How to get around the INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM as a Photographer!
DISCLAIMER: this is what I do & have done to “get around” this new algorithm.
BUT, let’s be real. Likes DO - in a way - create a sort of credibility & validation for us as photographers. Unfortunately, that’s just the way our market is right now - people want to be liked, that want to feel like people care & are interested in them - which means more likes, more validation for what they’re doing. Highly suggest reading the book, Contagious for more info on how people react to social media & marketing!
But frankly, likes DON’T magically turn into dollar bills at the end of the day.
So here are a few ways I have focused on using Instagram as a social connection and enhancer to gain clients, rather than the ONLY way of connection to gain clients.
I do it all of the time. I find photographers with my similar style, photographers in the area, I find couples in the area, I find restaurants they go to, I go hardcore in "the feed," but I try to stay connected with them as well. On my photography Instagram account, I post 2-3 times a day. My goal is to have my followers/engaged couples see my work so much that it becomes almost a subconscious thing when they are looking for a photographer ;) - I’ve gotten this by a lot of my clients & acquaintances - they always say “you’re everywhere!” LOL I live in my bed watching vampire diaries like 95% of the time tbh, but no one would know that looking at my social media.
I started this at the end of last year when I began doing the monthly workshops. I want to give my “followers” value for following my work! So I write blog posts like this. I share what podcasts, books & things I’m learning, where I’m gonna be, I give my clients sneak peaks of their sessions, I do LIVE videos (on my personal account - @sydneyymarie) sharing photography & business related info I’ve gained for the past 4 years. My goal is to attract people, clients & potential clients to who I AM! My personality! I may not be gaining LIKES or incredible ENGAGEMENT, BUT I’m gaining TRUST. And that trust turns into word of mouth referrals, it turns into “reposts,” it turns into natural conversation with a friend. - EX: I listen to Gary Vee quite a bit (if you haven’t noticed already). He has a youtube, Instagram & podcast where he shares his knowledge DAILY on top of owning a billion dollar company.. NBD. He just came out with a book that I immediately bought.. not that I think I may learn something totally different from it, BUT because I trust what he has to say, and what he’s about & I want to support that. That’s just one example of me as an Instagram follower, turning into a podcast listener, turning into a youtube watcher, turning into a buyer. It took TRUST, not how much ENGAGEMENT the dude has to get me to that point.
MAKE FACE-TO-FACE CONNECTION!
Instagram is finding a way to really manipulate its users - so they are in control. And it’s not bad! It’s not good! It’s just what is happening and as a business owner, photographer, creative, whatever - we need to be on top of this! We’re not “reaching like x% when we post” BUT I still want them to be engaged and still see my work everywhere. So I want a face-to-face connection - so again.. they see who I AM, they like MY personality. I do this by doing lives, and Instagram stories on what interests me! If you haven’t noticed like 90% of my Insta stories or either about my blogs, my lives, my workshops that are giving my followers a chance to go on my website and check out my stuff. The other 10% is use as snapchat kinda where I post things that interest me or what I’m doing so I can talk to people that are also interested in the stuff I’m interested in! I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve made just by posting what I’m doing or where I’m going! People wanna relate to other people! I do the same with the instagrammers and people I follow too.
I also started doing more styled shoots where I pick couples to work with in exchanged for posts if they like their pics. From there, I get the engagement I want, the people looking at my stuff have already TRUSTED me because they’ve already seen my work posted or talked about by someone they TRUST. This, in a way, is engagement. But it’s customized engagement - the engagement that I NEED! Not bots or randoms.
IT’S ALL ON ME, NOT THAT ALGORITHM MINDSET!
I have the mindset of it’s all on me. It’s on me to show my work, to be strategic on my investments (where I spend my time, where I spend my money), to be able to run a business with or without Instagram. Yes, Instagram has provided me with AMAZING connections, experiences & probably 80% of my clients these past years. BUT times are changing, so I’m moving with it. It’s all on ME, not that algorithm to make things happen for MYSELF - whether that’s booking a wedding, gaining more workshop attendees, selling whatever the heck I’m selling to my "followers!"
Because at the end, I’m thinking BIG picture...
And that is NOT in my follower growth, BUT in my business growth.