Why do I embrace social media as a photographer?
We all love posting images on Facebook and Instagram to show others our pictures from a recent trip, our latest assignments or the glimpse of an on- going project. But the bigger question is how do we utilize social media to help us grow our brand? But we should ask first ourselves if we are looking forward to create a brand for ourselves or at least in that direction. Then this post is for you.
I would try to answer one of the most frequently asked questions through this piece which is “how can I evangelize my brand with passionate followers on social media?” Social media gives us an opportunity to create a network of like-minded people and also allows us to showcase our work for potential assignments. I will take you through each major platform along with my own personal journey with it. Bear in mind that each platform as its own functionality and hence each person has his/her own favorite platform. While everything might not be for everyone, I am going to talk about what I do and why I do it on these social media avenues. So answering another frequently asked question ‘ Why do I embrace social media as a photographer?’
Let’s go through each platform one by one
Facebook personal profile for me is to connect with people who are photographers, bloggers and travelers. It is the platform where I actually maintain my personal as well as professional relationships. People not only talk about their work, they talk about their opinions, personal life and more which helps me understand them better. This helps me connect with like-minded people in the community.
Gone are the days when people used to hesitate to send friend requests till they actually knew a person, for me my personal Facebook is a network of people whose work I appreciate and I don’t mind sharing my personal updates with them. I am curious to know about their life-story. As a self-learned photographer, most of the things I have learned are either by observing work of people or meeting them through internet. A few months back, I was fortunate to meet Mitchell Kanashkevich who allowed me to travel with him and gave me an insight about working as a full time photographer. For me, it is a constant inspiration to see their achievement and growth. It also pushes me to think, if they can do it, why can’t I?
It is much easier to contact someone through personal message if you are willing to know about something particular, or are willing to meet with them. But again, be sensible about what you are asking even on personal message, everything creates an impression. Mostly, if I am just interested in someone’s work and don’t know them personally, I opt to ‘follow’ them instead of sending a friend request and still get to see all their public updates.
I am in total control of how much I want to share, and with whom I want to share. There are ‘exception’ options if I want to hide certain updates from a particular section of people. I also manage a group for ‘Indian Women Photographer’ and I have plans to nurture a new generation of photographers through it.
Here is the link of group maintained by me-
Facebook page: While Facebook pages have been a tad disappointing when it comes to organic reach which is hardly 5%. So if you are ready to invest in Facebook ads, then you may create a Facebook page for your brand. While a Facebook page is the first social media platform that comes to mind for every beginner in photography, I would suggest, wait! Create a meaningful body of work and then put your best out there. Don’t post anything which can give your audience a chance not to like your work or create a negative impression of your work.
Facebook page can also be used well to create events, host contests and link your website. Ultimately you should be driving all the traffic to your website. I decide on the frequency for my post- pictures or articles. Social media is time consuming, and so I have allotted a few hours per week for it.
Usually posting pictures on page gives me a better output then posting an article. But for me it is a constant learning to understand what the audience likes, what works and what doesn’t. The option to schedule a post is helpful, which allows me to schedule my posts in advance, in case I know I’m going to be busy with work or travel. Another important thing for me is to interact, answer queries and reply to comments. Your audience is your power and hence, you must treat them accordingly. With Facebook’s new strategies, Facebook page reach isn’t so good, but I share the same post on my personal profile and other groups to make it reach a wider audience.
I advise creating a theme and strategy for your Facebook feed, whether you are posting pictures on the go while you travel or post your project work. Don’t let your audience forget about you.
Instagram: Instagram is ‘the’ platform for photographer. You are making a big mistake if you are a photographer and not using Instagram for your work. There was a time when Instagram was about ‘instant images’, but now it has emerged as a platform with immense potential and without a doubt it is one of my favorites.
It is a photography based platform, so you don’t really need to put lot of text, but if you are good at writing. Why not?
Instagram is one of the easiest searchable platforms due to hashtags, so please ensure you learn about hash tagging and tag your pictures according to your work, theme or place. Another thing I like about it is how it can give a glimpse of my work through that small ‘not-so- square’ window. So it is better to maintain a theme in your pictures, or go completely random if that is your style. But again as I said, it is important to maintain the quality of pictures. Each picture reflects your work and brand.
Instagram can be a real inspiration when I see some of the meaningful work being done by photographers to raise their voice for social causes – ‘Too young to be wed’ by Stephanie Sinclair is one such successful campaign. .
I have also recently started a new handle’ Women of India’ apart from my travel work, do check it out!
Twitter: For any brand, Twitter is of course always good for networking and reaching out to your audience. Each brand ranging from consumer products to celebrities, everyone is out there for a good reason. In today’s world it is possible to connect with anyone and getting a response from them on Twitter.
Personally however, I don’t like the idea to express something under 140 characters, and after posting a picture, the limit is even lesser. I do have plans though, to be more available there and to interact with people to build a genuine following. But as a platform to showcase my work, it doesn’t add any value to me. So if you find yourself too lazy to do it, just link your Instagram profile to Twitter and your pictures will automatically be posted as a link. However I prefer to post on each platform separately.
But I often end up connecting with people who are looking for travel bloggers or photographers for assignments and so it is useful for me to maintain a twitter account.
YouTube: Motion pictures are powerful and there is so much you can do with YouTube or vimeo. The experts say video is the next big thing. The reason is simple: you can communicate much more in a video than you can through writing or pictures. But everyone has their own taste and how they like to communicate and what are their strong and weak areas.
While, I am usually a social person but it is very difficult for me to face a camera and speak. YouTube, however, is great for creating educational content, travel videos and tutorials for photographer. All you need to do is learn the basic skills of recording, filming and editing; well it’s not as easy it sounds, but there is no easy way out there if you want to follow your passion.
Though I made this introductory video for my latest project which was a great success, to let the audience have a quick look into my project/work-
Pinterest: Pinterest is another highly visual platform for inspiration around you. How good is it for photographers, in my opinion, not so much! It is good for collecting some of the stuff which inspires you but I would prefer to follow them on Facebook or Instagram, rather than Pinterest. And it is also about how much you can manage, each platform requires investment of time, regular posting and replying. So choose wisely and focus on maintaining consistency and maintaining the quality of the work. There are other newer platforms Snapchat, Fame, etc. and it is good to be a relatively early adapter in some of these. However, it is again up to you depending on how much time you wish to invest on social media.
Google + I mostly use G+ for its benefits in SEO and usually share the same posts which I share on Fcaebook. So not a huge effort to maintain this one. I have an easy share button on my website through ‘Social Pug’ plugin each makes the job even easier.
I would love to know your thoughts about using social media for photography. Or if you have any personal experiences which helped your business grow.