Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The social media lie (or the truth is hard to tweet)

[gallery]Social media is a great way for marketing. Social media can help your business. Fact.
Er, no. Social media is at best fun, at worst a tedious distraction.

Now, I’m all for using twitter as information source or Facebook to look at how friends you hardly know are doing.

But the harsh reality is that if you have a product to sell or a service to offer, social media will have no impact whatsoever on your business.

Yes, you can go to conferences, seminars and training days where various organisations and business support outfits will put forward social media success stories.

But the reality is that these organisations cling to these lone ‘successes’ to advocate how brilliant social media is. The truth is different.

Nobody will come in from the cold with a commission because you have tweeted until your #hashtag has wilted. No-one will contact you with work on account of you having 1,000 Facebook lovers.

Those who have 10,000 Twitter followers are the one’s who have experienced success some other way, with social media popularity a happy consequence.

As a photographer, these are the opportunities that have come my way courtesy of social media (and other online listing sites): 

Facebook: Big fat zero
Twitter: Big fat zero
Audioboo: Big fat zero
LinkedIn: Big fat zero
JournalistDirectory.com (listing): Big fat zero
ThePhotoGroup.co.uk (photographer collaboration project): Big Fat zero
Lightstalkers.org (documentary photography listing): Big fat zero
Journalism.co.uk (listing): Big fat zero
Creative Lancashire (council-run business support): Big fat zero
The Long Lens blog: Photography-related products to review, free canvas prints, requests to contribute to other websites (unpaid)
(photo website): Dozens of requests to use images from councils, PR companies, corporate and consumer magazines – majority have been turned down due to ‘budget restraints.’*

NUJ Freelance Directory (listing): Half a dozen commissions over 15 years
Adobe Photographers Directory 
(listing): Big fat zero (and I’m not even sure if this is still going)

There are probably other listing sites I have graced, long-since forgotten.
*Budget restraints = we want to use your image but don’t want to pay you.

As a photographer, having a website – and not one which requires a series of mouse clicks and clicking on the cross FOR EVERY PHOTO – is crucial. But a website is pointless if you don’t actively try and push people (and I mean prospective clients) towards it.

The best way to this is by traditional marketing – business card, face-to-face meeting, direct mail, phone call and perhaps even email (but that is another discussion altogether).

Now, social media can be used as an information source for journalists, with Tweetdeck leading the way.

But ffs lol don’t go wasting your time trying to get work through a Facebook page or by producing an endless stream of tweets. Life is passing you by.


NOTE: Journalist and multimedia expert David Higgerson has a very, very comprehensive list of social media tools here.