Building a following is never easy, and most of the times it does not happen overnight. For me, it took a few years to gain a following for my photography via Facebook and Instagram. As of now, I have 532,000 followers on Facebook, 44.8 thousand on Instagram and 20 thousand on Tumblr. In this blog post, I am going to go through what I did to obtain my following. There is no clear cut method, I am just going to write about what has worked for me. Read on and see if my ﬁndings can make a difference with your own social media adventures.
As you all know, I am a photographer that focuses on automotive photography. I got into photography around 2010 and started learning how to use different camera systems and also taught myself Photoshop and Lightroom for editing. After I started to take photos, I was uploading everything to my Flickr account, then when Facebook released Facebook pages, I quickly switched to that platform because it was much easier to share with communities and friends. Facebook has worked the best for me so far, and still continues to grow every day. I know people complain about the algorithms Facebook uses limits views, there are ways "around" it. Currently, I am averaging about 2,000 "likes," or subscribers per day. So, all you algorithm haters, it is still possible to grow at a rapid pace.
Now, I am going to post the steps that I took to grow my social media channels. I hope this helps armatures and seasoned social media users alike. Also, if anyone has any questions, please leave them in the comment box at the end of this post.
Content is one of the most important aspects of your social media channels. First off, what do you want your focus to be? Mine is automotive photography, with a focus on exotic and luxury automobiles.. From there I started attending local car meets here in Southern California and would ﬁnd out where the best cars would be showing up. I would ask friends and other photographers which events they were attending and in return, share my which events I would be attending to return the favor (I will touch up on this more in the next section, networking). I would photograph every car that I think would have an appeal online and round the world. Since living in Southern California is one of the great places in the world to ﬁnd supercars and hypercars, this was not that difﬁcult to do thank goodness.
Since photographs are my focus, I aspire to take better photos all the time. I am constantly practicing and testing out new photographic and editing styles. Do not be afraid to try out new things, and do not listen to the haters. Experiment away and eventually you will ﬁnd your style, which is very important. You want your photos to have their own style to differentiate yourself from the pack. Remember, the better the content, the more people will come back to your page and share with their friends. This will create a spider web like effect that will spread throughout different media platforms and get the ball rolling.
Networking is a big one. I really believe most of my success has spawned from this. I love sharing my work and collaborating with fellow photographers and automotive enthusiasts. I worked with other media outlets to use and share my images, which helped a ton. I would take photos at local shows and gave them permission to use my photos as long as they shared a link back to my page or website. This way, they get images and I get exposure (I do not worry about trying to make money off of Facebook posts or charge people to use my images, that is not what I use it for. I use it to share awesome car photos for the world to enjoy). Also, be nice and respectful to everyone you meet, you never know who will recommend you for a collaboration or for a photo shoot with a huge network or company.
Keeping it fun:
Keeping it fun and learning is important as well. I did not go into this to gain a huge following, I started this for the passion, and it eventually turned into something much larger than I ever imagined. When I started, breaking 100 followers was amazing. All I was doing was taking photographs and sharing them to the world. Like they say, "build it, and they will come" or however the quote goes. If you stay passionate and enjoy what you are photographing or writing about, the followers will come one way or another. When people see that you love what you do, they are more likely to follow your story because it is interesting, and quite frankly, more interesting than the Kardashians because something real and meaningful is being made or shared. Ok, all jokes aside, stay passionate about what you do and you will have a blast. Don't worry about getting a shit ton off followers quickly. Just do what you do and enjoy it.
Facebook is the platform where I have had most of my success. So, I am going to give you the quick and dirty inside on how I work within Facebook to grow my following. Facebook can be tricky with the algorithms, but if you stick with the posts and providing quality photographs, it should start to grow at a healthy page. What exactly goes into each post? It is really quite simple:
1: Find a photograph to post. I usually stick with supercars, as this gets myself the most views and shares. Also, any new car that recently hit the market is a good way to go.
2: Create a title or caption for the photography. I usually keep it simple and just post what the car is. Remember to use hashtags that make sense... I can't event tell you hot many posts I see that have a bazillion hashtags that have nothing to do wi that is in the image. I see a photo of a Ferrari 360 Challenge with hashtags like #ferrari #360 and then dips into #lamborghini #aventador and shit like that... Really people, stick with tags that make sense. Rant over.
3: Post - hit the post or schedule button.
4: Share - When I started out, I shared my photo with large automotive related pages with the chance of them sharing my work to their audience. This will help a ton to get quick exposure.
5: Insight: This tool that is provided by Facebook for free is a very powerful tool. You can view many stats, with page likes and times viewed being my favorites. I use these tools to see when my highest engagement times are and focus my posts to those hours. This will help with getting your image out and about with a higher chance of be viewed and shared. And yes, I totally geek out and export my insight data to Excel and run forecasts and try to project "Like income" and set targets based on engagement and growth rates week by week. (I am a Finance major, I really nerd out doing projections).
*note - I have done paid adds twice with a gift cards I received and did not notice a jump in activity or a bump in followers. I felt like I did not get much return on investment (ROI). Good thing it was only a gift card. My recommendation, only use the paid posts if you are a local business that needs to have some target marketing.
To be honest up front, I am not very handy with this platform. I just keep it simple and make posts and include hashtags that are related to the picture. I also like to use Instagram for behind the scene cell phone pictures on my shoots, if I remember to take out my phone. Sorry, no great secrets here.
There you have it, I am not sure if I answered everyone's questions... But I hope this helped a little. Thank you to my viewers for all the support and helping out with my photography dream! I really hope this post helps with learning social media and how to share your artwork with the world! Remember to share your work, network, be kind, and keep creating cool and unique content. Best wishes and keep on being awesome!
- David Coyne