Instagram has been the go-to platform for aspiring creators for years. It’s also one of the most popular social media platforms in the whole world. Everyone and their grandmothers are there!
For aspiring photographers growing your audience and getting your work seen on IG is hard. It really isn’t enough to post good photos. You also have to play along with the algorithm which favors interactions with other users. Posting great photos is just a smallish part of the process. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a social platform where you need to ´socialize to be succesfull. But there must be other ways to get your photos seen than just Instagram, right?
And there are. Here I`ll explore couple of other platforms and share my newish hobby-to-side-hustle -photographer`s point of view about them.
If you want to find opportunities in social media, one of the first things to look for are platforms where there is more demand than there is content. Unsplash, a platform for freely usable images, seems to be just that.
Unsplash has been a source for free, high-quality photos for years now. But interest towards the platform has been rising a lot during the last couple of years. Not a big mystery there: free, high-quality photos are a great deal! And Unsplash offers, in my opinion, great photos with more “artistic value” than typical stock photo sources.
But of course you might want to consider that Unsplash is for downloading (your) photos for free. So if you want to market yourself, get assignments or some of your photos sold for money, making thoughtful marketing plan for using Usplash is a good idea.
But if you want to first and foremost get your work out there and have a large audience see your photos, Unsplash seems to be a great platform for that.
In couple of years time my photos have gained 6,6 million views and more than 35 000 downloads. During weekdays my photos receive about 17 000-18 000 views and 110-120 downloads daily. That a lot more activity I could ever expect to see in Instagram currently!
Pinterest has been around many years, but in the grand scheme of things it’s still a challenger among all the platforms. But it’s concentrated on visual things. Text based content and discussion are pretty much nonexistent on Pinterest.
As a underdog platform Pinterest has some nice opportunities for photographers. It’s algorithm seems to be kinda “jumpy”. According to my experience posting a photo might result in a spike of impressions in my case several thousands. It’s probably Pinterest being sensitive to signals that might mean a piece of content might be well-received among the audience. (Or “go viral”, if you please.)
Pinterest probably considers a closeup of a photo (when you tap on a photo to see it larger) a preliminary hint that content might be good, gives the first dose of exposure and sees if reactions scale along with increasing exposure.
According to my experience that spike of impressions only lasts for a second. So to figure out Pinterest you need to post regularly and test what kind of content actually flies beyond that 1st dose in interest.
Pinterest has one advantage over many other platforms: it allows you to direct traffic outside of it. If you have a website you can link your Pinterest photos there and grow your traffic.
Pinterest has also comprehensive analytics tools that show variety of metrics about your content that allow you to understand what kind of imagery works on the platform and how people are reacting to your photos.
If I had to predict today, I would say that Tiktok is the most likely challenger to Instagram. Tiktok seems to be becoming the next major mainstream platform. Having started with silly lip-sync and dance videos it is still far away from that and user base is far from Instagram’s level. But it’s gaining popularity by the day.
Getting yourself noticed as a photographer on TikTok requires a slightly different approach than just posting photos. On Tiktok all kind of behind the scenes -videos seem to be making rounds. And take a look at it’s photography related hashtags: photographytips, photographytricks, photographychallenge, photographyhacks. So it might be a good idea to put some effort into sharing your tips and tricks there and letting people see how your photos are born.
All right, that’s it for most relevant Instagram alternatives for 2020. I’ll keep reviewing this post and keep it updated when new things emerge.