Today, we live our lives on our smartphones. That’s true for everyone from couples who are getting married to professionals who need a headshot to business owners who want to update their restaurant photos on their website.
The phone is often the first stop that consumers make when researching or approaching any project. When it comes to photography, Instagram is arguably the most influential social platform available, making it the prime place for photographers to promote their work—and for customers to find that work and book a shoot.
As a professional photographer, only posting to your regular Instagram feed —or even to Stories—isn’t enough. You’ll only reach a small segment of your audience that way, and organic content can only go so far. Including Instagram ads in your marketing strategy can help you cast a wider net and get more people to take notice of your work, which can lead to more customers.
Here are five ways to use Instagram ads to promote your photography business.
Choose an Ad Objective
Select your Instagram ad type based on how established your business is right now. For example, if you’ve just created a profile and want your brand recognized by potential customers, you’ll want to run a brand awareness campaign. On the other hand, if you’ve been present on Instagram for a while or run a successful, established business, you can grow your customer base by running a lead generation campaign.
What’s especially useful about Instagram Ad Manager, where you create your ads, is that it has built-in advice to help you choose the right type of ad for your purposes. Click the “Help: Choosing an Objective” link to bring up a side panel with details about ad options.
Keep Your Imagery Consistent
Just like your regular feed should be consistent, so should your ads. They should all feel on-brand and reflective of what your customers want most, and they should, of course, complement your regular posts, too. That means sticking to the same subject matter, using the same color schemes, editing images in similar ways, etc.
While his feed has some personal images here and there, photographer Gray Malin’s aesthetic is pretty consistent. The subject matter (the beach) and colors (bright pastels) are particularly reliable.
Run Carousel Ads
The carousel ad format on Instagram lets you put several images into one ad, and users can scroll through them to get a well-rounded view of your work—which is a lot more powerful than a single-image ad. With carousel ads, you can show off the breadth of your talent. Feature regular and closeups of the same subject, show black and white versus color images, etc.
The Light and Airy Photographer account used carousel ads to show several beforeand-after examples using presets. Instead of showing just one before and after, potential customers can see how all sorts of photos can look with a preset, giving them more examples for elevating their own photography.
Target Your Audience Based on Lifestyle Specifics
Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer—you can set your Instagram ad to target people who are engaged, as they’re most likely to need your services. If you take headshots, you can target high school students, because they may be looking for a photographer to shoot their senior portrait. You can get into more advanced targeting, too. For example, wedding photographers can target newly engaged people, which puts them right in the wedding planning timeframe.
You can also target based on interests—so, if you’re targeting newly engaged users, you can narrow the list down further by choosing “weddings” as an interest. This way, you won’t create an ad that will be shown to irrelevant people, like those who are single or already married, or college students who don’t care about a senior portrait.
Take Advantage of Location-Specific Features
As a photographer, you have to be physically present to do your job, so the location-specific features available on Instagram ads will be vital for you—even if you’re happy to travel for a photoshoot. And even if you are a globetrotting photographer, you should still focus on a few specific regions for your Instagram ads—namely, the ones where most of your clients are.
New York wedding photography account Samantha Lauren Photographie does this well. The example below has a geotag at the top, then a tag for the Tribeca Rooftop event space and also a handful of New York-specific hashtags down below. Something like this, that’s already location-optimized, can easily be turned into a promoted post within the Instagram app.
When you create an Instagram ad, you can target audiences based on location, narrowing that down by something small, like zip code, or something more broad, like state or region. Additionally, use geography-specific hashtags to attract people in that market.
Each social media platform has its strengths, but the most photo-centric platform is Instagram—making it an ideal place for running your photography business ads. Not only do images get top billing on Instagram, but high-quality photography is what many users head to the app to see. With the right combination of thoughtful imagery and purposeful ad targeting, you can create Instagram ads for your photography business that attract and convert new fans and customers. Also, even though Facebook owns Instagram, you don’t need a Facebook business manager account to run Instagram ads.
About the Author: Brian Meert is the CEO of AdvertiseMint, a Hollywood based digital advertising agency that specializes in helping successful companies advertise on Facebook. Advertisemint has managed millions of dollars in digital ad spends in entertainment, fashion, finance, and software industries. Brian is also the author of the best selling, The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising. Prior to founding Advertismint, Brian built and sold Gofobo.com, an online ticketing system that revolutionized the entertainment industry and is now utilized by Warner Bros. and Disney.