My latest contribution to the Australian Photographic Society pages in Australian Photography magazine appears in the October 2019 issue under the title Using Social Media. Here it is as published:
And here it is as submitted:
Using Social Media
I’m not an expert at using social media, but I have learned a little about using hashtags to attract more viewers of my images. Why do I want to? My principal reason is to share some of my images with people, because letting other people see my shots is a big part of my passion. Why take photos if nobody gets to see them?
A while ago I received an email from a lapsed APS member suggesting that much more use of Facebook could be used. The Society’s President is keen to see APS and more of its members making use of social media; not just Facebook, but Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, 500px, Flickr and many more. Choose your own.
To justify the time and effort involved in using social media sites, we need to learn how to do it well. For example, we need to think about the best time of day to post to sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Many people are addicted to the former and check it first thing in the morning and last thing at night every day because that’s when they have the most time. So, to maximise the prospects of our friends and followers seeing our photo posts we need to post at times to coincide with the majority of those people being on Facebook.
Instagram is very much a photo-driven site. Again, early morning posting is a good approach. So too is early evening. But don’t forget that your followers may well check new posts when they are on their lunch breaks.
Now, let me talk about hashtags. Firstly, what is a hashtag? The dictionary tells us “A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. Whenever a user adds a hashtag to their post, it’s able to be indexed by the social network and becomes searchable/discoverable by other users.”
OK, now we know what they are, how do we decide which hashtags to use? One approach might be to look at the tags used by people who have lots of followers and use the same ones. But if one of those tags is used by a million other people then your post is going to get lost amongst all of the others using the same tag. So, we need to find appropriate tags that give our images an improved prospect of staying at the top of posts for longer.
Let me reiterate that; if a particular hashtag is used by huge numbers of people that doesn’t mean it is the right fit for you to gain followers and Likes. The only thing it ensures is that your image will disappear into the deep crevices of social media. Out of sight! I read somewhere that the hashtag #photography is used on 252 million Instagram posts every second. Apparently that means an image with that tag will disappear within 30 seconds.
There are various tags I always use in order that those who follow three photography organisations of which I am a member will see my photos. I urge all members of the APS to tag their photos with #australianphotographicsociety to help promote our Society.
For my image on this page, I would use only some of the following tags – #beijing, #beijingbuildings, #1in36, #squares, #windows, #grid, #architecture, #onewhite, #onewhitewindow, and #3dimensional. I leave it to you to consider which of them might be good tags for the image.
Hole in One
We need to be up to speed with relevant hashtags and current trending topics. And, if you haven’t realised already, you can simply make up your own hashtags – if you are clever enough to think of one nobody else has ever used. Oh, and please ensure you spell your tags correctly! For me #monochrone doesn’t cut it.
If you want to follow my personal Instagram account it is https://www.instagram.com/brianrope/. If I follow you in return, we can learn more about social media together whilst seeing each other’s imagery.
To find Websites that explore this subject in more detail, just do a Google search for something like “using social media to promote photography”.