Guest post by Catherine Hall – Follow Catherine on Twitter
I admit it – I’m still learning the tricks of the trade when it comes to social media. Though a lot of photographers these days are quick to brand themselves as social media experts, I’m not afraid to say I’m still figuring it out, and that I’ve had my share of whoopsie daises over the years as well. And I’m still not an expert – that is for sure – but I have learned several important lessons along the way, so I figured I’d share them with you so you can hopefully avoid them. Let’s get started, shall we?
#1 – Posting nothing but your own work: For a long time I figured people were following me because they were interested in my work or what I had to say, so I filled my stream with updates on what I was working on, weddings and portraits I had shot previously, and other things relating to me. Then I figured something out – this was a selfish approach. It would be like if I was hosting my own photography podcast and never had any guests on to talk about their projects – it was 100% me, all the time. This was the wrong approach, obviously, as even the biggest names in social media go WAY out of their way to share content made by others, but I didn’t realize this for too long. So now I share content from friends and colleagues as often as I can. It helps them, provides variety in my stream, and it feels great to help my friends out. I even share content from people I don’t even know sometimes, just because I realize social media is really about one thing and one thing only – finding good content and connecting with others. Try to establish a ratio of at least 30% of the content you publish being from someone else, or 1 out o 3 posts per day. Finding one good post to share a day is not hard at all.
#2 – Always double-check links before posting. Always. If this story isn’t enough to convince you, I once sent a newsletter to my subscribers with an invitation to go to my website to find more info on a particular subject. The only problem? My website is www.catherinehall.net – and the newsletter directed them to http://www.catherinehall.com, who is also a photographer! While we appreciate her photographic skills, they are definitely different from my personal taste, so the whole saga left my followers confused while making me look sloppy.
#3 – Forgetting to update your profiles: I recently came out with an app and it wasn’t until about a week later that I realized I had forgot to include this information in my profiles on my social networks. I also recently went from being co-host of TWiT Photo to hosting my own show, Photography Unfiltered. And again, I forgot to add the word “former” to all mentions of TWiT Photo. I take care of the details on a shoot, and had to remind myself to do it in my social media pages as well.
#4 – Sharing snapshots on your feed: This is one that I don’t do personally but I see it so often and it drives me crazy. Someone goes to an event and decides to let their Tweeps and Geeps (G+ followers, I just made up this term) what they are up to by posting shaky-cam snapshots of the buffet table and horribly-lit photos of themselves and their friends. People – do not do this! People who look at your blog and your social media feed get used to a certain level of photographic quality once you established it by posting shots you are proud of – don’t throw it all out the window by posting crummy snapshots. I give Instagram a pass here because at least those photos typically look processed, for lack of a better word. If you want to show everyone what you’re up to with snapshots put them on your personal Facebook page or on Flickr where they belong, not your business entity’s social media stream.
#5 – Not having a strategy: What is your social media strategy, and what metrics do you have attached to it that will allow you to judge whether you are moving closer or further away from your goals? For the longest time I had no strategy, no goals and no real idea what I was doing other than haphazardly posting to my blog. I then didn’t do anything to drive traffic to my blog, because I was so busy blogging! It’s okay to start small – say with just having a goal of one post a day, or two. It can even be shared content, but have a goal and look at your metrics, then over time you can see if this approach is working for you or not.
#6 Spreading yourself too thin: You should decide whether or not you need to focus your efforts on one social network in particular, or if you have the bandwidth to stretch yourself out across Flickr, G+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterst, 500px, Picasa, your own blog and other areas. I’m originally took the “Be Everywhere” approach but have found that I’m unable to interact with people on every network because I just don’t have the bandwidth. This raises the question – is it better to be on a network and not be active, or just not be there at all? I’m beginning to think if you can’t participate, don’t bother posting images, pins, tweets or Pluses. I don’t like it when I try to interact with people on a network and get ignored, so I’m in the process of consolidating my network participation to those I can handle, namely G+, Facebook and Twitter.
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