It’s safe to say that Instagram has been the talk of the blogging community for a minute or two…or to be prices, when they launched that bloody algorithm. Lately things have been going a little down hill with the social giant, from random shadow banning to bot usage and all of the negatives that fall in between, people are getting fed up with working hard to build an engaged following, only to have plummeting engagement on their posts.
With this in mind, I thought I would have a browse around the internet to find some competitors that could really face off against Insta in becoming the hot new photo-sharing social media site. A couple of things I took into account whilst on my hunt were; chronological feeds, genuine post engagements as well as finding the best user experience.
Okay, the EyeEm app is beautiful and it’s simple to sign up. Upon signing up you can actually enter your details to sell your photos should you be interested, I skipped this step and headed straight into the app, but I did think for photographers who want to sell stock photography, this is a pretty cool option! The app genuinely is really stunning, and it’s very user-friendly, the home screen, named ‘Discover’ helps you discover the best content for you, they have curated collections, trending photos and suggestions of who to follow.
When you hit on upload, you reach a filter screen that isn't too dissimilar to Instagram, however, EyeEm categorise their filters based on what the effect does - this includes; Fresh, Soft, Urban, Life, Vintage and Black and White - there’s a huge selection of filters and on the most part they are really nice! This screen also lets you rotate, crop and adjust images - it’s definitely as advanced, if not a little bit more advanced than Instagram.
Hashtags don't exist in the same way on EyeEm, you can add ‘tags’ to a post, which the app niftily suggests the best ones for you to use, however, there’s no # and it simply adds a list of clickable links to the post. Along with the post, you can also add your location and tag people. You can select to sell the image on their marketplace if you’re signed up, and you can also share your image to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr (is it 2008 again?), Flickr and Foursquare.
Another very cool feature is the ‘Missions’ tab - brands set up Missions, essentially contests, and users submit their best photography into the Mission, prizes range from DSLR cameras to holidays and huge brands like Canon currently have Missions live.
I have to say I am a huge fan of this app already, I think it’s got real legs and for bloggers, it’s also got some great extras, plus it’s free…and yup, it has a chronological timeline!
Interestingly, Steller gives you the option to sign up with not just email, Facebook, and Twitter…but also Instagram! After signing up, Steller asks you to follow the topics that most interest you - ‘Featured’ is ticked automatically, however other options such as Places, Food, and #stelleruk are also options. This then populates your home screen with images. One really cool feature is the way multiple images are displayed. Rather than using the same-old swipe gallery, Steller opts for ‘Articles’ it has an Instagram Story vibe to it, however, you turn the pages like an e-magazine, captions can then be added to the post which is all done to the theme you choose when uploading.
It’s clever but seems like it could be somewhat limited, however, Articles are a really cool way to show multiple photos. When uploading a photo, or multiple photos, you have to first select a theme. A personal favourite theme of mine is Dream, it’s a really clean and sleek looking theme. You then add or remove pages, which essentially allows you to make it a one photo post, or add multiple photos, text pages, and captions. Rather than adding text in a post, you actually add the post as an overlay over the top of the image, this includes the adding of hashtags.
Once you publish the post, it makes its way to the chronological feed where it can be liked, commented on and added to ‘collections’ - I think Steller is really a combination of Instagram and Pinterest, meaning you can collate photos onto collection boards. You can also share your post to other social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.
Whilst this app is great, it’s really let down by the lack of filters, the themes are great, but not being able to edit photos and add filters is seriously letting the app down. Posts do get really good engagement, and there are accounts with tens of thousands of followers…so it definitely could go somewhere, but needs a little work first!
Some very…VERY interesting results came up when searching ‘Swing social network’ - there really is something out there for everyone. Less of the smut with this one though, SWNG is an app from Polaroid, they say rather than traditional photos (you know…the one’s Polaroid is famous for…) they champion moving photos, which if you love Instagram’s Boomerang app/feature, then you’ll definitely love this app. Signing up for SWNG wasn't user-friendly at all, every email address I entered I was told the email was already in use and I couldn't sign up, definitely not a good start! I actually thought this app would be really promising however after 10 goes at signing up, including using the Twitter and Facebook sign up APIs, I gave up…I’d love to hear your experiences signing up to SWNG.
So these are the three apps I have come across, and over all, it’s a real shame I couldn't get into SWNG. Steller has potential, but I feel like they might have slightly limited themselves with the articles style post - cool if you’re uploading multiple images…but seriously lackluster with just one pic. EyeEm is the best by far, and I genuinely think this could be a good contender to Instagram, it’s easy to use, it has a good engaged audience and the selection of filters and photo-editing tools is fantastic.