Instagram can be a photographer’s biggest lead source or the leading source of headaches. But love it or hate it, you need to master Instagram marketing to drive new bookings to your photography business.
I get 70% of my photography clients from social media. I’m pretty proud of that fact! As I sat down to think of all the moving pieces that contributed to my success, I realized that there are 10 things every photographer must know to succeed on the platform.
Recognize Your Audience
Algorithms scare the hell out of most people. You want to stay trendy, but there are so many features nowadays. It can be overwhelming to know where to start or how to get your photos seen. I always recommend starting with your people. That will determine how you use the platform.
For instance, if your ideal photography client is a Gen Z couple between the ages of 16-23, you’re going to want to use all the new features, sounds, and trends. Gen Z loves authentic marketing and easy-to-digest content. If you create long-winded captions, you’ll lose them. On the other hand, if you’re targeting millennials or someone in their 50s and older, your content needs to match how they like to consume content. That may mean having a more curated feed with a sprinkle of trendy content.
Optimize Your Bio
You know people can find you by searching “YourCity photographer” on Instagram, right? Well, did you know that your Instagram profile can show up on Google too? It can! Right there with all the other website results on page one. If you want to show up when someone is looking for your services on Instagram or Google, then you must optimize your bio. That means adding what type of photography you do, and where, in your profile name and bio.
Align Instagram Posts To Your Sales Goals
This is the number one mistake I see other photographers make! Most of us start out using our business social media accounts like we do our personal accounts. We post what comes to mind that day. That may bring a few leads in the door, but it’s not going to work long-term. You need a strategy for how often you post about each of your services. Then you can start tracking what types of posts resonate most with your ideal clients.
I realized this a few years into my business when I had not received a newborn inquiry for a couple of weeks. (Yasss, it took me a couple of weeks to realize that!) Turns out, I had been posting only maternity and boudoir photos. The moment I posted a baby photo, BAM, I got inquiries.
The same goes for you regardless of your niche. If you’re a wedding photographer, make sure you show those engagement sessions and proposals too. If you’re a portrait photographer, make sure you’re showing headshots and full branding shoots.
Use Instagram Stories To Show What It’s Like Working With You
Stories aren’t just for engaging with people who already follow you. People who are just discovering you are clicking your Stories first. (Because we’re nosey.) Stories are great for showing your personality, sneak peeks behind the scenes, and what it’s like working with you. The key is to make them engaging. Use Boomerangs. Take them in the car with you on the way to a shoot. Do something other than just sharing your posts (but do that too).
Start Conversations In Your Stories
While we’re on the topic of Stories, use them to start conversations. Instagram prioritizes engagement. The more you can get people to talk to you, the better. Ask your audience to vote in polls, reply to Stories, or react.
Talk to people like they’re one of your girlfriends. Me? I’m all up in people’s business in Stories. I use it to get recommendations all the time. Your audience will love feeling like they’re having a conversation with a friend and you’ll start to nurture followers into clients.
Sell Your Services with Polls
Another great Instagram marketing strategy is to use Polls to sell your photography services. This is a big part of my sales strategy. I use it to fill any last-minute openings and even pre-sell my mini-sessions.
You can start by asking people things like “Who’s excited about Christmas minis?” Then everyone who votes yes to say thanks and give them early access to snag a spot. This stuff works, y’all!
Don’t Forget Your Tags
Hashtags are still a thing. It’s important to include location-based hashtags in all your posts. Beyond hashtags, you can also use geotags to tag a venue or city, mention tags for other wedding vendors, and even tag your clients! This pushes your content to more people and allows others to share your post in their Stories. (Which gets you in front of more potential clients!)
I used to do this a lot when I did weddings. It’s a great first step to building rapport with wedding venues that later became referrals.
Don’t Fear Fun Trends
Remember what I said about how different age groups of clients like when you take advantage of new features? It’s true, but it doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy trendy content in moderation. Audiences want a mixture of your best work and fun trends. It’s just the frequency that varies.
Get creative to attract and convert your audience. Use trends to talk about what it’s like working with you, answer questions your clients have before working with you, and even show the reveal process. As for Instagram, they want people to use their features and trends. So, give them what they want in a way that still shows off your work and builds a connection to you.
Share Your Photos
Which reminds me…show your damn work! I’m guilty of this one too. I went through my drive looking for blog photos the other day and realized how many sessions I have never posted to my Instagram feed or given to my team to post. Ever! Not just individual photos, but full-on sessions. (I was so mad!)
You handle so many photos and clients on a daily that it’s hard to remember them all. It sucks because it means you miss out on potentially showing the one image that’s going to catch someone’s attention. I’m coming up with a system that works for my team, and you need to as well, babe. Start saving photos into a social media folder. Create specific seasonal folders or venue folders. Come up with a calendar reminder to dig through your hoard of images and start scheduling them out. I bet you’ll have posts for days.
Get People On Your Email List
Instagram doesn’t show your posts to everyone. I think we’ve all felt that blow for a while. The key to booking out your full sessions, mini sessions, model calls, and random Tuesday cancellations is to get into the inbox.
Start using Instagram to funnel people onto your email list. I do this in Stories at least once a week. The direct link feature in Stories is the best way to do it because people don’t have to click through multiple steps. Once they’re on your email list, you can start nurturing them in new ways like dropping more personality, full reveal videos, blogs, and exclusive offers. And you know what they say, “The money is in the list”.
Instagram Marketing Can Book Out Your Photography Business
I won’t lie to you – Instagram is my jam. I love it! Pouring into my page to create a community rather than a pretty feed has been the single best investment I’ve made in my business. You deserve to have an account that drives income. To know that on any given Tuesday when your model reschedules, you can hop on Instagram for 15 seconds and book out that spot. I want that for you!
Try out these tips for a whole quarter and see what happens to your business. If you need more help planning your Insta glow-up, then scoop up my Quarterly Content Planner. It’s the exact planning system I use for my photography business.