Choosing your Online Personality
Choosing your online personality, and I talked a little bit about this. That idea of deciding do you want to be super-personal, do you want to be all business, do you want to have some connection in between? What do you want to be known for? When people reach out to you, what do they want to expect? When I think of Jeremy Cowart, I know that he shares a lot of his personal stuff. I love seeing the photos of his adopted Haitian children. I love seeing the fact that he ingrains a lot of just himself, the struggles, the successes, the positive, the negative, all of it. That's become his brand and that doesn't work for everyone. Some other people aren't comfortable sharing those things and I get it and there's nothing wrong with that. Trying to figure out who are you, what are you comfortable at being? And running with that is the point of this segment. So the personal approach. This is the idea that you're sitting there and you're willing to share a bit of yourself. You want your brand to...
have some elements of you as a personality. You're not sitting there and just doing all marketing campaigns, you're sitting there and you're sharing content based on the idea that you're happy to let people into your life because you feel that, in doing so, you're opening up that trust barrier a little bit. People understand. I have people that have followed me online that have seen the first photo minutes after my son was born to present-day. And so they love seeing that stuff. It doesn't give me any value from a monetary standpoint or increase my business's but I'll share it across some of my stuff when I feel that it's on point and that engagement, again, then helps spur other types of stuff. So I like the personal nature, I like bringing a bit of myself into my brand. Benjamin's another great one, Benjamin Von Wong. He's exceptionally great at keeping it real. He is very honest about stuff that's happening to him and the struggles and the challenges. He has more content that's probably gone viral than most other photographers present day but that doesn't mean that he's incredibly wealthy. He still has same struggles and challenges as most people, he's still trying to find his way, he's still trying to figure out if he's been successful or not. We'll talk about that in a future segment with Ben, with looking at some of his stuff. But he's willing to share a lot of this stuff. He's sitting there and willing to look at this where he essentially was sharing an offer that he rejected from a publication about his mermaid story because he felt that it didn't align up with what he was doing. So he was sharing that as an educational experience. That's big to sit there and say, "Hey, this was rejected and I blocked out some of the stuff." He at least blocked out some of their actual names and email addresses but left a lot of their other information in there, I blocked it out for other purposes. But anyway, he was willing to do that and that says something about who he is as a brand. People that are all business, when you're sitting there and you're just posting and it's just going to be on point, there's not too much. Some people try to be a little bit engaging and try to be a little bit funny here and there and inspirational, but for the most part, you're just focusing on why you're online. People like Andy Best, who, unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to interview for this, but Andy Best, Darren White, who we will talk about and...I didn't a chance to throw Burkard in there. But Chris, that's a lot of what they focus on. It's inspirational on-point message, that's their style. Now, if you follow some of their personal stuff, which they're not necessarily closed down, they're not going to... they'll share some personal things but for the most part, if you look across their stuff, across most social platforms, it's essentially operating at a level where you're not going to see too much below skin deep. I don't think I've ever seen photos of Chris Burkard's kids online and that's fine. I, again, as a parent, that's your choice, I get it. (inaudible). There's a lot of different benefits to however you want to go about it but it's just the nature of how these people feel most comfortable in their online personality. And hybrid (inaudible), and to be honest, that's really what I'm at. This is a picture of my son and my wife snowboarding. I'm pretty sure they ate it not too long after this but I'm sharing this personal stuff. Now, this is certainly on my personal page. I've shared images like this on my Twitter account, on Instagram and other stuff before but I'm also talking about one of my Sony cameras, I'm talking about a little bit of how I edited it. I'm bringing in a bit of both to the flair and so that's, again, something that I like doing. I get good engagement rates across the board, I like sharing it. Again, people like, people have been following me for five and a half years now that my son's been born, so they've never met him but they're still engaged about it and that's part of my brand. Not doing it to reap benefits from it in terms of financially, but in general, I like to share a bit of my personality because that's where I'm most comfortable. And when I go to my Facebook page, then you'll see stuff that's a little bit more on point. Again, I'll inject, I'll do question-and-answer series where I'll get