Social media is the devil and it’s killing the art of photography!! Bet you have heard that one before. But don’t worry, this is not one of those articles reminiscing about the pre-Instagram era. We love social media networks and know just how much they can help you to promote your photography website. However, we must admit there is some truth in those apocalyptic statements. Social media is a double-edged sword that could hurt your work just as much as it can help you endorse it.
On top of copyright infringement, one of the main risk photographers face on social media is unconsciously limiting their creativity based on what they see and do online. It may sound crazy, considering how much work goes into creating beautiful photographs, but it happens way more often than it seems. So where exactly is the line that separates the benefits and pitfalls of social media?
Here are five main things you should do and five you should never do, to make the most out of social media without compromising your work:
Do: Maximize your exposure
Sharing your photos on social media is a fantastic way to increase the number of people who see your work. With the touch of a finger, you can put an image in front of millions of spectators. In order to reach higher exposure, make sure to organize your presence in these networks by posting regularly and maintaining high-quality standards for your photos.
You might want to plan your posts in advance to avoid forgetting about it or sharing content you’re not completely satisfied with. Additionally, try to post on different days and times to find out when your public is more active and engaged.
Do: Talk with your audience
One of the biggest opportunities social media channels offer is the ability to communicate with your audience. Talking with your followers will help you build a community around your work, which will expose your photography to an even wider audience. Additionally, an enthusiastic community will play a major role in the success of your commercial endeavors, especially if it’s something that can be enjoyed worldwide such as selling your photos online.
Do: Drive traffic to your online portfolio
Ideally, every single person who sees your work on social media channels should end up on your website. More visitors, especially those who are already interested in your work, will lead to more traffic, better SEO results and, ultimately, actual clients. This is why it is so important to link all of your social accounts to your portfolio.
Get creative! A great way to drive traffic to your website from social media platforms is creating a photography blog and using snippets from your posts as captions for your images.
Do: Build your brand
When it comes to your online presence, you should see yourself as a brand, rather than just an artist. What does that entail? First and foremost: NAP. That stands for Name, Address, and Phone number, but we also strongly recommend that you get enough sleep.
Using the same name, address, and phone number across all your social media channels (and the Web) will help you in two main ways: ensure that your customers can easily reach you and improve your local SEO. Doing so can help you get a better ranking on search engines, which will likely result in more web visitors and potential customers.
Do: Get inspired
Contrary to popular belief, social media is not just about ‘me, me, me’. With so many talented photographers sharing their work on these platforms, it would be a shame not to learn from them. Browse the publications the best photography hashtags as much as you can. Dedicate time to see what other people are doing, discover new techniques and locations, talk to them to understand their work process and read up about their experiences; absorb as much knowledge and skills as you can.
Don’t: Change your style
Some photography genres simply do better than others on social media. For example, a sunset captured from a drone is likely to get much more engagement than a portrait. On a larger scale, if you take a look at the most followed photographers on Instagram you will see that almost all of them focus on travel photography.
With such a significant difference in engagement, you might feel tempted to focus on only posting those types of images that perform better. Don’t. Stay true to the kind of work you love, even if it results in lower engagement. As my grandmother used to say: “It is the quality of ‘likes’ that counts, not the quantity”.
Don’t: Post-process to please
Just like it happens with genres, there are some photography styles that are significantly more popular than others. Think about how many popular outdoor photographers use muted processing on their photographs, also known as faded, desaturated, or washed out. The same could be said about food photographers and their saturated smoothie bowls, or lifestyle photographers and their bright and warm pearly white bedrooms.
At some point, these techniques became so popular that it’s actually hard to differentiate which images belong to which photographer. We’re not saying using popular styles is bad, far from it, there is a reason why they work so well. But you must remember to focus on developing your unique style, instead of diluting your creativity to adapt your work, with the sole intention of growing your social media popularity.
Don’t: Be obsessed with numbers
Did you know that social media affects our brain in a similar way as what drugs do? When someone likes one of your photos, your brain produces dopamine, commonly known as the pleasure hormone. This happiness rush can quickly become addicting and have a direct effect on your work. One may even think that Instagram for photographers should come with a warning sign.
You may have already found yourself comparing your number of followers and likes with other users, or setting a minimum number you must reach before you continue sharing your work. While having ambition is good, remember that numbers are just numbers and they do not represent the value of your work.
Don’t: Spend all your time online
Do you know what is the one thing more important than getting exposure for your work? Actually creating that work. You should spend a reasonable amount of time building and curating your online presence, but most of your hours should still be dedicated to planning, shooting and processing photos, as well as continuously learning about new techniques and trends.
Don’t: Stop enjoying photography
If there is one idea you should take away from this article, this is it: Don’t ever let social media affect your love for photography. Continue shooting images that make you happy, whether they are popular or not. Spend money on courses and maybe even new equipment, instead of buying followers. Focus on creating high-quality content, rather than posting anything for the sake of being active.
If social media is starting to have a negative influence on your work, take a step back and reflect on why you started shooting photos in the first place.