A lot can be said for the power of social media. In fact, many of today’s most successful photographers owe a lot to the beasts that we lovingly refer to as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. But are these platforms that we all invest so much of our time into the final nails in the coffin of a professional photograph industry that was built less on savvy social media skill and the latest filter packs and more on actual relationships, constancy, and hard work?
October is an exciting month. Photo Plus Expo 2018 is October 25-27,and for the first time, I’ll be flying across the country to take it all in. In fact, I’ll be a part of a keynote debate that’s been given the catchy title: “Social Media is Ruining Photography”. Maybe I’ll see you there. The debate will consist of two teams, one arguing the pros of social media for photography, and the other arguing the cons. I’ll be sitting on the cons side of the debate with Founder and CEO of Visura.co, Adriana Teresa Letorney, while Allen Murabayashi and Rhynna Santos will be arguing the pros.
It’s not that I’m completely against social media. I respect each of the current platforms for what they are, but over the last several years, I’ve taken a drastic step back in terms of my engagement on social media. For years, I had spent an untold number of hours on the various platforms marketing my latest work and trying to drum up new business from the tiny town in Arizona where I reside. It wasn’t until I considered the value of my time and the lack of return on that investment that I decided to focus more on relationships I had already established and less on ones that only existed online (after all, the key to a prosperous business is prosperous business relationships). This proved to pay off, and word of mouth combined with a growing portfolio have proved to generate more actual business for me. While I still manage inquiries that I receive on Facebook and Instagram, I’d estimate that only 20 percent of those inquiries lead to a paying job. On the other hand, nearly 100 percent of the inquires made through my website, emails, phone calls, or in person lead to booking a job.
Ask yourself a few questions. How much time do you spend on social media? Is it hours per week? Hours per day? One study suggests the average American spends roughly two hours per day across the various platforms. Taking into consideration the value of your time and the average hourly income in the US of just over 24 bucks, we’re talking about an investment of over $330.00 USD per week or $1320.00 USD per month made by the average user. It’s easy to assume that a professional trying to market their services may invest even more time.
All of this doesn’t mean I stepped away from social media completely. I still babysit two Instagram accounts and three Facebook accounts. That’s like having five children to look after for some people. How do I manage them all? Honestly, I don’t. I’m terrible at it, but that’s the world we live in currently. One where trends are driven through social media at no cost to the consumer and having a presence online is almost mandatory.
What does this all of mean for the professional photographer? When it comes to photographers’ use of social media, do you feel there are more pros or cons? Give me some fuel for this relevant debate by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.
Lead Image by Lisa Fotios from Pexels, used under Creative Commons.