Gallery Insights
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7 Ways to Win Over Collectors on Instagram


Following up on part one of our Instagram survey (How Collectors Use Instagram To Buy Art), which brought to light the importance of this social media channel as a tool for sales, we are excited to share the second half of our findings for galleries, which focus on how collectors want to be engaged on Instagram.

1. Collectors on Instagram Expect a Human Touch.

Collectors want personality. 70% of collectors prefer to follow an individual’s Instagram account (belonging to the gallery owner or staff) over the general gallery account. Nearly half of surveyed collectors want to follow gallery owners directly. 

Create separate accounts for gallery owner and staff. Developing individual accounts in tandem with the gallery’s main one will allow for more personal interaction with potential clients, feedback, and an opportunity to start a conversation.

Tip: The official gallery account can (and should) be used for gallery-wide updates, and is great for branding, but collectors crave the inside scoop. Great examples include Andrea Rosen, Zach Feuer, and James Fuentes.

2. Collectors Use #Hashtags Before They Buy.

Among surveyed collectors who use Instagram, 42% claim they often (or very often) look up an artist’s hashtag (#ArtistName) before purchasing their work. Only 6% say they never do this, meaning that 94% of collectors search by hashtag at some point.

#Hashtags enable collectors to instantly aggregate an artist’s content and also reveal public support for an artist. Curators, influencers, and press who have posted their works serve as another seal of approval for collectors. Include artist hashtags to highlight your latest inventory, studio views, and related content.

Tip: Use hashtags specific to an event or area (i.e. #FriezeNY), but don’t overwhelm your followers. Include your gallery hashtag (i.e. #DavidZwirner#WhiteCube) on brochures and other marketing materials. Visitors to openings and events who use this “official” hashtag serve as brand ambassadors for your business.

  • #ArtsyTakeover at Collective Art & Design Fair. Photo by Clemens Kois for Artsy.

    #ArtsyTakeover at Collective Art & Design Fair. Photo by Clemens Kois for Artsy.

3. Convert Followers to New Collectors.

Our survey found that nearly half of collectors (46%) are most likely to follow gallery accounts they have already purchased work from. Still, over half follow gallery accounts they either view as tastemakers (27%) or from whom they want to buy (27%).

To capitalize on this purchase intent, make sure your Instagram bio includes contact details so collectors can reach you. Include a physical gallery address, your gallery’s official hashtag, and a link to your website (or your Artsy profile, whichever is a better collector experience).

Tip: To make your bio stand out, format your text outside of Instagram and copy + paste it back into Instagram. We recommend the Notes app, which allows you to add line breaks and special characters.

4. Collectors Want Your Attention.

A common complaint from collectors is that their comments and questions are often ignored, potentially turning them off a gallery. Make it a habit to reply to comments (setting a daily reminder helps), and offer to continue the conversation with potential buyers offline. Additionally, browse through images that others post of your artists and gallery (see #2 above) and like or comment where appropriate. Going the extra mile to engage collectors is a no-brainer. If you don’t already have a social media associate, consider hiring an intern for a 3-month test.

Tip: Maintain the quality of your account by deleting inappropriate or spammy comments on your Instagram photos. On an iPhone, click the comment icon to access the comments, swipe to the left on the comment, and click the trash icon.

5. Make Your Artists Collaborators.

Because collectors actively research and follow artists on Instagram, consider involving artists you represent in collaborations or account takeovers leading up to an opening. Find creative ways to involve your artists with account takeovers, meetups, and hashtag projects to give your followers more personal experiences.

Tip: Collectors told us that they want to follow accounts that show personality, but offer a balance. Check out Artsy’s #ArtWorldSpaces campaign for ideas.

6. Think Globally, Post Locally. 

Following closely behind “an imbalance of photos” (posting too much of one type of photo), over-posting was the second most popular reason collectors said they would unfollow someone. We recommend posting a maximum of twice per day, and scheduling your posts with purpose. Posting at the wrong time (for most of your followers) means that your content is less likely to be viewed, and much less engaged with.

Tip: Use the “two birds, one stone” adage, and aim to reach key locations during primetime: If you have galleries in NYC and Rome, posting by 6 PM makes sense, but midnight doesn't.

7. Post Content That Collectors Want To See From Galleries.

When asked what they enjoy most about a gallery’s Instagram feed, more collectors chose “behind the scenes content” (i.e. studio visits and installation day) than “museum shows,” “art fair coverage,” “announcements,” and “gallery views” combined! At a close second was “first look at new inventory.”

And a final note to put things in perspective: While the platform’s influence on art buying behavior is clearly growing, Instagram is but one additional outlet for your digital content. Instagram should be a part of your content strategy, and not its own end. Use it for what it is, and don’t forget to enjoy the process!

Let us know if you are enjoying our Gallery Insights and what topics you’d love to read about in the future. If you’re not already subscribed, you can add your email here. And if you’d like to learn more about promoting your gallery’s content and reaching collectors on Artsy, you can learn about Artsy gallery partnerships.

P.S. As promised, here is the list of Instagram influencers our survey collectors recommend following.

Select Instagram Accounts Recommended By Surveyed Collectors:

@albertomugrabi, @alexandergorlizki, @anitazart, @artlistco, @artnewsafrica, @artobserved, @artsy, @arttactic, @ashoonk, @brettgorvy, @brooklynrail, @burning_in_water_art, @chuckwebster, @creamydreamy, @dismagazine, @enocperez, @eringoldberger, @exhibitiona, @fashen, @francky.b, @frederic_net, @freeze_de, @halfgallery, @hankwillisthomas, @henryrelph, @hyperallergic, @icallb, @ivankatrump, @jbbernadet, @jerrysaltz, @jonasbrwood, @jvermaire, @karenrobinovitz , @katyakaz, @kellycrowwsj, @kennyschachter, @kennyscharf, @kh.oi, @lindqvistcontemporary, @littlebrownmushroom, @lizny3, @loicgouzer, @lousyleo, @mrbenady, @mrkaspersonne, @nielskantor, @osgemeos, @paridust, @petcortright, @philophilia, @pibsen, @picklebeholding, @psacparis, @rare_concept, @richardprince1234, @robertsuss, @robpruitt5000, @rubyskystiler, @sellyoulater, @simondepury, @spacelobster95, @staffordbroumand, @stefansimchowitz, @tgdallas, @theamazingpoppingeyes, @theartinsidernyc, @vikmuniz, @wellerharry, @willcottonnyc, @willnyc, @worthartadvisory, @yvonneforce, @zachfeuer

                                             ______

See Part I of the survey results: How Collectors Use Instagram to Buy Art

Elena Soboleva (@elenasoboleva) is a contemporary art Specialist at @Artsy. She works with collectors, manages art fair sales, and develops curatorial programming. She studied economics and art history and writes about the art market and online trends.

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