How important is social media is in the modern photographic industry

How   important is social media is in the modern photographic industry?

Lara Jade posted the interesting question.  

Does having a social media profile enhance your reputation in your field, or most importantly – does it effect a clients’ decision when booking?

One argument is that, Social media by its very nature feeds the desire for instant gratification, and so is probably not the best forum for accurate feed back on the progress of your work as a creative.

Without the right offline influence and interaction which attracts the right people or client to book you to shoot their campaign or look book, a fan base of 50,000 followers is irrelevant. There are many photographers who give the illusion of being influential because they may have 200,000 followers on their social media page. In reality they may not be known within the industry at all. The impact of social media in this instance enables someone to create an aura of high status. I personally feel that your creative work needs to balance with what ever level you are at.

Having interviewed some of the most influential and upcoming people within the fashion industry over the last 7 months, it has become apparent that those high profile photographers or stylists who shoot big brands are actually indifferent to the amount of followers they have. Many may not even have a social media page. Sølve Sundsbø for instance is one of these. His social media page was created by his fans as a tribute to his work.

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Photo by: Sølve Sundsbø

If shooting commercial work like fashion or advertising for instance, the client may not care too much about social media, but concentrate more on your portfolio, reputation and your particular work ethic.  If you are easy to work with and your creative work stands up, then a minimum of networking, branding and an entrepreneurial spirit, will ensure repeat bookings. A website which show cases your work is usually more important to a client than your social media profile.

Although social media can be helpful getting your work noticed, it does take time away from other things which are more valuable as a creative. Constant improvement and learning for instance, being two of the most important. Other things such as emailing advertising agencies, clients, networking, setting up a shoots with people who are more likely to book you are probably more beneficial to monetizing your work.

Let’s look at this from another angle. Fashion designers may use social media as an outlet that connects fans/customers to their website until word of mouth becomes the basis for obtaining customers. Then, referrals to their website take precedence over social media. Recently I read an interesting article called 1000 true fans.  (I will put a link and a video below for you guys to go have a look at.)The basic message was, focus on attaining 1,000 true fans, with whom you actually interact and or who leave regular comments on your social media page.                                                                                                 

Let’s say a new fashion brand got 1,000 people to buy their clothes for the year and on average each person spends 100 that translates into 100,000 in sales, as opposed to having 50,000 followers but none are buying.  To take things up a notch, let say those 1000 customers increase buying by 3 instead that leads sales of 300.000.

Now here’s how to apply the 1000 true fans to fashion, if I’m a fashion photographer, stylist or makeup artist. (With or without an agent) and I am presenting my work on social media. If I focus on building a relationship with just a few clients ,even as little as  only 7 clients to work with me in a year. If I work with each of those clients on two or more regular projects per year, then, I have really used social media to my advantage. It’s about how you use social media, not the amount of followers you accumulate, remember Jesus only had 12 followers, okay that was a joke but it’s the truth.

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Photo Credit- Bruno-Dayan

Let’s imagine it as an Advertising Art Director. Every day there is a bombardment of Portfolios’ and emails from agents. The job requires a specific style of photography. The choice may come down to timing and luck, depending if a mail or portfolio has been viewed.  This is when social media profile can again be useful. It gives an immediate insight into personality, and approach to work. This may work to set one person aside from everyone else, particularly if that style of work is similar to what is needed. It always comes back to your reputation as a creative. Not just about how good you are or talented you are, but also how you are to work with.

I have interviewed guys who are really talented and at the top of their game, and I am always struck by how affable they are. Nothing at all like any preconceived expectation of an over inflated ego. This indicates to me personally that part of their success is attributed to their personality and how easy they are to work with. People remember how you make them feel as supposed to how professional your work is.  If you’re easy to work with and your work is amazing that automatically gives you an unfair advantage over everyone else.

If we look at keeping up with new trends, then social media is essential. Not only does it help build your audience, and clientele. It plays a role in learning what is grabbing peoples’ attention. Comprehending the marketing world is fundamental to successfully running a photography business. Lack of knowledge on how to attract and hold peoples attention can lose you media followers.  On one hand your photography talent is an enormous factor in how well your business will succeed. However, if you don’t present yourself well or neglect your audience, you will not get very far at all.  A website is attractive and absolutely important, but it lacks the personal touch that is also extremely necessary.

Social media also allows you to build a brand, and is a great way to keep in touch with your followers, especially if you’re doing seminars or training. It also is a way to keep in touch with clients you might not necessarily meet.  If they have noticed friends tagged in your photographs, they can easily find and contact you. If you don’t have a particularly big budget, and you want to work with an eclectic range of people, then social media can be very effective.  As previously discussed, a lot depends on the kind of photographer you are trying to be. Clearly there are many photographers, who do not rely on the internet and whose success is attributed to the effort they put into their creative work. Peru and Solve Sundsbo are just two of these.

If you like this post please share and leave a comment, the next blog post would be it’s all about who you know and that’s a good thing.

Some tips for interacting with clients.

  • Read and comments on friend’s blog to show you care and you support their objectives
  • When others share information that’s relevant to your business, industry share it on Facebook and twitter
  • Follow others on twitter and re-tweet contents relevant to your industry
  • If a community member has a relevant Facebook page become a fan and engage with them
  • Promote other relevant content that others member share on Facebook, twitter, flicker and on any other sites. Rate the content, comment on it etc and even share it on your page
  • Consider featuring a key influencer whether on your blog etc