The Artsy Asks Series
Experts answer the most important questions for galleries today.
Artsy’s Head of Social Media, Jordan Huelskamp, reveals her top tips to improve your Instagram presence.
What app do your clients spend the most time on? For most of the art world, the answer is Instagram. The social media app’s visual-first design makes it a perfect tool for sharing artworks, and more collectors report discovering new artists on Instagram than ever before.
But with new features, endless competition, and platform updates, managing your gallery’s Instagram presence comes with challenges. Jordan Huelskamp, Artsy’s Head of Social Media, sat down to answer some of the biggest questions galleries are asking about Instagram today.
What is the Instagram algorithm, and how can I make it work for me?
When you post content to Instagram, it’s first surfaced to a small sample of your followers. How much engagement it receives from that sample determines whether or not the content will be shown to a larger audience. In other words, if your post isn’t resonating with your followers early on, the post is less likely to be pushed to a larger audience.
Go to the “Insights” tab on your profile page to review your past performance. Investigate your top-performing content and look for trends. Were they timely? What made the imagery so captivating? Did the caption encourage engagement? Your goal should be to replicate your successful trends in the future.
How do I create more engaging content?
In 2022, Instagram tweaked its algorithm to favor short-form video and Reels. The algorithm will reward you for posting video content, showing users in-feed video recommendations of topics they’re not following, so take advantage of that bump to reach new audiences. You don’t need special equipment to get started—the algorithm prefers content shot vertically on an iPhone over polished, professionally cut videos.
Some ideas to try: Film a staff member explaining an artwork in your latest exhibition. Slowly pan over artworks and add music to make the content dynamic. Ask an artist to film a timelapse in the studio as they create a new work. Experiment and see what happens!
I don’t have any upcoming programming. What should I post about?
Think about what else your audience might be interested in. You don’t need a call to action in every post—think of Instagram as a great opportunity for your collectors to get to know your gallery and artists better. Why not ask staff members, curators, or artists to do a short interview, give a gallery/studio tour, or simply share some of their favorite artworks?
This will not only provide your audience with insight into your process, but also add variety to your feed, and can help you keep a consistent posting schedule between shows and events. These posts can even be planned out ahead of time using tools like Later, which makes it easy to schedule social media content, and also provides analytics.
How often should I post?
Consistency is key when it comes to posting online. Instagram rewards predictable activity, so posting around the same time every day can increase your reach. I recommend posting when your audience is most online to maximize exposure—you can see when your followers are most active under “Total Followers” in the Insights tab.
Artsy generally posts 3–4 times daily on the main feed and several Stories daily. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri suggests posting at least 2 feed posts per week and 2 Stories per day.
What’s the best way maintain a strong Instagram presence?
With dozens of promotions launching across Artsy’s channels every week, my team’s detailed social calendar is our key to staying on track and fulfilling obligations. You can use Excel, Sheets, or free database tools like Canva or Trello to maintain your own. Pre-fill your daily content initiatives on a weekly or monthly basis to maintain a bird’s-eye view of your planned posts. With a proper social calendar, you’ll never wake up and ask yourself, “What should we post today?”
If you are short on bandwidth, consider investing in third-party tools. The right tool can be as impactful as adding headcount to your social team. Software can help with scheduling and sending posts, give you insights into what content is performing best, and help find the right times to post for maximum reach. Artsy recommends Later for Instagram scheduling and Iconosquare for advanced analytics.