that hare lover competition so you can land a top 9 and be found via the hashtag explore section.
Since users can now follow hashtags, it is vital that create hashtag groups for your self. Find the typical categories you post about, and you can generate hashtag groups around those: Here are some examples:
- Wedding Venues
- Wedding Details
- Wedding Decor
- ( Town) Weddings
- Mompreneur if you are a mom
- Featured local vendor in the wedding industry
Now you can find hashtags with a mix of broad competitive ones and local ones. For example, if I look up, Miami Weddings has over 200k posts, but Miami wedding venues hashtag has 94k posts. Those are two useful local hashtags to use if I am a wedding photographer or even a planner in Miami.
- Newborn Poses
- Newborn Props
- Personal Posts ( owning a studio)
- Local town event or tip for moms
- Mom hack or productivity tip
- Maternity tip or local maternity tip related
Then find hashtags you can save in each category you post. I recommend at least ten. I typically do use it in my caption, but I know many people like to use most in the comment area, so it looks cleaner. Try mixing it up to see which one will work best for you, and by that, I mean which one will yield more engagement.
Updated 2021: Instagram has stated that hashtags are important to use in the captions, not in the comments.
Use Instagram Stories
One can not do Instagram marketing without being active on Instagram Stories. I understand that we may not feel our very best to show up on camera every day so you can feature a photo, a quote, or even a repost from a fellow vendor or client. I recommend at least 3 stories daily, so you are active. Remember, once you post on Stories, you will show up on top, so you must be engaged. Show behind the scenes, food, places to shop. Explore your town and be a mini city guide, especially for your ideal target audience. If your audience is moms, moms are always looking for things to do with their kids. This way, you will attract moms in your area who will save your tips.
Instagram marketing is more about relationship building than selling. You are a storyteller, so tell stories. Feature client testimonial and client reposts, and mention where that client is from.
Updated 2021: Instagram Stories still rock, but Instagram Reels is where it’s at and Facebook just announced Facebook Reels today!
Now that I am growing a local niche account, I realize the importance of getting out of the house. I also see how connected my South Florida community is and how they build each other up. There is such power in a city, then one of the best things I have done is to get more involved in my local community. I can’t always make it to all the meetups, but what I do is nurture the relationship online. You can do so by:
- Leaving a thoughtful comment on some one’s post
- Sending them a DM with a thoughtful comment
- Send them an audio DM if you know them
- Repost their content to your stories often
- Network with local businesses and repost them
- Feature things to do and new businesses
You are not alone on an island. You live in a community, so get plugged in. You will find that people are thirsty for connection and authenticity.
If you are a photographer, most likely you are in the business of your, alone or a small team. Your business may even be a personal reband and not a studio name. It is important to showcase more of who you are and your personality. Don’t make it just about work. You don’t have to tell your full life story and show all the things but people do connect with vulnerability way more than with perfection. Don’t show a perfect world. Be you boo.
Automate your Instagram Scheduling
Instead of scrounging for a post idea, you should set some time up every month in order to get a few ideas lined up. I find posting 4-5 times a week ideal. One tip that has helped me has been to divide the days by ideas so Techie Tuesday, Travel Thursday, Local Friday. I then can come up with 4 Travel posts for example. So if you are a wedding photographer, maybe on Wednesday you feature a wedding venue, this way it will be so much easier to find 4 wedding venues to feature a month instead of thinking what will I post today. Secondly use a scheduler. This will be a game-changer. I used Planoly which has a fantastic free account, but I have now switched to Tailwind for Instagram and I love it.
Why? Because they have a hashtag suggestion tool that is so eye-opening and a game-changer. You can also save hashtag groups in there too and it auto-posts for you if you have a business account. If you want to try it for a month, use my affiliate code and try it for free for a month. This will help you design your Instagram feed which can be complex even for us photographers. One downside is that you do have to schedule the post first to see how it will look in the design. I wish one could do that with drafts, but maybe they will have this feature in the future.
Organize & Plan Your Content Strategy
As I have shared in my Marketing Hacks blog post, sorting your posts by categories or topics can help you fill up your schedule. Here are some ideas that you can do:
Wedding Photographer Ideas
- Monday – Wedding Details
- Tuesday – Bridal Party
- Wednesday – Unique Venue
- Thursday – Something Personal and Inspiring
- Friday – All about Bride
- Saturday – Wedding Decor Ideas
- Sunday – Personal content
Portrait Photographer Ideas:
- Monday – all about baby
- Tuesday – Cake smash
- Wednesday – Family outfit ideas
- Thursday- Personal or behind the scenes
- Friday – Props and more
- Saturday – Portrait Products
- Sunday – Personal inspiration and Life
Setting a theme for the day allows you to create content for a full month. It is a lot easier to find 4 photos of a bride a month, 4 photos of the venue, 4 wedding detail photos then scrounging for what to post for that day. Do it the smart way, then spend some time just engaging.
Instagram Strategy Recap
First and foremost, start using more location keywords in your captions and also always geotag your posts and stories. Secondly, spend some time finding new local hashtags for your photography business. Next, connect with local vendors or moms and feature each other. Last but not least, get on a schedule, so you are not spending hours on Instagram.
So what has worked for you on Instagram? How are you finding photography clients on Instagram?
Bonus tip. Set a screen time, so you don’t get sucked in and waste too much time. Use your time to check on comments and DMs. Then spend some time engaging with posts from the hashtags you follow and from your local community.