11 March 2018

Gone Instagramming...

"Snake Bird" An immature anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) takes a break from preening at the Venice Audubon Rookery in Venice, Florida.  

You may have noticed I've been a bit lax in updating the blog and Facebook page recently. That's partly because I've been very busy lately, including some great photography trips, and partly because I've been focusing my social media efforts lately on jump-starting my Instagram presence.

I realize I'm pretty late to the game here. An older model phone with no memory left, and the requirement that images be uploaded from mobile, kept me from really adopting Instagram for quite a while. In this post thought I'd give a brief rundown of what I like about using Instagram for wildlife photographers and what I don't like.

First, let's start with what I like and how I think it differs from my blog, Facebook page, and Twitter. One major difference is organic reach. I feel like I'm reaching a lot more people (and new people) through Instagram than I have with any of the other platforms. Particularly now that Facebook is throttling how many subscribers (and non-subscribers) see your posts in order to get you to purchase more reach. More so than Twitter, I feel like the hashtags and direct mentions are helping me to reach more of an audience that is genuinely interested in my work. I feel like with my blog and Facebook I'm only reaching folks that already interact with my photography (and sometimes barely at that). I also like that Instagram puts the photography foremost. Unlike Twitter where the photograph or blog link are usually secondary to the text (and often requires an additional action from the viewer), Instagram is focused on the image and the text is secondary. Unlike Facebook, the images are featured at full size (usually) and in their best light, instead of being cropped down and requiring the user to once again click and go to another screen to view them. I feel like some of the Instagram hashtags actually have a good following of people looking for interesting images. Twitter always feels like I'm releasing sand grains into the wind or a message-in-a-bottle into the vast ocean. There is just so much noise that the chances that anyone will see and interact with my tweet are slim. I also feel like I am much better able to interact with brands and organizations that might be interested in my photography on Instagram. I've had a lot of luck getting them to respond to my photography. Finally I like that there isn't a tight limitation on the text length in the Instagram posts. They are like mini blog posts. I can say what I want to say, and still have room for relevant hashtags and mentions.

Okay, now what I don't like about Instagram. As mentioned before, I'm not too thrilled that I can't post from my desktop. I'm not a big iPhone photographer, so almost all of my images are coming from my DSLR. The extra step to send the images from my computer to my phone is time consuming and a bit of a pain. Unfortunately, possibly more so than other social media (except maybe Twitter), there seems to be a lot of folks trying to game the system and gain followers at any cost. Lots of folks will follow you and then unfollow you once you've followed back, and/or unfollow you if you don't follow back right away. Quite frankly, I'm just not interested in these games. I want to follow folks who produce content that I'm genuinely interested in and that I want to interact with. And I want folks to follow me or like my stuff because they are genuinely interested in seeing and interacting with my work. The tit-for-tat following and liking mentality just doesn't work for me, and seems counterproductive to what should be the true goal of posting your work on social media. I'd rather have two followers that are really interested in my work, than a thousand that couldn't give a damn other than increasing their own followers and likes. Finally, I'm not sure how I feel about the posts not being presented chronologically in home stream. This has some advantages and many disadvantages.

All this being said, I will strive to do a better job updating the blog with new (and better) content, but if you are on Instagram and you are genuinely interested in my work, please give me a follow @whimbel_nature. On my Instagram account you will see more real-time posting, more of my newest work, and more information on my ongoing projects. I won't promise to follow you back, unless you are producing content that I'm genuinely interested in and feel like I will interact with on a regular basis.

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