Common Social Media Questions
All right. So, common social media questions that we missed. These are a couple questions that I'm sure people have already asked or want to think about, that I want to kind of go over. So, this is the number one thing that I think a lot of people or at least up there... Drew's shaking his head saying that people are asking about. So, what about image theft? It's an interesting subject and it's one that's worth discussing. My personal feelings towards image theft are maybe different than historically what has been taught. And what I mean by that is that for me the intention of me using social media is to try to get my stuff out there as far as possible. I want the furthest reach. I want the most engagement. That's part of the goal of what I'm after, and that goal ultimately leads to other things that I can monetize from a business standpoint. And so, when I share content much like a lot of the other photographers we looked at here today, our goals are try to put as less barriers of ent...
ry as possible to out there. We want that stuff spread everywhere and within that means that images are also stolen a lot. A lot of images are taken a lot of time. And my personal feelings on it are that if my images aren't being used for commercial reasons, I do not care. I don't care. I don't care if you download my images and put them on your phone for wallpaper. I don't care if you take my images and arguably upload them to your account. I personally don't care and the reason that I don't care is, well, two things: one, to me, it's going to happen too much by the time you build your content. So, by the time you build your followers and you get lots of engagement it's going to happen all the time. I could literally spend all day every day tracking down every single account that takes my images, send them DMC takedown notices, get nothing in return, probably not sleep very good at night, have lots of anxiety about misuse of my images. Or, I can take an approach that's a little bit more progressive and sit there and say, "My goal is for stuff to share, so things are going to be shared both with my complicancy and without." And so if I come across my content and there's a handful of services out there that will track down your images, if I come across the Hilton or CreativeLive if they didn't license an image, at the stage if it was my images being used for commercial purposes, then I would then send a bill. I wouldn't even send a takedown letter. I would send a bill based on whatever perceived value I think it was worth, usually trying to be realistic because I know they don't want to pay. And to be honest a lot of the times they do. So, to me, the idea that spreading stuff out there and not worrying so much about it leads me to one, prioritize my time towards things that I think are more valuable, but B also creates a system or a cycle where I'm trying to get my stuff spread as much as possible. And it so happens that those images are also used for commercial purposes in that process that I'm going to make some extra money. So, if Joe Facebook-er grabs my image and uploads it to his Facebook page, does that diminish the value of that image to me? Does that diminish the nature of my social media platforms or my brand? No. It does not do a single thing. Most of the time when that happens it's just people's personal attachment to their image, and I can again respect that, but for me, it does not matter. Now, there are differences in the fact of the type of work that I shoot. I get that. If you're a portrait event, wedding photographer, where you make money selling prints back to your client that's a little bit of a different story. So, you want to have more of a tighter control over things. I get it. But for the most part, for most of us out there the idea is to spread our stuff wide and far. And so, we don't worry about this notion of our images getting stolen because it's going to happen. And in turn what we've done, the second part of what I was talking about before, before I went off on this tangent, was essentially the notion that the value of a single image to us is different. My images to me in terms of a direct valuation, for the most part, is very small. My value to me indirectly of what I can use images to leverage to do is quite large. And so, if an image is stolen that single value of that one image being stolen by a random person on Twitter doesn't matter to me, and I don't want to take the time to go after all those people because there's just going to be too many of them. So for most people out there I recommend not worrying about image theft. I don't think it's a big deal. I don't think it takes away from the value. People that steal your images were not going to pay you to begin with unless they were using it for corporate or business reasons in which case you should absolutely follow up. Follow up and send a bill. Make a little extra money. Now, that leads us to the next one which is kind of tied to this is "What about watermarks?" Should we use watermarks? Now if we quickly go back you will look at most of these big, predominant photographers they have stuff stolen exponentially larger than your average photographer out there. Do you see watermarks? No. The reason for that again is that our goal is to get things to reach far and wide. So our value for our images are simply moreso on the fact of what we can do with our images, not so much in what the images are to us in terms of that value. So, when we share an image on Instagram, this image here on the far side is going to do exponentially better than if I had a giant, sweet, beautiful photo of my logo. Just the nature of the beast. Now, of course, you can do things a little bit nicer and there are places and there are times where I think watermarks can be advantageous. Again, wedding photographer you're trying to make a name for yourself so maybe a small, little, very tiny, has decently low opacity, URL at the very bottom of the page. Or your name or a small piece of your logo out of the way helps track people back to your work. And you notice that Jose Villa doesn't do it, but I can understand the correlation of wanting to share stuff, people finding it and coming back to you. If you can create a watermark