If you are anything like me, the latest and constant changing Instagram and Facebook algorithm is on your last nerve. Do you recall the last time you said, "Oh cool, a new Instagram algorithm!" or anticipated positive changes coming from the social media giant?
As photographers, we've worked hard to build audiences and to take beautiful photographs but there is big brother who has the final say on your fate. From shadow banning to selecting who should see your posts, Instagram continually downgrades a once fun app into something we've grown to dislike.
ALGORITHM: The algorithm serves no real purpose to anyone other than Facebook and Instagram. Many report that the average is 15% reach. If you have 1000 followers, about 150 of them might see the image. The entire point of Instagram was to see the images INSTA-ntly. Currently, they decide who will see your posts, when they'll see it, and if they'll see your content at all.
I may not be active on many of my followers' accounts but I'd still like to see what's happening in their lives. As a photographer, I want to see images from all accounts whether we have regular engagement with each other or not. I'd like for other accounts to see my work with or without the blessing of Instagram.
FREE (FOR NOW): Vero claims the first one million downloads are free for life. After that, there is an annual fee of "a few cups of coffee." My guess is that they mean drip coffee served by a guy with a man bun for $7 a cup vs. a cup from a donut shop. Either way, join now to avoid that fee no matter what it is.
NO MORE ADS (SPYING): You're having a nice conversation about taking a summer trip to Spain and then suddenly ads appear on your FB and IG feed about Spanish Vacations? Yeah, that's called data-mining and Vero says that will stop because of the subscription service they'll have in place. They'll also monetize the app by charging a small amount for in-app purchases.
ARTIST FAVORED: You take the time to photograph something and only 15% of your followers see it? No! This weekend they estimate over 500,000 people downloaded the app on the iOS platform alone. Photographers are driving the service up the charts! Who cares if you have 10K followers on Instagram when only about 1,500 of them will see it. On Vero, 1500 followers mean 1500 have the chance to view your image.
Furthermore, I haven't seen noticeable downgrades in image quality at Vero unlike Facebook and Instagram's compression methods.
FACEBOOK HAS TOO MUCH CONTROL: They do have too much control. Anyone disagree? A little breakup and shakeup is nice.
TAKES LITTLE TIME: Assuming the servers are up and running again, it does not take much time to upload your content to Vero. New YouTube video? Link to it from your Vero. new Instagram post? Upload it on Vero, and if you want, place a link in the comments.
LINK TO YOUR CONTENT: As creatives, this is ultra-important and necessary. Do you sell prints or workshops? Do you want to show a BTS video on YouTube and make it easy for the followers to click it? Place your link in the content to in-app purchases. If you can eliminate any barriers for the potential buyer, this can be huge.
EDITING FEATURES: Big on filters? They have over 15 filters that rival Instagram and settings to adjust your image. You can also edit images in other apps, as we've done with Instagram and then upload them.
RESERVE YOUR NAME: At the very least, reserve your name. If Vero fails, you don't lose anything. If it soars and makes a dent on Instagram's market, then you have your name picked out and it's on brand. Remember all the people who grabbed good names on Instagram and now have a huge following?
TOTAL CONTROL: They say no algorithm! You are in control with four settings: Close Friends, Friends, Acquaintances, and Followers. You can theoretically post personal and professional images within one username. That way your clients don't have to see the crazy weekend photographs.
- BECAUSE IT'S A NICE THREAT TO FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM: I consider what Instagram is doing as theft. You engage with your audience and build the audience. Instagram comes in and takes away what you've built and sells it back to you in the form of ads. Sure it's a free app, but as my dad says, "there's nothing more expensive than free." What are you giving up by using the Instagram platform for free? Privacy? Access? As photographers, we should support anyone that come in and challenge the big guy on the block. Competition is healthy.
Is Vero - True Social Media a perfect app that works effortlessly? No, but it's good enough that over 500,000 of us flocked to iOS store alone to download Vero (in a 24 hour period). About one week ago it ranked so low that it didn't even appear in the store's search results and now one of the most downloaded apps.
Anything that stages a real threat to Instagram should be supported and used. My guess is that the good folks at the Instagram headquarters had an emergency meeting Monday morning after they heard the stats on Vero. If this means that our support in Vero forces Instagram to change some of its algorithm policies, it's worth that alone!
Image Usage: There is an issue with copyrights that has many photographers worried (including me). According to their privacy settings:
If you post on Vero, you hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have all rights necessary to grant, to Vero a limited, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, list information regarding, translate, distribute, syndicate, publicly perform, publicly display, make derivative works of, or otherwise use your User Content, including (without limitation) your name, voice, and/or likeness as it is contained within your User Content, in whole or in part, and in any form, media or technology, whether now known or hereafter developed.
What that means is they have the right to do anything with our images, but will not sell them to a third party like Coca-Cola, etc... However, you might see your image on a billboard advertising the Vero App platform. By protesting this aspect of the app, I hope they have a change of mind and remove the policy. It's an easier change to implement vs. Instagram's entire algorithm policy being changed. Post with caution.
You won't have to crop your images but there are options of cropping within the app. Many are also saying that image quality on Vero isn't an issue like it is on Instagram.
Overall, Vero is an app worth downloading and supporting. Until now, no real threat to the Facebook reign had come to surface and I'm certain Vero is on their radar across Instagram headquarters. Until now, Instagram didn't care if you hated their Instagram changes because there was no real alternative. Vero's rise in popularity is a direct reflection of our growing frustration with Instagram.
What do I think will happen? Instagram will likely lift many of the features and implement them within its own app. They have a history of stealing ideas and incorporating them into its growth strategy. Facebook and Instagram usually buy out any app service if it's considered a threat. In this case, we have a unique situation where it's billionaire vs. billionaire. Vero's growth since 2015 wasn't even worth discussion until this weekend when the app surged from irrelevant placements to number one.