$ocial Media

March 15th, 2016

Not being a great user of social media personally,  I find it mildly offensive when people bump into me in the street because they’re too intent on reading their screens.

However when I was their age, I used to bump into people as I hurried down the street with my nose buried in a book — so where’s the difference?

The difference is that the boors who bump into me today are communicating with their own user-defined communities, which definitely does not include portly old gentlemen meandering down the street.

But as the great New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner pointed out, ‘On the Internet, nobody knows you’e a dog.’ So I don’t know if these hurrying, bustling, busy people might be picture editors, photographers, or any other members of a community which could be interested in fotoLibra, in the wonderful variety of images we hold, and in the great opportunities for reaching picture buyers around the world.

Shortly after we started up fotoLibra we approached what we recognised as social media blithely and without fear. We set up this fotoLibra Pro Blog, we set up Facebook and LinkedIn identities, we fed them with content and … not a lot happened. So we asked around, and people told us “Oh, you should be on

  • Picasa
  • Google +
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • Snapchat
  • Flickr
  • Twitter

and so on and so on and so on.

Keeping a visible profile on a dozen or or so social media sites (all American, of course) is hard maintenance for a small English-speaking (as opposed to American-speaking) business. In fact it’s almost a full-time job.

But it’s not impossible. So I started checking them out. The first one I looked at was Picasa.They closed it down today, Tuesday 15th March, after 13 years.

That would have been annoying, pumping thought and effort into something which has the cord yanked just as you get it up and running.

All these SocMed sites seem to follow the same pattern — smart young entrepreneurs start them up, they achieve quick success, a larger corporation buys them out, it doesn’t have the same drive and vision as the founders, the division lurches from new initiative to desperate new initiative until the enterprise is quietly remaindered. Whatever happened to Bebo? Myspace? They still exist, albeit as husks of their former selves. Friends Reunited? It was closed down 18 days ago.

When Facebook went public, 18% of the listed value of the company would buy you Belgravia. At the time, I commented I’d rather have Belgravia. Now more teenagers are signing up to Snapchat than Facebook, and who knows what they’ll be joining in 25 years time? Whereas Belgravia will still be there.

All this was partly prompted by coming across a New York photographer who started taking photos in 2008, now has 400,000 followers on Facebook and no, she doesn’t post naked selfies. I am lost in envy and admiration. My NYC chums have never heard of her. fotoLibra rather fewer followers on Facebook. Our challenge is to multiply ours a thousandfold.

Whether the SocMeds are on the rise, or in graceful decline, the more people who are aware of what fotoLibra offers, the better it will be for contributors, picture buyers and of course us.

We’re asking around again. Naturally, all advice will be gratefully received!

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19 Responses to “$ocial Media”

  1. Rob Lawrence says:

    Hi Social Media has an amazing magnification of the messages you seek to get out. The links to the major ones such as FB twitter Etc will improve the placement in search engines they don’t have to have huge time commitments to maintain. However they can have a short shelf life. Younger folks will always be quicker off the mark than us older ones ( I am 66) to find and change platforms. But it can be a powerful tool
    My examples

    https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Lawrence–376169235908408/?ref=hl

    http://www.viewbug.com/member/roblawrence

    so if you want to stay up with the play learn the moves
    but avoid the sidewalk when reviewing the social media feedback . I always leave my phone on mute so I can control when I engage it cheers rob

    • Paul Moore says:

      Well said, Rob.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      All I need is familiarity with the conventions and the controls. And only practice and experience will do that. And of course the ability to decipher the stats that come flooding in and the courses to take as a result. Some people make a good living by doing just that.

      I can read a balance sheet, but only in the same way that I can ‘read’ music — slowly and painfully, note by note. Now I have to learn different skills to broadcast the fotoLibra message. As you so rightly say, ‘if you want to stay up with the play learn the moves’.

      Thanks very much Rob, really useful. I won’t be bumping into you on the pavement then!