that is truly unobtrusive and that actually doesn't take away and is distracting of your image, those that are willing to pay or hire you will find you. And those that will not will probably try to crop out your watermark and still steal your image anyway. Or they won't even care and your watermarked image will be on their page. But still, the value is no different in terms of what you might lose from it. So from a photographer standpoint, from a watermarking standpoint, I personally don't like them. But I know a handful of landscape photographers and people that shoot fine art stuff, and you saw that Darren White actually does watermark his images because he sells prints, so his value per image is different than mine. So, for him, he wants to spread stuff far and wide and he wants people to track back to his website and purchase prints. I care less about that. For a lot of you guys, you guys might be somewhere in between. Understand that watermarks, images with watermarks generally will get less interaction. We talked about the idea of fonts or graphic overlays will diminish your overall reach, so just know that that is possible or it could happen. And if your business model is wrapped around that idea where say you shoot a sporting event and your business model is that you shoot that sporting event, and then those people are meant to purchase those images from that sporting event for you to make a living, absolutely. Your valuation is different. Watermark those images. Make sure that other people can see the work that you do and don't let people download those images and print them out so that you're losing revenue. But you need to think cognitively about it because I think a lot of people feel the need to protect their images or to worry about image theft or to watermark the images solely because it's what was done for the longest time. The industry has changed. Social media has evolved. There are different revenue streams now and it's not a requirement, it's not necessarily even a recommendation, for a lot of types of photographers out there. For some people like I said it will have some value, but for the most part, if you want your stuff to go the farthest don't put watermarks on your shots. How do you prepare images for social media? This is one I get quite a lot. People are like, "How are your images look so sharp?" Or "How do you do this?" Or "How do you prepare this stuff?" So, let me give you a couple quick pointers about how I prepare my images for social media. So, the first thing, this is self-explanatory from a photography standpoint. I use quality lenses and cameras generally with high dynamic range. So, I'm looking at starting off with the sharpest kind of image that I can work with. Generally, these things cost a little bit more money, but if you want sharp images a lot of the times you got to use sharp lenses, and you got to use sensors that have the ability to capture a lot of shadow detail. Pull up the white slider. I mentioned this pulling up the white slider again because bright images generally do better. Now, even if your images have darker elements you can see like the photograph of the candles in Petra. Pulling up that white slider specifically over-exposure at least in things like Lightroom will brighten up the highlighted or the brighter areas of your image and might give you more of a nicer contrast to have brighter elements inside your dark image. It can be helpful. It's worth playing around with. Use vibrance over saturation. So when I'm processing my images and I'm going through things saturation is usually like a sledgehammer. Vibrance is much more like a scalpel and when you choose vibrance over saturation the reason that vibrance was initially implemented or created was the idea that you wanted to punch up colors but you didn't want to affect too much of the red and pink hues. So more specifically this was done with the idea of affecting caucasian skin. So portrait photographers that would sit there and jump up saturation, what happens if you took a photo of me? My face would turn into like a tomato because I got red pigment in my caucasian skin. So, using vibrance was a way to punch up other colors, greens, blues, things like that, purples, magentas, and you have much more leeway. So if you increase your saturation slider, when you're increasing your colors if you do it a lot your image is going to look like you're on acid. But, when you do vibrance you have much more leeway room, so it's a much more of a finer, grainer control. So you can go a longer way and try to figure out exactly where you want to be. Perform sharpening as your last step. This is important. When you're processing your images, sharpening generally is the last thing I do before I'm done with it. Now this is important because you're also exporting images with the idea that you're going to apply some extra additional sharpening that are specific to screens, at least I do when you export in Lightroom where you sit there and it says "Prepare for web," and "Sharpen for screen." So there's a little bit of extra piece there. But sharpening is the last step that I do so that if I ever need to go back to an image and I realize that I over-sharpened it, which is easy to do, that I don't have to go back through and re-edit that entire image. Because a lot of the choices that I make when I go into Lightroom and Photoshop are not based on these ideas of global sliders. I think I mention that in a second. Yeah, global sharpening. Don't apply global sharpening. Well, don't apply much of global anything. And what I mean by global is when you're in Lightroom or whatever program you use to edit your images you sit there and you look at sharpness or saturation or contrast. And these are what are called global adjustments. So when you move that slider over on contrast or saturation or sharpness you're affecting all the pixels in your screen. All the pixels in your image. It's globally across the board. The next stage or the evolution of post-processing in my mind is where you go from global adjustments to localized adjustments. The localized adjustments are essentially the idea that you're saying, "Hey, this image needs contrast but it needs contrast right here or right here." I want to apply sharpening but