Instagram made its inauspicious debut as an app for the iPhone on the social-media circuit on October 6, 2010, and it’s now the seventh-highest ranked social-media platform out there. Unlike any other social-media platform, Instagram focuses only on photography, which means you need to care about this platform. Yes, Facebook is number one, with one billion monthly visits, but we can essentially deduce that virtually everyone on Instagram is into photography on some level.
There’s a trend out there pushing for Instagram "purity," simply meaning that the platform began as an app and only photos created on a mobile device should make it into your Instagram account. I was adhering to this concept for a long time, especially since I use my iPhone all the time to take photos of interesting things I see during the course of my day. I still do this, to a certain extent, and I still post iPhone-specific photographs to Instagram, but I’ve decided to let go of the purity concept and promote my brand (outdoor adventure photography) regardless of the equipment used to create the image.
Myth: Instagram Is The Enemy
This leads me to another often-asked question: Do I watermark? I put my simple logo on the images that I post to Instagram because I also push those images to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr simultaneously. By adding my logo, people get a piece of my brand regardless. Can they steal the image and clone out the watermark? Of course, and they do regularly, based on all the cases that our copyright attorneys find and settle. It’s almost mind-numbing, but I consider it another revenue stream that covers a large part of our operating expenses.
Do we need yet another social-media platform to be part of? I think only you can answer that question based on your own goals as a photographer and what your vision is from a photography perspective. I have friends on Instagram who only post privately to their accounts and only their closest friends get to see their work. Then, I have others who have hundreds of thousands of followers and let every one of those followers know where they’re headed on any given day. We’ve recently analyzed my social-media presence and have decided to concentrate on the accounts that best support my business plan. We actually have the most followers on Google+, but it seems like everyone has vacated the platform or no one seems to actively follow or care about what we do there. What seems to be working to build my brand is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and, yes, Instagram, so that’s where we’ve decided to put our energy.
Consider some of the things I’ve discovered by posting my work on Instagram. I do it every day. I’m trying to get more and more descriptive with my captions and tags. You actually can have up to 30 hashtags in a single photo on Instagram, and many photographers have found that if these 30 hashtags correspond perfectly to the image, they get a huge uptick in Likes. Finally, I push those images to my other social-media networks because not everyone who’s following me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn follows me on Instagram.
I obviously work very differently than many out there and, in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that. I know exactly where my posts and photos go, and what drives a consistent flow of traffic to my online business. I know that I have lower rankings than some of my direct competitors, but I also know that I have a much lower bounce rate than many of them, which, in turn, makes me feel as if the content I’m producing has a set of followers who truly benefit from what we’re talking about. For me, Instagram is definitely a growing friend.
Want to see what we’re posting on Instagram? Follow us @jaygoodrich!