Everyone wants to be popular on social media and there’s a term for it: influencer. Photographers, of course, aren’t immune to this. Instagram has become the platform of choice for the mission of having tons of followers, likes, and engagement. As strange and shallow as it may sound, it’s real, and the reach does help businesses and brands. Whether you’re a photographer or not, it’s a long and winding road to becoming an Instagram influencer. And a big portion of it often involves more than merely sharing great photos, as a social experiment by VICE‘s Sally Burtnick revealed.
Sally made a goal of creating a new Instagram and snagging as many followers as she already has on her personal account, which took years to establish. She decided not to spend a cent to gain followers, use information that’s already available to get started, and would not seek the aid of the official VICE account to boost her new account. She had to do it in 30 days, and the result is pretty crazy and eye-opening.
So, here are the facts:
- It takes a lot of work. Like, a lot of work that you probably didn’t expect. Not only do you need to find your niche, but you also need to create a persona — or an aesthetic if you’re a photographer or creative. You’ll need to make your bio short, sweet, and catchy.
- You’ll need to have loads of content ready, so you don’t run out of stuff to post regularly. That may not be a problem when you’re a photographer. But when you’re a full-time professional photographer, that can still be a challenge. If you’re just starting out, you have a lot of work to do, just for this.
- You also need to tag relevant brands not only to drive traffic to your account but also to make yourself seem more relevant than you really are. That sounds sad, don’t you think?
- Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags. Don’t forget the relevant hashtags. Oh, and make engaging captions by asking questions your audience would be interested in answering.
- You’ll have to attend influencer meetups — like networking on steroids — and hope these famous Instagrammers will rub off some of their popularity on you. Yikes.
- You may or may not need to resort to something outrageous to catch people’s attention and get them curious about you.
- Doing all of these things isn’t a guarantee that you’ll become an influencer.
- Because, if you really want to be Insta-famous, you’d better be prepared to spend an insane amount of money for it. That’s the truth straight from the horse’s mouth.
Sure, there may be some different parts for photographers and creatives. Some fall into the trap of visual trends and aesthetics that have been done to death. Some seek to photograph Insta-worthy spots and locations so they can have a slice of fame and traffic from the related hashtags. At its most toxic, Instagram is a cesspool of people — creative or otherwise — seeking validation through their smartphone screens.
What’s the lesson here? Being social media famous shouldn’t be your ultimate goal, because a big chunk of the influencer circle (if we can even call it that) is fake. Your personal and creative life shouldn’t revolve around being Insta-famous. Use that time and effort to work your ass off to be the best photographer or creative you can be. Maybe then, the followers will follow.
Screenshot image from the video