20 important things to know about social media and the photography industry.

As we all know too well, our industry has been changing over the last few years and with it so have client expectations, needs and the way that they search for photographers.

It used to be that if you were talented your work would surely stand out and with a combination of good work, savvy marketing and some well deserved awards you could actually make a living in this business.

Well, look around.  The competition isn’t getting any smaller and the ability to stand out harder and harder.  Marketing choices are abundant and you no longer know where a client will search for photography.  You are spending more of your time marketing yourself than you are shooting for yourself.

Clients feel these differences too.  With so many choices of sites to review and photographers to consider, they have countless creative options available to them.  So much so that great work is not the only criteria for consideration any more.

It is time to realize that it is no longer just about your photographs, but about YOU and the story behind your images.  It is crucial to understand that having great work is sometimes not enough and that often times clients now want to know the story behind the you and your work.    They want to know what it would be like to collaborate with you long before they pick up the phone to talk with you.

And, I believe that integrating social media into your current marketing plan is the single most effective way to have a voice and share your own story.

Well, apparently, lots of people in our community are curious about this way of thinking as well.  The space at Dog Patch Studios was full of people for the San Francisco APA event, “Social Getworking.”  All of them wondering how to navigate the world of social media.

It was a very informative panel mediated by photographer Josh Bobb.  Together with Miki Johnson (social media guru) and Timothy Archibald (photographer and blogger), we tried to make sense of all the reasons to participate and vehicles to consider.


Here are the 20 most important things about social media stood out in the conversation:

1)The internet is the real world, so act the same way you do in the real world.  Just be yourself.

2) “Everything I’ve gotten professionally has come through my social media involvement — without exaggeration or exception, literally everything,”  David Duchemin.

3)  Humans crave stories.  Stories are what people remember and seek out time and time again.  Stories that come from an honest and genuine place and push ones’ comfort zone often times are seen as refreshing in the blog world.

4)  Social media is the new word of mouth and a powerful tool through which people seek out recommendations and search for inspiration for most everything.

5)  Social media is not just about what you ate for breakfast or how much you loved the new Harry Potter movie.  It is about sharing content that is relevant and meaningful.  It is about  adding value.

6)  Social media is about personal connections, word of mouth and sharing ideas to a select and targeted group of people.  It is about finding your voice as a creative and sharing it with not only your friends, but people in your industry.

7)  It is 100% necessary for a photographer to market him/herself regardless of if they have a rep.  The addition of a photographer to marketing plan leads to exponential results.  Social media provides photographers with so many options for connecting with people.  For those photographers who prefer not to meet one on one or cold call, social media is the perfect way to reach out.

8) Photographers are visual people.  If you are not confident writing a blog or posting a status update, find a way visually to connect.  Know that the images you share do not have to be all work related.  Post photos you shot with your iphone of things that inspire you, share images of your kids or photographs of random things that make you smile. (anyone know why #8 turned into a smiley face???)

9)  If you think of social media as work or a to do list item than you haven’t found the right creative outlet for yourself.

10)   SEO is important but not at the expense of content.  Do not let that part of the process overwhelm you or cause you to stall.

11) Sharing interesting things you find online is just as important as posting your own ideas.

12)  Find 10 blogs that you like and follow them regularly.  Comment on posts that you like and share the most interesting posts.  The authors will begin to be curious about who you are and link to your site.  They may even begin to follow you and share what you have to say.

13) When you find your voice, make sure it is genuine.

14)  Do not use social media solely to get work.  That strategy is transparent.  Remember that this is the real world.  You don’t sell yourself to everyone you meet do you?

15) Blogs and websites that work together to tell your story will become more of the norm.  Websites alone will eventually feel unfinished.

16) People who you are friends with on Facebook or follow you on Twitter, Tumblr or any of the other sites, CHOOSE to do so.  They are an active audience who wants to learn more about you.

17)  Relevant content is key.

18)  Tools such as Hootsuite(can’t post an image though) and Sendible (can post an image) are great tools to help manage your posts.  Klout shows you how influential you are on the web (or not!) and helps you find people who are sharing posts that are relevant to you.  WordPress is cleaner, current and easier to use than Blogger/Blog Spot. Mailchimp and Constant Contact are great sites to help manage your lists if you send out newsletters.

19) Google yourself and set up a google alert for yourself.  To find out how to set one up, just google it!

20) “Profiles” are more useful on Facebook than “Pages.”

If you have any questions or note to add, please do email us, we would love to hear from you.

27 thoughts on “20 important things to know about social media and the photography industry.

  1. I have issue with some of this, but I hear what you’re saying.

    I recently did an informal test on Twitter to find out how many of my 293 followers actually read my tweets. 6 responded to said test.


