Should You Post Photos On Social Media Or Your Blog?
There are plenty of places to share your photos online, but which one is the best for your needs?
Before you attempt to become the King of Instagram or the Queen of Pinterest, spend a moment or two thinking about how the traffic you get on social media is going to help you as a photographer.
Are you looking for social interaction, trying to find clients or earn money from sales? Social media and your blog both play a part. Having a strategy for social media and your blog can help you do a better job of achieving your goals, whether you're marketing a business or just interacting with your fellow photographers.
It's a tough question. Most photographers think about where they are most likely to have someone view their photos. Views are fine if you're not in business. However, you can't get paid with views. If you're trying to attract paying customers for your photos, you need to develop a plan that converts those viewers into clients.
When deciding to post photos on social media or your blog, think about your desired outcome and develop your plan to achieve that result.
Sharing photos online is ultimately a marketing strategy. This question boils down to whether you want to use search or social to achieve your objectives.
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PHOTO FLUNKY – Episode 3
I’m your host, William Beem. Welcome to the Photo Flunky Show, episode number three.
Today we’re going to ask the question: Should you post your photos on social media or are they better off on your blog?
Hi, welcome to the Photo Flunky Show. You can find us at photoflunky.com
That’s part of my website at williambeem.com
Alright, so this is a question that most of us want to look into. We’ve got our photos, we need to be able to share them with people and what you really need to think of first, whether it’s going to be online with social media or online with your blog is what is your goal? I mean are you looking at sharing with family and friends? Are you trying to attract clients, customers, people who will want to pay you for either a print or a service or something that you’re going to do?
Or the other part of it is, are you competing with your other fellow photographers? I mean there’s a good sense of community among photographers. We all like to see what each other is doing and it helps us up our game, it helps us think about some of the things that we could be doing and a little healthy competition is good.
OK, so let’s take a look at some of the benefits of social media. Here’s the nice part. There are plenty of eyes on social platforms. You’re going to find millions of people out there that are potential for your audience, whether they are going to be somebody who admires your photos, somebody who’s going to become a friend or somebody who’s going to become a customer. It’s a really good place to make friends and start relationships.
And also, if you’re in business it’s a great place to use it as a funnel to drive traffic to your blog.
The problem with social media though is that your images, your posts, the things that you share are temporary. They can be gone in moments or a day. It depends on which platform you’re looking at.
So if you post something on Twitter about twenty minutes later, no-one knows it was there. On Facebook you can have an audience with a following of hundreds or thousands or larger groups of people, but not all of them are going to see what you post. Not only just because they’re not on at the same time that you’re posting, but because Facebook simply isn’t going to show it to everyone that’s on there.
You can use the social media platforms to share and if that’s the extent of your goal, that’s perfect. And by social media I’m going to include sites like 500px and Flickr. There are great communities there, there are wonderful opportunities to share and if that’s your goal, I don’t think you really need to go to the time and trouble of setting up a blog.
But if you do want to take your stuff further, you’ve got a few benefits of going with a blog.
First off, it has only your voice. There is no competition for attention. You don’t have to worry about somebody clicking on a link that’s going to take them to someone else’s photo or someone else’s site unless you put it there.
You can optimize your content for search engine traffic and if you’re trying to bring people in, this is a good thing to look for.
Photos in Google and other search engines don’t really get along, but there are little tips that you can do to try and get people to see your photographs and one of the things that most photographers with a blog do is they’ll not only put in the little alt text images that Google can read when they are searching for photographs (it gives them a little description of what it’s about), but put it on a blog post that is very descriptive and long about your subject.
So for example, one of my most sought after photos that people contact me for to license or use is a Washington DC of the Capitol Building sunset photo. It’s one of my favourites that I get contacted about all the time, but that’s also because it’s on my blog with text in there that makes it easy for someone to find if they are going through a search engine.
The same photo is available on Facebook, it’s available on Flickr. I never get contacted from those sites. I do know a few people who have been contacted on Twitter for some sales, but by and large when I get contacted by someone who is looking to give me money for prints or licensed usage of one of my photographs, it comes from my blog because I’ve been able to optimize it for search engine traffic.
The other side of this is that blog content shared to social media can have more impact than if you just post it straight to social media. What I mean by that are some of the technologies like Twitter cards and Open Graph. So for example, if I paste the link from one of my blog posts into Twitter the Twitter card with the summary with the large image, there’s a little trick that you can do and if you’ve got Yoast SEO you can put it in there into Social and just tell it to use Summary with Large Image. So it gives you a few different ways that can lead back to your blog.
