This article is inspired by this video from Holly Exley where she talked about downsides of using Instagram for marketing as an artist.
I can relate to many points she mentioned. Instagram is addictive and a time sink. You have to keep posting work to keep up, to stay relevant. The art you create becomes a commodity just like the art from other artists, and can be flicked away easily by the viewer in seconds. And it's just not worth the effort to be posting on Instagram.
My biggest problem with Instagram
There's a lot of potential on Instagram since there is a lot of users. You can tell by the large number of followers some successful artists have on Instagram. It took those artists a long time to gain followers that's for sure.
Nowadays, you can even make a living as a social media artists and earn money through multiple income sources online using social media as a funnel to stuff you want to sell. You don't even need to take commissioned work if you're successful enough on social media.
My biggest problem with Instagram is the moment you stop posting, you won't get any more exposure going forward, and then you'll be out of people's mind. That applies to Facebook, Youtube and even blogging of course. But with blogging and Youtube, all your content is archived, searchable by Google, and will continue to help you in the future. That's assuming you have already created a wealth of useful content.
When you do a search on Google, how often do you see an Instagram or Facebook post appear in the search results?
If you spend time and effort marketing on IG (and FB), you don't want your effort to go to waste the moment you stop uploading content.
All the work I've created on my blog and Youtube channel will still be around for people to search for easily through Google. I have regular web traffic from people looking at past articles and reviews I've written over the decade. I get 3,500 visitors daily on my blog but I certainly don't create content daily on my blog. And I get video views when my videos appear on YT's related videos sidebar all the time, regardless of whether I've posted new videos.
All the content I've create will continue to help me into the future because they are all archived and searchable. Even if I don't post for a few days, or weeks, all the content will still get me web traffic, although the number of views will drop overtime, but not like a complete stop with IG or FB. So on IG and FB, you have to keep posting to stay relevant, to be in front of people.
What's my strategy with Instagram
For example, I would create a sketching tutorial for Youtube or patrons, then upload the sketches and timelapse square format video on Instagram. It does not take much effort to share photos or create a timelapse video out of the main tutorial. Instagram content is ephemeral so I don't want to spend more than 10 minutes making Instagram-exclusive content. Whenever I think of live-streaming on Instagram or making Instagram stories, I will wonder if it's possible to do it with Youtube instead so that the content can be archived and searchable.
When I create content, article or art, I want that content to help me in the future. Sure I do share art on Instagram just for the sake of sharing art, but most of the time I will think of how the content can help me.
It's all the little details that will add up to help you. Things like making sure you have keywords and hashtags that are searchable.
Instagram is addictive
You have to know what you want out of Instagram. You can scroll through the posts endlessly and before you know it, you've wasted a lot of time.
I use Instagram as a marketing tool and as a way to see what my friends are up to. As a marketing tool, I don't spend too much time other than uploading my art and responding to comments. I also limit myself to not scrolling too much.
I don't even have time to respond to messages from my Instagram inbox. I refer all people to contact me via my blog's contact form.
Commoditising of art
Instagram thrives on user created content. Unfortunately due to the sheer amount of art created and shared, art on Instagram is becoming a commodity. People just look, click like, and move on to the next post all within seconds.
Some pieces of work will have more engagement and lead to more comments. Most won't.
With blogging and Youtube, you can create really engaging content. E.g. Articles and videos talking in depth about certain topics. You can't do that with Instagram. Different platforms for different purposes. But with blogging and Youtube, you can engage people more, get people to understand you and your work more, rather than just click like and scroll on. It's difficult to build a deeper connection with people through Instagram which is not build for that purpose.
The effort you spend creating on Instagram may not be worth it
It is difficult to gain a following on Instagram without posting daily.
It certainly up to the creator to work hard to market their art. But remember the moment you stop posting, all your past work will not matter, you'll just not get noticed anymore. So do you think it's worth it to put in so much effort on marketing on Instagram?
If you're just sharing art just to share, no problem. But when you have expectations and look for results, this is the reality you have to understand.
Here's another point of view from Julia Bausenhardt
So what now?
I'll still be using Instagram. But I don't have expectation my Instagram page generating income for me, or creating huge exposure. I just use Instagram to share art to let people know what I'm up to that's all.