Tell me if this sounds familiar.
I keep posting to Instagram, adding a bunch of well-researched hashtags, and writing clever captions.
It’s kinda killin’ me.
I know, I know… There are strategies for that.
Comment on others’ posts, tag people, use questions and surveys. And my least favorite…Stories! People love Stories!
Shoot me now.
Perhaps out of a reluctance to admit I really need to be doing those things myself…
Here’s what else I’ve noticed
The Insta-famous influencers that get thousands of likes and have tens (or hundreds) of thousands of followers?
They take really damn good photos.
As in, not basic closeup iPhone photos like most of us do.
See my photos up there on the left? I thought that snake photo was darn good. 16 likes. The others got 38 likes and 77 likes respectively, and nobody tagged anybody to share them.
But @laurengardenbelle got 2,731 likes for hers.
It required a drone, and likely someone else to fly that drone, because how else is she going to rock that pose and take a photo and get that angle all at the same time?
You probably recognize that type of shot, they’re quite popular. I should do more of those. But they take a lot of time and effort. And usually a DSLR or drone, not an iPhone. That’s what I’ve noticed about most of these high-follower accounts, their photos are staged, lit, planned, and take a lot of work.
But that’s not all.
This is the “Top Posts” for the #vanlife at 5:30pm on May 5th. Notice anything?
Go ahead and search #vanlife and I’ll bet you’ll get a similar-looking carousel. Wait, don’t. Do it later. I don’t want to lose you just yet, and Instagram will steal you. You know I’m right.
Note the overall warm, cozy color palette of these posts.
It’s persistent and pervasive on nearly every vanlife-related post. And throughout these folks’ entire feeds.
Don’t believe me? Look at this:
Left to right, here’s the most recent posts from @laurengardenbelle, @van_boy_life, and @bertrandlanneau. All are popular Vanlife-related accounts.
And check out HiConsumption’s list of the top 15 Vanlife Instagram accounts you need to follow.
There are some clear themes among them all. Beautiful bucket list locations, a woman laying on the bed looking out the rear of the van, drone shots of the van in a killer spot, posing while peeking out of the van’s side door, etc.
All with that warm, beachy sunset glow that makes you wish you were there.
That article is from 2017, which only proves that there’s a consistent look and feel for this category that is, well, con-sis-tent.
So…basically just take better pictures?
Yes, but that’s too succinct. It misses the key point of paying attention to what’s working in your category and using it to your advantage.
Every category and niche seems to have its own preferred colors and lighting and compositional preferences.
Maybe for the same reasons cliques of high school girls all end up dressing the same and get the same haircuts and order the same things at Starbucks, your photos should probably look, at least somewhat, like whatever the other photos in your category look like.
Fit in first. Give the people what they want. And then figure out how to stand out.
I wish I had some exclusive research to back all of this up, but I do like to think I’m a fairly observant person. “Situational Awareness” as Archer would say. And this is what I’ve observed.
Or maybe it’s all just coincidence and I’ve wasted your time.
Speaking of wasting time, you should follow me on Instagram.