Instagram, why likes and followers shouldn’t really matter for creative people

At almost the same time I published this, a brilliant post was published on fstoppers by Danette Chappell on broadly the same topic. It is well worth reading hers!

Photography and the Addiction to Compliments…

Algorithm changes, Instagram feeds are full of concern over them, for good reason because any change to the algorithm the software uses to decide what photographs you’re going to get handed in your feed is going to affect the number of views other people get. If the number of followers you have, and the number of likes each image gets, then you may well be adversely affected.

My contention is that these are metrics which don’t really matter a damn for most photographers, in fact I don’t think they should matter a damn for anybody.

Now that’s not say they’re not nice, I like getting a notification that somebody has liked one of my images as much as the next person, it’s very gratifying. But that’s how social networking technology works, on many levels. Apparently it has the same effect on your brain as eating chocolate, and we all know what that’s like!  It’s what keeps people checking their Facebook all the time to see if somebody has liked their posts, it’s addictive (and the jury is out about whether literally or metaphorically). This article covers it quite well.

But really, that’s not the point for creatives, or shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be focussing on the likes and the follows; though we should be really interested in the comments if they’re giving us feedback on what the person liked or disliked. The point of being a creative is to produce imaginative, arresting, engaging work. It’s to produce an image which we’re proud of. It’s to produce art. It’s to produce something which we post because we’re pleased with it and want to share it with people, not to post something because lots of people might like it. If you’re hoping to get some work off the back of your Instagram feed, then quality work is even more important (and then making sure you tag and promote your stuff) because a potential client is going to look at your feed and decided if your work is good enough, not based on how many likes it has or how many followers you have.

The point is to produce a feed which says: “I’m a creative who does quality work” and to be comfortable in that regardless of how many people blip their thumb on that little heart symbol.