This is a massive, massive topic – entire university subjects are dedicated to examining the sneaky ways that the media tiptoes around to get into our minds, to wrap the cloth over our eyes and make us vacant enough to hand over our hard-earned dollars. So with that in mind, I’m going to try and keep it tight and relevant to Photography. It’s a Costco-sized can of worms!
What are we really getting out of our marketing efforts anymore?
Does anyone actually see our posts and photos over the many mediums of social media that we use to promote ourselves? Increasingly, the answer is becoming a resounding NO. But why is this?
Have a think about this little beauty:
“If you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product.”
To many, the answer is unsurprising. Advertising and Money. Corporate greed has reached into the realms of our daily lives and is here to stay. Media agencies are becoming increasingly smarter at getting into our heads and our purses. Where there’s a dollar to be made, there will always be the corporation, the avid small business or the newly-started business looking to make a mark among so many other of its type (this is where I come in). Sadly the idea of a free platform has long disappeared, but there are ways to innovatively still market yourself, but it takes work.
‘Free’ usually means ads. Ads that you’ll have to view, click through, or install a plugin to block from your browser. Free always comes with a price, and that’s usually your sanity. You will never actually have to pay to use Facebook as a “consumer”, but a business will, the same as traditional print media has been, since, well, ever!
Flickr has dropped the ball like a dog disinterested in playtime. 500px is a race of visual tastes and (supposed) favouritism. G+ is where the hippies of the internet hang out. Twitter is news-per-second, confusing and surprising at the same time. Youtube is populated with videos whose creators are competing for the Darwin Awards and Vimeo is the medium where the artists and videographers hang out to share masterpieces. And then there’s the humble website and email platform. The VCR-technology of the current state of media.
Where in all of this does the Photographer fit?
Let’s take a look.
This was once the place to be... it still is, however, in terms of a photographer’s platform, it is the place to host a video if you want people to see it. But you are still going to need some choice marking strategies for your videos, as the likes and views will not come out of nowhere unless you go viral. This is not as easy as it seems.
Nonetheless, it has power, and still should be a part of your marketing strategy when working with video of any description.
The more I’ve seen from vimeo the more I like it. Still a typical video platform, however it does not rigorously check your video for copied music, allows differing levels of privacy and boasts a better upload quality. It is the artists’ den of videography. Check it out.
Ah, our old friend. Facebook is less like the nurturing mother that it once was, and has become the older, cranky aunt telling us to stop being freeloaders, get out, pay your own way and don’t come crawling back for money or food. There has been much notice taken to the declining amount of likes, engagements (interactions) reported by pages and this is driving photographers away from the habits of sharing content.
Businesses can now pay for likes, however these appear to be non-genuine, as best outlined in this video; Facebook Fraud.
So what does it mean for the photographer wanting to get their work out there? Rely less on this service. It is digging its’ own grave slowly I believe.
I joined back in 2007 when the site was in its infancy. Now, seven years later, what has it become? With stock listed on the share market and money now being changed hands in exchange for services, it is most definitely a corporation, a service. The problem with the payments is that paying them for likes isn’t actually creating an increase in traffic, rather, less of it, because those ‘likers’ are less engaged. Watch the video to be outraged!
Those who have updated the mobile app on their phone to the most recent version might be also outraged to learn that you’ve granted them access to your phone numbers, text messages, contacts, pictures, videos and your location. Wow.
G+, in my opinion, is the hippy corner of the internet. The ones who tell themselves that they’re avoiding Facebook and all its’ evil temptress ways. Problem is, you’re giving in to the next biggest corporation out there, Google.
Need I not remind you how many fingers in how many pies Google has?!
I used to really question Twitters’ effectiveness as a social platform. Having been recently converted to the idea of short, 140-character updates I am now finding it much more useful in driving traffic to my site. Have a look at the trending tags in order to get your post seen. #photography ;)
Flickr, old friend, you’ve become tired and weary, misguided and poor. I still cling onto the hope that one day you will be revived, but for now, you are forced into submission by larger photo-sharing sites that have shinier, more elegant algorithms.
The absolute end to Flickr came when they decided to annoy their paying customers, by giving everyone a free Terabyte of storage. For free. Remember what I said about “Free”? Nothing is ever free.
When this new marketing strategy launched, there were reminders all over the site to “Upload a larger resolution photo” because “you now have more storage for FREE.” (ever get the feeling that you’re being hypnotised and forced to hand over something valuable for FREE?) This is exactly that. Yahoo, while being the third largest corporation out there, is also competing for a larger market share. Yahoo has ties to Getty images, the worlds’ largest photography-stock site, complete with their own outrageous terms and conditions giving them rights to use your photos without permission.
All of a sudden that 'free' Terabyte is starting to look like a big, sharp bear-trap...
500px is the trendy little hipster standing on the street corner pretending not to be cool, to be cool. Originally advertised as “ONLY your best work” which for some now means “I’ll put the same thing up day after day and watch my ratings soar!” A great medium for those that know how to play the ever-changing game of liking, favouring and commenting on work. You have a photo, you have 24-hours from the point of upload to see how high it can go. Much like those games you play at the fair where you whack the button with the mallet and watch the pointer go up, and try hit the top. Same idea, modern medium.
What some see as old, I think, will be forever timeless. It is still imperative to have a website as a practicing photographer. At the very least to use as a center-point for all your media outlets to point to, at the very most – it can be anything you want. There are some basic principles to good and effective web design, however, I’ll ask you to go back to trusty YouTube to find out more.
The oldest form of electronic communication that is still so widely used, not even the instant message has taken over. But for photographers? I don’t think that I will ever enjoy using email as a medium for marketing my photography. With the ever increasing amounts of spam, shorter engagement times of active users and hard to target everyone at once, I think it’s best left to being a form of personal conversation.
Many companies juggle the balance between keeping their clients informed and ending up in the junk mail folder.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. There has to be a better way than this. The sheer time I spend each day and night checking in on the many sites to check progress is detrimental to my time that I could be spending processing or taking photos.
With the death or dying of one medium, will there always be a successor? I’m seeing a larger trend towards more bricks-and-mortar galleries – over time they have still held their own as the formal way to have an exhibition.
What do you think?