Getting the Name Out With Instagram

Love it or hate it, you can't deny that Instagram is huge when it comes to building your name and clientele. Nothing drives business like word-of-mouth, and Instagram makes that mouth bigger and louder. Whether you're a new user or you've been posting for years, here are a few things (other than regular posts) that you could be doing to put your tattoos in more people's faces:

Make Your Account Public
We'll get the most basic one out of the way first - your account should not be set to private. A tattooer's account (dedicated to his/her tattoos) that's set to private can raise some red flags, and it restricts the number of people your posts will reach.

If you've made your account private because you post personal stuff on it, then you should make a separate account that's for everything that isn't tattoo-related. If it's private because you don't want to see people talk shit in the comments of your posts, you can turn commenting off. Bottom line: if you want to use Instagram to help get the name out there, your account should be public.

I've heard tattooers say that they don't like filling up their captions with hashtags because it's annoying (and that's fair), but they're missing out on a lot of followers when they leave them out.

The right hashtags on your posts can increase likes and followers like crazy. Plenty of people search by hashtag when it comes to looking for inspiration or to just see what's out there. Also, adding the hashtags of your favorite equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and other IG accounts that repost tattoos and have a ton of followers just might get you reposted (hint hint).

If you don't like how hashtags look in your caption, you can put them in a comment on your own post. You can use up to 30 hashtags in a single post, so put as many as you can think of in there. When it comes to picking hashtags, you'll want to go with the ones that have been used a lot (you'll see the total number of times the tag has been used as you type it out in IG). You should also keep an eye on the tags that other tattooers are using. If you're tired of typing the same hashtags in every post, you can pick up an app that let's you save them to copy/paste later, or just save them in your notes app.

Don't Convert to a Business Profile (Yet)
There are some perks to converting your artist/shop account to a business profile in Instagram. The ability to place "Call", "Email", and "Directions" buttons under your bio, view analytics to see how your posts are performing, and create targeted ads to land in more IG feeds and drum up local business are all tempting reasons to make the switch, but, as Instagram's owner Facebook has shown in the past, converting to a business account might not be worth it in the long run.

Facebook rolled out "Pages" back in 2007, which was great for artists and shops at the time. Every post on a page made it to the timeline of each user that had "liked" the page previously. Likes, comments, and shares were easy to come by, and it didn't cost a dime.

Then Facebook came out with "Business Pages" a few years ago and offered the same features that Instagram is now offering for their business accounts. Once Facebook had thousands of businesses convert to their new setup, they changed their algorithm so that business posts wouldn't show up in the timelines of personal accounts unless businesses paid to reach them.

Instagram has dropped hints that they'll follow suit, and that would be a pain in the ass for artist and shop accounts. It's better to hold off for now and keep that free organic reach for as long as possible, at least until we find out what Instagram's plans are for business profiles in the long run.

Instagram stories are a new(ish) feature that lets you post multiple photos or video clips a la Snapchat. The pics/videos will stick around for 24 hours, and then they'll delete themselves. That short description might not do much for you, but there are a few big benefits to posting IG stories:

• Stories show up along the top of your Instagram app. When you post one (or update yours with a new clip or photo), it'll move yours up in the list of available stories for all of your followers. That means that you get top billing for the entire day, and it's going to drive followers back to your IG feed to see what you've been posting.

• Because stories don't show up in the standard IG feed and only last for 24 hours, you can throw all kinds of photos and clips in it without pissing off your followers!

Just tap your profile pic to add your first photo or video. You can add more to it by going to your personal IG feed (home icon at the bottom left of the app) and swiping to the right. From here, you're able to take photos or record whatever you want (swipe up to select a pic or video that was made within the past 24 hours), and then tap the (+) to add it to your story.

Do it Live
Pre-recorded clips in your IG story are cool and all, but it doesn't beat live video when it comes to reaching a lot of people at one time. As soon as you start up a live stream on Instagram, all of your followers are notified at the top of their feed. Your live stream icon will jump to the front of your follower's stories list, and it's sure to stand out with a big red circle around it and red text that says "LIVE" underneath it. Whether you're streaming a walkthrough of your shop, a design that you're drawing up, or a tattoo that you're working on, you're sure to get some views by going live. Here's the catch: unlike Facebook, Instagram won't keep the live stream up for your followers to view after it's over, so you'll only be hitting the people that are on when you're streaming.

Swipe right from your feed (home icon at the bottom left), then swipe right again to select "LIVE" and start your stream.

Mix things up and you'll keep the attention of your followers, get some new ones, and, most importantly, get them talking.