This is an article written by photographer Susan Furber, contact details can be found at the end of this post.

For a while now, I have watched emerging and established photographers tentatively dip their toes into the world of social media. Do I need a blog, a Facebook page or should I really have a twitter account? The list of connections and networks really can be quite daunting and of course, potentially unmanageable. Then there are the statistics, the number of likes, friends, tweets, comments…well you get the picture.

I have spent the last few months on a mission, reading and finding resources about the use of social media, very specifically keeping in mind its use for photographers. I have also been watching how existing photographers use the mediums and tools that are currently available to see what works and what doesn’t for me. As soon as I write this article, the popular opinion on this is likely to shift and a new social media site will likely launch, such is the speed that things are changing and evolving in this space at the moment, but like any business, I believe that as a photographer  it pays to know your market and in a tough but honest way, know where your competition is and what they are doing.

In this article I am going to discuss the ‘Big 3’ social media tools and the potential that I see for them making a difference to photographers.

Social media kit bag

Blogs

I personally discovered blogging over seven years ago now, when my brother first introduced me to the RSS feeds. I have been an avid fan ever since. I have used blogs in my personal and work life, used them to document an 18 month working holiday and currently to document and connect on my own photographic  journey. Blogs let the world have a sense of who we are as photographers, but also as a person which comes out often in our words and writing style. If not a writer, they can still provide an opportunity to feature images, discuss images and very importantly to link to and learn from our influences and inspirations, as discussed in my previous post.

The kicker with blogs is always infrequent posting. I recently read a blog with had been consistently updated up until August ’11. Why..what happened then?  The reader has to be able to stay engaged and want to come back for more, and therefore content has to be kept fresh and recent and relevant when blogging. The use of images to engaged readers and receive comments and feedback is a powerful tool in my opinion.

I blog, therefore I am…every photographer should have one in their social media kit bag.

Facebook

We all use or know about it, but can it actually help our photography business. I would suggest that if you have resisted Facebook on a personal level, don’t necessarily rule it out as a great business tool. The key to Facebook is what you post. As a photographer, and as a business you have access to a phenomenal network, that you just need to tap into the right part of. Consider creating a page to talk about your events, workshops, interests, specialities, and even locations. If I can’t find a photographer on Facebook nowadays, I tend to wonder why not.  The new Facebook subscriptions feature is an excellent way to follow public posts without having to form imaginary, long lost friends and it is therefore a great feature with lots of potential for photographers.

Posting photographs on Facebook does need some thought. Who owns them, do you risk them being ripped off and will they actually be de-valued in amongst all the photos of parties, holidays and profile pics. My suggestion is to always link to a website or a blog rather then direct photograph posting. This creates seamless links between your social media kit streams and keeps the photographs under your control. Once again, frequency is the key here, even more so than blogs. The beauty is that a quick link or interesting article or location update can suffice to keep the readers happy. So, given this one a try and put it in the kit bag.

Twitter

Of the ‘Big 3’, this tool took me the longest time to warm to, but it really is the simplest to set-up and manage. Use links, re-tweet and keep it short, sharp and shiny. Connect Twitter to your blog and Facebook page and half of your job is already done with regular updates. The beauty of Twitter is it has been designed for audience targeting so this is inbuilt to a degree. People will follow you based on who you follow and your interests and posts. It is often referred to as ‘micro blogging’ which is quick and simple.  Photographers cannot really be promoted by Twitter alone, but it makes a quick and simple internet presence and so it really does have to go into the kit bag, even if you just use the basics.

As someone who has recently worked in the corporate communications world, I believe that there is still much to learn about the effectiveness of social media channels and it will be exciting to see how they evolve. I believe the key to all social media is to keep it focussed and have a clear idea in mind of what message, brand/connection you want to create. Keep this in mind throughout all your chosen social media kit items and keep them consistent and frequent.

So, go ahead, blog, tweet, like and network away and as a photographer, let the internet work for you instead of it being a fearful unknown.

**As part of my blog Photo web connect, I am happy to research, review and critique social media sites for photographers If you have any comments or thoughts on this article, feel free to let me know.

http://photowebconnect.wordpress.com

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