There’s something special about a perfectly crafted social media presence that pulls you in – it’s unique and personalized, yet connective and overarching. In the age of social media marketing, how do we recreate this magic over and over again, without sounding redundant?
Visual content drives the web, and photographers know a thing-or-two about visual content. Photographers who invest the time to use powerful photography to build their audience on social platforms are perfectly positioned to create branded visual content for the brands they are passionate about. Raw, real, totally grass roots and detached from corporate marketing of the past.
As we build up to the launch of BrandBrief our new branded social-content platform, we spoke with four ImageBrief Premium and Explorer Plus photographers to find out how they are growing their social media following, how they monetize it, and their thoughts on what the future holds for social media.
How did you increase your following on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter?
Grant Gundersen: “People like seeing good, high quality content. So for me, I prefer to post less and only post really high-quality imagery. This approach seems to work quite well. I have always had the mindset that as long as I am producing imagery that makes people want to get outside and go on adventures then I will be successful. This seems to hold true with growing a social media presence as people tend to gloss over imagery if it doesn’t inspire them. I also have a large editorial presence in various outdoor publications, especially in regards to snow sports and mountain biking, which has created a lot of followers for me as well.”
Jessie Brinkman Evans: “Over the course of a year or so I gained just over 10k followers through documenting my day-to-day life and then later, my travels. One morning I woke up in Copenhagen and my Instagram immediately crashed! I thought I’d been hacked, but it turns out that a really lovely guy had suggested to Instagram that I be added to the suggested user list for the course of a month.”
Paul Zizka: “Regardless of the platform, great strategies to gather a following on Instagram and social media – and ones that have worked for me – are to post compelling photography and strong images on a consistent basis. You also need to take the time to commit each these and do them well – when a post goes out, you need to keep people engaged, respond to comments and questions and allow time for interaction. Otherwise, it’s best to stay true to what you like to create. I’m fortunate that what I shoot and publish, people respond to. I could easily photograph subjects that are less mainstream and more obscure, but then I think the following would not be as large.”
How did you start monetizing your social media following?
Mat Rick: “I do make money through my Instagram, though there’s no set formula. Sometimes a brand will simply pay me to post a photo, other times it’s a more involved partnership. Brands approach me all the time, though it’s often a chore to sort through those brands looking to get something for free, and those brands who are actually willing to pay for your work and influence.”
What is your opinion on where social media is headed in the future?
Mat Rick: “I think like many other forms of social media, brands are starting to realize that the number of followers or likes is just a small part of the total equation. I’ve always viewed social media as an online form of communication and storytelling, and I think brands will start seeking out those influencers who not only reach a sizable, relevant audience, but also can tell a good story through their content. Luckily, most photographers try to do that with their images already, placing them in a key position to court brands looking to convey their messages to a new audience.”
Joe Schmelzer: “This is a hard one. There are so many outlets. Its hard to keep you and stay fresh. I think anything you do to constantly put your name and brand and images out there can only help – especially with awareness.”
Grant Gundersen: “Social media is and will continue to be the future of marketing. Sure, there will always be a place for the large print and outdoor campaigns, but nothing offers the level of engagement that social media does. Therefore the demand for providing truly authentic, high quality imagery is only going to increase. I feel that the key to this is to stick to an area that you specialize in and try to be the best possible provider of that type of imagery, versus trying to be a jack of all trades. The larger your social media presence is, the more attractive you will be to clients looking to increase there own social media presence.”