The Late Summer Instagram Photo Series and Organic Reach Observations
December 9, 2020Social Media
I basically started this "Late Summer" bright/white photo series
There was a total of 21 images that were part of this series. These nine are just a small sample of the images in the "Late Summer" series.
because I felt the previous "Slightly Wonky Bright"
series went a little off the mark somewhere. I had some more ideas I wanted to pursue before going into the darker "winter" photos, and I thought I had plenty of time. I started this second bright/white series in mid September, and as it turns out, it took me all the way through Halloween, and even just past Thanksgiving to fully wrap it up!
I'm not really sure this series is more on the mark than the previous collection, but I had so much fun trying to concept some "bright/white" Halloween images in the middle of it all — that it was well worth the extra time and energy to travel down the extra path.
This time, there was still (more or less) five categories, but with a row of Halloween photos in the middle. Together with the rice texture photos that separate the series that came before from this one… I ended up with three posts, in seven categories, for a total of 21 photos.
What's interesting to note, is that during this period… organic "shows" tanked just before the period began (maybe around September 14th, 2020). This coincided with Instagram's new, more obvious (aka, "in your face whether you like it or not") push to feature more "shopping" and "reels" posts in the explore/discovery page. Although I have no proof of this, I also believe there was an algorithm change around this time as well.
Some sources are now citing that organic reach might be as low as 3% — while I'm not sure it's that low — the number of people that are seeing any given post (even among the people that are following the account) dropped substantially.
It may be a bit hubris for me not to consider that the fewer likes and follows are somehow related to a drop in photo quality, but I don't think the photo quality dropped as much as "impressions" statistics would indicate.
Let's take a customary look at the seven categories (including the texture squares), in a "three across" format with their stats!
These little guys got off to a slow start. They only collected about half the "likes and comments" that they would eventually end up with — within the first 24 hours of posting. The rest came in over the next several weeks. In fact, two photos tied for getting the most likes during this period — and one of them was the "flying wild rice" photo, with 109 likes!
Flying rice!!! This is the first time I used a new technique, similar to the set up of a multiplane camera. The results are pretty cool, and I'll have a better feel for how useful the technique is, once I try it out on some different sized items. Rice, is really tiny. :)
Unicoi Preserves Jars
I wanted to take a look at my theory — that photos of these great little spreads from Unicoi Preserves
— would gather more likes and comments when pictured with food, than the individual photos of the jars on white (or "pack shots") would get. As it turns out, my theory was neither wrong or right. They basically got the same amount of interest with food, as they did when pictured all by themselves! (There's also an article here on the Digital Food Works
site titled "Comparing Two LIghting Set Ups for the Unicoi Preserve Jars"
, if you would like to read more about the lighting that was used to take the packshots.)
I initially thought that the "product plus food" images would collect more likes, than just showing the product by itself. While that did end up being true, it was only by a couple of likes per post.
I did have a "mixed bag" category this time, mostly because I was running out of time (i.e. I'd still be doing "late summer" photos past Christmas if I kept shooting all the ideas that I had). So the miscellaneous category ended up with a salad, some cheddar biscuits, and a garlic shrimp dish! The "Cheddar Biscuits with BBQ Drizzle" actually tied for the third (or fourth, depending on how you look at things) highest liked image, with 108 likes.
I just realized something... right after the rice texture squares, I started the series with a photo from the Miscellaneous category ("garlic shrimp on black rice"), and then ended with a photo from the Miscellaneous series as well (the "late summer salad")!
In the middle of the series, Halloween week 2020 happened, and rather than switch to "dark and mysterious" halloween photos, I stayed with the bright white theme. I had so much fun trying to come up with lighter Halloween photos for these three! The "Giant Pumpkin" tied with the "Cheddar Biscuits" at 108 for that third and fourth highest liked spot — and the "Jack-o-Ramen" recieved the most comments.
These Halloween images in a bright/white setting were so much fun to put together!
Next up, there were three drink photos! These are historically significant for me, because I now have a blender that totally pulverizes ice! Layered frozen drinks are so much easier to photograph than layered liquid drinks! I also really enjoy pulverizing ice.
I do love drink photos. They're challenging, because of the glass, but there aren't many food items that are this tall. I like getting down closer to the horizon so we can see the side of the glass, and what's inside.
Photo Info Posts
Normally, I try and include some lighting diagrams or photo information here and there when I post. This time, I went into the photo specifically knowing that I wanted to include some photography and lighting information with the post. These all included food items, but ended up being a little more like still-life photos. One of the photos turned into a full-length article here on the Digital Food Works
site titled "Freezing Black Cyprus Salt in Mid-Air, Using a Continuous Light"
. The article shows examples for what shutter speeds are necessary to freeze a falling mineral, like salt, in mid-air.
In this multi photo Info Series, I attempted to show the difference that shutter speed had on falling objects (black salt falling on edamame), what effect a bounce card had (garlic shrimp on toast), and the effect of shutter speed when combining flash and ambient light (green onions with firefly lights).
Finally, this series of Egg Bites contains the other highest liked photo, the "Sun-dried Tomato and Cheddar Egg Bite Toasties" with Hellmann's Roasted Garlic Drizzle
not only received 109 likes, but was also the winner of Hellmann's "Brunch" Mini-Challenge! Yay Egg Bites!!!!
If you're still reading along at this point, it's worth noting that the Egg Bites are a really great idea for Instagram! They don't cost a lot to make and they don't take much time either. Once you have a base recipe
(which is located here on the Digital Food Works
site, in the "recipe" section
) — the "mix-ins" can literately be bits and pieces of last night's dinner. If your main entree and side went together then… those same items would probably taste great in an Egg Bite too!
Egg Bites are great for social media!!! They're quick to prepare and don't require a ton of ingredients!
The "Sun-dried Tomato and Cheddar Egg Bite Toasties" with Hellmann's Roasted Garlic Drizzle post received the most likes in the "Late Summer" photo series.
I'll go ahead an close this article in the same way I've closed the other "Instagram Recap" articles
— with some general stats, but with a new caveat — the organic reach algorithm did change at the start of this series. It may not be possible to coordinate this information, with the previous stats in any meaningful way. There's no doubt in my mind, that "organic reach" on Instagram, will one day soon reach a near zero level, much as it is on Facebook.
This group of 21 images resulted in a 6% increase in followers over the course of about 76 days.
The average number of likes per photo was 95 (1,996 total likes divided by 21 photos).
The average photo "like to follower ratio" was around 8.6% (i.e. for every 100 followers, 8 followers "liked" or interacted with the image). That's down 3.3% from the previous "Slightly Wonky Bright" photo series