Featuring Gareth Pon.
Originally from South Africa, Gareth Pon is a filmmaker and travel, portraiture and lifestyle photographer. He recently moved to Chicago to take a job as senior content creator for Havas Worldwide, an advertising and marketing agency. Pon has been a Snapchat user since it came out in 2011, using it for both personal and professional reasons. He’s recently moved most of his Snapchat activity to Instagram Stories. We caught up with him to find out why.
How were you using Snapchat before Instagram Stories came along?
I was originally using it as an extension of my Instagram account. It was a casual yet fun way to showcase more of the behind-the-scenes content outside of what I posted on Instagram. When traveling, I would document little things I would see during the day, sort of like a visual journal. I also used it to communicate directly with people.
I would also offer Snapchat as an extension of a campaign or another service I offer. If I would get approached by a hotel brand, I would offer to run around the hotel and Snapchat things at the hotel. Or if I had an experience, I’d use that in a way to build up toward the picture that I’d be posting on Instagram from that experience. For instance, I did Snapchat takeover for Moment lenses while I was exploring an abandoned theme park.
I would encourage a lot of clients to be on Snapchat because it’s as very unique way you can show the culture of the brand and it’s not as high pressure as Instagram. On Instagram you have to always make sure you’re putting up really good shots. On Snapchat, you can be pretty chill about it. It’s just a good extension of what is really happening, just giving more substance to your presence online.
Why have you made the switch to Instagram Stories?
The main perk for me is that it’s all on one platform now. All my followers on Snapchat were from Instagram anyway so I really have stopped using Snapchat mainly because I don’t like posting double the content. I’m getting a lot more views compared to what I was getting on Snapchat.
The other side of that is that your story on Instagram is competing with a lot more people. I’m following about 600 people so I have way too many Stories to watch.
Has your sharing strategy changed now that you’ve moved to Instagram Stories?
It hasn’t changed much compared to how I used Snapchat. I share anything and everything that I find interesting. It’s not strictly related to photography. My goal is to have fun and enjoy sharing a bit more into my life.
How have both channels’ “stories” feature enhanced your business?
As Instagram Stories and Snapchat are growing there’s a huge potential to get more customers from that space. With Instagram Stories you have an additional level of consumption for yourself and clients. If you’re getting a few thousand views, you can already say to your clients, here’s an additional cost because I’m going to be doing Instagram Stories. In regards to Snapchat, I’ve seen a lot of guys save their Snapchat stories and allow their clients to publish it on a blog or do a post about it. Because it’s a video, it does add another element.
Would you recommend that photographers use Instagram Stories instead of Snapchat? Why or why not?
It all really depends where your audience is. Who do you want to talk to and what kind of content do you need to put out in order for them to hear you? The reality is that it’s a lot harder to build multiple social media platforms at the same time. You should be intentional about why you’re on a platform, and when you’re on that platform you have to strategize about the kinds of content you’re putting out.
What kind of content do you think works in this format?
You want to give viewers a memory that they can consume and remember later in the week or maybe a month later. For example, a friend of mine one day decided to do an Instagram Story of everything he saw that was yellow. That stuck in my mind. Out of all the ones I watched that day, his was the most entertaining and interesting.
Are you using Snapchat at all anymore?
If I do have something really unique that I want to Snapchat directly to someone, then I’ll use it. It’s become more of a direct message system for me, and Instagram Stories has become more of a way to showcase what I was doing on Snapchat.
Do you miss anything about Snapchat?
Yes, there are little things I’m missing, like the silly little filters. They are very fun to use. I’ve seen a lot of people doing a snap, using a filter and saving it and not even putting it on Snapchat but directly uploading it to Instagram. If Instagram adds filters in a very unique way, there could be a bigger drop of people leaving Snapchat.
Instagram also needs to activate the ability to save an entire day’s story as a complete video.
It’s a time game, we’ll see what each of these companies do going forward. At the end of the day for me it’s about convenience. A lot of people have the same outlook on it. They don’t want things in multiple locations, they just want do everything in one app.
All photos © Gareth Pon
For more tips to lock down a rep and seal the deal, check out The Photographer’s Guide to Snapchat.