If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed a few changes recently. The feed you used to turn to for photos of your friends’ dogs and recaps of their vacations is now filled with videos posted by influencers, celebrities or random strangers that have gone viral.
Adam Mosseri, head of the Meta Platforms unit, confirmed that Instagram is “no longer a boxy photo-sharing app” and is focusing on entertainment to better compete with apps like TikTok.
For some artists who rely on Instagram to market their work, this is problematic.
The social media service served as something of a gallery space for Denver-based photographer Ben Rasmussen. “It’s like your own little outlet” to build an audience and market to potential customers. But promoting his photographs on a platform that favors video was not easy.
“Here is this book which is a combination of photographs and text, and we have to figure out how to tell people about it using 15 to 30 second videos,” he said.
The Instagram kingpin also shook things up for Joanne Brings Thunder. She is based in rural Wyoming and uses the app to market her jewelry, textiles, and artwork to customers around the world. But she can’t rely on her Instagram account to generate sales like before.
“Because of the algorithm changes, my reach just doesn’t seem to be there,” she said.
Social media can be a double-edged sword for artists, said Paco de Leon, illustrator, financial coach for creative professionals and author of the book “Finance for the People”.
“If 90% of my income comes from Instagram, it’s risky.”
Risky because Instagram is a business with its own profit incentives that artists have no control over, and 90% indicates a highly concentrated revenue stream. So should artists bend to the algorithm?
“We all have, like, our lines of what we’re ready to do. Personally, I always have a hard time figuring out, you know, am I supposed to animate my stuff? said DeLeon.
Or act more like a content creator, which can be difficult for those who like their art to speak for itself. Joanne Brings Thunder reluctantly tries Instagram Reels with the help of her teenage daughter.
“She’s going to film me while I’m working, edit it for me, and post it. But that’s just another hurdle, I guess.
She also relies more on an email newsletter sent to past clients — something she can control, unlike Instagram.
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