Saturday, May 17, 2014

Social Media Madness

A group of people climb clamor to see something on one man's smart phone in a business lobby.
The challenge of social media for me is effectively using it to get more "eyeballs" on my work.

Social Media Challenge
So I have spent the last few weeks immersing myself in Social Media. Geez, maybe I am just to old for this stuff…but I am having a challenging time figuring it all out. Here is what my experience is telling me at this point.

Participation And Time Investment
The first thing that I THINK I have learned is that the key to social media is primarily one of participation. Unfortunately, participation takes time! It takes time every day, and I believe that it requires a consistent time investment over a long period. Hmmm…kind of sounds like everything else in life, doesn’t it!

Picking Your Battles
Secondly, you have to pick your battles! There are so many social media options now that it doesn’t seem realistic to try and do them all…so you need to pick the ones that will work best for your particular business…and for your sensibilities…and good luck with that!

Google Plus
I am probably wrong about this, but it appears that Google Plus is mostly photographers looking at photography. While there are indications that being active on Google Plus will increase your SEO, who really knows outside the hallowed halls of Google?  I am, however, putting daily time in to Google Plus because, well, its Google.

Instagram, in which I am yet to begin really posting to, appears to be an important option…a lot of people have told me I HAVE to be on it.  But I can’t seem to get started on it, and I have a hard time believing that I can get a lot of traction with my kind of work. Thomas Hawk believes it is a huge advantage to get in on the ground floor with social media sites…but the ground floor with Instagram is LOOONG gone. Oh yeah, and it is so mobile device centric that to post the kind of image I do requires a work around...and I hate work arounds!

Pinterest actually seems interesting to me. In the last two weeks I have seen my social media generated traffic to my website increase from 1.2% to 2.8% and that increase is pretty much due to Pinterest. I recall seeing some statistics indicating that people who hang out at Pinterest actually spend money. I can see that. You go to Pinterest to find ideas for home remodeling, wardrobe purchases and so forth…and maybe even to find photography for wall d├ęcor? If art directors and designers are looking for ideas and inspiration…I can see benefit in that. Of course, one must also take into account the demographic...and since Pinterest is heavily weighted towards women...perhaps it is a great place to promote my greeting card images! Anyway, at this point most of my efforts are going in to Pinterest…and I am even enjoying it a little bit (heaven forbid).

With Twitter I am tweeting my blog posts…and the Blend blog when I like its material…but nothing else. I guess with Twitter I am doing the equivalent of keeping a toe in the water. Whether I will dive in any deeper remains to be seen. I seem to be close to my limit with Google Plus and Pinterest.

Oh yeah, Facebook. Uh, you know, they are really diligent at reminding me to post on my fan pages…something I virtually never do. Oh well. I do look at my (what do you call it, my personal page?) every couple of days or so, though I also have two fan pages...the whole relationship of which I have a hard time understanding! I did check in with a photographer I know who posts a lot and has a humongous number of likes, fans and stuff…and he reports being unaware of any benefit to his business from all that (though I hear wedding and portrait photographers can do well with facebook). Then there is the fact that facebook only shows about 5% of your followers your posts unless you are greasing their palms... I do plan on "sharing" more images on my facebook pages via links from my site and Blend that will represent a small increase in efforts.

I did post for a while to Tumbler…but it didn’t provide me with the overnight success I needed to sustain the effort. Plus I have heard that Tumblr is not indexed by Google...and driving traffic to my website is the primary goal of all of my social media efforts.

I looked at 500px but had the bad experience of seeing someone else claiming my work for his own, which kinda soured me on that. That has been pretty much my efforts over the past few weeks.

Social Media, Success And Real Life
We have all heard of the social media success stories…and they are out there just like the success stories from promo pieces, cool websites, email blasts and source books.  I think such successes are relatively rare in “real life”. I think that because success for most of us will only come with a prolonged effort, it is important to put your time into whatever avenues of visibility are most palatable for you. It would be a shame for me to bust my butt for six months really working social media and then quit (invariably just before success came).

Making Images And The Easy Way Out
Another question that comes up for me frequently is whether I wouldn’t be better off just doing my thing making images and getting them into the market. But then I keep thinking that is the easy way out and also that it is dangerous to stick you head in the sand in the face of change.  So onward I will press and experiment till I find my own “sweet spot” in social media.

What Are Your Thoughts?
And finally, I would love to hear from all of you what your thoughts and experiences are with social media in regards to your photography businesses. There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of people reading this blog will know a heck of a lot more about how to incorporate social media into a photography business and we can all learn a bit more if everyone shares their insights.


JC said...

Hey John, I've had similar experiences and am still trying to figure out which platforms work best (driving paying clients to my site)for me. One book I have read that really seems to make a lot of sense is "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook" by Gary Vaynerchuk really breaks it down to the basics and has some great tips for optimizing your time...

Sam said...

John, good questions. I think one of the social media keys is the 'social' component. Broadcasting a message is ok (free advertising - except as you point out there is the cost of your time). But audience dialog is way way better IMO. Social media gives you that opportunity - to engage in conversation with your target audience. That's when social media gets interesting & productive. -SM-

Anonymous said...

Try leaving facebook. Nightmare.

I can envisage opportunities for those seeking assignments, journalists etc, but for stock shooting I doubt its usefulness.

It's a me-generation time waster. Better to waste your time trying to portray it than take part in any of it.

John Lund said...


Thanks for the tip, I will get the book right away!


John Lund said...


Yeah, I am weak on the on the dialog...but maybe with increase participation it will come. I never seem to have much to say on the social media sites...go figure!


John Lund said...


I think that by posting links to various images on my site, and on the Blend Images site, along with a comment or two, I can get a little exposure without a lot of effort...kind of keeping a toe in the water until I can truly understand whether facebook is worth the effort. Part of me still thinks that I would be better off just making images than fooling around with social media...but I don't want to play the part of an Ostrich!


Anonymous said...

John: We are ready for your June post! Any advice on how to become a successful stock photographer like John Lund?

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Anonymous said...

What serious professional, working on commissions with Ad-agencies, art-directors, etc. would lend himself messing around with these totally ludicrous media like FB, Twitter, etc?

How can you then expect to be taken seriously?