Social media for working photographers

I used to be on every social media network possible. When my business was just starting to take off, I thought this would help me to gain traction and then I would re-evaluate my strategy after gaining some experience. Unlike a hobbyist, a professional photographer’s social media presence is more important. A well presented social media profile can lead to many more eyeballs and, let’s be honest, it’s a form of free advertising.

My initial focus was on 500px, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. I never imagined how much work it was to keep everything current. I didn’t want to automate my social media presence, because in my naïve mind, organic engagement is the best. I am glad that this is something I have stuck my guns to. Because it turns out organic engagement lead to organic growth. Now after a few years of using social media as a mean to grow my business, I think it is time for that “re-evaluation”.

Lesson 1: Being busy on social media does not equate to being busy working.

This was a real bummer and is contrary to anything you hear from anywhere else. I have found that while being popular on a social media network is important, to truly acquire clients, one must also excel at business. Social media doesn’t replace traditional means of advertising. I had much more success advertising on local classifieds than Instagram. Social media is great at many things, but it should not be the primary form of advertisement.

Thus, I think it is important for a photographer to have a portfolio on the web. Something that is instantly presentable to people. You are also not at the mercy of Facebook’s ever changing algorithm.

Lesson 2: Being on all the social media networks is a mistake.

I was naïve with all the options available in the social media network space. I thought being on everything, everywhere, or nearly everywhere was the way to go. I soon found out that one cannot be everywhere, because even if I tried, I couldn’t keep up with Silicon Valley’s ability to start up new social networks. As a Xennial, I grew up with the founding of the Internet. There was only MySpace in the beginning, then Facebook came along and overtook MySpace, then came Twitter and so on. However unlike before, when Facebook essentially killed MySpace, every new social network that followed has found a niche to survive. Today, in 2018, there are more social networks than I can count. It is simply impossible to be everywhere. Therefore, I decided to pare down my choices and really focus on the social network that matters the most, today.

For a photographer, that social media network today is Instagram.

Lesson 3: Less is more.

I really respect David Hobby. I enjoyed reading many of his blog posts and his lighting tutorials. Hobby was famously quoted as someone who supports the “more signal, less noise” philosophy. I started to experiment with being less active on social media recently, and surprisingly, it did not change my follower acquisition at all.

Going forward

While I’m not going to abandon my presence on 500px, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. I am going to focus on having a great Instagram community. I may cross post content to Facebook and Twitter, because they are the most active social networks for regular people. If someone decides to tag my username on the most popular social networks, I don’t want it to be directed to nothing.

I have yet to delete my 500px account, but I have decided to stop the prints business. Also, as part of my web redesign this year, I have transitioned my Tumblr blog to be hosted on my portfolio website. Any links to Tumblr hosted content are redirected to here for consistent experience.

And finally, Flickr. I really hope someone would come along and turn it into something better. I find a lot of inspiration on Flickr, and its community members are very knowledgeable. There is so much potential, it could be the one social network that unites all photographers. But it is just another inactive social network to me until someone can free it from its conglomerate.