Next week, I will launch a new Instagram account, “geofflivingstonportraits.” This new account features conceptual portraits, headshots, and select pictures of people from events.
My more established geoffliving account will feature landscapes, street photography, and experimental work, such as my current 35 mm film photography.
For the past couple of years, I struggled with finding a content balance. When I post my more popular landscapes and street photography work, things go well on my main Instagram account. However, when I post conceptual portraits, headshots and event work, the audience is not as enthused. The problem: Most of my customers hire me for the less popular people pics.
The IG Popularity Algorithm Throttle
This content popularity polarization increased over the summer with new changes to the Instagram algorithm. To the best of my knowledge, IG penalizes posts it considers “less than” top ten percentile content. When the algorithm makes that determination, the content is minimized and shown to a smaller sample size of followers. The sample size restricts or expands based on performance.
What determines popular content? The first ten-twenty minutes a photo is posted, an unfortunately small sample size. Some photos overcome this initial launch period, but most cannot.
Since most of the work I get paid for is not as well-liked by my current IG following, I have a marketing problem: I can’t show my people work because the algorithm won’t share it.
When I have advertised on IG, I have had mixed results. Almost anytime the portrait features a woman, the advertising audience is skewed to 98% male – even when I intentionally advertise towards the female demographic. Perhaps this is a function of a minimum spend, but yeah, not cool, and not representative of at least 60% of my buying audience.
The implications on what makes a good photo — based on this algorithm — are quite annoying, and frankly not valid. I promise another post is coming soon, criticizing the algorithm and IG’s promotion platform in general. However, this is the marketing reality presented by Instagram right now, and that’s the reality I need to operate in.
Why a New Account Is the Answer
I experienced the content diversification road before. You build an audience, and your content evolves towards new subject matter and creative inclinations. If you abandon the old, the community stops engaging with the content.
This time, I am just going to resign from the debating party. I will give my subscribers what they want, and create a new account for people pics, geofflivingstonportraits. Since the new account is clearly focused on portraiture, whether in-studio or environmental, people opting into this type of content are more likely to enjoy it.
It’s a win-win for people that follow me. My geoffliving account will likely see more growth as that audience will get the content it wants.
My portraits will get less reach in the short term, but in a short period of time, I expect these photos will fare as well as they have on my old account. So, if you like portraits, give my second account a follow. I appreciate it!