Photographers, You’re Wasting Time on Instagram

Why professionals have a love-hate relationship with everyone’s favorite social platform

Photographers, You’re Wasting Time on Instagram
Photo by Lerone Pieters on Unsplash

As a photographer, I understand how Instagram can be extremely attractive. Instagram seems to be a no-brainer. It’s a photo-sharing platform, and it’s also one of the most popular social media platforms. As you’ve learned by reading web marketing blogs online, you should work on your social media presence. And one of the first things you’ve learned is to focus on one or two platforms.

So, like everyone else, you made a choice: you’re going to work on your Instagram presence. As you’ve learned, if you do an excellent job on Instagram, you might not even need a website or a traditional portfolio! Instagram seems to be the ideal platform to work on if you’re trying to work on your career.

However, maybe you’ve tried it already, and your Instagram account isn’t taking off. You’re barely getting new followers, your engagement rate is rather low, and you’re not getting all the direct messages you were expecting.

So you start doing more research. Maybe you’re not doing things right after all. That’s when you start finding logical excuses. Instagram is ruled by a crazy algorithm that’s conspiring against you, so you end up buying ads to counter your frustration. Or, maybe it’s just the image compression making your amazing high-quality work look like garbage on Instagram. Or, perhaps it’s just the people disliking what you do. In any event, you were doing things right. It’s just Instagram trying to make money out of your frustration, is what your research would say.

But the Actual Issue is Very Different

Instagram is a highly competitive platform. Of course, considering how attractive the platform is in terms of opportunities and growth, especially for photographers, Instagram has become more competitive than ever. And the competition will get worse and worse as thousands of wannabe professional photographers sign up and try to make it, every single day.

That algorithm that you were reading about isn’t trying to fight against you. It’s just trying to sort out the outstanding amount of similar content that’s posted daily on the platform. Without that algorithm, we would be flooded with irrelevant content constantly.

I understand why you think it’s unfair. Instagram pushes bigger accounts first because they’re considered to be high-quality by the algorithm. That means that a smaller account like yours has fewer opportunities to grow, and therefore, to prove to the algorithm that your content is also high-quality.

So you feel trapped: bigger accounts will get bigger while you feel stuck.

Well, here’s the truth: Instagram used to be the quickest and easiest platform to grow on, and it still is. However, it’s also a platform where starting is tough.

So why do you keep doing what everyone else is doing and failing at? Why don’t you try to do something a little different if you’re trying to make it on Instagram?

Following What Your Field Is Doing Is a Terrible Marketing Move

By following the trend, you’re burying yourself with all your competitors. And photography is a competitive field.

If Instagram isn’t working as an acquisition platform, try a different one.

Again, Instagram makes it easier to grow if you’re already big, but starting is more complicated than ever. So start on a different platform, and then redirect the gathered community to your Instagram page.

Give Facebook or Twitter a chance. Twitter has a reasonably large photographer community. The compression algorithms are quite nice, so displaying your work is a lot more flattering on that platform. Moreover, the conversational aspect of Twitter means user engagement is typically higher on Twitter than Instagram. Out of all the social media platforms, I would say that Twitter is the most underrated one in terms of photography.

“But that’s one more platform to work on,” you may be complaining. Well, not necessarily. You can easily automate your postings on both platforms using tools like Buffer or Zapier. This software will automatically post to Twitter when you post to Instagram or vice versa.

This way, you can focus on Twitter while still producing content on Instagram. As your Twitter following is growing, you can regularly redirect these people to your Instagram, which will help your account grow. These followers will also be a lot more qualified than regular Instagram followers. And more engagement means that you have more chances of being recommended by the algorithm, which is what we’re all looking for.

There’s Not A Unique Path to Success

You don’t need a large number of followers on Instagram to run a successful photography business. However, Instagram is a significant platform if you want to get more clients, or if you want to raise your brand awareness and show your work.

However, if Instagram isn’t working well for you at the moment, try getting new followers on a different platform, and then redirect them to your Instagram. It can be Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, your website, your blog, or your mailing list. Just find a medium that you’re good with, get followers there, and then invite them to follow you on Instagram.

Don’t believe people that tell you that there’s one and only one method to get followers on Instagram. These people aren’t honest. If you’re growing on Instagram, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re not growing, then maybe you’re not doing things right, or perhaps Instagram isn’t meant for you. But considering how fundamental it is for a photographer to have an Instagram account, make it grow by growing on a different platform.

Charles Tumiotto Jackson
Charles Tumiotto Jackson
Read next: 4 Ways To Find Inspiration As A Beginner Photographer
Charles Tumiotto Jackson

Content Marketer, willing to put the "social" back in Social Media. Forget about "Hacks" and obscure secrets to grow on social media →

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