  2. Bev says:

    Hi Gwyn,

    As I am not very computer literate, I wonder if you could help me out w.r.t. Picasa closing down. All my photos are in picasa and I don’t know which application to use now or how to proceed.

    Kind regards
    Bev

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Bev, I’m so sorry for you but we can only help with fotoLibra support. Google must have given Picasa subscribers some sort of help line, surely?

      • Rob Lawrence says:

        try Viewbug Bev
        View bug.com

        Or set up a face book page for your photography

        3rd option Check out Hail.to a new system to create a community

        cheers

  3. Paul Moore says:

    Hi Gwyn,

    As you know, I’ve already posted a comment on your Facebook page, but I’ll post it here too in the hope that it will provoke ideas:

    By now, you should definitely have more than only 458 followers on Facebook. I notice that there’s little activity on your part, and little involvement on the part of members. I rarely receive notifications that you’ve posted something. That’s because you don’t post that often and you don’t give people a reason to be involved. Posting irregularly causes people to forget, and people forget easily these days. They are too self-absorbed. You have to hold their attention. It’s a sad sign of the times. Involvement needs to be instigated. You need to give people a reason; an incentive. Facebookers are lazy by nature. They get bored easily and quickly. It’s only certain age groups that use it regularly, and even then, for reasons that seem mundane. I’m 61, very computer literate, and still believe that Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with people who are scattered around the world. My mother is 92 and uses Facebook all the time. I’m from the UK but currently live in New York. New York has many thousands of photographers. A few are excellent; some are very good; most are mediocre to say the least. FotoLibra is great, but even as a photographer, I can’t afford to join at the moment. Maybe you could offer potential members a discount (via Facebook), and maybe you could create photography competitions with prizes. Get people involved. You could also work with companies like Pixsy.com. That would help to spread the word. I can put you in touch with the owner, if you like. I’ll give it further thought and get back to you if I have more ideas.

    Finally, not many people ‘socialize’ by email these days. Social networking sites (like Facebook) are the chosen tools for this. Some people (like me) still choose to receive notifications by email, but most communicate via apps on their mobile phones. Does FotoLibra have an app? If not, you need one to keep up with the times. It may well enhance your business, as well.

    I would hedge a bet that Facebook will outlast many of the other social networking sites, so it’s worth sticking with. I would, however, not use it as a promoting or advertising platform. I’d use it to instigate involvement. After all, if people want to search for something, they’ll use Google, not Facebook.

    Just think out loud 🙂

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Thank you Paul. You’ve given us much to think about. In addition to my Facebook response, here are some more thoughts.

      fotoLibra regularly communicates with some 12,000 contributors and 8,000 picture editors (picture buyers) by bulk email. It is not satisfactory. As you say, people — not just Facebookers — are lazy by nature. I get daily emails from legitimate organisations which I never read but I’m just too indolent to unsubscribe from them.

      For us the first imperative is to reach our contributors in order to tell them about Picture Calls and other items they expect to hear from us as fotoLibra members. And as I said the email process is flawed — the main free providers like Virgin, Hotmail, Verizon etc. routinely block us as spammers. We have to go to them cap in hand to prove we are not spammers, so they relent and allow us through, then a couple of months later another provider blacklists us and off we go again.

      Our emails are Calls to Action, and they are active. They prompt contributors. An app is essentially passive — it sits there. I have bought many apps; I use them; I gradually cease using them; they sit on my phone; I delete them. They do not squeak in protest.

      The TuneInRadio app reminds me of its presence in such an irritating way that I’m thinking of deleting it. But it’s useful when I’m out of the country. There’s a fine line to walk between reminder and irritation, and so far our emails are on the right side. We post messages and Picture Calls on each contributors’ home page on the fotoLibra site, but obviously we don’t expect people to log into fotoLibra to check them every day.