really personal, I'll bring up stuff and struggles and I'll, again, open up, kind of like what we've been doing for this class. But a lot of times the posts you'll see, I'm plugging in my website here or there or sharing information that maybe is inspirational, a little bit more on point but it's not necessarily as open as the other stuff. That's why I take benefit of both different platforms on something like Facebook or Instagram or whatnot, I'm figuring a hybrid balance between the two. And I recommend that making yourself available is a really important aspect of your brand of just photography and using social media. Again, regardless if you're trying to do it for being inspirational or you're trying to learn about photography or trying to make money, the idea of actually investing time to have the conversations and making yourself available. As we talked about before where it's like most people are surprised that you respond, people send me messages all the time, I get emails all the time and I can't always respond right away but I try to get back to everyone. I try to engage back when people ask questions, that's why I do things like this where I'm asking questions and answers or having Q&A sessions. I'm doing that because I want to have those questions, I want to have those conversations, I want to engage with people, I want to increase that trust factor and the same time, this entire post, while it's certainly text and I only reached 8,000 people, there wasn't... maybe 50 or 100 or 200 comments in it, so it's not nearly the most engaged that I've had. It's still so many points of connection and engagement so I don't mind doing these text posts that aren't going to go viral or aren't going to be seen everywhere because it allows me to have those engagements and to be available to come back and have conversations that, again, increase the algorithms and help me increase my reach, my organic reach for when I do want to send content out there that is going to be advantageous for my brands. But ultimately being accessible, I think, is important. I see a lot of photographers out there that post and they run, or if you're schedually posting, which I do on occasion, I always try to make time that night or that week to come back and re-engage with people. So, making yourself available to your clients no matter who they are I think is important. Don't just post and expect people to magically show up or things to happen, you have to spur that engagement at times. And sometimes, that means you need to invest a little bit more time into becoming more available. So this is a mantra that I like to live my life and my businesses by and it's something I just wanted to throw in here and what I recommend in terms of just people, how you engage and how you leverage social media. The idea is to be humble, be honest, and be passionate because these three different traits, different aspects, can correlate to exponential value for you as an online personality, as an online individual, as a brand. Being humble, I really don't understand why there's a lot of ego in the photo industry. We take pictures, beautiful things, sure, but we're not curing cancer, we're not rocket scientists, we're not getting people to the Moon. Art is important, I fully am a part of that, I think it is vital. But be humble, don't let successes that you've had get to your head. There's a lot of ego in this industry and a lot of those people are just not... it's not positive engagements when you have with them and that's not a sustainable way to run a business because you will burn out. And especially as you start finding success, whether it's locally, internationally, or wherever it is, every industry is a pyramid. and as you work up the chain to become more successful, that group gets smaller and smaller and you burn enough bridges and eventually, you're going to hit a ceiling that is much lower than you thought it was. So be humble about the opportunities that you have and the successes that you're able to get. Be honest because people have been online for social media for so long that they can generally tell when people are being phony. So don't try to be someone you're not online. If you're sitting there and you're a very personal person and you're sitting there trying to just be very businesslike, it's probably not going to come off so well, especially vice versa, if you're sitting there and you're a very reserved person, you're trying to fake this engagement on Snapchat, people are going to be like, "What is up with this person? I don't get it." Be you, that's the important nature of it and be passionate. Passion is addictive, passion is palpable. Passion, people can see that, people can see that when you talk about a subject, people can see that when they see what you're sharing, they can see that in the work that you're doing, if you're sitting there and you're complaining about stuff all the time and you're being negative, that's also another attractant but in the wrong manner. So be passionate about what you do because when you care about what you do, when you care about social media, when you care about photography, when you care about these things, you're going to put more of yourself into it. And when you put more of yourself into it, ultimately you will reap larger rewards. Sometime, it might take longer but you have to care about what you're doing. That includes social media.