Good photographs die in the graveyard of social media. That is the quickest killer of up and coming photographers. The whole process probably goes something like this – you scout out a good location for taking a photograph. You take it. Maybe you come back a few more times just to make sure that the shot you took is definitely the best possible shot.
After the final picture is uploaded to your computer, you spend anything from one hour to the whole day editing the picture. Once you are satisfied, you stick it online. But after your mum and couple of friends press the thumbs up on the picture it dies somewhere deep under layers of other photographs, never to resurface again. Sound familiar?
This is when you start questioning your skill, doubting if the shot was even that great or if the location was worth visiting. Fortunately, or maybe, unfortunately, that is not the cause of death. Let’s have a look at how you could avoid having your pictures slowly wither away in that social media graveyard.
Figure out your goals
First and foremost, you have to figure out what you want to achieve when using social media. If you simply want to share your pictures with friends and family, having an Instagram account and linking it to your Facebook should do the trick. On the other hand, if you want to build a strong following online, you will have to put in a lot of hard work in order to see results. Social media is not something that just happens overnight. You have to work hard for it. The key is to build your brand, stick to it, and market it accordingly.
A good start is to establish an offline database of high-quality photographs. Create a folder system that you will use for the next month or two, depending on the number of pictures that you will take. It should be divided into a number of weeks. E.g. If your plan is for two months, you should end up with 8 subfolders. Each folder will contain photographs that you will be published that week.
Once your folders are ready, create social media accounts on all the popular networks. For now, you should probably start with Instagram, 500px, Flickr, and Pinterest. Your goal will be to post 2-3 pictures on each of these accounts every day.
The total amount of pictures in one week’s folder should be 8-15, again depending on the size of your database. Each week publish all of your pictures from one folder, but not all at once! Instead, divide the pictures between your social media accounts and post a different picture on each one. On other days, you should simply post the pictures on the accounts that they are not yet posted on. Repeat until all the social media accounts have all of the pictures.
Hard work doesn’t end there
It probably goes without saying that simply posting these pictures and hoping for the best is not gonna be good enough. Each website allows you to select tags, keywords, or hashtags to accompany your work. These are an absolute must if you want to reach a substantial audience that is relevant and will be interested in following you.
Try and play around with the tags, find ones that work and the ones that you should avoid. This is not an exact science, so what works for others might not work as well for you. Try to aim for anything between 20-30 tags for each picture, as more than that might be a little too broad. Always bear in mind that when done correctly it is perfectly reasonable for fewer keywords to perform just as well, or even better if they are well targeted.
Next step is to utilize Facebook and Twitter to “advertise” your work. Each time you post a picture on one of your accounts, make sure you tweet about it. At the start, it might feel silly doing the tweeting, but once you start building up some following you will be rewarded with retweets and hopefully an engaging audience.
Facebook is a little more personal, so you might want to create a fan page instead of spamming your friends and family. After all, you will not look very professional when you end up sharing your work on your personal Facebook wall together with the pictures of your nights out.
While Facebook fan pages are a really great resource to have, they take time to build up enough followers to actually matter for much. A good technique that is often underused is to join one of the many photography groups. Each group already has thousands of followers that are interested to see what you have to show.
Don’t be a creep
Posting pictures online is easy but is not that effective if you are not a respected member of the photography community. You should make it your goal to have a character and strong presence online. Don’t just quietly post pictures and hope that people will like them. Participate in discussions, give advice, enter competitions, teach, learn, interact, and most importantly, don’t ever be negative.
It is inevitable that some jerk will call you out for something they might not like about your work. Instead of getting into an online war, thank them for their criticism and move on. You can’t please everyone.
Soon enough, people will start to recognize your name and trust your opinion. You will no longer be the creep that just spams the group with a bunch of pictures once or twice a week and is never seen again. Instead, people will start anticipating your photographs and your traffic on all of the social media accounts will definitely start growing soon enough.
Remember that this is not a race
If you want fast results, invest money into advertising and be done with it. Building up social media following is not a quick process. Expect to spend the first six months tweeting at an empty void. But with enough time and plenty of tedious work, you will start reaping the benefits.
If you have a busy life, try to dedicate at least 30 to 60 minutes to social media each day. And if you can spare more time than that, even better. The more time you put into sharing and networking, the faster you will see the results. Try these quick marketing tips if you need some inspiration.
A good way to find extra time for social media is to utilize your extra minutes during the day. Maybe you finished your lunch and got 5 minutes before you go back to work? Go onto Instagram and follow some fellow photographers. Got a 15-minute bus ride? Get onto Facebook and participate in some discussions in one of the relevant groups.
Add this to the time that you have set aside for social media already and you are doing almost double time already.
Final words of advice
The most important lesson you can learn when it comes to the online world is that perseverance pays off. Keep trying, keep learning, and most importantly, find yourself a group of like-minded people. Learning together is always more fun and rewarding. And if you are up for it, why not do some friendly competition as well?