What it is
Instagram is a place to show work and get followers. It is a photo and video sharing site owned by Facebook. It is a place to tell visual stories that lead to direct message conversations that can lead to sales. But it is not a direct selling site.
Developing a body of followers is a slow process requiring continued commitment. Audiences tend to focus on the Instagram stories and videos. Talking to camera, showing your workspace, showing and telling about favourite products are some of the things you can do to make stories for Instagram. Posting these images and videos is way to get feedback on new products by inviting people to react.
Instagram’s value is largely as a marketing tool. It is not a place to do frequent or blatant selling. There is a general lack of response to posts with an overt selling message. But occasional on-line sales to a group of committed followers seem to work. Beware of the effort and cost of packaging and posting, though.
What to post?
Frequent posting is essential to developing and maintaining your group of followers. Remember the title - Instagram. Instant reporting of developments is important. It develops the connection between what you are doing and your followers. The things to concentrate on are such things as how the day has gone, stories, new venues and products. Ask questions of followers to get feedback and conversations developing.
Some use Instagram as their main social media source. Share anything in your life that you are comfortable with everyone knowing, and of course, how the business is developing. In all this sharing be yourself, have your own voice. Your postings need to be when there is news rather than at set times. Your account becomes livelier and more personal when spontaneous.
Good photographs are essential. Photos and videos are the essence of Instagram. Your photos need to have clear captions. The captions need to provide the context for each image. Some suggest that concentration should be on the captions, and then finding a photo to fit. The captions and hashtags are the ways people find their way to your postings. You need to think about the terms potential customers may use to find out about your kind of work. There is no need to overload the images with hashtags. A few well thought out terms will give better results. Look at the kind of tags you would use to find items of interest outside your craft. The really important element is an emphasis on providing a story in all the postings.
In addition to creating content, reciprocation of likes and comments is important. This means you need to spend some time on the platform to help develop followers. Instagram does assist in creating a community of followers and makers, especially if you connect with makers of similar things and exchange supportive chat.
There are suggestions that 80% of your time on Instagram should be building your brand, and partaking in the community. The rest of the time you can tell about new products, promotions, and answering questions that will help people in deciding on the purchase. But, generating sales is difficult by use of only Instagram.
Location of Outlets
Galleries use Instagram too. But it is mostly about raising awareness of their businesses, so sales on Instagram are incidental to them. They use it to let people know about news of the gallery and artists, their interests, and promote their exhibitions. For them it is about publicity.
Their secondary use is by browsing and getting a sense of potential exhibiting artists as persons and what their expertise and audience may be. This means that getting galleries as followers can be a way to maintain contact with galleries and get invitations to participate in events.
How Can Glass Enthusiasts use Instagram?
It may seem the emphasis of this post is on full time craft artists, but these things are applicable to any craftsperson who wants their work to be more widely known and purchased.
Anyone who is going to craft fairs needs to do a lot more than turn up with product. Many times, I hear of people lamenting the poor attendance at an event. Or, the concern that people don’t seem interested in buying your work.
The organiser of the craft event can do only a limited amount of promotion. Their promotion will be largely general and untargeted. Your promotion will be much more targeted, because it will be directed at your followers – an already interested audience. If you can get your followers to attend the event, or spread knowledge of your attendance at an event, you have a greater chance of having a good event.
In summary, Instagram can be an element in building an audience for your glass work. This can increase attendance of interested people at the events you are involved in, if you put effort into getting followers who appreciate your work.