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11.02.14 - Review of Top Ten Social Media Programs & Best Practice Guidelines for Photographers

Social Media is now endemic to our culture and used effectively can be a powerful tool to drive business.  However, with the sheer numbers of avenues to connect figuring out the best way to allocate your time can be daunting.

Currently 32% of the population worldwide uses the internet which translates to 2.5 billion individuals.  In the United States 82% of the population uses the internet.

Some of the questions I receive from photographers are:

  1. What is the best way to use social media to connect with clients?
  2. What and how should I disseminate content on social media?
  3. How often should I update my postings, and how much is too much?
  4. Does social media really generate business?  Or is it a waste of valuable time and energy?
  5. Should I post only post to Facebook, Linked in and Twitter or should I also use    Vine, Google +,and include Tumbler and Behance.
  6. What about Instagram,?  As a professional, should I avoid it?
  7. How can I increase my ranking and improve my SEO.

Below is a biased opinion on the merits and disadvantages of some of the most popular social media networks, as well as a few tips for increasing your SEO:

 

FACEBOOK:

PROS:

  1. The largest social network, with over one billion subscribers worldwide
  2. Almost everyone has a profile, so it is easy to find your contacts
  3. The  Facebook app is easy to use on mobile devices and can give you push notifications when there is an update from your contacts.
  4. People are more likely to take the advise/recommendation of a trusted friend than the advice of a stranger or unsolicited cold call or postcard.   Referrals on Facebook by clients are GOLDEN.
  5. Your fan page can be branded with your logo and your content business specific.

 

CONS:

  1. Facebook is continually changing privacy rules and posting copyrighted images, does open you up to infringement, which is next to impossible to track.
  2. Personal Pages are weighted higher in indexing, so if you post to your personal page it will be seen by more people than the followers on your fan page.   Using your personal page to promote your work can be problematic if you upload any “incriminating” images/content.
  3. Many photographers for this reason opt to promote via their fan page and pay to promote which guarantees that it will post not only to all your fans, but also to a broader audience, which is you have the budget can be a very effective way to promote your content to a captive audience who is presumably interested in your activity.
  4. Getting friends/clients to like your fan page can be a challenge

 

TWITTER

PROS:

  1. Very quick means of communication.  140 characters or less.
  2. No filter so unlike Facebook everything you post is seen by all those that follow you
  3. Easy to use and navigate.

In order to optimize the benefits of Twitter you will need to use hashtags.  Hashtages are used to mark keyowords or topics in a Tweet.  It was created by Twitter.  Hastags ared used are a way to categorize messages in a “noisy” enviorment.

You can use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in your Tweets in order for them to show up easily in a Twitter search.  Use relevant hastags that would also be used by others.  Obscure hastags will not generate traffic.

Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all the other tweets marked with that keyword.  Hashtags can be placed anywhere in your tweet,  beginning, middle or end.    Popular hastagged words are considered “trending”.

Using a hastag on a public account enables anyone who does a search with your hastag to be able to find your tweet.

Do not over hastag a tweet..#toomuch #spam #photography.  Also do not spam with hastags.  Recommended best practice is to use a maximum of two hashtags per tweet.  You can also utilize @ to give mention to your self or others, @johnberthot.  Etc…

One of the goals of having a Twitter account is to gain followers.   One of the best ways of doing this is following other people, with the hope that they will in turn follow you.   Of course celebrities and twitter users with thousands or in some cases millions of followers will not follow you in return.

As general rule it makes the most sense to follow those people who would also be interested in what you have to say, and will in turn follow you

There is a free Twitter management website  www.tweepi.com  that allows you to manage your Twitter account.   This site provides tools for unfollowing people who are not following you, or following groups of people of those that you follow on Twitter also follow.

CONS:

  1. Not a good resource for getting work, a very quick read without resonance.
  2. Moves too fast and most people don’t monitor their twitter accounts the way they do Facebook.
  3. Lots of  “noise” hard to make an impression unless you are a celebrity

 

FLICKR

No professionals, that I know, view this as a revenue generator or resource for building a viable client base.

In addition to the pirating of images, clients do not use this as a resource for finding professionals.

The interface has become  outdated, and Yahoo is no longer relevant search engine..  It was surpassed by Google many years ago.

Some photographers claim to make print sales from Flikr, but prices are so low, I don’t believe it is worth the upload time, and pirating is a major concern.

 

INSTAGRAM

Instagram can be a time waster, if you are not careful.

If you do believe in using Instagram and are a professional photographer it most advantageous to post images that you feel represent your best quality work and post ads  or assignments that you feel especially proud of.

Avoid the use of filters.  They are generic and overused by most people.  Rarely do they improve a weak photo, especially if you are a professional.

I am not aware of any clients searching for talent on Instagram as it not seen as a resource for finding professional photographers.  I suppose it is possible to attract the attention of  a decision maker but only if they follow you and you post high quality imagery.

It is of course possible to follow lots of  people without actually posting yourself and create an account that is not linked to your professional identity, but in my opinion  this is not the most useful social media tool for driving client business and opening up new opportunities, professionally.  It can be fun as long as you use it properly and don’t become consumed with posting and coming up with clever hastags to boost your ego.

