Photographers successfully build and grow a small business with social media. For some, it’s a conscious, planned small business planning effort. For others, it has started by happy accident. The three articles below offer some wisdom of personal experience and some tips for photographers who want go get started with social media marketing. Some themes run through these tips and small business marketing ideas:
- Social media marketing is primarily a people- and relationship-focused activity. Taking the time to give thoughtful feedback and to connect and cross-promote with other businesses is important. Social networking sites are venues for conversation and thinking and doing TOGETHER.
- What gets noticed and shared online is not under your control. It’s not about you and what you like (or consider your best work); it’s about others and their passions, likes, tastes and networks. There are always going to be “unintended results” of even the most thoughtful social media marketing plan. Some are happy accidents that will boost your visibility. So let yourself be seen and shine!
5 Ways Photographers Can Build a Strong Online Following through Social Media
â¦ by Eric Kim, special guest at BlogWorld, March 10, 2011
Nowadays, almost anyone can be a photographer. With falling prices for DSLRâs and other cameras, everybody and their uncle bob can take impressive photos. Not only that, but there is a plethora of sites for photography such as photo blogs, Flickr, and Facebook. To say the least, it is very difficult to set yourself apart from other photographers let alone build a strong online following.
I faced this problem when I started shooting photography. I wanted to share my photographs with the world, so I created a website and hosted my photosâexpecting everybody to come to me. As Ray Liotta famously said in the film Field of Dreams, âIf you build it, they will come.â However, in the digital age, this is no longer the case. I grew more and more disappointed as time passed and I didnât get nearly as many pageviews and comments on my site as I dreamed. It took a lot of asking around, personal experience, and trial and error before I figured out my fatal flaws in my attempts to build an online community for photography.
In this post, I will share with you my personal successful methods to build a strong online following through social media.
Social networks online work very similarly to those offline. If you want consistent views/comments on your photography, you need to have friends and a network. You cannot expect other people to give you feedback if you donât give feedback to others. And in order to have friends online, it takes hard work and time. Comment on the works of others, and also communicate with them through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and blogs.Â
Think about it, who are the best friendsâthe ones that always talk about themselves or those who want to hear your input and suggestions as well? Relationships are always a two-way street.
Promote the work of others:
Nowadays everybody wants to be a star. However the problem with this is that nobody likes blatant self-promoters. Rather than trying vigorously to promote your own work, focus more on others and the community. If you have a blog, feature other photographers. This has many strengths. First of all, you will build a stronger connection with other peopleâwho might mention your generosity to their own online networks. And ultimately by highlighting the work of other photographers, your work will be better known as well. And most of all, it feels great to help others through building an online community.
Ask for the input of others:
On my Facebook fan page, I always try to spur discussions by asking the input of others. Instead of simply showing your work and telling people to check it out, ask them what they think about your photos. Ask them what they like and possibly what could use improvement.Â
Create discussions by asking peopleâs opinion about certain topics. For example, you can ask: âWhat do you prefer, color or black and white?â This is a topic that many people have a strong opinion on, and creating a lively debate is often good.
Although it is not necessary that you post new photographs or blog posts everyday, it is important that you are consistent. For example, if you regularly post three times a week (Monday, Wed, and Friday) and suddenly you quit posting for a week or two, all of the people who check out your site will no longer be interested and never come back.Â
Although it is difficult to be consistent with photography, you cannot rely on inspiration alone. As Chuck Close famously said, âInspiration is for amateurs, and the rest of us just show up and get to work.â There will be days where you wonât want to go out and shoot or upload your work. However being consistent is crucial.
- Stick to a genre of photography: Keep your portfolio consistent by only showing photos of either nature, portraits, or urban images. A cluttered portfolio looks unprofessional and you wonât be very memorable.
- Define your style: Donât make your images look like everybody elseâs. Either choose a radical type of post-processing or show your color through your writing.
- Be controversial: It is not good to always be wishy-washy in what you believe in. If you think that film is awesome and digital sucks, vocalize that. If you think that film is played out and just for hipsters, say the same. Controversy always attracts attention and will make you much better known.
So what tips do you have to build a strong online presence through social media? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
Eric Kim is an international street photographer based in Los Angeles. He has traveled all around the world, shooting photography in places such as Paris, London, Prague, Venice, and Seoul. Furthermore, he recently taught a street photography workshop in Beirut, Lebanon and currently runs a popular street photography blog as well. You can see his work here and also follow him on Facebook, Flickr, or Twitter.
Social Media Tips Roundup for Photographers
by Aaron on April 26, 2010
Happy Monday! Iâm not sure how things are going for you but Iâve been really busy lately with a variety of photo gigs. I have a bunch of random social media tips and tricks laying around here gathering dust, so I figured Iâd put together a list post and share.
- Donât get folks into a Twitter->Facebook->Website loop. We talk about blogging, and using Facebook to promote that blog, and also sometimes tweeting links to your work. Make sure that you arenât tweeting a link to Facebook which then forces someone to click through to another site to read an article or look at your photos. If youâre sharing a link, that link should go directly to the source material.
- Check out your Facebook Page insights. If youâre the administrator of a page, on the left side under the pageâs photo youâll find the insights section, where you can click through to get some information on who is a fan of your page and what theyâre doing.
- Realize that folks donât monitor Twitter constantly. Itâs a good idea to post a link a couple times at different hours of the day. Make sure that you donât post too often or folks might think youâre being a bit spammy.
