Content Is King: 5 Fundamentals To Increase Social Engagement

Content Is King: 5 Fundamentals To Increase Social Engagement

It all started with a conversation between filmmaker Justin Gustavision and I this past Friday. Justin works for Nadus Films who just released a brilliant award-winning documentary “BBoy For Life” which shows how break dancing has provided teenagers a way out of Guatemalan gang life. The film has been picked up by Starz and Discovery Channel, yet their social media presence could be considered dry, when it should be arousing a well-deserved tornado of hype.

It’s easy to get discouraged and lost in today’s online landscape, but you are not alone. This situation applies to many musicians, artists, photographers, filmmakers, actors and break dancers all over the world. In the current market, it’s just as important to sell yourself correctly as it is produce the art you're passionate about. With that said, I’d like to expand on an Fstoppers article that I published several weeks ago; “Social Media Etiquette – The Do’s And Don’ts Of Online Interaction.”

I’ll be the first to admit, like many others I’m addicted to the feedback. Just like a pat on the back, a like, comment or re-tweet sends a warmth of confidence and grants a sense of positive reinforcement. Many don’t realize that what you post to social media has a direct effect on how many likes, comments and re-tweets you receive. In order to get great feedback, you must provide solid updates that your friends and fans can really sink their teeth into. People fly through their newsfeed at lightning speed; anything light or frivolous will be passed over without a pause.

More You

Nearly a year ago, a friend of mine, Gunnar Deatherage had just been voted off Lifetime’s Project Runway in the final round. Gunnar wasn't upset whatsoever, he was actually on top of his game. His social media presence was exploding and things were moving at full speed. Mission accomplished. But, Gunnar never really kept up the consistent satisfying content that his fans yearned for. Unfortunately, over time his social media engagement started to taper off, a lot.  Around that time he approached me to consult with him to breathe some new life into his online game. I asked Gunnar to start posting images of himself in fashionable outfits and working hard behind the scenes every single day, no less than once a day. His engagement skyrocketed.

This is the very reason "selfies" have exploded in the world of social media. People like to see pictures of you… not your dog, your food or your kids. You. I’m not saying take a selfie, I’m saying grab a friend and ask them to snap an image of your working, shooting or even editing. Spice up the image by adding in some comedic value or something your demographic can relate to.


Only Your Best

Social media is a giant game of give and take. In order to receive awesome feedback, you have to give your friends something they can chew on before they engage in your work. That work must always be top notch. Time and time again I see people post a barrage of images from the same shoot, even some with the same pose or lighting. All of them have little to no engagement for that very reason. Before posting work from a shoot, question yourself and look at your work with a real critical eye. It’s important to be your own worst critic and only post your best images.


Behind The Scenes

It’s become more and more imperative for artists to provide an “backstage look” or “behind the scenes” of a photo shoot or show. So much so, many publications and commercial clients provide an entire budget for behind the scenes video and photography. People love to see what all goes into the production of an advertisement, movie or concert. Within the past few years, behind the scenes video has become just as important as the photograph or film itself. If you don’t know a videographer, then ask a friend to shoot some BTS with your smartphone and edit the clips in iMovie or even Instagram. Bottom line, if it shows you, your camera and your subject; then you’re set and you've some great content in your hands. Content people can chew on.


Share A Unique Story

I covered this briefly in my last post on social media, but I wanted to reiterate the importance of sharing a unique story. Remember to include a personalized message with a back story on how the photograph was lit or perhaps the hurdles you jumped to capture it. Your followers want to hear the struggle, but remember to stay humble and selfless as much as possible. Self-admiration is a big turnoff in the art world, be careful not to cross that line.


Simple Hacks

Everyone loves a good "hack." Although, that’s an odd play of words, popular blog sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have embraced anything with the word “hack.” It has become the word to use when taking shortcuts. Following that trend, I've found that posting photography tips and tricks can keep up engagement when things are slow and I’m dry on content to post. Everyone has their own workflow, find ways to be creative and keep it short.


When I layout these fundamentals with my friends like Justin and Gunnar, they always express concern of “keeping up with it all.” There is no doubt, this can all be very overwhelming. But, similar to portrait lighting, once you have it locked in, the effort becomes completely worth it.