The most obvious is the summary is the Twitter text that you type. The large photograph will be there, but underneath that there will be the first part of your blog post. In other words, the first couple of sentences are going to be there along with your blog url and your name. So it gives a little bit of a different look than if you just put the photograph straight to Twitter and it gives more things that someone could click on to bring them back to your site.
Open Graph helps Facebook build a profile. So if people are visiting your site and that gets put in their Open Graph, other people who are looking at them can see where they’ve been. All these little things build up to bring people back to your site.
One of the things that I really like about posting my photos on my blog vs social media is that I can be in control of the size and quality of the image on there.
Facebook is notorious for compressing images heavily so you may not have the best quality image that’s showing up on social media. If you do it on your own blog, you’re in charge of that. There is a there is a trade off, of course, between the size of your image versus how long it’s going to show on your display and how long it’s going to take to download so you’ve got to be careful that you don’t post something that’s so large that it takes too long to download it and nobody really wants to come there. But for the most part you can get better looking images on your blog than you’re going to get on social media.
Another thing to consider on your own website and your own blog, you set the terms of service.
Over the past few years there has been all sorts of hand wringing, yelling, screaming and so forth about Facebook and its terms of service and other things and basically a lot of photographers have looked at that and said, “They’re claiming rights to own our photographs!”
It’s not one hundred percent quite correct. They don’t own your photographs, but you do give them a license to use it as they want to. It’s a transferrable license which means theoretically, Facebook could take photographs that are uploaded to its site, sell them to a third party as a stock agency if they wanted to and that would be completely legal because those are in the terms of service that every subscriber has agreed to in order to be present on Facebook.
A lot of photographers definitely get upset about that, but for the most part, Facebook hasn’t done that yet and the key word is yet. Are they going to end up having a stock agency of some sort? I’m not sure if that’s in their business plan. I don’t think it is, but the capability is there because of you posting your photos online and you’ve already signed the terms of agreement by clicking here and acknowledged what you probably didn’t read. You’ve agreed they can do that.
The other concern with a blog is, it’s not spam if they come to you. In other words, when you’re posting out to social media, if you do it too much people are going to get turned off. They’re going to say, Oh, you’re just spamming us! You’re giving us the same message over and over and over again! It gets tiresome for people.
If people are coming back to your site though, it’s not spam. They can look at as much as they want to or leave whenever they want to, but they are your guests, they are your visitors and they are interested in your message. That’s a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of, that you can’t necessarily get from a social media platform.
And to me this is the most important benefit of having a blog. You can convert visitors into customers, clients, subscribers. In other words, they’ve come to your site. What action do you want them to take? Do you want them to contact you about a photography session? Do you want them to buy a print? Do you want them to sign up for your email list?
You can give them the opportunity to do something right then and there.
Let’s assume that you’ve got a blog, you’ve got social media. How do you make the most of it? The first thing: don’t cross post.
Every time you come up with a blog post the urge is to write something up once, put it in each platform and send it out to the masses and do it multiple times.
The problem with that is you can screw up by posting the same thing to all social media platforms at the same time and that’s because features from one platform may look out of place on another.
For example, your Facebook audience doesn’t want to see a request to retweet this post. Your Instagram audience isn’t going to ‘like’ this. They might ‘heart’ it, but the general consensus is to use each social media platform the way that it was intended to do. And that means you can craft your message. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t send the same general thought or query to each platform. But you want to customize it for your audience.
So for example, tailor your message to the platform you are using. Facebook gives you a lot more room to write. So use it to be engaging. Twitter is very concise. You can use that to create interest to click a link to your site, just like I said before with the summary with large image. And you just want to write things down differently every time you post them out there. And this is something that I’m starting to address and engage with my own social media platform is you need to come up with something unique.
Chances are that your audience on social media may not have seen what you sent off earlier in the morning if they’re logged on in the afternoon and that’s one of the reason why on Twitter, particularly, you’re going to send out things two or three times a day just because your audience is going to be on at different times of the day. You give everybody a chance to see it.
But if you’ve got the same person who’s seeing it all day long, they don’t want to see the same thing every time, so mix it up a little bit. Come up with different headlines for every post.
Anyways, those are my thoughts and opinions. I would love to hear yours. You can leave comments on this and every other episode. You can go to photoflunky.com and you can find the show notes for this episode at williambeem.com/episode3
Thank you for listening to the Photo Flunky Show. I am William Beem. If you’d like to stay in touch with us, it’s easy to do. Just send a text message to 33444 and use the word FLUNKY. There are no additional costs from us. Just only whatever your carrier charges. And I’ll keep you up to date on photography and blogging information. You’re going to get a welcome message back from williambeem.com
If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know at williambeem.com/episode3
Thank you very much! I really appreciate you. Pretty soon we’re going to get this show on iTunes and I’ll be looking for you there.