Meet Phil Gonzalez of Instagramers.com
Today we welcome very special guest Phil Gonzalez from Instagramers.com. Phil, along with a (small) team of contributors has been continuously reporting all of the news and updates from Instagram along with some very cool tips, tricks, and tutorials! Read on to learn about Phil’s passion for Instagram and get his take on the absolutely monumental few years that Instagram have seen!
What is Instagramers.com’s vision and mission?
Really my first motivation was just to provide some help to Instagram users. When I launched the blog, Instagramers.com, I was simply motivated by helping people with the Internet, apps and social networks – I wanted to give them the tools to get the most out of the app so I started writing tutorials on “How to Hit the Popular Page?” “How to Get Started with Instagram?” “How to Boost Your Profile? The blog was not focused on a business model at all, and I knew that my project could potentially lead nowhere, depending on the success of the app. I still don´t know where we will end up but it´s a wonderful experience.
To be totally honest, since since the Instagram app was launched I felt that one day the app could eventually lose interest from users if the ‘stimulus’ was only the amount of followers and likes you could get and hitting the popular page…I thought an organized community outside of the app could bring real added value. Today, I think we’ve formed the only independent community around a mobile app.
What is Instagramers.com’s story? How was it created?
All projects like this start when a passion arises. On a lazy sunday morning, I was in bed checking my Instagram followers contributions when I read a conversation about “How to hit the popular page in Instagram” between several users. I replied to them with 10 very simple tips. They answered me very positively and gratefuly. I understood then that I could help people with my professional experience and Internet knowledge in Social Media so I started the blog in January 2011. At first I focused mostly on tutorials, reviews of various apps, and some interviews of highlighted users around the world.
Not long after that people began showing interest in launching their own local groups with the Instagramers brand. First in Barcelona, then Madrid, then around the world. It was totally amazing! For the first time, a mobile app based on “virtual and unknown friends relationship” was developing “a need to meet” among its users. The blog first launched local IGers groups in Spain, before hooking up with existing IG groups in Brasil, London, Milan, Manila, San Francisco, Singapore and Switzerland. In all, there are now around 280 local groups for Instagram enthusiasts.
Though there were a number of other IGer meet-ups independently organized, Instagramers.com played an important role in the first global “Instameet.” At Instagramers we are all unified under the Instagramers.com brand and I try to do my best to help the local IG communities in those cities. Some of our groups are more active than others as we are ‘hobbyists’ with no economical interests. Ultimately the result after a year and half is huge as we are the one and only U.G.C (User Generated Community) around a mobile app…possibly in all of history!
We are linked through a “ManIgers” private page that allows us to keep connected and ask for tips to other local group managers or spread the word around contests, exhibitions or events. It´s a hobby but many of us are working in marketing, communication, social media and the organization is made up of many professionals.
Instagram has seen 2 major changes this year: the Android app and Facebook buyout. What is the Instagramers.com take on this evolution?
About the purchase by Facebook, we had been sent some tips at the end of last year that Facebook and Google were highly interested in Instagram figures, and of course were interested in buying the app as photography is very important to both of their businesses strategies. Facebook was trying to develop its own photo sharing app last winter, but nothing really happened and so they simply decided to buy the best app in terms of photo sharing.
I think it’s really a strategic purchase to provide Instagram users the means to share their photos with more ease in the medium term and I suspect they will probably use it as a complement to “Facebook Places”. Instagram users were very reluctant to be considered members of a “controlled” social network and wanted to remain in free of business and economic interests. There was an immediate and fast rejection of the Facebook buyout. Most of my friends spend less and less time on their Facebook profiles, preferring the instant experience and emotional connection created by Instagram’s small square photos!
We were still digesting the Android app and the effect it could have on Instagram as a whole when the purchase was announced. I must admit that I was surprised by the strong reaction of IGers, and again the announcement produced a “stormy climate” on Instagram. People were actually considering leaving Instagram, others were promoting deleting their accounts, and opening new accounts in other photo-sharing apps. Now, several weeks after the “shock” I think everyone has calmed down a bit.
That said, the Android app is still having a huge effect on the app as a whole. There is a constant flow of “1 million new users” into Instagram per week (or so) and the “consumer profile” is very different from iPhone users. The effects are also visible in the Popular Page where more and more “teen” photos are appearing and masking the system of high quality photos that reach the page. There is even a group of people promoting a movement called “Save the Pop Page”. So far, the Instagram team has not paying any attention or given any explanation or solution to this issue and it could be a major break down in my opinion.
How would you describe Instagramers.com viewership (number of visitors, their location and demographics, etc.)?
Instagramers.com blog figures are really impressive. We get close to 200,000 visits per months and approximately 150,000 unique visitors. 70% coming from USA and then Spain, Uk, Australia, Canada, Brasil, Italy… Something amazing is that 40% of the visits are from Tablets, iPhone, Android and other mobiles. In terms of source of visits, Google is very important of course but more and more people are coming from our different “Instagramers Facebook Fan Pages” around the world.
Keeping the blog updated with new content is very important and it´s a huge amount of work as I run it by myself really. I have some help from my webmaster @antoniobaez for the more technical aspects and of course an hand from my oustanding designer Juan @elhombretecla but it´s still a huge individual contribution. For the last year and a half I have spent most of my free time on this project for a year and half, but that’s what happens when you are truly passionate about something.
If you were to recommend a web app and an iPhone app to improve the Instagram experience, what would they be?
My “first Love” was web.stagr.am developed by Joe Mio in Japan and then Extragr.am, Ink361.com and Statigr.am have appeared. Statigr.am in particular is an amazing tool to analyze your Instagram activity and figures around “pure social media metrics”. These are the web browsers I mostly use and in my opinion are the best for getting the job done. Followgram.me is a new one with special interest in followers/followed management…it’s actually quite a useful tool!
In terms of iPhone apps, my two favs are definitely “Hipstamatic” for vintage photos and “Camera+” for edition. Incidentally, I recently discovered that the developers of Camera+ were two of my colleagues in my previous job at Orange (French Telco) and I feel really proud of them!
As a final note, I would just like to say how very proud I am of all my local manIgers who run all the Instagramers groups around the world for free and out of their own passions. Their true interests lie in helping people, and I think that is truly impressive!