NEW COURSE: Wildlife Photo Editing Secrets Now On Sale

This past year was finally the year of Instagram for me. I’d posted there once in a while before, but never really consistently over the years. I know everyone uses Instagram, but I guess I just didn’t get it for a while. But I’m on board now, so I thought it would be cool to share what everyone else thought my top Instagram photos of 2016 were.

As I wrote the other day, it’s always intrigued me a little. It’s a mobile photography sharing platform, that actually WILL NOT let you post anything from your desktop. It’s against their terms of service for developers to even develop an app that shares to IG from a desktop computer, which is why even Lightroom doesn’t have a “Share to Instagram” option (though there is a plug-in called LRInstagram but I’m pretty sure it’s against their terms of service). Yet it’s riddled with professional DSLR photos. So you actually have take a photo with your DSLR, edit it on your computer, and then get those photos on to your phone to post them.

Anyway, I figured out a good workflow in Lightroom and Lightroom Mobile (with Collections) to make it easier to get my “big boy camera” photos on to my phone to share (so I’m not emailing them to myself), and decided to jump into the IG pool (that’s cool kids speak for Instagram).

Shameless Plug: I have a free Lightroom Mobile course right here, if you’re interested in knowing how to get photos back and forth between your computer/phone 🙂

So What’s the Verdict?

Well, I’ll share the stats with you first. And then I’ll give you my personal opinion on the whole deal after I post the photos. As for stats, I started the year with just over 1000 Instagram followers. As of today, I have about 17,500. Not bad eh?

So how did I grow it? By posting photos frequently and hashtagging them. Hashtags are one of the lifelines of Instagram. It’s how people find photos. Rather than looking at a certain person’s account all the time, people tend to have favorite terms that they search for. Like “waterfalls”, or “photooftheday”. That way, even if some one isn’t following you on Instagram, if you hashtag your photo with a tag they happen to like, then it’s possible your photo could end up in front of some one who doesn’t know/follow you – and in turn, that person can end up your follower.

What Hashtags?

I was pretty consistent throughout the year in my hashtags. I typically always did #photooftheday #travelphotography #travel and then I’d throw a couple in there based on the photo itself. Like if the photo was of a waterfall I’d put #waterfall. Or if I took it in Glacier National Park I’d put #GlacierNationalPark.

While I can’t tie my growth to that particularly I think it helped. Every once in a while I spot check a name that was following me or commented and it was some one that wasn’t following me on Facebook, Twitter or my email list.

Stacking the Deck?

I’ll be the first to admit it. The deck is stacked in my favor a bit, because I have training out there through several various companies. So there is definitely some name familiarity going on there, that helped grow it faster. But I don’t think it was all that. I think it mostly came from just posting photos more often.

And I didn’t stack the deck any more in my favor. Meaning I didn’t send out emails to my email list, or posts to my Facebook or Twitter accounts and try to get those people to come follow me on IG. You’ll see a lot of people do that. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just important to know that you may not see the growth that some one else saw. Because not everyone out there has massive amounts of followers on other social channels, so their growth would never be the same as some one who does, and uses those channels to build their IG account.

So from what I can see, the follower growth came mostly from posting photos (and it didn’t hurt to start with over 1000 followers to begin with). I use Iconosquare.com to monitor my statistics, and I can tell you that when I posted a lot, my follower number grew – when I didn’t post, it didn’t grow. Kinda interesting though.

Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2017

A few things about the photos below. First, they’re not all new photos. Since Instagram was a new platform for me, I posted old photos too. Also, Instagram used to require a square crop. They actually don’t anymore, but I always find myself using it anyway. I don’t know why. I have no formal reason for this and I don’t ever crop my photos in to a square in any other app or when I print them. Yep, I’m officially weird 🙂

Anyway, here’s the photos in no particular order. The app that I use (Iconosquare) let’s me see engagement for my posts, which is how I came up with the list. It’s not just likes or views, or comments. That said, the first one below was by far the most engaged photo I posted for the year.

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So Did Anything Good Come From Being on Instagram?

So there’s the magic question right? It’s yet another platform to share to and check all the time right? So is it worth the time? I’ll start with saying Yes. I think it’s a great community and it’s just fun to share there. And more importantly, it’s inspiring. It’s a platform built totally for photography, and I found it very inspiring and motivating to look at other’s photos more than anything else.

I don’t care for it’s commenting system. It doesn’t show inline replies, so it’s not as elegant as Facebook. If you comment and you’re the 2nd one, and then 5 more people comment, the reply I make to the 2nd comment doesn’t show up until the 8th comment. You’ll of course be notified if I @yourname before it, but it’d be hard for anyone else to follow the thread if there was useful info in there.

My personal thoughts were that there weren’t as many “trolls” as I find on Facebook. You know, people that jump in and just say dumb things, or criticize the photo just to stir the pot. Remember, these communities are for “sharing” – if I want a critique I’ll go to some one I trust and ask them. That didn’t bother me too much though, as I’ve gotten pretty good about just ignoring that stuff. And if it was really bad I’d just delete it.

All that said, from a business perspective I didn’t see things change too much. There’s no way to put links in to your posts, so I can’t tie a post to a specific business activity of mine and see if it worked (or at least reliably). We run ads on Facebook which can automatically run them on IG as well, and we don’t see a ton of traction from the Instagram ones. Personally, I know that I don’t typically click on as many ads in Instagram when I’m there – not sure if anyone else is like that. I usually just scroll through and look at photos. When I’m on Facebook, I’m usually a little more engaged in that way. Again, it could totally be me though.

So from a business standpoint I can’t say Instagram changed much for me, which is totally fine. As I mentioned earlier, it was fun to share, and even more fun to get inspired by looking at other people’s work. And most people reading this article don’t really care for it to build a business – it’s more of a way to enjoy photography more, in which case I’d definitely recommend it.

Well that’s it for today. Continuing with the 2016 Recap, tomorrow I’ll be writing about 5 Things I Learned About Running a Business. However, as I’ve already started writing it, that 5 could easily turn in to 7 or even 87 by tomorrow 😉 Have a good one!

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