I don't need to apply sharpening to maybe my sky. Or I don't want to apply sharpening into the shadow parts of my image because that creates noise. So understanding that the next level of post-processing is not in using things like global sharpening. When you use sharpening at the last level try to learn some better techniques and how to sharpen your images more subjectively. You want sharpness generally found in the mid-tones of your photo. If you apply sharpness to your shadows, you increase noise. If you apply sharpness to your highlights, you increase artifacts. I want my skies to be clean and dreamlike. I want my shadows to be noise-free. And this applies to everything out there. If you're photographing skin obviously you understand the significance of over-sharpening skin and how bad it looks. So, subjectively use sharpening but perform it as your last step so you can always pull back. And like I said, export to web with screen-standard as set for your sharpening. Generally, this just means that there's going to apply a little extra layer of sharpening so when I'm processing my images, I'm processing images to where I feel it is sharp enough. That's based on what I am seeing on my screen. Understanding that when you export images as a JPEG when you're editing your images or after you've edited your images they need a little bit more sharpening generally because things are dulled down slightly when you upload them. For the compressions that typically happen in places like Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn, everywhere, every site that you upload to is compressing your image to make it smaller. Why? Because hard drive space costs money and these places have giant server farms that are holding billions of photos. And so if they can shave a megabyte off your photo by compressing a massive image that you try to upload and they do that. You multiply that by, you know, 50 billion photos being uploaded in a week it adds up. So they're going to compress things down, so you have to add a little bit of extra sharpening. And generally, when you do it in places like Lightroom, Photoshop or whatnot, the specific feature is doing so in a way that is going to help the images look a little bit better. So hopefully these bullet points provide a little bit of help for creating images that are more enticing to preparing your shots. Oh, I said upload in high resolution. Last one. Uploading in high resolution essentially, of course, is the idea that upload at the max resolution that a network accepts. Again, I don't worry about people stealing my Facebook page exported at 2048 at the maximum resolution in terms of its width and using it as their desktop on their Apple computer or on their laptop. I don't care. I don't worry about that so I don't mind uploading at high resolution. Again, things may differ depending on what your business model is, but if you want the furthest reach, if you want the images to look the best, upload at the max resolution, at the minimum of a max resolution that the networks you want to use take. Another question a lot of people ask, "What's my favorite color?" I think it's pretty evident. Blue. I do love blue. Glacier blue, specifically. I just felt that you guys should know that. I thought it was important. So what's next for social media? And this is a hard one. This is one that I don't have a definitive answer on, but it is essentially the idea that the trends that are happening these days seem to showcase a push towards the idea of scarcity or urgency. As we've seen the idea of things like Snapchat and how that's forced Instagram to play its card to copy a lot of its features, we see that our market demographics for specific social media platforms are going after this idea that they don't necessarily want content to live forever. So we've also seen trends where things like Vine which was owned by Twitter, six-second little video clips closed down not too long ago. So, video is still playing a larger role but is still trying to find its way in the mobile space. And a lot of things that are moving, everything is really moving towards that mobile avenue. All social platforms are changing the way they operate, changing the way how algorithms are going to treat people or treat content that you create based on that idea of mobile first. That's what we hear across the board. You hear it from social platforms. You hear it from Google, from search engine results, mobile first. So creating content with mobile in mind is huge. And I think what's going to happen down the line is we're going to see a further evidence of this as PC sales continue to decline and as mobile phones continue to be prevalent around the world, more and more programs, or more and more platforms, more and more features are going to be built around that idea that we're going to be consuming our content from a smaller phone in our hands generally in the vertical orientation. So, hopefully, that gives you something to think about. Course wrap up. Last little bits of information. There is no single, one right way. Do you sit there and follow every single bit of advice that I told you today, verbatim, you're not going to magically all-of-a-sudden be where I am today in a year or two from now. It takes bits and pieces of what you've learned and what you can learn from other people that you see out there and apply them to your own skill sets, to your own platforms. See what works and what's not and learn to experiment. Mostly the idea of this program or this class is to teach you about the opportunities that are out there. There are a lot of opportunities of things that could work. It's up to you to figure out what will work for you. Be patient. Again, success doesn't happen overnight. It takes a while to build followers. It takes a while to build a fan club to get engagement up. It's possible. It can happen. You will see growth. It's just not going to be exponential and it's not going to happen within just a couple days. Select a vanity URL and stick with it. We talked about this earlier with one of the questions that came in. Essentially the idea that find a tag or vanity URL however you want to call it and try to stick with it across all your platforms. So if you have a unique last name, that's