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Dear Photographers, Instagram is Dead!

“How are your Instagram numbers?” I hear it all the time. Photographers wondering what’s going on with IG. Well, from the look of things, EVERYONE has experienced a downturn in their Instagram engagement.

instagram dead for photographers

I know that I personally was receiving nearly 10% equivalent of my follower number in likes on my photography account before they did away with the linear timeline.

Photographers looking to organically grow their followership might just be out of luck!

Algorithm Madness

Instagram has tweaked it’s algorithm so much that they’ve managed to alienate their users. Why? People have no idea what order they’re going to see photos in.

I have people commenting on pictures I posted two weeks before that are just being seen by people who log in to IG every day.

While things like being able to follow hashtags can offer a totally new experience and bring lots of new viewers to your work if you hashtag properly, the elimination of the linear timeline really hurt everyone.

organic instagram follower growth is dead for photographers

Smart IG users who posted at the right time of day to engage their audience saw their engagement numbers dwindle as less and less of their followers actually saw their content. Or they saw it days or even weeks later.


It’s reported that 100 million images get uploaded to Instagram EVERY DAY! ONE HUNDRED MILLION!

And of those images, less that one percent even receive a response. So, even though you used to get 25 likes on every photo you posted and now you only get 10, consider yourself luckier than 99% of the media posted on the platform.

With so many images and videos streaming in front of your audience’s view, it’s not surprising that they’ve become numb to responding.

The deck is stacked against you…

It seems that with all of the large social media platforms, you need a minimum number of followers to unlock the features that actually help you grow your follower numbers OR promote your business.

So, if you don’t have that minimum (which is 10,000 for IG), you’re basically working at a Sisyphean task trying to grow your following.

What will be the next Instagram?

I read an article recently (on a MAJOR photography blog) bemoaning the downward trend in Instagram engagement. The author went on to ask the readers what the next Instagram would be. Literally asking, “Hey, what’s the new hip platform so I can get on it before it blows up?”

Then they asked “Is it TikTok? I hear a lot of people talking about TikTok. How can I use that for my photography business.”

First off, you can’t sound like less of an expert when you’re asking your audience for input. As for what’s next, that is really anyone’s guess. You have to keep your ear to the ground.

Yes, apps like TikTok and Snapchat have BLOWN UP in the last couple years, but for photographers, they don’t really add up to a great platform the way that IG did.

TikTok is a platform for recording short funny videos and while you can apply hashtags that make your videos show up in searches, it’s not really a format for showing off your photography work. It’s more of a personality based platform.

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The same can be said for Snapchat. While you can upload still images to Snapchat along with short videos, the mercurial nature of the platform ensures that whatever you’ve uploaded recently is gone in a couple of days. On top of that, there’s no way for people to naturally FIND you on Snapchat. They have to search for you specifically and follow you. Unless you’re some sort of celebrity or news outlet, chances are you won’t be gaining a huge following.

Vero looked like it might be the platform for photographers and creatives, with it’s ad free experience, no cropping or downsizing of photos, as well as the ability to post links, songs, book recommendations right to your wall as well as the cunning use of hashtags. However, while downloads boomed from just over 100k to over 3 million in just one week in 2018, things have cooled off since then.

Any new platform is going to have a lot to deal with going up against the social media giants of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever Google decides to put out (I’m sure they’ll come up with something soon). It all depends on what the audience is looking for…

So what do we do?

Keep an eye out. Talk to your clients. Find out what social media platforms they are on. You need to connect with the people who are going to hire you where they spend their time.

If all your clients spend more time on Twitter than they do on IG or Facebook, you should be focusing on Twitter. It’s a pretty simple strategy. And, when new platforms pop up, you have to be willing to be an early adopter. Most surges in followership happen in the first year of a platform’s popularity. Coming in late to the game means you’re going to struggle to get bigger numbers.

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And, as far as Instagram goes, you can still connect with potential clients on the platform! Learn to use hashtags well. Don’t bombard your posts with as many hashtags as you can, that might actually hurt your engagement. Choose hashtags that potential clients might be following. Use the changes they’ve made to your advantage!!

Are you hanging out somewhere new?

If you are on a new platform that you’re really enjoying, drop it in the comments OR message me on social media and let me know. I’ll come find you and increase your follower numbers…

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The Nerdy Photographer

With more than a quarter century as a professional photographer, The Nerdy Photographer's goal is to spread knowledge and laughter throughout the photo industry. Please follow along on social media and subscribe to the podcast.

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