INSTAGRAM – BENEFIT OR BURDEN TO A TOURISM PHOTOGRAPHER?

I know, it’s only been a week, but it’s raining so I thought I’d check-in with my early take on Instagram in terms of the benefits it offers this professional travel and tourism photographer.

As you may have read from previous postings, I launched into Facebook at the beginning of the year for a solid month but I’ve largely left it since then to what is automatically shunted from this blog by a sharing software (six months later, I’m still reeling from the fact I had every man and his dog contacting me to see how they could get a job like mine. Beyond that, there was only so much I could take of the vacuous, narcissistic commentary that played across my computer screen whenever I considered social media.

My new Instagram page davidkirklandphotography

That said, my Facebook page still remains, as I need a presence there. But, to be frank, I hardly ever visit as I’m happy just writing to my blog when I feel inspired. And I remain active in Link-in for its professional contacts.

However, a week ago and at the start of this assignment, I threw myself into Instagram (davidkirklandphotography) to see if I could divine a measurable benefit to my business which might warrant the attention. And I’m happy to report – having climbed to a modest 133 followers in 13 posts – it does (though I concede I could still be in the infatuation stage, and I have a long way to go).

This is what I have concluded:  

  • Clearly, it’s a visual platform so it’s well suited to photographers and to building a network of contacts.
  • Importantly, the posted images are small (100kb) so it’s unlikely they will be used without my consent, except by the net thieves but they won’t be able to enlarge them without compromise to quality. This being the case, the more widely they are circulated and linked to my site and my commercial photo library, the better off I’m likely to be.
  • In terms of recognition, it is reaching a worldwide audience “organically” which I could never have reached as easily and, as the reading I’ve done seems to indicate, that attention is likely to grow exponentially as the popularity of my posts (hopefully) increases.
  • Relatively effortlessly, I can target and access potential clients (tourism authorities, agencies, and industry captains etc) with the most precise and effective sales message I have to sell my work  – i.e. my photographs. A single photograph directed to their Instagram account could grab their attention just long enough to warrant visiting my site. And CEOs and marketing managers are generally likely to see the photographs linked to their own sites.
  • Instagram – as one of the most popular sharing Apps in the world – is a good way to re-enforce the quality of the work I do to my existing clients, and to show the potential for what I am likely to do if I return. It is also accessed daily by all the social media teams I am in contact with.
  •  A reasonable number of followers (I’m boldly targeting 10,000 by mid 2019) will represent the attention I can bring to my existing clients –  destinations, resorts or cruise companies. The “insights” I am provided through Instagram are already indicating the photographs I’m posting are attracting an older, wealthier and more discerning demographic (35-60). Importantly, I can also use this platform to attract specific travel media (magazines, newspapers and book publishers) who are in the market to feature the destination I’m visiting.
  • I can evaluate my would-be followers by their own profiles to determine the benefit of having them following my work, and contact them directly if I see potential in an association. That said, I’ll still hope to gather a following of people who just like looking at photography and have a strong interest in travel, art and traditional culture.
  • It will probably only take me half an hour of extra time each day during my assignments to pick the best photo and update the site. I believe I can also automate the uploading of the best of the images from my existing library daily while I’m at home.
  • I can share the daily uploads with my clients to enhance their own social media profile to add value to my service.
  • For a photographer, it’s immediately gratifying (assuming people like your pics).

So, while all the “froth and bubble” of social media will continue to be in my life to some extent, I’d have to say, Instagram is shaping up to have a lot of appeal. I’ll keep you posted.

Post Script: “10,000 followers by mid 2019” did I hear myself say? The question I’ll be asking by then is the same one I’d expect my clients to ask of any boast I might have about my social media following should it reach that number: What is the relevance of the followers I’m attracting to my business, and what direct benefits are they bringing. Against this, I’ll have to weigh up the amount of time I’m spending pursuing it.

Otherwise, I think I’m a bit long-in-the-tooth to go hanging my arse-cheeks out of the side of my bikini, dragging someone else’s hand through a lagoon, or hovering over my food photographing everything I eat.

…. did I write earlier, just half an hour a day on Instagram?

I’m doomed.