Instagram for Architects

December 9, 2019 0 By Peter Engel

Hey, Eric here with 30 by 40 Design Workshop
talking about Instagram tactics this week. I’ve kind of changed my thinking about it
and how I’ve been using it and it’s becoming really important to my business and my work
as an architect. So, if you’re like me and you have an Instagram
account but you’re unsure of how to use it professionally or why it’s even important,
I’ll show you a few of the people that I’m following and what I’m learning as I try to
become a better Instagram practitioner myself. Understanding the context of Instagram is
an important first step. It’s a social platform and it’s one where
the engagement of your followers is gonna be a lot higher than almost any other place
online. People are looking to be entertained here,
they’re looking for a closer connection to their favorite creators or brands, and – especially
here – they expect high quality images. This context is a chance to give them something
they can’t find from you anywhere else and with 800 million users worldwide I can guarantee
your clients, your future employers, employees, and your business contacts, they’re all here
too. So, knowing the context, I think your first
task is to separate your personal account from your professional one. When someone sees your grid and decides to
follow you they’re doing so because you’ve shown a consistent aesthetic or set of images
and so that’s what they’re going to be expecting from you. You want to follow through on that promise;
save the cat photos for your personal account. Now, the business account also opens up all
these analytics tools too so you can measure the success of each one of your posts and
there’s a few other important tools, but more on that in a minute. Simple, clear, short descriptions are best
here: what you do, where you do it, and probably the most important thing is the link. Now, you only get one clickable link on all
of Instagram and that’s here in your bio, but rather than link up the home page of your
website, use it to strategically send traffic somewhere. I use it to link out to my latest video but
you might use it for a product launch, or links to the tools that you use, a landing
page; a Kickstarter. I read an article on ArchDaily recently touting
Norman Foster as a must follow on Instagram. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a
hard time relating to this kind of lifestyle; here we are on some kind of a super yacht,
here’s his Rolls Royce or Bentley or I don’t know what this is. But, for him and the kind of clients he’s
seeking, it probably makes a lot of sense, it’s probably a smart strategy. Your grid is your portfolio and it says a
lot about your brand. What do you want it to say for you? Is it purely lead gen? Is it for brand awareness? Does it offer a behind-the-scenes look at
your process, or is it only photos of the finished product? Is it abstract? Minimal? Artistic? Does it show the people behind the product? When you decide what that is, ruthlessly curate
your posts for a consistent message and edit your images before posting them. Simple subjects and high contrast are things
that I’ve found to work pretty well. Well, the more I practice the more I’ve come
to realize that almost everything we do is linked to story. Learning to tell a good story is a skill we
could all use practice with. Instagram makes it easy to experiment with
video using their Stories feature; these are short video clips which always show at the
top of the feed when you open the app. If all your highly-polished content – let’s
say – lives in your feed, you might use Stories to color that, to give a behind-the-scenes
look at your process, the sort of messy side of design. Now, although it’s easy to post just about
anything to your story, a trend that I’ve been noticing is that people are actually
putting a lot more effort into their stories. Instead of dropping clips haphazardly onto
their story, they’re editing more cinematic sequences. You might check out Jesse Driftwood to see
what he’s doing in this regard. Now, I managed to ignore this feature for
a long time in part because your story used to expire after 24 hours but that’s changed. Now, your stories can be archived to a highlighted
section in your bio which makes them actually worth investing some time in I think. I’m also a fan of Nick Schiffer’s stories
– he’s the co-host of the Modern Craftsman podcast and although his stories aren’t cinematic
necessarily, I like them because he digs into the details of his projects and he openly
shares the specifications for the materials and all the products he’s using. Matt Risinger is another design-focused, craft-conscious
contractor who’s smartly using Instagram and YouTube. He’s often using it to engage and solicit
other expert opinions from his followers. You’re able to access the intimate details
of his projects, including the points where he’s stuck or left guessing what the right
thing to do is. This is material you’d never be exposed to
otherwise and I love that about his feed. Also worth noting here is that with a business
account – which offers a whole slew of benefits – and more than 10,000 followers you can unlock
the swipe up feature on stories. This allows you to link out to any location
online you’d like and it’s in addition to the link that’s in your bio. Think about that for a minute; that’s amazingly
powerful. The people and brands I seek out and most
enjoy following have between a couple thousand and let’s say a hundred thousand followers
and they often pull back the curtain on their process. Their feed offers me something I can’t get
anywhere else and best of all I get to see their experiments. They’re trying to figure out what works just
like I am. So, their tactics are a little more creative
and they’re not so rule-bound as a feed like ArchDaily’s let’s say. The things you have to do to get to a hundred
thousand followers are much different than the things you have to do once you have a
hundred thousand followers, which makes emulating their tactics more likely to be successful
for smaller creators like me. Now, I’m not going to get into the tagging
strategies here but you’ll see all the Instagramers I’ve highlighted here, they use them. Watch what they’re doing, follow along, experiment
and learn. I love this comment from ArchDaily on a recent
post they put up about Instagram. I love it because it’s just more white space
for the rest of us. The reality here is: Instagram is a business
opportunity. Check out Zean MacFarland, not only for his
fantastic feed, which is populated with his renderings – they’re kind of done in this
Monument Valley kind of style – but also because he’s using Instagram to sell products. He’s written six e-books and they’re all kind
of geared toward architecture students. A couple of these are actually tutorials which
teach the techniques he uses to create his unique, sketchy style renderings, the ones
you see in his Instagram feed. If you check out his website, he also sells
prints of everything on his feed. So, he’s found a really clever way of turning
his Instagram feed into a revenue generating business. Now, one of the really interesting evolutions
of social media is that growing a following teaches you all these meta skills and I’m
really big on meta skills – the skills you build that confer broad advantages to every
aspect of your life. Meta skills are things like: writing, photography,
editing; storytelling. These are all present on Instagram and posting
regularly forces you engage in all of them frequently. You start to learn what works and what doesn’t,
you learn to market to an audience, you learn to build engagement, and empathy, and you
craft a voice for your brand, whether that’s personal or professional. And, what’s even more interesting is that
your social media following…it has a real monetary value now. Your following is an asset you can actually
leverage, whether that’s for professional reasons, for your own personal financial gain,
or to influence change in the world. When you’re looking for new work, or looking
for a new job, or marketing your business, your social media following, it becomes part
of the negotiation, part of the value you can bring and I think that’s an asset worth
investing in. Now, if you want to follow along with what
I’m doing on Instagram you can find me at 30by40 and please do share yours in the comments. Smash that like button below if I’ve helped
you in any way, keep making things out there, and I’ll see you again next time. Cheers, my friends!