In my world, I can spend all kinds of time on my profiles and getting those likes, thumbs, hearts and smiles. Of course it feels good. We’re starting to recognize things like dopamine addictions as real things. You get that notification that someone “hearted” your post and you get a little dopamine rush. You check your email and see that you have some waiting, it’s a little dopamine. Video gamers are loaded with it. It’s the same chemistry cycle that drives almost every addiction. I’m not saying it’s reason to throw the power switch on the Internet. But it’s something to be aware of. But a dopamine rush isn’t the same as a tangible success… any more than Facebook friends are really necessarily your real friends.
As I said, there are people whose business IS the Internet, both in running their business (think every online business from Amazon down to the smallest craftsman who sells on the Internet) and in “Influencers” (the people that are getting paid to create content). I’m not throwing any shade on them. That IS their business. For that matter, I’m not really throwing shade on anyone. You can do what you want with your time and effort. But it should be a conscious and thought out choice.
I know someone who is VERY focused on their Instagram and how many likes they get. They’re almost strategic about it. But if you ask this person what their career goal is, being InstaFamous wouldn’t be the answer. I’m being purposefully vague because I’m not trying to call anyone out. There’s nothing to call out. They can do what they want and, hopefully, make it work. Just having a conversation here. But, as they talked about their numbers and what pictures get more likes.. etc.. I found myself thinking, “I don’t care about InstaLikes… really”.
Here’s my reasoning.. I’ve found a number of working photographers that I had never heard of in the social media groups or on Instagram. Many of them really don’t post or interact. And yet, they’re established and running their businesses. That takes paying clients… period. So is it still possible to have a business without all the attention on social media? Without mining likes? It would appear so. More important, you have to know who your clients are. On social media, it’s easy to “market” to models.. other photographers and, if you’re any good at social, people who already know you’re there and what you do. But those aren’t the bulk of my target audience. I need businesses, organizations and people who DON’T already know about me. I’ve found that I can spend a month “working” the interwebs and come away without a single new (paying) customer.
I guess I’m still a little old school. I still think that actual interaction is the best avenue. Most of my business comes from word-of-mouth referrals. And a good portion of it comes from me talking to people in real life. Meat space. For me, the internet is more of a shiny illusion than an actual tool. Yes, you HAVE to have a website. This isn’t 1975. But people are still people and, in this business, it would seem they still like to deal with people. Now, if I ever decide to market online courses, I’ll be working the net for all it’s worth. But photography is still a real people business at its core.
To wrap it all up.. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a single client through social media or Instagram. It’s nice to have those resources in place. It’s nice to be able to point someone toward my Insta. Or my Facebook. Or… okay I don’t really use MySpace anymore. (Side note.. MySpace never really helped my music career). But I’d rather put the effort into a traditional business model. Mine is a traditional brick-and-mortar business. I don’t really care much about social media. It doesn’t serve me much. And I’m looking for traditional results. I guess my point is that you have to step back, put aside the excitement of being “socially connected and approved” and look at what really moves you forward. If the Internet doesn’t do it, then it’s just a distraction. For me, it’s something I have to stay aware of. For you.. that’s for you to decide.