It took a few blinks after waking up this morning to make sure I read my Instagram notifications correctly. Then it took a nice, warm shower after that to look at my Instagram again and make sure that what I read while I was half asleep wasn't just a part of that transitional period right after waking up where you're still dreaming but you're aware of being awake. You know, that weird limbo between your dreams and reality.
Shortly after making the full realization, I couldn't have smiled any bigger. A photo of mine that I had shared using their community hashtag, #astonmartinlive, had been shared by the official Aston Martin Instagram account, @astonmartinlagonda, on their own feed. Here's the proof.
That's pretty cool. I mean, I was rather happy when some local car community accounts shared my photos on their page before, like Cars & Coffee Scottsdale (@carsandcoffeescottsdale) and Penske Auto Mall (@penskeautomall). But to jump from local exposure to getting my own real estate on THE Aston Martin's official Instagram page is quite a honor. It may sound silly to a lot of people, but as somebody who is trying to make a career out of combining my talents in photography with my growing enthusiasm for exotic automobiles, this is a big deal to me; not to mention that it's a humble brag tucked away under my belt should I get to bring it up in a conversation.
"Do you follow Aston Martin on Instagram? They shared one of my photos on their page!"
However, having been a daily poster and user of Instagram for the past six months, I've noticed that big numbers don't always translate to more engagement, so I really didn't expect much in terms of gaining a few followers. And so far, I was right to assume that. Even looking at the post itself getting 33.7k likes and 41 comments throughout the day today, from a page with 2.6 million followers, the only real engagement I got from it was a handful of new followers and a few reposts along with a trickle of comments to which I could reply.
And that's great. Before you slap the "shallow" labels on me, let me iterate that I do not side with the idea that more followers always means more fame. There are pages I've seen with thousands of followers and only less than 100 likes with maybe five or six comments per post, versus seeing pages with under a 1000 followers get a good 150-200 likes and 15 or so comments per post. I side with the belief that depth matters more than width (shout out if you're reading this, Gary Vaynerchuk). I care more about people who engage with me about my work than having a follower count of 10k and only 500 of them really give a damn about what I do.
That's pretty much the case here. A potential 2.6 million pairs of eyes have seen my photo today, only 33.7k of them liked it enough to double tap it, and I barely bumped my own number to about 260 from 245ish. What's more is that maybe even only four of them came directly from that post while others could have come from previous post hashtags or some other means. The point being, in my experience thus far with Instagram and getting exposure on different pages, the expectation that getting seen on a page with a large follower count does not always translate over to a significant increase in your own account.
And there could be a multitude of reasons why that's the case. I know for a fact that while my IG handle was mentioned in each post I've been shared in on other pages, there wasn't a call to action saying "hey, go follow this guy and check out his work." Maybe they did browse my page and thought nothing of it, which is fine. I don't expect the entire world to think my work is special. I certainly think it's got a unique style that your average carstagram page doesn't have, but not everybody is going to see your work like you or your supporters do. And that is okay. That is perfectly okay. You're not going to please everyone, so stop trying to.
My ultimate takeaway here is the very fact that I now have a photo on display on Aston Martin's Instagram page. How many people get to say that? Definitely less than 1074 (which is how many posts they have on their page to date). So to even have the privilege of somebody or a group of somebodies over at Aston Martin look through their community-submitted photos, look at mine, and like it enough to share it on their own feed is pretty freaking awesome. It'll be a talking point to bring up with other like-minded car enthusiasts and photographers. Plus, it'll add some credibility to my background as an aspiring exotic car lifestyle photographer. Maybe it's the one point of interest in a conversation with the right person that lands me an opportunity. However which way you want to look at it, I have a photo on display on Aston Martin's Instagram, and that's quite an honor to have.
If you aren't already following me on Instagram, search @aaronabullock and take a gander! If it suits your fancy, I would be delighted to have your following.