- Network online with vendors related to your area of photography. If you shoot weddings, make sure youâre keeping up with local florists. If you do a lot of music photography, it doesnât hurt to stay tuned in (pun intended) with what local production companies are doing.
- Better yet, once youâve established relationships with those vendors, partner up for some online cross-promotion. You can talk about how great they are to do business with, show some photos of their products or services, and potentially send some business in their direction. You could offer them some of your photos (ideally showcasing their wares) for use on their blog or online materials. Itâs a win-win.
- If youâre active on Twitter, youâve probably got a lot of other photographers (pro and/or hobbyist) in your area that are following you. Host a tweetup/photowalk! Most photographers would enjoy the networking and photo opportunities of getting together for a couple hours and wandering around taking pictures.
- Iâll wrap up this list with a reminder that social media isnât a âget rich quickâ system: if youâre doing it right, youâll build up followers and trust over a period of months and years. Youâre developing relationships that will (hopefully) lead to increased business and a higher profile for yourself and your business.
What other ideas are on your mind this morning? Have a social media tip to share? Iâd love to have you leave a comment and share your knowledge.
Photo by tombothetominator, used under Creative Commons licensing
Photographers find unwitting success with social media
A photo of mountain goats scaling a cliff, featured on Roger Eickholt’s Flickr page, was all the rage on Monday. It was plastered on social media sites and around the blogosphere, driving more than 200,000 people to view it.
But nobody told Eickholt, who snapped the photo.
It wasn’t until after he received my e-mail, requesting an interview a few days after the photo’s popularity had run its course, that the 28-year-old amateur photographer from Alberta, Canada, checked his Flickr account to find his new audience. Eickholt says more than a hundred people added him to their lists of favorite Flickr users, meaning they’ll be notified every time he posts a new photo. Before this week, he had two.
When Eickholt analyzed Flickr’s link referral page to make sense of his newfound prominence, Reddit.com topped the list. What is Reddit, you ask? “This website talks about current events and stuff like that, I guess,” said Eickholt. “I have no idea. I’ve never really been to those websites before.”
Reddit, like all social media websites, is serendipitous. Few know what type of photograph, video or news bit is going to explode, and what’s going to fizzle. And often times, content creators aren’t the ones who …
… submit their own links — they don’t discover that their photos had struck gold until later. “It just seems so random,” Eickholt said. “You never know what’s going to take off like that.”
Eickholt doesn’t even consider this among his best pictures. “It’s interesting, I suppose,” he said. “But it’s not photographically that great, you know. It’s not technically great.”
Still, it attracted the attention of U.K. photographic press agency Rex Features. Although he won’t be receiving a paycheck, Eickholt is excited about the opportunity to see his photo and name published in magazines and newspapers.
Social media websites have a way of catching photographers off guard. On Digg, the social media crÃ©me de la crÃ©me, about 16% of all front-page items in the last 30 days were images. That’s nearly a photo every hour.
Andreas Junus and Irawandhani Kamarga, art directors for a creative agency based in Indonesia, hit it big on Digg last week. For their picture, called Real Life Photoshop, they recreated the interface of the professional image-editing software in their studio. The project was done as a favor for their friend’s software company, which planned to use it to promote Photoshop CS4.
They placed the photo on Kamarga’s Flickr page to show their work to friends. But Digg and Reddit users took notice. It’s now the seventh most-popular image of the last seven days on Digg, and it was featured on countless blogs, including Gizmodo and Wired. “We never intended it to go viral really,” they wrote in an e-mail. “It was for print and poster.”
Richard Peters‘ Spring Lamb photo (above left) also hit Digg this week and racked up a whopping 120,000 hits to the Flickr page in the first two days after it was featured. The self-taught photographer, who now shoots occasionally for a 24-hour news channel in the U.K., says the year-old image is by far his most popular. It appeared in a U.K. newspaper’s “viral e-mail of the week” section and won the BBC’s Countryfile 2007 competition.
Peters, 30, was delighted with the photo’s recent resurgence. “I kind of forgot all about it,” he said in an e-mail. “It was fun to keep track of all the comments being made, and some of them really made me laugh, especially the ones that were negative for the sake of being negative.”
Lakshal “Lucky” Perera abhors Digg for that very reason. The 27-year-old from Wollongong, Australia, had his image, C is for Cookie, make the Digg home page earlier this week — also without his prior knowledge. For the picture, he shot himself, wearing a swimming cap, in his bathtub, and used Photoshop to duplicate hundreds of homemade cookies and render his body blue and hairy.
While he appreciates the attention paid to his disturbing recreation of a Sesame Street character, the staunch Reddit supporter cringed when browsing the Digg discourse.
“Digg is like YouTube,” Perera said in an e-mail. “There’s some great content on there, but the experience is ruined for me by the inane and stupid commentary that so many users get involved in.”
Here is a sampling of a couple of the most-liked comments on that post: “OM NOM NOM NOM,” wrote one user. “COOKIE MONSTER!!!” added another. What’s not intellectual about that?
But the fact of the matter is that websites such as Digg are providing a gateway for photographers to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. Where else can you find that kind of audience for a snapshot of a mountain goat?
— Mark Milian
Top photo: Mountain Goats. Credit: Roger Eickholt.
Middle photo: Spring Lamb. Credit: Richard Peters.
Bottom photo: C is for Cookie. Credit: Lakshal Parera.