2019: the economy is going crazy. Money still is the Alpha and the Omega, but for quite some time, it’s not the only currency of real worth. Attention became one of the highest goods men can generate. In the day and time of a digital world, attention means longer dwelling time, leading to more advertising, leading to more clicks, leading to more revenue. Time is money: a catchphrase more fitting than ever. This leads us into a dilemma: while the surge for attention of every single person grows the attention span of the masses shrinks.
No medium embodies this phenomenon better than the social network Instagram. We as an image agency, of course, have our perspective on the app and have shared it in the past. As this is over two years ago now, we felt it was time for an update.
Strength in numbers: and no end in sight
Two years online: in our age, this is pretty close to eternity, and a lot has changed. Seven hundred million monthly active users have turned into over a billion – half of them using the app daily, like pictures and videos over 4.2 billion times. Everyday users upload 100 million Fotos, and we could go on posting real numbers like the average like-number on pictures – 1,261 for each image – but to this point, everyone should understand the size and impact of the app and by that the weight of attention. Within the jumble of those numbers which Instagram tries to control by its algorithm, private persons, influencers, brands, shops, companies, and of course, photographers battle for attention. It’s no further a question if you have to be on board but how to do it correctly to reach your goals. A question many experts think they have an answer to.
Much has changed; most stayed the same.
Opposite to our 2017 article, plenty has changed when it comes to Instagram. Sure, the app is on a new level when it comes to technical aspects – the implementation of stories changed the way we use it and also the way we create content. New tools have helped to develop the usage of Instagram as a self-marketing tool. It’s no longer necessary to describe the app as the birthplace for influencers but to explain the importance of influencer marketing to marketeers around the globe.
The platform itself is fully established in the marketing mix and society. Besides the rapid development of video content, Instagram stays a picture-first medium even though the interaction rate of videos is 38% higher than the one for image postings. Do a self-test – do you look at the feed or stories first? Don’t hesitate to give us some feedback on that.
Democratizing photography as a medium of expression
Instagram is often described as a killer of individualism. Many photos tend to look the same. One after the other, influencers pose on inflatable flamingos in swimming poos or at the beach in Greece – dressed in all white, of course. Traveling photographers quickly do another „Follow-me-to“-post for some good likes. These phenomena are never of a too long time but meant with a twinkle. Yes, Instagram has become a business, but that does not keep it from being a platform that promotes creativity and playfulness.
Every once in a while, we stumble upon picture ideas and trends that last longer and become big throughout the photo-community. Lately, we introduced the plandid trend which has its origin in an Instagram hashtag (plandid is a portmanteau of planned + candid). You can imagine the Instagram community as some democracy according to the motto: if a lot of people like it, it should be called a trend.
What do we think?
A few years ago, we heard quite loud objections when it came to Instagram: „photography will be destroyed“ or „now everyone thinks they are photographers.“ In the meantime, we got used to the massive output that comes with the app, and the objections became less and quieter. Our search for attention creates a data jungle of probably less good photography, but every time has its art – and now the community gets to decide what and what’s not art. We think photographers should consider being on Instagram a challenge they should take on. Let alone the possibilities to promote yourself should convince every professional. While the risks of stolen images etc. we described back in 2017 still exist, the chances outweigh them.
We have a lot of fun to watch our photographers post stories from behind the scenes and scroll through their non-commercial photography or projects for other clients as we love images. Besides our blog, Instagram offers us to maintain contact with our clients and present our portfolio to them in a playful manner. Our feed is a reflection of the diverse Westend61 imagery that we create together with our photographers. So, if you don’t already follow us – feel free and get inspired by our many images. Over 3.000 image professionals are already on board.