Think of the most interesting person you know. What makes them interesting? Is it because they are always talking about themselves? Or are they fun to be around, and just generally interesting?
With social media it’s the same concept. You have to be friendly to gain friends. The most effective social networking is the kind that makes you want to follow it. Networking is more than just putting words out there – you have to have something interesting to say. Interview another photographer, or talk about inspirational photography on your blog. Share a how-to article on Facebook.
Get involved, give back, and have fun. You have better chance of finding followers when you give them some great reasons to follow you.
Here is a list of some great places for photographers to network, and tips for effectively using each one.
- Join a Forum: Don’t just join, be sure to contribute. Most forums let you have a link in your signature, so take advantage of this and link back to your website or portfolio.
- Start a Blog: And keep it updated! The best photography blogs are informative and entertaining. Establishing your expertise and interacting with your readers are both important for a photo blog’s success. Be sure to comment on other blogs too.
- Facebook Business Page: Facebook is by far the largest social network today. Facebook has1.11+ billion users, meaning that it is over 10 times more popular than Flickr or Instagram. Of course, even with the largest user base in the world, if you are looking for inspiration or a photography community to connect with, Facebook still falls short. Wedding or portrait photographers are among those who can benefit from a Facebook business page. Facebook is all about social connections and tagging clients can be an effective way of promoting your work.
- Flikr: With millions of photos uploaded every month, and 87+ million users, Flickr is one of the most popular photo sharing sites for photographers. With their recent redesign it’s a great place to showcase your work to a wide audience. Another great thing about Flickr is that many other popular sites and applications work with it. With Flickr you can license your images to Getty, but you can’t sell directly from your Flickr account.
- Pinterest: One of the fastest growing social networking sites. Pinterest is a virtual pin board, where users can pin and share things they like. Wedding photographers can especially benefit from a Pinterest account as many brides-to-be turn to Pinterest for wedding photography inspiration and purchases. Studies show that Pinterest influences more sales than Facebook, with Pinterest driving shoppers to spend 43% to 58% more money on an average purchase than Facebook and Twitter.
- LinkedIn: A place for professionals to network. Approximately 2 new professionals join LinkedIn per second. LinkedIn continues to grow with more than 175 million members in over 200 countries. LinkedIn is a good site for networking, especially when looking for business and marketing advice, or connecting with other professionals, however it’s an unlikely place to find new clients.
- Twitter: Twitter is an easy way to share content fast. Twitter’s user base tends to be split between those who love Twitter, and those who don’t really understand it. Nearly half the accounts on Twitter are inactive. Another interesting fact about Twitter is that around 50 percent of Twitter users are using the social network via mobile, meaning your content should ideally be accessible and interesting to people on the go. With only 140 characters maximum allowed per tweet, content also has to be short and to the point.
- Instagram: While often thought by professionals as the bane of the photography world, Instagram can actually be an important social marketing tool. An Instagram account allows you to directly promote your photography to an entire iPhone and smartphone customer base of approximately 100 million users. With more users joining every day, an Instagram account just might be worth having!
- Google+: If you treat Google+ like another Facebook you will receive little out of it in terms of promotion. Use Google+ like another marketing tool though, and you will be able to maximize the traffic to your site. Google indexes all public posts as searchable in their search engine, meaning your activity on Google+ can have a big impact on your own search results.
- 500px: This is a great site for showcasing your photos, as the layout on 500px is second to none. The image quality of photos on 500px is also great. An upgrade allows you to sell from the site, but you cannot set your own prices.
- Tumblr: Tumblr makes blogging easy. After you sign up, they give you a link to add to your browser’s toolbar. When you are browsing online, you can click this link to share content to your Tumblelog. Posting short, simple posts can save you time and take the pressure out of long posts. Tumblr is also SEO friendly; it’s easy to add tags to your images. You can also set up Google Analytics for Tumblr to determine your popular posts and monitor your traffic. More than half of the posts on Tumblr are images.
So which social media sites should you use?
It depends on what type of photography you are doing, and what you hope to gain from the social networking. For wedding photographers, Pinterest is definitely worth trying. For weddings, portraits, and local events, Facebook is a good place to promote to potential clients. If you do landscape, nature, or scenic shots, you may have a better chance of selling prints on sites such as 500px, or SmugMug. If you are hoping to network with other photographers, Google+ is a great place to join.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to sign up for every social media website. Just take on one or two that you feel are relevant to your needs, and when you feel you are managing them well, add another. Don’t forget to update your accounts consistently.
Remember, when it comes to social media, you get back what you put into it. Simply setting up social media accounts isn’t quite enough. Social networks are platforms for you to promote your work; but promotion doesn’t happen automatically.
Networking, blogging on relevant topics, commenting on other blogs, and contributing to discussions are all great ways to connect with others. In the online community, interaction and a genuine interest in others can go a long way towards helping you stand out.