    Don’t pat yourself on the back for having a large ‘fan base’ or ‘interested audience’, because it’s very easy for people to follow but not *follow*.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read the post AND comment. I am not sure how telling your test is but the idea that 6 people out of 293 actually took the time to reply is a good thing. That is 6 people who would not be engaging with you otherwise. The success of social media depends on a combination of tools of which Twitter is just one of them. And, of course, content matters.

    • First, I want to say, thanks for compiling all this Heather. Great wrap up.

      David, just a bit more on this Twitter thing. I know that personally, I have several “tiers” of Twitterers I follow, basically, daily, weekly, and occasional check in. The daily people are ones who always have great links to things other than their own stuff that is useful and I might not have found otherwise. Weekly, they occasionally have good stuff but it’s cluttered by too many personal conversations and self-promotion. The third group I basically follow out of good will and so I can keep in touch occasionally. Do you find that you have the same tiers of people you follow? Which category do you think you fall into with your tweets? There’s nothing wrong with being in those other tiers, but you are right that your engagement and reach are going to be lower in that case.

      Hope that helps you and anyone else….and that you don’t mind me singling you out 🙂

  2. Thanks for such a helpful list, and I definitely agree with #20! In my opinion having a page versus using a personal profile seems like you’re talking TO your audience, not WITH them!

  3. Very interesting and relevent – Thank you!
    I started tweeting in Jan ’11 and I post images mostly. I can tell from the ‘hit’ rate of the image how many people have looked and I’m always suprised by the result – avarage is about one sixth of my followers.
    I’ve decided to tweet as a flock of sheep – sounds wierd but it’s easier to do some subtle
    marketing I find and I think it helps to try to be humerous too!
    If there’s something ‘on’ I join in the conversation with a tweet+image – last week I was joining in with the tweeting on an agricultural show and after a while, was contacted by someone from the biggest farming magazine, commenting favourably and saying he would let his picture editor know about me.
    I’m really still experimenting and learning…. aren’t we all!

  4. Thanks Heather & Miki for sharing the results of the event, “Social Getworking.” I have been using social media, esp. facebook & twitter for over 3 years now. It has had a wonderful impact on my professional life, as a photographer & also as someone who shares content about many aspects of the photo industry worldwide.

    As a photographer, though, I have met some of the most wonderful clients through twitter, who are forward-thinking & want to get to know the people they want to work with through this new medium.

    • Thank you so much for your comment and continued support of the blog. I am so happy to hear that it has worked well for you. More photographers need to know that it does indeed work when done well.

  5. Pingback: 20 important things to know about social media and the photography industry « APA San Francisco

  6. 20 years ago I went through the start of the digital revolution in photography. That was a very exciting time. Now with all the evolution of Social Media it’s come full circle. Thanks Heather for all your wonderful input. Really enjoy your Blog.

  7. Just a quick note to say that number 8 is a smiley because 8 ) looks like a smiley with big eyes. There is a setting in your wordpress settings that will turn emoticons graphical automatically. Now, I’ll get back to reading the post! 🙂 -or- 8)

  8. Thanks Heather for some great insights.

    I’m trying to understand #20 though. Do you mean your profile page in your Facebook acct.?

    And Leave #8 alone. It’s a cool graphic and goes well with the paragraph.

    #14 is great advice. Let people know you’re looking for work (assignments) but also just be yourself.

    Thanks again

    Have a great day.

    • Hi there.

      Thanks for your comment – here are some answers for you: In regards to #20, yes, I meant that my profile page is more effective and more useful than my fan page. Yes, I like the smiley face too. Funny how it worked there. Glad you found the post relevant. Take care!

  9. Social intelligence has historically referred to one’s ability to interact with others socially in an intelligent way. Simply put, it is akin to emotional intelligence, and is most definitely an important aspect for job seekers.

  10. Pingback: Social Getworking and the Missing Panelist: Adding an Art Buyer’s Point of View on Social Media. « Heather Elder Represents Blog

  11. Great article, just one question! Why are profiles better? I have 900 friends (on my personal profile page) and 7000 ‘likes’ on my Photography page – the limit on friends on my profile is 5000 so I would be without 2000 if I had kept it as a profile?

    I havn’t heard of Klout before…will google it!

    Carmen Bird 🙂

    • Hi there. Thanks so much for taking the time to read the post and comment. Much appreciated! Miki Johnson – the social media expert and panelist with me thinks the following when it comes to pages vs. profiles: “The level of engagement with those 900 friends is so much higher than with your 7,000 “likes” they are probably actually worth more. You can’t directly email someone who likes your page. You can’t tag people in your posts. And posts from your professional page show up in people’s feeds only a tiny percentage of the time your posts from your personal page show up. If you look at your news feed right now do you see many posts from “pages”? I agree with Miki and think for those reasons that profiles are more valuable than pages. Thanks!

  12. Pingback: I am glad that I market to advertising people. « Heather Elder Represents Blog

  13. Pingback: think before you go to a social media website

  14. Pingback: Facebook Vs. Pinterest | Girl on the Run 13.1

Leave a Reply