How I Became Socially Exhausted
I've been thinking a lot about social media lately. I see fellow photographers I follow struggling to keep up with the demands of all these social networks, constantly comparing themselves to the other photographers they see, and feeling in turn, unworthy. Social media has that effect sometimes. When you compare your day-to-day life and business, the nitty gritty "I have no idea what I'm doing" of it, to other people's social media highlight reels, it is inevitable that you'll feel sub par.
As for me, I usually don't have that problem. I've been pretty selective about the photographers that I follow and instead of comparing myself to people who have been working at this a lot longer than I have, I try to use those posts to inspire me. I study the beautiful photos to find out where the light is coming from, or how that pose works, or what kind of editing style I want to strive for.
My problem lately is that I've just been overwhelmed with SO many social media options.
You see, I come from a really cool generation :) where we remember life before internet, but at the same time, were the young middle schoolers who were discovering that we could chat with our friends online and join Myspace and connect. Then in high school, a thing called Facebook came about and we thought why would anyone leave Myspace??? Well, this was a cool new site that only college students could join and connect with each other. It was like a secret social media club, and we were very excited to join it as soon as we got our .edu email addresses.
Facebook really was IT for a good while. There were blogs, which I have always been a part of, but Facebook is where I went to connect with people, especially those I missed from home and high school. It, and AIM (RIP AIM) really helped me cope with my homesickness when I moved away to college. I think it was my senior year of college that Twitter came out, or at least became a lot more popular. I had a professor telling us how Twitter was going to change the world. We had an entire lesson on how to use Twitter to teach in our classrooms. And at the same time everyone was laughing that anyone would ever seriously use the word "tweet" in a sentence (kind of like, the ridiculous idea that Apple wanted to turn their computers into a bulky pad to carry around. SO IMPRACTICAL!).
Fast forward again and there's a social media outlet for everyone. It's just a given and I think it's part of why smart phones are so popular and feel like complete necessities. You don't need a smart phone to call or text, but how else are you going to check your Facebook or Instagram that picture of your ferret?
Here is how social media consumes me... I wake up in the morning, check my phone to see what time it is, and oh I have 17 Facebook notifications. I browse through those and a lot of people are linking to Instagrams or Tweets and I'll click on some of them taking me over to a new world full of people's thoughts and some inspiring photography and oh hey a new blog entry I'd like to read! Twenty minutes go by and I'm still in bed "checking what time it is" and I get mad at myself and roll out of bed to go accomplish something.
Well, a large part of my business is my blog. I'm thankful for that and it's a great tool for me. So I sit down and write a blog post. This usually takes less than an hour, depending on how many photos I include. But then I have to have a snappy photo to "head" my post. Why? Because Facebook shows more people my post if there is an image to share. But wait, then I have to take that image, flip it vertically and pin it to Pinterest. It has to be vertical, because Pinterest gives double the space to vertical images. So after I've posted my blog in those places I go to Google+ and post it there because that's supposed to increase my SEO (search engine optimization). Then I get on my phone, download a photo from Facebook, save it, square it, and then post it to Instagram with lots of hashtags so everyone can find their dream #weddingphotographer if they happen to be looking for me in the next hour or so. Then I copy that post over to Twitter as well.
But wait, young people don't use Facebook anymore. It's not cool because parents and grandparents are on there and Facebook's most loyal users (my generation) are filling the newsfeed with pictures of their babies and posts about their job woes. The real world is no fun and teenagers are smart enough to know to stay away from all that nonsense! So new social media starts. I recently joined We Heart It and Tumblr because after research and interviews with people cooler than me, these are the up and coming Facebooks of today.
So that makes... Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, We Heart It, Tumblr, and my own blog that I'm trying to keep up with. That's crazy. And time consuming.
And I can't even tell if it's worth it.
To me, Facebook is always worth it. I find nearly all of my clients through Facebook. It's worked wonderfully for me. However, nothing else on that list has done anything to grow my business so far. I had one pin go slightly viral on Pinterest, it's always pinned a few times a day and sends lots of people to my couponing post, but it has nothing to do with photography so it hasn't been beneficial.
I am socially exhausted and what I ask of you is to please comment with the social media you prefer and if you're a small business owner as well, please let me know what social media tool has worked the best for your business! I think I'm stretching myself too thin and would like to focus on something with the potential to work.