We’ve all heard it and probably noticed it first hand: social media is destroying our happiness and is directly related to instilling FOMO, the "fear of missing out" in people. We photographers are no exception. So how do we defeat an enemy that lives within our own minds?
Most social platforms are highly visual and to add to that, these form a huge part of most photographers’ marketing strategy. As photographers, we've become accustomed to being hungry for likes, comments, re-posts, shares, and anything that might indicate the growth of our brands. But this also leads us to become addicted to social approval. With social media, we now see first-hand, the instant reaction of our audience to our work. With websites and other offline channels, our audiences might have had similar reactions, but we never witnessed it. Subtly or not so subtly, we are constantly pushed by our social-approval loving brains to tweak our work to gather more likes, to create art that will get more comments, to edit in a way which appeases the masses. We’ve all been there. When the number of followers on your Instagram account is a measure of how successful a photographer you might be, it’s hard not to be affected.
Then there’s the competition and the social media stars. I see ten photographers who have different styles to mine and have more followers and more engagement on their posts. What do I do? I create a doubt in my head: perhaps I should create images like theirs to get ahead. Perhaps I’m missing out on all the success because of my style. Sound familiar?
So what do we do to counter the far-reaching impact of social-media induced FOMO? Cutting social media out completely is not possible for most of us given how interlinked it has become with attracting potential customers. I believe, we must begin by raising our own awareness. Also, here are some possible steps we can take to reduce the grip of social media on our sub-conscious minds:
Automate Social Media Marketing
There are a host of bots and software to partially or completely automate this process. Along with reducing our time spent on social media, these might also help remind us that the number of followers and amount of engagement are down to marketing principles rather than our photography style or skills.
Expand Our Understanding of Marketing
If we are going to be marketers for our photography brands, we need to get better at understanding marketing. How do consumers reach our websites? How do they navigate the online maze to pick us? What makes them pick us? Who are our prospective customers? I believe understanding our business and marketing processes better can help reduce our reliance on social media and consequently reduce a big source of FOMO.
Expand Our List of Resources
Let’s check out blogs, magazines, and websites for inspiration rather than relying on social media alone. Let us go watch films, read books, practice using our imagination, go to galleries, and exhibitions. And remember, some of the best photographic work out there can’t even be displayed on social media due to various constraints. Let’s keep reminding ourselves of this and seek out variety.
These are just some of my ideas related to reducing FOMO induced specifically by social media. In the next part of this series, let’s discuss the role of gear acquisition syndrome, lack of education and photography awards contributing to FOMO in photographers.
Have you tried battling FOMO as a photographer? What have you changed in your approach towards social media to regain your creative mojo? Please share your experiences and suggestions in the comments section below and let’s begin a movement towards a happier photography community.