The title seems impressive: Best of the Evergreen State. That's very high praise for a state that boasts some amazing photographers. Yesterday, that Instagram account shared a photo of mine which seems to imply it's pretty good. The photo isn't bad. In fact, it's one of my favorites taken from a recent trip to Chelan County and Lake Wenatchee State Park. It was a beautiful day. Temperatures were in the 20s, with some light snow falling off and on. It truly was a magical, winter day. My mom had come along to keep me company. We traipsed through the shin-high snow, looking for some cool compositions. She's very good at allowing me space to take some photos without making me feel guilty for bringing her along. But back to the Instagram love.
The photo and link above will take you to the Best of the Evergreen State Instagram account. They've aggregated photos from across Washington. I'm certain people are tagging them in their posts or using hashtags to garner attention. I know that's what I've done. So, what's the purpose of this? They certainly have to be monetizing this somehow. While I'm sure they enjoy giving photographers "love," gathering all these photos is incredibly time consuming. Don't forget they're also tagging the photographer, writing a caption, using their own hashtags (copied and pasted I'm sure) and then including in their IG story. That is a TON of work. For that, these accounts seem to have a bunch of "moderators" who are choosing these photos and doing the heavy lifting. But again, my question is why?
Don't get me wrong, the attention is nice. The acknowledgement of the work is even better, but there has to be more to it than this. I typically get a few more "likes" on the original photo after my work is shared. I've also gained half a dozen or so followers on average every time one of my photos is shared on an aggregate account. The most success I had was when a photo from Cape Disappointment was shared on Cascadia Explored's IG account which can be seen below.
There are hundreds of these theme accounts which gather and share content. Here's what I've learned when my curiosity finally got the better of me, The business model is this:
- Niche pages sell their high engagement and high followings to brands or to other accounts that want to grow.
- Once a page gets high enough, the owner will usually sell it and buy another page.
- The buying and reselling aspect of the business usually allows theme page owners to scale their IG business.
- Once you own a few pages in different niches, the micro-income can add up to significant amounts of money.
I first noticed the InstagramAZ account when I lived in Phoenix. Their gathering of content is impressive and they've developed a huge following. In fact, KTAR.com wrote an article highlighting the best Instagram photos of Arizona from 2021. In the article, they referred to InstagramAZ as "experts." The owners of that page will definitely turn that into a profit at some point. For their part, Cascadia Explored already has a merchandise store.
If my goal is to improve my profile, and turn it into a reliable marketing tool, I probably should turn it into a wave page or a snowy island page. Then I might be onto something. So, while I appreciate the "Instagram Love," it's not all about recognizing my work. It's more about capitalizing on my work so their pages can have the best engagement. I'm onto you!