Social Media & Photography: Observations Part 5 – Facebook


©Maciej Dakowicz

The gravitational pull Facebook has on the web makes it impossible to avoid.  Try as you may, you’re likely going to get pulled into its orbit eventually.  It’s not my favorite or preferred platform for sharing content but I do use it multiple times a day, which creates sort of a contemptuous addiction.

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I don’t think it’d be very productive to spend too much time ranting about why I dislike Facebook, but very briefly: privacy issues, annoying & confusing UI, poor organizational tools, walled garden, redundant content, generic, cookie cutter design, Questionable T&S, drives attention & traffic away from primary domains, omnipresent, jerk founder, monetization of social connections, baby pictures, social gaming, corporations and brands intermingling with friends and family.

Alright, that’s enough.  I better stop before I get into the conspiracy theories.  Moving on.

As with this entire social media series, there are two perspectives when it comes to using Facebook: the publisher and the photographer.

Pages for Publishers

Naturally the primary use for your page is going to be to distribute your content.  That’s basically all I use the LPV page for at this point.  I’ll share some other stories and such at times but not often.  As I’ve mentioned before, I believe in serving up your content where your audience wants to consume it.  And I know that many people get their news and content from Facebook, so I’m going to give them what they want.

I recently added the FBLike button to the blog posts and I’ve been surprised at the use its gotten thus far.  I’d definitely recommend you add it to your blog.

Ok, so the way I use FB is pretty bare bones and not very original.  I might go as far to say that I honestly don’t really have too much in-depth knowledge about all the different functions you can use on  your pages. Primarily because I don’t interact with pages as a consumer.  I just haven’t found the need.

However, there is a social media tenet that I do believe in quit strongly, even if I don’t always follow it myself: create unique content on each platform.

This can be tricky because you have to create a balance between making sure your content reaches your audience on their desired platform, with creating original content on those platforms to engage them in different ways.

The best example of how to run a Facebook page that I’ve seen is by Andy Adams of Flake Photo.  He’s really embraced the platform and has used it to engage his audience in unique ways, especially creating conversations around hot topics. Since he’s a Facebook advocate, I suspect he may even create a dialogue about Facebook after reading this post.

Now, that’s certainly a great use of the platform but I do have one main problem, and this actually goes for Flickr as well.  You’re creating original content on Facebook, so you’re at the mercy of their organizational tools and content policy. I feel much more comfortable having original content located on my domain.  In fact, a recent experience on Flickr has made me realize how quickly a company can zap your content without much warning.  So, I’m basically of the mind to use these platforms to distribute content, rather than create original content on them, even though in some instances it’s inevitable.

There’s no question that Facebook will evolve and new tools will develop but I’m still pretty hesitant about the platform.  I can seriously envision a day when you can run your entire blog or publication on Facebook and I think that’s dangerous.  It maybe a great tool for aggregating content and bringing people together, but I think publishers should attempt to maintain as much autonomy from behemoth corporations as they can, otherwise Facebook might become the internet.  That’s a prospect I don’t want to think about.

Does a Photographer Need a Facebook Fan Page?

The vast majority of photographers will likely already have a Facebook account, and probably use it like the other 499 million people. The question becomes, does a photographer need a Facebook Fan page?  Generally, I’d say no.  But this is where Facebook can be a bit confusing.  On the same platform you can have two identities, one as a ‘brand’ and one as an individual.

The benefit of having a page is that it allows you to easily segregate your content, and provides fans a way of engaging with your content without necessarily being a ‘friend.’  As a consumer of content, I doubt I’d actually follow a photographer Fan Page simply because as I’ve stated before, the content is generally redundant and doesn’t add much value. I’d just as soon follow their blog/Tumblr, Twitter , Flickr or if I know them well enough, just be friends with them on Facebook.

For the most part, nearly every photographer I know is reluctant to actually upload their work to Facebook, but I can see this changing in the future if Facebook improves their UI for photographs.  But again, I’d ask the question, do you really think Facebook in the best way to present your work?  The same question can be asked of Flickr as well.  You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons.

I’m inclined to say that unless you truly are a ‘brand’ name photographer (Stephen Shore) there’s really no need for a Fan Page.  I have photographers I barely know or don’t know at all sending me friend requests and for the most part I accept them.  Facebook actually provides fairly granular settings for determining which information you share with which friends. If you divide your friends into lists (sounds horrible I know), you can retain a certain level of privacy while still retaining the ability to engage people that are fans of your work.

Final Thoughts

Facebook isn’t going anywhere, and will surely become even more embedded in our activities on the web.  It’s not my favorite platform, but like many people I use it extensively and do find it a valuable resource.  The pages that I find most interesting are those that add value and create unique content for the platform.  How you choose to use it, depends on your objectives as well. For LPV, I’ve found that our audience is more likely to engage on other platforms but in the future, I plan on trying to utilize Facebook in different ways.

If you have any thoughts or ideas, please feel free to jump in with a comment or send me an email.  Or perhaps we can continue this conversation on the LPV Facebook page.

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  • http://blog.stunik.com s2art

    Interesting set of articles. I will re-consider my twitter account now, as a consequence.

    FWIW, I curate a stream of my own images on tumblr, a daily image as a kind of stream of consciousness flow, http://lo-resdaily.tumblr.com, this work is designed for web consumption, i.e. 1 image at a time in a scrolling/horizontal format.

  • Jo Barnes

    Hi,

    I’ve been studying facebook for the last couple of months and in particular fan pages as they are such an incredibly powerful way to advertise your business / services.

    I managed to get to 1000 fans in 24 days and it’s climbing daily.

    There are 10 key strategies I used to get fans these include;

    1. Facebook friends
    2. Posting on groups
    3. Creating a group
    4. Linking to blog
    5. Linking to You Tube
    6. Twitter
    7. Fiverr
    8. Creating events
    9. Free Gifts
    10. Marketplace

    There are also loads of other strategies, so I’m just scratching the surface at the moment.

    As I built the page and went about promoting etc I decided to record all my learnings. I made some free videos explaining how to create a page, add a landing page, add video etc and then explode your fans. I’m still working on part 2 of exploding your fans.

    You can see the videos here; http://www.freefanpagetemplates.com please note you can watch all the videos without opting in by just clicking the boxes on the right of the page. You only need to optin if you want the templates (the videos explain).

    Please feel free to have a look at the videos, they’re free because I wanted to build my reputation / comments and testimonials etc.

    I hope they help.

    Jo