great. If you're like Jennifer Smith, good luck. But try to figure out something that you think is unique that works for you that you can use across all the different platforms so that people can find you very easily. Learn to work backwards to achieve your goals. Again, this I think is very sound advice. It's not necessarily tied or it's not necessarily endemic to social media, but it's the idea that most people feel lost because they don't have a destination of where they'd like to be. And if you figure out where you'd like to be there's a logical progression to work backwards from where you would like to be to where you are now, helping you get there eventually. So, if you are a wedding photographer that wants to get more clients you understand kind of where you would like to be and then you can start to work backwards of finding more clients. Where are they at? What are places do they habitate in terms of social media? What are their needs? You want to sell prints. What type of work do you do? Can you start creating ads or building followers that are wrapped around the idea of a specific location so that you can start advertising or creating print sales tied to that? When I sit there and I create print sales or when I'm trying to build my following and increase one of my goals is to increase my ability to share more of my wildlife photography and to have, have the same amount of engagement. I'll create an ad that specifically has three or four images of my wildlife stuff and be specifically targeting that towards the audience I want to go after. So, I know where they're at. I'm trying to figure out how to get there. Don't be afraid to experiment. Some of your experiments are going to fail. Some of them are not going to work, but you got to keep trying. You don't want to constantly change things every single day, but you want to sit there and every once in a while inject some sort of experiment to see what's working. What times of the day to post? The type of content? What keywords can you use? Have you developed a good algorithmic relationship or profile with certain URLs? I was talking to someone earlier and the fact that from their Facebook page when they were sharing content from their own website it actually got great engagement on their Facebook page. Changed that URL? Didn't work so well because they'd built up that relationship and their followers were hungry for it. Those things are possible to do but you need to experiment. You need to figure out what's going to work for you. You need to figure out where you're at, too, right now because you might have some benefits that you might not realize because you've been doing the same thing and it hasn't really been working. So change it up a little bit. Like I said, try not to judge yourself. Don't focus so much on just the successes that you're at right now or where you're at right now. Know that we are all on a journey. We all have a place to be and we're all trying to get there. So we all still have things that we can learn from each other and that things are about progressing forward, about trying to build your following. And all these little pieces are all interconnected and so small little changes can lead to big effects, but you have to start somewhere. Find social media sources that you trust. What I mean by this is essentially looking at finding blogs or RSS feeds or whatever it is, other pages that you trust to find information about social media. So for me, there's a couple I can list for you right now. One of them is the Social Media Examiner. It's an online publication. They produce information about social media, trends, things like that. You also have the Hootsuite blog we talked about the Hootsuite app. Same thing with Sprout Social. It's another good place to find information about engagement and changes in Facebook rules and all sorts of other stuff. And then there's Pagemodo blog. It's another one I recommend checking out. And there's a handful of other ones out there. You can do your own Google searches to find, but find a few that you have writers that you think know what they're talking about or that have good content and just check them out every once in a while. See what new stuff is happening. It'll help. Understand that social media is both dynamic and fluid. We mentioned this before. Things are constantly changing so you got to be prepared for that. Understand that you will have to experiment in order to figure out what works and what works right now might not work next year. Constantly evolving. All of us are the same. All of us are constantly figuring out. We're sitting there and saying, "Okay, this works but this doesn't. This doesn't work? Okay, let's do this." Don't try to force success. Don't try to force yourself to get quality engagement or do all these other things. You need to start somewhere and you need to build upon it. Again, organic growth will always be exponentially better than forced. if you try to sit there and pay your way to get to millions of followers and whatnot, none of those are going to be target-market rich. None of them are going to have the same types of engagements that you could have if you built things organically and built things slowly and built things the right way. Cultivating those relationships, building that trust. And lastly, try to have fun with social media. Again, I mentioned this before. Social media is great. It's an opportunity for you to connect and engage with people and that's an awesome situation. I think a lot of photographers just have this negative connotation about it and you just have to look at it with a different perspective. Now one of my favorite quotes is by Marcel Proust and that's the truest sense of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, it's in having new eyes. Change the way you look at the world. Change the way you're looking at social media. Change the way you're looking at business. It will help affect a different idea of mind. It will change your energy from negative to positive and that will effect change. That will help you enjoy your time on social media, enjoy the time that you're spending doing this stuff so that hopefully you can get out there and spend more time photographing, which is why most of you guys are probably here.