      It’s a continuing problem, with rolling solutions. I think you’re right about Facebook; it will be here for the duration in one form or another.

      We’re going to give all of them a go, and gauge the reactions. First we have to plan what we’re going to say and when, which will remove much of the spontaneity. Perhaps we’ll be recompensed by greater traffic. That’s the idea, anyway.

  4. Ian Hooker says:

    So Fotolibra re looking at using Facebook to publicize it’s Fotolibra site.
    Hang on, isn’t Rob Lawrence should use Fotolibra to publicize his Facebook site!
    Ooops, I’ve just publicized him again!!!
    And, BTW, one of my sites is ianhooker.co.uk
    I’ll let you know how many extras hits I get this week.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      We’re looking at EVERYTHING to publicise fotoLibra and our contributors, Rob and Ian alike, the more the merrier.

      I like your Hudson Terraplane, Ian — but I narrowly escaped being signed up as an Avon Bloke. That should add to your hits!

  5. Antony McCallum says:

    Spot on Gwyn – and social media use is strongly segmented across social and age groups. I know a couple of social media engineers who worked full-time on behalf of companies to extend their reach into a plethora of these media outlets or you can work all day on it yourself – but why bother (I can’t the effort for return doesn’t make sense for me). I’m going to more and more conferences where the first action of the day is to ensure everyone has the ‘right’ hashtag so they can tell everyone how good the day is without knowing so because they are only listening to every third sentence. Maybe the best apps are those which upload your tweet about ‘how pleasant breakfast was today at conference’ to every media outlet simultaneously. The problem is you’ve got to wade through a million notes about ‘breakfast’ to find the one that tells you there’s an event worth photographing just down the road.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Thank you Antony. That’s a scary but recognisable world, where the marketing is more visible than the product. It puts me off, personally, but I have to set aside my prejudices and try to do what is best for fotoLibra, our clients and contributors. If that involves tweeting about fotoLibra’s Friday Free Croissant Coffee Break (which really happens!) then I will have to.

  6. Nick Fowler says:

    Hello Gwyn.
    Thank you for another interesting post. Like you, my partner, (who is a website designer) and myself, struggle to keep up with the Social Media side of our businesses. Things seem to be changing faster than ever, but I would like to give a thumbs-up for Google+. I have spent a fair bit of my marketing budget on Google Adwords, with mixed results, however I’m very pleased with Google+. It is very easy to set-up, you need to post interesting stories/updates/information every so often, (1/week/month) and always include images. For most of the keywords associated with my photography, wedding, event, portraits etc, my Google+ posts appear on the first page – for FREE!

    You’ve taken the time to craft an interesting Fotolibra blog – just share it on Google+ too, (with images!).
    Regards,
    Nick.
    Nick Fowler Photography

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      I have a personal account on Google+ but very few of my contacts can be found there. That’s not an issue — this is for fotoLibra, not me, and your recommendation is very useful. I’ll give it a go — and perhaps we’ll follow each other!

  7. Scott says:

    Creating media, be it still, video, or audio, is production. It seems to me that most the social media outlets are geared toward consuming media. Massive amounts of funny, loud, colorful media.

    While possible to “get a following” I think this pool of customers or fans is a mile wide and an inch deep. Will they truly appreciate what they are seeing? or will they simple continue scrolling and quickly forget what they saw a few moments previous?

    Do not mistake activity for accomplishment. Use these outlets merely as business cards with information. Take them away from the racket, engage them in a meaningful way.

    Your website, An email, a phone call, a face to face.

    Real. Personal. Meaningful.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      I like that a lot. “A mile wide and an inch deep.” You voice what I fear, but I don’t think our present customer interface is working well enough for our customers. We email our 12,000 contributors and 8,000 picture editors regularly. We telephone the picture editors. They seldom allow us to see them face to face, luckily for them, and we try to make all contacts as human an interaction as possible. So we are already doing what you advise, and it’s not enough. More work can’t harm us.