Just like the art we create itself; marketing requires hard work, determination and consistency. It all depends on how far you want to take it. If you put just as much work into marketing as you do your photography and post process, then the sky is the limit. But, don’t expect results right out of the gate. Just like a brand, engagement takes time to build, even I still have a long way to go. Remember, the only thing that is stopping you is “you.”

Clay CookFacebook | YouTube | Instagram | Twitter

Clay Cook's picture

Portrait and Editorial Photographer, Clay Cook has learned the importance of going the extra mile, after a long, arduous run in the music business. Clay has shaped creative projects with History, Lifetime, Comcast and Papa John's Pizza. In addition, he has photographed assignments for Time, Forbes, The Guardian, W Magazine, USA Today, ESPN and Inc.

Log in or register to post comments

Great article and thanks for posting it! With around 24
facebook follower, I really need all the extra help I can get. I really liked the
part about being humble and selfless… too often I’ve tried to portray myself as
more established than I am to gain attention from potential clients, but I’m
thinking I’m going about it all wrong. Thanks again and I look forward to
seeing where I’m at in a year or so after making some of these changes!

Thank you so much for reading Chris! It's important to perceive yourself as busy and popular, but at the same time humble. Sometimes it's a tough balance to find. Keep up the great work. Check in soon!

Unfortunately, some of the content in this is now outdated. Not necessarily in the strategic marketing angle, but because Facebook just changed its pages to a 6% penetration. Which means, if you have 3,000 followers, it will only show up in the news feed to 6% of them. If does get liked or shared, it may have more reach. Most of the examples in this where from last year when facebook would have a 12-18% reach.

Of course, if you promote a post - then yes, it will have more reach and virality (not a word). But, you have to weigh-in on the pros and cons.

Here's a recent article in Time about the recent Facebook change:

Thanks for reading Brian! Oh yes, we know all about the Facebook organic reach, I believe that 6% is now in the area of 2-4%, however the algorithm still applies! These fundamentals still apply to personal profiles and other networks. It's very important across any social network to post valuable content people can chew on! Cheers my friend!

I think you forgot to add the fact in that you pay for your posts to be sponsored and thats when you get good engagement, I wonder why you would leave something like that out because you do pay for almost 99% of your posts as it appears on my stream quite often under sponsored posts.

Hey Bil, thanks for liking my Facebook page and thanks for reading! I do appreciate that. I do sponsor posts. I use Facebook advertising quite a bit actually, I have a marketing budget. I would never try and hide something like that. I recommend it often. However, I do not sponsor behind the scenes or many of my daily posts.... my engagement is retained and that is exactly what this article concentrates on. Also, this article is not solely meant for Facebook. It's meant for all social networks.

Also, the tone in your articles is a little old now bro. The whole I'm better or know better thing isn't really a good way to connect to your audience, your articles are dry and self serving. You like to promote yourself in each article rather than give the audience substance other than trying to boost yourself and never have anything of substance to talk about other than articles and advice you found online and then re-used in your own name, come out with something NEW.

Bil, I don't steal articles, I don't re-hash anything. If it's been written about, I didn't know. I only write based on my professional experiences, I don't claim to be better than anyone. Bottom line, I'm sorry you don't enjoy my articles. Hopefully, I can change your mind in the future. I'm doing my absolute best to write over 1,000 words with behind the scenes and substance once a week. It's not easy, whatsoever. But luckily, I'm always shooting, I'm always creating! I'm an open book that will always pay it forward, thanks again for checking it out!

There's a great twitter handle @flourishSM that dishes out info like this on a daily basis, really worth following if you want to up your social media game

Awesome! Thanks, I'm going to follow right now!

This is a lovely article. I think that with the right infographics and a good online social media management tool like the ones implored by, journalists, fashion bloggers, and business owners would be able to fully utilize the use of social media to its full potential through content management, infographics and such.

I like the article. Quite true. In my media circle of events I cover here in SoCal we are expected to do a certain amount of SM for hosts of events that we cover, to include doing some tweeting of FB posting while there. When I'm there I am on the clock and don't want to have to keep pulling out my phone and looking at the damn screen, which is when, guaranteed, something would happen or occur that would have made a fantastic shot or acquaintance. Posting while there is a pain in the butt to me, so I use KLOUT prior to the event. I create postings and have the ability to schedule them and have them post at specific times. They don't have to be grand statements, but enough to get the clients name out in the mediasphere. They are a lot like a parrot looking in a mirror, the more they see themselves the happier they are.