 

PINTEREST

PROS:

  1. A great resource for finding inspiration and creating  “mood boards” for clients.  In addition to creating inspiration for any test shoots you are organizing.
  2. An excellent way to find ads for companies/brands you would be interested in shooting for.
  3. Easy to navigate interface.
  4. You can generate traffic back to your site.  If you include an ACTIVE LINK to your website to the PIN.
  5. By focusing on trending topic you can great increase the likelihood that your image will be repined and that you will drive traffic back to your site thus increasing your likelihood of getting hired and increasing your Google ranking.
  6. Be sure to include all your relevant business information in your profile along with logo, picture and business name.  Link your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  This can be done in “Account Settings”.  Use a business profile rather than a personal page.   This way you can also monitor relevant analytics.
  7. Do not pin images that are not Pinterest quality. To small, too large, blurry etc.
  8. Be sure to add a pin description by using appropriate keywords, and hashtags and links to your other social media, blog ,and website, and mix up your content so it does not get boring and repetitious.
  9. Add an active Pinterest logo to your website and blog as a reminder to people who visit your website to pin your content.

CONS:

No real cons other than over-pinning or pinning content that is not relevant to your brand or business.

It is a public forum so it is important to keep this in mind.  If you only use Pinterest to create mood boards that you would like to remain private it is possible to utilize privacy settings.

 

LINKEDIN

 

PROS:

  1. Only purely professional social network
  2. The best way to connect with clients without being overly familiar, as well as a place for other professionals to recommend you, across various categories.
  3. Ability to post resume, and specific relevant business skills that can be easily viewed by others.
  4. Easy way to organize your professional contacts, and keep up with their current employment affiliation.
  5. Ability to link in with Twitter so you can promote content across content across both platforms without reposting.

 

CONS:

  1. Not as widely viewed as Facebook.  Content does not often get shared.  It is possible to lead people to your site but this is not the best vehicle for driving traffic.
  2. Generally not viewed as forum for creating a dialog
  3. Updates and content need to be carefully monitored for professional relevancy.
  4. Be aware that when you view a LinkedIn profile the individual you viewed is aware that you have viewed them.  Don’t use Linked in randomly to connect with people that you have never met or track them down.  You don’t want to be seen as a stalker.

 

TUMBLR

PROS

  1.  Purely visual medium.  Images look great on Tumblr.
  2. Post are often shared and re-blogged and commented on to drive traffic to your website.
  3. Photography gets a lot of attention.
  4. Once you have followers your updates will always show up in their newsfeed.
  5. Effective way to showcase lots of new images and ideas.
  6. Can function as a blog without a WordPress plug-in, with a variety of templates.

 

CONS:

  1.  Tumblr does not naturally encourage engagement.  You must enable the reply feature.  Obtaining a Disqus account will assist with this.
  2.  Important to add meta-data to your posts via Lightroom and very brief subject text to enable random searching.
  3.  Pirating is a problem, so it is best to include watermark/digimarks.

 

BEHANCE

PROS:

Allows photographer to post work in progress, and include revisions.

  1. It is possible to include music, graphic design, and obtain feedback from followers
  2. Abilty to share within other social networks.
  3. Similar to Facebook but the “like” option  is termed “appreciate”
  4. Easy to upload images directly from Lightroom
  5. The Pro Site allows you to build and customize a portfolio website with a unique URL.  Templates are provided and are customizable.
  6. Behance is specifically geared and targeted for creative individuals.
  7. There is a online community for creative called Behance.net.

 

CONS:

  1. Relatively small number of members at only 1 million compared to Facebook’s  1 billion members.
  2. Slightly awkward interface and generally not a resource for clients looking for photographers since anyone can post a portfolio.  Quality is often not the first priority.

 

VINE

Developed by Twitter, Vine is a video app that it is used to create a a 6 second animated GIF with an audio background. Vine utilizes the iphone/android camera and microphone to record video clips that can be linked to Twitter and Facebook.

Vine is still in its infancy and used mostly used by amatures.  It may prove useful to photographers in the future..  Currently it is not worth engaging in unless you have strong video component to your website. It is hard to make an impression in six seconds and under.

 

GOOGLE +

 

PROS/KEY POINTS:

In order to use this social media tool effectively it is important to be cognizant of certain fundamentals.  Google + is still fairly new and as such is not that widely used or understood.  All content is indexed through a Google search so it can be helpful in increasing your ranking on the Google search engines.

To best utilize Google + it is important to do the following:

  1. Set up a business page with links and relevant specialties.
  2. Don’t overuse keywords in your profile, this does not assist in increasing your ranking.
  3. Include a link to Google + on your website.
  4. Create “circles” to target your posts
  5. Do not be overly solicitous in your posts and only include information about yourself and your business.  Include posts about others as well.  Some suggest using the 80/20 rules.  80% of posts about other topics and 20% of post about your business for people to retain interest and get individuals to want to join your “circles”
  6. Images look great on Google + so be sure to upload high quality imagery.

 

TIPS THAT APPLY TO ALL SOCIAL MEDIA RESOURCES:

Fortunately due to the abundance of social media outlets, there are now many companies that will manage your content from one source and publish them across multiple platforms for you, so you do not have to spend all your time posting to all your various outlets.   Hootsuite  www.hootsuite.com is one of the more popular options.   They have various subscription levels depending on the degree of social media management you desire.

A few important things to remember:

  • Try to avoid viewing and using social media as a way to gloat, or as popularity contest. Humility and relevance are important things to keep in the forefront of your mind when engaging.   Followers do not equal paying clients.
  • Social media is best used for building connections and relationships over the long term.  Results are not immediate.  Social media is excellent for brand building and to demonstrate your commitment to sharing and giving without expecting an immediate return.   Engage viewers with original content and inspiration.
  • There is an abundance of content online. In order for your voice to be heard you must be willing to interact and share even if you are not sure your effort will be returned.  Consistency and generosity are keys to improving your return for your efforts.
  • Do not make your posts, comments and updates strictly about it you or your url,.  Share others accolades art, or ideas that inspire you and might inspire others as well.  Social Media manners go along way, be respectful and appreciative of others opinions and ideas.   As the saying goes, if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.   Negative voices and opinions cannot be retracted, and live on forever.