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What has social media done for you lately?

In the wake of the Google+ ‘sunsetting’ announcement, it has me thinking of social media in general as I’m sure many of you are.

If you haven’t heard about this, here is a link to the post on Google’s Keyword Blog. Basically, they are shutting down the consumer side of Google+ and will only be offering the G-Suite version for internal business use. G+ users will have 10 months to figure out where else to go.

I think it’s time to reevaluate our use of social media as photographers (and in general). Is it merely social? Do you use it to promote and market your business? How much time do you REALLY spend on social media?  What does it actually do for you?

Let’s look at some of this a little more in depth.

Business

If you are a business, social media seems to be a necessary evil, or at least they’ve made us feel like we have to be out there. Depending on what type of photography business you have it can help you find new clients and opportunities. Some portrait, wedding and event photographers have built their businesses using Facebook and Instagram by posting their work.

We all know that social media can be a great way to be seen and has grown to be a place where consumers actually go to search for what they need — locally or where they may be traveling to (think destination weddings). Maybe it’s old school now but I was always taught to send people to your website first. Start there. Post from there, bring people back to your site, invite them to wander around, get to know you and your business, see what you offer and that in turn helps to bring in business.

Community

This is the big one that will be missed by those of us who used Google+ for the last seven years. There didn’t and still does not appear to be anywhere that did community like G+. Instagram and Twitter are much too fleeting in their streams to be able to organize and grow any type of community atmosphere. Facebook does ok with this and topic centered groups but I find that a bit isolating. I still see Ello.co popping up as Google+ users start looking for alternatives, in addition to relatively new platforms Pluspora.com, part of Diaspora. I’ve also heard Vero pop back into conversations as well.

The photographic community is a close-knit group for the most part. Most of us enjoy sharing, learning and helping each other. We love hanging out and meeting up for photo walks and conferences and when we get home we want a place to share our experiences. Many lifelong friendships have been made in photography groups on social media. This is invaluable, finding like-minded people who share your passion.

Time

Have you ever sat down to figure out how much time you actually spend on social media? Yes, some of you are very good at being disciplined and not spending hours upon hours scrolling through streams. There are plenty of us out there though who do not use it wisely I’m sure. I’m guilty of that from time to time myself. Oh, pretty pictures, who shot that, where is that, what gear did they use and so on down the rabbit hole. What is your time worth?

Benefits

What does social media actually do for you? Depending on where you are in your photography, the benefits of social media will be different for each of us. Is spending time on social media helping you to get clients? Is it creating income for you and your business? Is it strictly a social outlet for you? Maybe it’s just the place you go when you need a 15-minute game break from your job. Are you using it to learn and grow your photography?

Asking this question is important if you’re trying to move forward and find yourself not having time to work on your own photography, business or hobby. Start asking yourself, what will posting this here do for me and my work?

In the end, when we put our proverbial eggs in the social media baskets that are out there, we are at their mercy. These networks are free, they owe us nothing and in the case of Google+, they could all disappear just as easily. What will you do when that happens?

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