Gallery Insights
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5 Ways Galleries Can Make the Most of Instagram Stories

A few weeks ago, Instagram released Stories—a new feature that allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. While many social media posts are seen through a glossy, editorialized lens, these stories offer raw, unfiltered content. Instagram has entered the battle for the present moment with Snapchat, Periscope, and Facebook Live, and with that comes a new strategy for your social media team. 

Why Instagram Stories Matters to Your Gallery


The relevance of Instagram for galleries is nothing new: in 2015, we saw how Instagram can help people collect art, and art-world influencers have since continued the conversation, recently with Art Basel Director Marc Spiegler questioning “Does Instagram replace Artforum ads? Art fair booths? My gallery? Me?” In the wake of Stories’ launch, brands are already reporting higher engagement rates. Artsy’s Instagram Stories, for example, receive upwards of 15x the engagement of our Snapchat stories—and thus, a new opportunity has emerged for galleries to further advance on Instagram.

With the year’s biggest month of gallery openings upon us, here are five ways you can use Stories to promote your gallery this season.

Before you start, make sure you download the latest version of Instagram


1. Upload Invites and Announcements


Start by familiarizing yourself with Stories. You can easily create photos and videos in the app, but you can also seamlessly upload content from your camera roll. Swipe down, and you’ll have access to everything in your camera roll that was taken in the last 24 hours. For example, post a snapshot of your upcoming exhibition announcement to easily remind your followers to drop by your next opening. Don’t forget to take advantage of overlay options and add personality with emojis, doodles, and text to make your content more engaging.

Pro Tip: You can upload older photos by resaving them to your phone or taking a screenshot, and resetting the timestamp for that image.

  •  How to add elements to your story, featuring Sarah Cain’s “Dark Matter” at Galerie Lelong

     How to add elements to your story, featuring Sarah Cain’s “Dark Matter” at Galerie Lelong

2. Take Your Followers Behind The Screen


Collectors love to go behind the scenes and Stories is perfect for showcasing your gallery in an intimate and informal way, in focused narratives. Take your audience along next time a show is being installed, your back room is rehung, or when you visit one of your artists’ studios. Keep it to a maximum of 10 segments per story and make sure to vary photo and video content. Know the story you are telling ahead of time and do a bit of back-of-the-napkin storyboarding to ensure that there is a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

 Pro Tip: While you’re building your Story, swipe left or right to access color filters. If you decide to add some flair using the pen function, you can access a larger color palette by pressing and holding one of the color swatches Instagram makes available.


3. Give Your Instagram Stories to the Most Creative People: Your Artists!


The casual (and ephemeral) nature of Stories lends itself well to takeovers, so invite your artists to create a story on your account and share their vision. While not every artist shares David Hockney’s flair for digital drawings, the medium lends itself well to a range of practices—from drawing to experimental video. Be willing to experiment with content and take risks, just be sure that it’s clear to your followers who’s telling the story. 

Pro Tip: Download Instagram’s Boomerang and Hyperlapse apps to create even more dynamic content. Save videos from these apps to your camera roll and easily include them in your story or you can even upload clips of existing video art.

  • Sample Boomerang video of Rashid Johnson’s “Fly Away” at Hauser & Wirth

    Sample Boomerang video of Rashid Johnson’s “Fly Away” at Hauser & Wirth

4. Showcase Press and Museum Show Openings 


Got an Artforum review this month or an essay in Texte Zur Kunst? Don’t just stockpile the magazines, but also highlight the press by including a mention in your story. You could post an overhead shot of it with your morning coffee (an Instagram trope, but it works), or even have a member of your staff read an excerpt. Your Instagram feed is meant for your curated images, but Stories is a place to experiment freely, so take advantage of the 24-hour lifespan and try new things. 

Pro Tip: Unlike Snapchat, Instagram allows you to add a link in your bio. Update the link in your profile settings to direct followers to your website or your latest press mention. Include “link in bio” in your caption or as text overlay in your Story.  

  • Artsy’s Instagram Story, featuring OSGEMEOS’ “Silence of the Music” at Lehmann Maupin

    Artsy’s Instagram Story, featuring OSGEMEOS’ “Silence of the Music” at Lehmann Maupin


5. Spot New Collectors


When you view your own story, swipe up to see the names of all of your viewers. This provides you with valuable insight. Before, the only way to know who was engaging with your content was through likes and comments. Now you have even more information about who is paying attention to your gallery. Always keep an eye on who’s watching and check out their accounts. If you notice a collector following your Stories consistently, consider reaching out personally or inviting them to your next event.  

Pro Tip: Make it easy for you followers to get in touch. Turn on message replies in your Story Settings so anyone can reply to your story. If someone replies, you’ll see their response in your direct messages. Be sure to check your message requests, as they could be hidden if you don’t follow them. Also, make sure switch your profile to Instagram for Business in your settings to allow collectors to email or call your gallery, directly from your Instagram account! 


—Elena Soboleva


In the ever-evolving ecosystem of social media, Instagram remains the obligatory art world app—a key platform on which to nurture follower engagement and amplify your gallery’s reach. Being an early adopter of this new feature lets you establish your voice and tap into a key audience you have already been been fostering.

At Artsy, we are committed to helping our gallery partners develop a holistic digital presence. Stay tuned for our upcoming SEO for Galleries series. If you’re interested in further amplifying your gallery’s reach, contact your liaison about opportunities. If you’re not yet an Artsy partner, you can learn more about our gallery partnerships, or apply directly.

Be sure to follow Artsy on Instagram for latest shows, news, and coverage of over 4,000 galleries, 70 fairs, and 600 museums.

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