Shourya Pratap Singh Chauhan used Photoshop to simulate himself living a life as a billionaire, which was all for show. His following started growing from 200 to over 20,000 and it's mainly due to this portrayal that people started following and sending him direct messages. This matters in a big way. Firstly, have we become so gullible to believe it, and secondly, what can we as photographers and video makers learn from this for our own businesses?
His pictures on Instagram are typically what you can expect from entrepreneurs and life coaches marketing their skills. He's edited himself into photos posing with Miranda Kerr and Emily Ratajkowski and adding descriptions like "Be kind, stay humble." He doesn't do this anymore and only did it for a project and as an artist. For me, it's amazing how his following grew.
It's not just the life coaches that do this. Photographers also portray their lifestyle in a dramatic way. There are photographers with social network followers of over a million users and we've fallen for the idea that this is what defines success. Sure, these guys get great work, and their bank accounts look better than most of ours, but jeez, fame is definitely not the reason I got into photography, and even though it's nice to get the likes on Instagram and be recognized by people as someone who takes great pictures, I think photography is about the work and not the photographer or life you portrait as a photographer.
Maintaining a social presence is important for us in the visual arts, but just like with video, having all the skills and the transitions down and being able to use them in Premiere Pro or After Effects doesn't mean anything if you can't capture the shots that evoke emotion or moves someone in some way or another. That's what we as photographers and video makers do. You need to do the work. Only then will you build a following anyway.
So I see the social platforms as add-ons to my work as a photographer. It's fun and a good way to get inspiration. It's also a good way to keep on the pulse of the industry you are focusing on. But for me, firstly, it's about getting the shots I want, and making them into something that moves people.