In part 1 of this series, Vincent covered how to create an Instagram account and set it up for success. In part 2, we'll learn about how to interact with fellow model horse fans and build a following for your account.
You can edit your picture as much as you want, but you shouldn’t underestimate the power of the description. Descriptions are not only a tool to help your followers understand the picture better, but they are also a way to connect to those followers. You should use the description to show your followers a little insight into the making of the picture, your day, or even your life.
You can ask your followers a question, or as some call it "QOTD" (question of the day), and then an engage with your followers in your comments section of your photo. Asking a question or posting a call to action that encourages your followers to interact with your post is a great way to connect with them, and increased post engagement helps your post get seen by more viewers.
Let your followers be an active part of your Instagram, rather than just a person who is liking your pictures. Involve them in things you post, give them a voice and let them know you care about them. Engagment is key!
To engage even more with your followers, you can post on your Instagram Story to show them what you are currently up to. People love to look behind the scenes! You can take them on a photoshoot or let them follow along while you create something. The added function of Instagram Live allows you to broadcast to your followers directly and respond to their comments. It is a great tool to use for unpacking a new Breyer model or even a collection tour.
I totally understand that not all people are comfortable showing their face online. For me, the posts in which I include myself are doing especially well. Think of it this way: people started following you because of your art or models but they are also interested in the person behind the account. Let them put a face to your username and invite them into your world!
Hashtags are perhaps the most important part of Instagram engagement - they are the biggest tool to reach more people and get more followers. Keep in mind that each post is limited to 30 hashtags, so use them wisely. Use hashtags that are appropriate to what you do instead of what you see. For example, use #paint #painting #art instead of #browntable #brown #afternoon. While some people choose to include their hashtags within the #sentence, some like to include the collection of hashtags at the end of the description. You even can comment your hashtags under your own post. Putting hastags in your comments leaves your description hashtag-free, but the comment hashtags will still apply to your photo.
For the model horse community, the biggest hashtags to use are: #Breyer, #Modelhorse, and #Modelhorsephotography. You can now follow hashtags in addition to accounts, which makes it really easy to find new accounts or stay up to date for events like #BreyerFest or new #Breyer releases.
Some useful model horse community and customizing hastags:
#breyer #breyermodels #breyerhorses #breyermodelhorse #breyercustom #breyercollection #modelhorsecollector #modelhorse #modellpferd #model #horse #pony #equine #equestrian #modelhorsephotography #breyerhorsephotography #breyerphoto #artistresin #equineart #artist #art #horseart #horseartist #originalsculpture #sculpture #workingrogress #WIP #modelhorseart #customhorse #customresin #modelhorsesofinstagram #horsesofinstagram #modelhorseshow #breyerfest
Regarding your content - be yourself. No matter what you do - customizing, tackmaking or model horse photography - you need to have something that makes you special! You can draw inspiration from other model horse accounts, but do not copy them.
To be more original, I draw a lot of inspiration from accounts that are outside of the model horse community. Feeling stuck? Take a look at traditional or digital art accounts, landscape photographers, or even food blogs to get inspiration on how to take interesting pictures and how to position what you want to photograph. After all, presentation is everything!
Instead of taking a picture straight with your phone, play around with different angles and compositions to make your pictures more interesting. To protect your original content, you can include a watermark on your pictures. Pixlr and Phonto are two apps that make it very easy to apply a watermark to photos.
With all this being said, your account doesn't have to be 100% about just model horses, art, or collecting - it is supposed to represent you. Feel free to post things that are happening in your personal life, or other things you’re passionate about. Posts about a wedding, graduation, traveling or a good old-fashioned pet picture are always enjoyed by your followers, and helps them get to know you better.
In my case, my account became an extension of my brand and allowed my followers to watch my creative journey from its beginning to where I am now. I chose to separate my da_vinci_creations account as a business account. Business Instagram accounts allow you to see insights for your posts and profile, such as post engagement, locations of followers, and the times your followers are the most active.
For my business account, I plan my posts ahead of time and each picture is taken with my professional camera. That gives my Instagram a portfolio look, which becomes a useful tool to showcase artwork for internships, universities, or even future jobs.
My second account, da_vinci_random, invites my followers to look behind the scenes. Most of the photos are taken with my phone, which allows me to post content as it is happening, and helps me get prompt feedback or advice when I am working on a project.
Instagram is a great place to get and give constrictive critique and feedback. In a way, I rely on my followers as an active part of my creative process. Your followers are like your best friends, giving you honest advice. Always be open to critique and never take it personally - the support you can get through Instagram will help you grow as an artist.
Because Instagram is a global platform, you need to consider the time of day while posting your pictures to maximize engagement. There are horse lovers all over the world. While many (including myself) use English as a global language to connect, we are still living in different countries and continents. With this comes different time zones.
I always choose to post something in the evening of my German time zone because it is the afternoon in the USA. If I post in the morning, I noticeably get less engagements for my posts, because my American followers are asleep at that time.
In regards to how often to post, you don’t want to spam your followers with too many posts, but you also don’t want to be forgotten. I personally would recommend to post about three times per week. Also consider that people are more active on the weekend then they are during the week.
The key to gaining more followers is to be active. If you post regularly, more people will find your account. Another great way to connect and make friends is by liking and commenting on other people’s posts. Do not be shy, direct message a person you find interesting and start a conversation! We are all just as crazy as you and our common interest for those amazing plastic ponies makes it easy to find new friends.
It takes a while to build up a large amount of followers, but it doesn’t take long to become a member of the model horse community on Instagram. Be patient and always remember that the number of followers and likes you have does not matter, it just matters that you love sharing your collector-life online. Getting the love and support from followers is just the icing on the cake!
Speaking of numbers - 52% of my followers are from the USA, which is no surprise because Breyer, as the biggest model horse company in the world, is located in the USA. With BreyerFest happening every year in Kentucky, the USA is the most prominent region of the model horse community on Instagram. Because of this, BreyerFest becomes the biggest event in the model horse community on Instagram each year. Being at BreyerFest gives you the rare opportunity to meet the people behind the accounts in person. For the people at home during the event, Instagram is a great place to keep an eye on. All the posts and stories let you follow along with what is happening right as it occurs!
Because of Instagram, I was able to attend BreyerFest myself the last four years. I became friends with someone from the USA through Instagram, and she invited me over to America and took me to BreyerFest with her family. It is still unbelievable for me to think about how the app had such a big impact on my life and me as a person. Without Instagram I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I am forever grateful for that. Instagram brings artists, horse lovers and Breyer fans from all around the world together and lets them share their passions and talents as a community.
So, what are you waiting for? Become a part of our amazing community today, make some connections, and see you at the BreyerFest Instagram Meet!
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