The Value of Consistency
The value of consistency. Again, this is a topic that we've touched on a couple of times because it relates to a lot of the different fundamentals of building a social media following, building a larger presence, and getting more engagement. So let's talk about a few of the specifics. If content is king, because that's a common thing you hear from publications especially, the idea that you constantly need quality content, and with social media, it's true. Again, we've talked about the idea that you need good images. Generally they're bright images. You're trying to create images that are specific for different types of networks. Again, we're using vertical and things like Instagram, but you need quality stuff as a starting point. But if content is king, as the saying goes, then consistency in social media is the queen. So what we're talking about is consistency in content. Again, the idea is that the stuff that you share has some sort of correlation with your brand, your message, or wh...
o your target market audience is. You will not see Chris Burkard sharing pictures of his coffee. You will not see Chris Burkard sharing photos of his dog. I can't tell you how many photographers that I admire that I will see through their streams some amazing work and then stuff that I feel that just doesn't really have a place or a connection. And mostly that's because it's such a disconnect from the brand. There are people, as we've talked about, that have their personality being so much of their brand that they're just going to be who they are. And so they've actually created a platform. They've created multiple platforms, or social media presence, predicated on the idea that what they're consistent in is their inconsistency. And so their followers expect them to share all sorts of stuff. And that's possible if that's something you're interested in. It's more difficult to build, but it is possible. But the idea that you find something, as Chris said in his advice, that you really are interested in and you learn to own it, I think there's value in that. Now, again, you could offshoot a little bit, like myself where I like to dabble in some landscape... I'm known for my landscape and travel work, but when I'm in a location, like in Iceland, I'm going to photograph some of the puffin birds, or I'm in Africa, I'm going to go the Serengeti, because I like doing that stuff. But, if I haven't trained my audience, if I haven't groomed my audience or grown my audience to be appreciative of that type content, then algorithmically and psychologically, they're not going to engage with it nearly as much. So just know that going in that you are free to share, of course, whatever you want. But if you start getting momentum and building a following, if you start diverging from that too much, you'll see a dip in engagement. You can correct for that, but know that it will happen. So again, coming back to Chris and Jose, who we talked about in our earlier segment, looking at their Instagram profiles right here, and again you can't see a ton of their images, but what do you see? Chris' side, mostly landscape, beautiful places, cold because we see a lot of snow. Most of them are pretty bright, right? There's bright elements to them. They all look like they belong together. That's his style. So it's worked incredibly well for him to grow a massive social media following of 2.2 million people. Jose Villa, wonderful fine art wedding photographer. Look at his images here. What do you see? There is a common theme. There is connectivity. Now, some photographers, like these two, have more connectivity than others. Coming back to mine again, you could scroll through my feed, and you're going to see a variety of different subjects all generally related to outdoor photography. But the correlation, the connection, is the style in which I process my images. So a lot of the images will be a little bit darker than some of these two, but they're going to have common themes in terms of the colors. The reds will be the same, the blues, how I process my stuff, how sharp images is, the overall look and feel. So there can be consistency in that, consistency in the visual nature of what you're presenting, even if the subject matter is shifted a little bit. But what these guys have done and where they've mastered the use of social media, specifically when it comes to Instagram, is in their ability to post content that their followers, before they even look above the post, know that it's from them. They've groomed their followers. They know what to expect. And so their consistency in content has been built up so much over the last few years that if Instagram, for whatever reason, changed their UI and all of a sudden you didn't see who posted what, their followers would know. That has immense value for these two guys and how they use social media, and it may have value to you. But in terms of what we're talking about right now, in terms of types of content, consistency is very important in terms of building that brand especially those first beginning stages of figuring out what networks you want to be on and how you want to build your audience, because you want to have some sense of consistency in the type of content that you're sharing and visually how it looks. So consistency in message. So we talked about images. Images are important. We are photographers. This is a visual artistic medium. Consistency in message has to do with the captions we use. So the captions we use, if you remember, Chris Burkard mentioned, is one of the most important things. It's his side of the story that he gets to tell along with this image. The captions you use, what you want to include in it, there's value in having consistency in those things. Now, we're looking at two images right here of Adam's work, Adam Elmakias, an incredible music photographer that we talked about in an earlier segment. Great engagement, similar styles and caption here. It's not just that they're short, it's just that he purposely, for not all of his images but a good portion, will sit there and include some information about what cameras he used, because his followers appreciate that especially because maybe he sells some products and services here or there that relates to them. But if you're maybe not going after photographers, maybe there's something else that you can be consistent in what you're doing. Maybe it's message. Maybe it's a sign-off, Maybe it's something. When you think about it from an algorithmic mathematical standpoint, the more that you post similar types of content and similar types of message, the more engagement you're going to get. The more engagement you're going to get, the more you're going to have improved algorithmic profiles, in which case, it's going to grow. So you're going to be able to show that to more people. So if you create a similar style, not only are your followers going to be able to know what to expect. Like with me, a lot of the time, because I'm a photo educator, people are expecting me to showcase not only what lenses and camera I used but oftentimes, what were the settings? What ISO did I use? What aperture? So they know to expect that, and because they know to expect that, they'll come