Time is finite; the use of time is an important decision. I’ve been thinking about the amount of time that photographers spend on social media. There are plenty of outlets to take up said time (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, blogging, etc), but how much time should be spent?
The benefits you’ll see from using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, and other social services will probably be related to the amount of time and effort you invest. If you only follow 10 people on Twitter or tweet once a day, you’re not going to get much in return. If you only log onto Facebook once a week or never interact with anyone else… well, don’t be surprised when they don’t respond to you either.
I recently saw a prominent photographer muse about how he wasn’t sure what to make of his Flickr stats, while noting that he didn’t spend much time participating on Flickr. He’s not getting much out of it because he’s not putting much into it.
Yes, there are ways to work smarter not harder, but if you’re not working at all, you’re not going to see results.
If you’re on Twitter and have been plugging into photography tweets, you’ve probably run across Jack Hollingsworth (@photojack). How did he get to where he’s at? He spends about an hour a day engaging with other photographers on Twitter. Need a metric or a tangible starting point? There you go… one hour per day. Split it up into a couple half-hour chunks or four 15 minute segments if that works better with your schedule.
Keep in mind that most of Jack’s time has been interacting with other photographers. You might find it more beneficial to reach out towards your client base. Spend some time on Facebook maintaining the relationships with your senior portrait or wedding clients. If you’re an event shooter, build and maintain contacts in event management, catering, and other complementary trades.
Start with an hour a day and see how things go. Surely 10-15% of your working time being spent on marketing is reasonable, isn’t it? An hour might be more than you need to see real results. If you haven’t yet developed your online network, maybe you’ll need a bit more time. Determine your goal of your social media efforts and spend the amount of time needed to attain that goal.
Photo by zoutedrop, used under Creative Commons licensing