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I think it’s safe to say that virtually everyone who posts a photo to social media wants their photo to be noticed. But not just noticed — they want it to be liked and appreciated. Indeed, the one who posts the photo wants to be noticed, liked and appreciated. The problem is, this has become increasingly challenging in an age when social media is largely comprised of attention seekers. It’s not that a desire to bring attention to your work is a bad thing, but given the circumstances (the basic nature of social media isn’t going to change anytime soon), you have to understand that it is an uphill battle. Fortunately, the challenge is in no way insurmountable.
Keep reading for a few practical ideas that will help you stay relevant while attempting to navigate the relentless social media landscape.
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Hit Them With Your Best Shots
Always post your best work. I will concede that this isn’t the most straightforward approach to bringing in “likes” on your images; I’m sure you’ve seen those accounts that are flooded with rather insipid content, yet garner thousands of followers and views, while you post really good stuff and have only racked up 200 followers. You have to accept the reality show/popularity contest element that undergirds social media, which means actually being good at photography is no guarantee that you’ll become “Instagram famous.” Don’t worry about that, though. No matter how modest the size of your audience, you can rest assured that they will appreciate your work. The appeal of collecting as many likes as possible is understandable from a very primal perspective, but I’d argue that genuine appreciation is far more valuable.
Stick to Your Style
Style is deeper than what you do to your images in post-processing. Style is ultimately the function of numerous diverse but related factors: how you pre-visualize, frame and compose your shots; your subject matter, choice of focal length and the mood you portray; the environment you work in, how you use light and, yes, the way you post-process your shots. It’s fine to experiment, and minor elements of your style may change a bit over time, but as long as you’re crafting something that is true to your personal vision you will attract a stable audience.
Use Your Resources Wisely
Time, money and intelligence are three of the most important components that factor into this point. We all have things we want and need to do each day and only so much time to try to accomplish everything. If photography is among your priorities, then you’re probably going to want to be smart about how much time you spend loitering on social media. Make sure you spend as much time as possible actually doing photography.
Assuming you’re like every other normal person in the world, you don’t have a cash tree growing in your yard. So constantly upgrading your gear is a financial burden not worth taking on. Not only is it a poor use of funds, it’s potentially a waste of your creative intelligence. If you do have money to burn, use it on photography books, traveling or attending workshops — something that will contribute to your creative growth.
Anything that you can do to improve as a photographer, do it. The payoff may not be immediate, but if creating distinctive photos is your goal you should be willing to do whatever it takes. Your social media followers will appreciate not just the work you put out but also your dedication to it.
This may seem to go against some of what I discussed above, but stick with me. If you want to make the most of your social media accounts, you have to be engaged with other users. When you comment, make your comments meaningful; when others comment on your work, be sure to recognize their comments. Social media, at its best, functions as a vibrant and inspiring community where photographers can share, learn and grow. But the key word here is community — you can’t expect others to pay attention to your work if you’re not willing to reciprocate.
Of course you can research what time of day is best to post and try to glean deeper insights from various metrics, all aimed at getting more eyes on your work. There’s surely some valuable data to be found there, but none of it matters much in the absence of worthwhile content. Just be true to yourself and consistently put your best stuff on display. The eyes will follow.