The Decline of Instagram: Should Photographers Start Using Other Platforms?

One of the things that I've noticed over the last year on Instagram is just how little of an effect most of my efforts make. A few years ago, we were quite literally receiving thousands of likes and hundreds of new followers daily. Today, I'm lucky if I get anywhere near a hundred likes on new posts, and my follower count remains pretty stagnant. 

In his latest video, Gary Vaynerchuk discusses how the days of organic growth on Instagram are well and truly over. Now, I'm pretty certain that most of us here have probably heard something or experienced something similar. This is of course not anything new and not a groundbreaking statement by any means. What's interesting, however, is how Vaynerchuk discusses another social media platform called TikTok. I personally have little to no understanding of what this platform is all about, but based on how Vaynerchuk describes it, I'm well and truly intrigued. I can appreciate that many of us may be apprehensive when it comes to social media and some of us may even disdain the whole idea of it. The problem is that as we sit back with our upper lips curled looking at all the "influencers," they're out there doing something useful. It can be difficult getting an audience for the work we produce, especially now when there are so many more artists vying for the same. I believe that my previous mentality on social media may not have been effective and could have prevented me from progressing even more than I have. For this reason, I'm interested to see if a platform like TikTok could be beneficial to photographers and the industry as a whole. 

If you have experience using this platform already, I'm very interested to know your thoughts and perspectives. 

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57 Comments

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

I just use insta, to share with people I met whole over the world. I give a shit about likes and followers, to be honest.

Tom Reichner's picture

You give a shit? Really?

The way you said it, it seems that you DON'T give a shit about likes and followers.

Did you happen to forget to type the word, "don't" in between the words "I" and "give"?

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

Seriously what's your problem dude? Yes I give a shit about likes and followers. I appreciate if people like my pictures or someone is following me. That does not mean I post for likes or followers. Has your brain the capacity to comprehend that?

Tom Reichner's picture

The reply you wrote to me is rather disrespectful. You should learn not to talk down to others.

Influencers are doing something useful? They’re selling lipstick man, Its hardly useful!

Robert Callahan's picture

TikTok is not taken seriously, even by the people that use it. It’s in that ‘’It’s fun to make fun of it’’ stage and won’t survive when that wears off in a couple months.

Michael Holst's picture

I work in the ad industry and can assure you that TikTok is taken seriously. It's being implemented into most of the serious social and listening tools that we use. It's not going to replace the current top platforms anytime soon but people said the same thing about Snapchat. Once brands find a way to target people and the platform allows access to their API, it's easily monetized.

Robert Callahan's picture

We are in the same field and have very different views. Unless your target market is extremely young, it’s not a net positive ROI. You won’t see Porsche, or even Ford, advertising on TikTok.

Michael Holst's picture

Well of course but that's not to say there aren't LOADS of other advertisers who should look at TikTok as a good digital media outlet.

Doug Stringham's picture

TikTok is also a Chinese company. So proceed with caution.

Will Murray's picture

The best thing about being an amateur is not having to care.

Tom Reichner's picture

I am disappointed in this article. I thought it would provide a great deal of in-depth analysis and discussion. Instead it just gives a shallow summary of things we have already known for years, and prompts us to look into this new tick tock thing.

It almost seems as thought the author wrote this to get us to click on the links, to increase views on the YouTube video or to get people to check out this tick tock thing, instead of genuinely wanting to generate an insightful discussion and provide deep analysis of Instagram's diminishing returns.

I come here to read things that will give me great insights that I didn't already have, not to see the painfully obvious regurgitated and accompanied with links that will benefit the author in some way.

Robert Crow's picture

Everyone who cares about social media should be on tiktok now! It's highly addictive easy to use fun platform. All the young kids are on it which means that if someone will want to sell them something have to be there too.

I hope in the future there will be many more social media platforms that are able to break facebook's hegemony and provide more diverse platforms for the creators.

Tom Reichner's picture

In that case, I hope that Facebook buys tick tock and absorbs it into what they already have.

Robert Crow's picture

That's what I'm afraid of actually. I would rather see many more of these platforms. Facebook is like having only one camera manufacturer with no competition. Monopoly was never a good thing for the end consumers let alone the creative world.

Michael Holst's picture

I agree, Facebook shouldn't have so much control over how we interact with others digitally. They've proven that they can't handle our data responsibly so why should they own everything?

Crystal Johnson's picture

TikTok is not a platform for photographers looking for organic reach to build their business or to utilize it to network. TikTok is for those that want to make short videos, much like Vine was and more about music than anything else. Sure, if you're a videographer or post BTS videos from shoots it might be beneficial to an extent. But you can do that on every other platform out there. He may have a large following on TikTok, but that's because it takes literally nothing to follow people regardless of the content they produce. Brands looking into TikTok are doing so because it's just another branch of the market. The user base is something to think about too. The vast majority of users are young and a good amount are younger than 18. Not only that, the demographics are crazy geared towards India and China... not a bad thing, but the spread is not there yet. Go ahead and try TikTok for a few months to support your business and then write an article with the results. ALSO, I want to mention VERO that was supposedly going to take over IG, it never did. It lost wind shortly after it went viral. TikTok is a whole different beast and different application. If you want to make it big as an influencer or YTer, sure, TikTok might work. But for us that aren't geared towards EVERYONE, because photography is a niche, it will hard to market to the masses.

David Justice's picture

The problem with Gary Vaynerchuk videos is that they're not made specifically for photographers. You really need to extrapolate the thesis he is sharing and see if you can make it work for your business. That's not his problem, but from the perspective of a photographer viewing his videos, not everything pertains to you or me.

The one thing you need to understand is it's about attention. Where is your target market spending their time. Where can you get in front of them. It's possible that Instagram isn't that place or the only place. Maybe LinkedIn or Facebook are things you shouldn't ignore.

As for Vero. I think the problem with it is it didn't have anything distinct that made people actually want to switch. And now that all these social media companies are too big to fail, you really need that 1 feature or 1 idea that makes it worth it for people to post to.

Where ever your desired audience is, then that's where one should be respectively, however chasing social media's next thing is time wasted when perfecting your the quality of your out out should be paramount. If you're in it for the business then try to stay relevant, consistent as well be realistic, for the growth will come in time and it will be something tangible as opposed to fleeting.

Martin Van Londen's picture

Do you use Instagram stories? I would recommend using that more. It’s the only growth happening on IG.

Side note: fstoppers never posts stories and that’s a big miss.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I can't stand stories because I have to sit there and watch vs being able to just scroll past quickly. Stories never did make sense to me. It's something that could have been just easily part of the newsfeed.

Heath McKinley's picture

You can tap to skip to the next story or swipe to skip through altogether. This means you don’t have extra content taking up space in your feed.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I'm aware of that. But, it's nowhere near as fast and responsive as scrolling with the regular newsfeed.

I probably wouldn't so annoyed with it if freakin' IG would stop forcing to land in the stories when I tap on someone's profile. Just take me to the profile and let decide if I want to go into the stories.

John Dawson's picture

Gary is a smart guy, but I can't get past his douchitude. Oh, and social media is a cancer.

C Fisher's picture

Ummmmm tik tok is for teens making lip sync videos lmfaoooo, I was expecting them to say something like Vero...

Started using the CurEat app for some food work recently

Can’t we all just go back to Flickr already?

Michael Holst's picture

Flickr is still alive and honestly, I enjoy using it again because it's back to being geared towards photographers.

Musing Eye's picture

Agreed. Happily using Flickr here too. IG is good for connecting with models and other local photographers. I tried Vero, Ello, and 500px and backed off them again.

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