Social Media & Related Media For the Photographer
IMPRINTS |FALL/WINTER 2010
Social networking existed before the Internet. For a job search about five years ago, for example, you probably would have sought contacts and referrals from professional forums, business conferences, and friends; and exchanged information by telephone, mail, and E-MAIL.
Now you can communicate with a much wider circle of people through Linked-In, Facebook, and Twitter. The acceptance of social networking can no longer be ignored. In early 2010, Facebook surpassed 500 million active users worldwide–a fact that was barely mentioned in the traditional media. At the same time, traffic on email systems has dropped dramatically.
Where do you get your information? Specifically, what resources do you use to nurture your passion for photography? You joined Profession Women Photographers – a NETWORK of like-minded women who pursue photography for enjoyment or as a business. The benefits of membership are a MEDIUM of social interactivity-monthly meetings; workshops; an e-mail forum; and community outreach programs. PWP is keeping pace with society’s even greater reliance upon electronic communication with a web site and a blog.
The most popular social networks include Linked-in, Facebook and Twitter. Newer networks, like Four Square, have narrower audiences at the present time.
Linked-In is a professional network for connecting with people with whom you want to work. Once you provide your resume and other profile information, you have an online presence that represents you to other professionals. Through your contacts your can request referrals to others who may be a resource to reach you goals.
Facebook is best used for reaching out to friends, family or co-workers, and to bring them into your community. Share your photos, videos and life’s moments, either on a personal basis or to reveal your personality in your business role.
Twitter, a miniblog, also permits community building by allowing you to be part of conversations. Because of the 140 character limit, it is best used for quick updates and providing links to your website or blog.
A key difference between the “old€ and “new€ media is the direction of informational flow through its networks. The “old€ mass media — newspapers, magazines, and network television – are passive; information as well as advertising is sent out over a network to the user/audience; there is little interactivity. Social media, on the other hand, move information in two directions.
With Linked-In, Facebook, and Twitter, the user/participant initiates and actively participates in information exchange. Personal profiles, photos, videos and other information are sent to friends, family, co-workers or other connected parties over the Internet using a designated social network. And, more importantly, information flows in both directions. Communications across the Internet, a well-established network, take place using available social media applications: text, photos, video, forums, and links to other sources, etc. Being able to converse electronically, with friends, community and/or customers may explain social networking’s rapid growth. It even encourages face-to-face “meet-ups.€
Thoughtful use of social media – and its two-way interactivity – can become part of a photographer’s overall marketing strategy. As a first step, and to effectively adapt to the new two-way networking environment, both photographers and corporate brands need to become more informed about their clients and customers. It is crucial, for example, to direct your message to where your audience “hangs out€-whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, or on newspaper and magazine websites. Also, a byproduct of the electronic ebb and flow is that a commercial photographer, for example, can measure, and if desired, monetize, more effectively through SEO, search engine optimization. By using SEO properly, a photographer can now afford to advertise to, and efficiently reach, a larger and more targeted audience.
A photographer can also choose the social network and related media that suits her outlook and goals. A current web site, or blog, can be repurposed to use social media. Become an “expert;€ be a resource in a certain niche; share what you know and learn from others. Think of this new role as “soft€ marketing as opposed to corporate “hard€ sell. In turn, there will be traffic back to your web site, where you do your selling, or to your blog where you share your expertise, and support others within your community.
The future for social media is very bright, yet in transition. Further discussion of social networking and related media will continue in the next issue of Imprints. I will cover questions related to time management, privacy versus transparency on a network, and marketing strategies. I also recommend two useful Internet links: www.socialmediaexaminer.com and www.mashable.com. For more information about specific social media, see The Facebook Effect, by David Kirkpatrick, and The Twitter Book, by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein. For more information about Flickr, Tumblr and other networks, see, The Linked Photographers’ Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media, by Lindsay Adler and Rosh Sillars.