back. They know that every time I share an image, they're going to get that information. Or if I don't put it in a specific image, they know they can ask and I will provide it. There's consistency in that. There's trust in that. There's a relationship in that. When it comes to a lot of the other elements in terms of using hashtags, using all those other stuff, that consistency again is rewarded because of how the algorithms work. So whatever message you feel works best for you, short messaging, long-form messaging... Again, generally long-form messaging isn't so appreciated, but I know a few photographers that actually get tons of engagement on it. It's much fewer than most others. But they've built a following based around these large, extensive stories based on their images. So they've groomed their following and they have an engaged base, and that works for them. But for most people it's the idea of these kind of short-natured posts which are a little bit more edible, a little bit more bite sized, but a lot of the people that you see here, again, a lot of the photographers we looked at, a lot of predominant photographers that you guys may follow, if you look at their stuff, you will see a consistency. Now, some of them are able to use that consistency, again, to get away for some of the things we talked about not doing, such as you may be using too many hashtags or marketing their stuff too much. Maybe they found ways around that algorithm. Because, again, the algorithm is fluid, and it's moving. So finding consistency in how you feel comfortable in including captions within your your images is important. Figuring out what your audience is going to appreciate. Again, the idea of, who are you going after? What is the intent of you sharing content? If we talked about the why are you a photographer in an earlier segment, we also talked about, why are you on social media? Well, what's the intent of your post? The intent of your post should determine what type of image you used, which we talked about a ago on the consistency, and should also be determined in the type of message that you're including. Everything that you do when it comes to social media should have a purpose or an intent. If you're just doing things to do things, you're not going to see results. You need to have some sense of higher order or some sense of structure, a strategy, so to speak. You don't need to dive into the details to nth detail and say the specific hashtag and every single letter needs to be articulate and perfect. But you need to have a purpose, and if you define that purpose of why you're sharing that specific image, then it can help, even if that purpose is "I want to grow my followers." "I want to sell a workshop." "I want to get wedding clients." Ask yourself these things every single time, because eventually it'll become subconscious. When it becomes subconscious, then you will know that behind, in your mind every time you're getting ready to post, you're making subconscious choices that are going to dictate images that you choose, times a day you turn to post, which we'll talk about in a second, and the message. So consistency and timing. This is again reiterating the idea that the time of day that you post... If you post the same time of day for a week or two weeks or three weeks or a month, post every day, every single morning at 10:00, and then you come back a month later or the next month and you changed that up to once every two days at 5:00, you're going to see a drastic drop in engagement. It's because people aren't used to seeing it. From, again, a psychological standpoint they aren't used to seeing it, and the algorithms aren't used to you posting. So, timing is rewarded, or consistency and timing is rewarded. The more that you figure out that structure that works for you, regardless of what network you're on, you're going to find benefits from the two other sides of the element of the three-person equation. You as the content producer is one part. You have the individuals you're trying to connect with in the middle, and you have the platform that is allowing you to do so. And so, both of the other two variables reward consistency, always have. The more you're consistent in the quality of work that you're sharing, the kind of work that you're sharing, the message that you're sharing, as well as the timing in which you put stuff out, including how many you post a day, is rewarded, and in change will be a drop. Now, that change does not mean that change isn't worthwhile. Maybe it's worthwhile for you personally. Maybe that's all you have the time to offer. Or maybe you're trying to do something different. But just be conscious and aware that any change in the consistency of your plan in terms of timing, content, message, generally at first at least, is rewarded negatively. From there you then can break into something else. You can sit there and say, "I was posting..." Usually it's more so on the opposite end. So, it's like, "I'm posting three times a week, and then I go down to one." Obviously you only have one image, so you're going get in less engagement overall for the week. But in general, if you're posting more, as long as you're not hitting that tipping point, that point where your next post is taking away from your first post, then you should be able to positively change things even though there would be that change to begin with. So, right now you're posting once a time or once a day to Facebook, and you want to go to posting twice a day. You might realize that for a while that second post you do is not going to receive as much as the first post. But if you keep at it, you're using call to actions, you're engaging, you'll be able to bring that up. Then maybe at some point you'll be able to do three. And maybe you'll realize that three is going to take away from the first two, and then you'll have to say, "Oh I want to go back." It's easier to go up. It's much harder to go back down in terms of how the the algorithms will treat you. So, the benefits of consistency, you build trust. Okay? Your followers are going to trust. They're going to know what to expect. They become dependent. That's a good thing. You want them to be depending on you to create content. You want to be a content producer. You want them to be the content consumer. You want to build brand awareness. So brand awareness. What are you known for? Building what you're known for could be like Chris or Jose where they're known for their style. So, people know what to expect when they follow them. When there's inconsistency, people don't like inconsistent stuff, generally. Unless it's tied to a personality, in which case, again, there is some consistency in that. Most people like to have brand awareness. They like to have the brand awareness that is tied to the fact that they know what to expect when you're engaging with them. Increases engagement. As I said, engagement encourages engagement, which increases across the board. The more consistent you are, the more engagement you will overall get. Social media networks reward consistency. I can't stress this enough. The more you're consistent overall with your entire strategy that we help set up in our previous talks, the more you will be rewarded.