Social Media Update


Social media has been a very useful platform for us in terms of allowing our work to be seen. As hobbyist photographers with full time professions, we have needed to find ways to maximise our exposure with the least time intensive method possible! Having good or even great images is unfortunately only one part of the matrix involved. Over the years, we have gathered quite a following on various platforms and we have learned some valuable lessons regarding social media as a general entity, as well as on specific platforms. Here are some of our tips.

  1. Goals: It’s important to know why exactly you are investing time into social media. Is it to simply share your work? Are you after validation from your photographic peers or the general public? Are you planning on creating a marketing strategy that will gain you income? Are you hoping to ‘take over’ a market by becoming an ‘influencer’ ? Or is it largely just for fun? Exploring your motivations regarding your social media presence will not only help you determine how much energy to expend but will also help you avoid disappointment and resent.  The most common source of disappointment I see stems from an perceived lack of validation based on very few ‘likes’ or ‘faves’ of images. Whatever it is, time needs to be invested in order to meet your goals. This leads on to the next point.

    Investing little time and images into an engine (like viewbug for us) should mean that you expect little in return. Social media presence takes time and work!

    Investing little time and images into an engine (like viewbug for us) should mean that you expect little in return. Social media presence takes time and work!

  2. Personal and public value: I think it is very important to separate how we feel about ourselves as artists and how the world views us through a social media platform. The popularity of an image often does not correlate with personal value. Your profile  popularity is certainly not a reflection of self worth. It is very easy to become bitter with the whole social media ‘circus’ when one starts to equate popularity (or lack of) with self merit.

    One of my favourite images but not particularly liked on social media. This doesn't devalue the image, it just means I won't bank on it to draw the crowds!

    One of my favourite images but not particularly liked on social media. This doesn’t devalue the image, it just means I won’t bank on it to draw the crowds!

  3. Content: There’s no substitute for having appropriate content that is directed at your target audience. Note that I did not use the word ‘good‘ to describe content as this is highly subjective. Seemingly, the largest audience on social media appears to be those looking for images that represent lifestyle and escapism. In the landscape genre, this includes a combination of selfies, foot-selfies, pork pie hat selfies, fronts of canoes , acid washed landscapes prepared with VSCO presets. Did you internally sneer at the preceding list ? If so, try to stay true to your own ideals and post content that you are proud of and reconsider your goals. How much are you willing to adjust content in order to achieve that goal ?

    Of these 'editors choice' images on 500px, Marc Adamus image is the only one I would aspire to. I'm personally not willing to VSCO or pork pie hat my images. Are you?

    Of these ‘editors choice’ images on 500px, Marc Adamus image is the only one I would aspire to. I’m personally not willing to VSCO or pork pie hat my images. Are you?

  4. Visibility: Do everything within your power and moral code to ensure your images have the best chance of being seen (if you have the energy). I try to tag my images with as many appropriate tags as I’m allowed. On instagram I use hashtags for high visibility sites. On flickr and 500px I try to geotag the images on the mapping platform. I don’t tend to start doing a mass commenting spree but try to keep up with those I follow and am genuinely inspired by (though these days, having just the time to post is a struggle).
  5. Stay positive. Social media engines are on the whole, not critique forums. Join a critique forum if you want to deliver or receive meaningful criticism about your work.  I tend to go by the old adage ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say it at all!’.  Most people log on to social media to be inspired, to have fun and to feel warm and fuzzy about their own work and their peers. The competitive negativity created from ‘flame wars’ incited by snarky comments or backhanded compliments always ends with both parties appearing worse off in some way. The petty one-upmanship that is subsequently portrayed then reflects poorly on the artists within that genre and defeats one of the major purposes of social media ; community.

    A typical comment thread on images on instagram. They don't mean anything per se and adding snarky comments about what you don't like stands out like a sore thumb and guess what, it makes YOU look the fool.

    A typical comment thread on images on instagram. They don’t mean anything per se and adding snarky comments about what you don’t like stands out like a sore thumb . It also makes you look the fool!

  6. Research your engine. If possible, try to find out a little about who is looking at your work and where they come from. Just a simple change  in timing of your posts could have a significant impact on the overall exposure. One may call it ‘gaming the system’ but once again , how willing you are to play games with social media reflects on point 1. One particularly striking example of this is flickr’s explore algorithm. Once your images make it on that page, it receives massive exposure but the engine only allows a user to be on explore one every 9-10 days. Hence, that’s when I post the content that I want to be seen along with promotions for new items on our website.

    I can confirm rumours that flickr lets you into its explore algorithm every 9-10 days!!

    I can confirm rumours that flickr lets you into its explore algorithm every 9-10 days!! Not the spikes in views of our page.

  7. Know your strengths: For some reason or another, one social media engine may well be much kinder to your images. This may come from being a recommended user when people log on, or it may be the engine which you have invested the most time in. Most of the time it isn’t through sheer luck. Recently on 500px for instance, we made it onto the recommended user list which ballooned the viewership of all of our images. Because there are potentially 88k people who could see our work before it even becomes popular, it means that our images make it quite quickly on to the popular section which is then viewed by the general public. I know there are those out there whose thought processes include ‘Oh that photographer’s images are crap but they just get high scores because of his/her follower count’. It’s that kind of thinking that can again lead to unnecessary bitterness and a focus on the work other people are producing instead of your own. I’m making hay while the sun shines for our account by posting regularly to take advantage !

    These are our most 'liked' images on 500px. The first three also happen to be personal favourites. the rest are nearly all from this year . That doesn't fool me into thinking I've been an awesome photographer this year. This just means that this year, we've boomed on 500px.  Nothing more, nothing less.

    These are our most ‘liked’ images on 500px. The first three also happen to be personal favourites. the rest are nearly all from this year . That doesn’t fool me into thinking I’ve been an awesome photographer this year. This just means that this year, we’ve boomed on 500px. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

And now irrespective of any debate about social media value, image manipulation, comp stomping, post processing trends and other such flammable topics, this is my favourite recent image taken at Mannum Falls. Hope you enjoyed the read! Now post away with carefree joy and meet those social media goals of yours 🙂

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Posted on September 3, 2016, in Australia, How we..., M&D Corner, Photography, Random Musings, South Australia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. AWESOME image at the end!

  2. I think your social media success largely relates to the fact that your photography is outstanding! Absolutely love the flowing water shot from New Plymouth too.
    I remember being able to cheat the algorithm to get onto explore in the early days of Flickr. It made a huge difference to exposure. Great tips here.

  3. Inspirational writing and some good down to earth views. Thanks Dylan

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