Saturday, February 9, 2013
Social media at college
I was at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning last week to meet with Charles van den Ouden, one of the Professor's in the Creative Photography program. We were talking about some events I worked on with his students but while I was there we talked about social media in photography.
I also met David Scott, another of the Professor's at the college, who teaches a course in Social Media and Marketing in the final semester of the program.
The course itself exposes students to issues involving their portfolio, creating a website, and podcasts but also how to take advantage of Facebook.
Students have the same issue using Facebook that many other photographer experience. "How do I crack through my circle of friends and get my posting and work exposed to people traveling in other circles?"
On the surface it seems like an easy task. Grab as many friends as you can, look at their friends for perspective photographers, art directors, photo editors or other image buyers and ask to be their friend. Post your work on a regular schedule and wait for them to contact you. The Professor's say that some students have made some progress in this manner and I think they're on the right track, but if this is your only strategy, it might take a while before the phone rings.
Now, in some cases, like Dave Sandford, you can track sales back to specific posting involving specific products that you mentioned in the posts. You can find my blog on Dave Sandford here. You'll notice he uses the caption for the photos he posts better than most of us.
I've also talked with Graeme Roy, the Director of News Photography at the Canadian Press, who sometimes searches through social media looking for an image to buy for the news service. You can find my blog on Graeme Roy here.
The problem with Facebook postings it turns out, is that it's a one-way street. You can see the postings from the "Great Photographer or Editor" you have as a friend but they're not seeing your work. The dirty secret of Facebook is that people turn off your feed. When you go to your friends page and click on the "Friends" box, the top of the dropdown menu says "SHOW IN NEWS FEED". It's normally checked but by unchecking it you have created a one-way street. The busy photographer doesn't see your stuff but his postings still get to your page.
They can get their message out to you, but they don't have to see your "crap" as some people call it.
So I have 175 friends. I don't mind seeing your stuff as long as it's not offensive. Dave Sandford has 1480 friends. That's a lot of crap. One photographer I follow is surfer photographer Joni Sternbach, and she has 3420 friends. Now I know why she never makes comments or Likes on my postings. Most likely she's not seeing them, although in her case I could be wrong. Some of my friends have so many friends they've hidden the number.
So this is how it works. I see their crap, but they don't see mine. I can comment on their crap and they might respond back to the comment. This is the start of a conversation but not much. They never comment on my postings, because they don't see them. Only people seeing my News Feed ever comment on my postings. Often times I actually know these people.
If you want to start the conversation with someone on your friends link, you have to do one of two things. "Like" their postings. At least this way you will register on their page and maybe, and this is a big maybe, they'll take a minute to look at your work. At better idea is to make a "Comment" on their posting. If you say something intelligent they might comment back. Maybe this will lead to something. Again it's a big maybe, but just maybe one day they'll take a look at your work and the sun will shine down on you and everything will change in that moment. It turns out that is also a big maybe.
Although I've worked as a photography all my life, I'm currently back at school trying to finish my Masters in Fine Art Degree at the Maine Media Workshops and College.
Jan Rosenbaum is one of my mentors for this semester and the project I'm working on is a paper on social media and the future with photography.
My retail store for rangefinder gear and Zeiss lenses is www.rangefinderstore.com
My retail store for large format photo supplies is www.bigcameraworkshops.com