The Whole Social Thing

Since writing about leaving Flickr and 500px I’ve fielded a lot of questions and comments from fellow photographers. A few have applauded the move, some even followed suit. Others questioned my wisdom. But, most expressed broad agreement with the critique, while deciding to wait and see how the platforms evolve (or not) over the coming year.

To be honest, my move away from Flickr and 500px is really just the tip of the iceberg. I’m questioning the whole social media exercise and the manysemi-dormant versions of myself that exist online. I’ve lost interest in Google+, will probably delete my Pinterest and am looking hard at my social music accounts as well. I long ago forgot what the point of LinkedIn even was. Overall, I’m really questioning the effort that goes into maintaining and trying to grow all these avatars.

Or, to put it another way, I’m sicking of blowing up other people’s balloons.

The two places where I do invest time and have built community are this blog and Twitter. And, both are doing OK. In fact, I’ve managed to double this site’s traffic in 2012 (over 2011) and my Twitter followers have also more than doubled in the same stretch of time.

But, all these other social media sites, which I’ll admit are second tier in importance for me, don’t grow, even when I focus a disproportionate amount of time on them.

There’s a common wisdom that suggests we should spread ourselves over all these services as a way to maximise our reach – or something. Except, what I find is, the people who followed me on Flickr, or 500px also read this blog or at least, follow me on Twitter. The overlap is uncanny and undermines the “be-on-everything” argument.

Meanwhile WordPress keeps going from strength to strength. I’ve used WordPress to run this site since 2004 and I’ve been particularly impressed with how the software has matured in recent years and managed to keep pace with the need to integrate social services.

The most successful posts of the year (in terms of traffic) have been heavily shared on social media, but largely, this sharing has been independent (or very loosely connected) to my “marketing” efforts.

And, photos I post on this site get more views than my images on Flickr and 500px ever did. And, as I mentioned last week, the photographers I most admire don’t spread themselves over every service available. Those two reasons are more than enough for me to question whether there is a better way.

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  • Tiana Kai (@TianaKaiMiami) - 6th December 2012

    I hate Flickr and its layout. Maybe I hate it because I never understood why anyone would want to put 200 pictures up of a trip or concert. FB albums are cool b/c you get the best of the best to see… and blogs dwindle an album down even more. Anywhoooo, instagram is where it’s at, users and time spent keep sky rocketing.

    Unfortunately, I agree that:
    “The people who followed me on Flickr, or 500px also read this blog or at least, follow me on Twitter. The overlap is uncanny and undermines the “be-on-everything” argument.”

    I see the same expat circle of women swarming around each other, which probably led me to find your blog and a few others. I needed a breathe of fresh air. The ladies in my cirlces are awesome, they retweet my articles and carry convos on twitter and post on my blog, even add me to their blog roll…. but I feel like we are on the same island behaving like hermits. It is completely understandable: 1. you want to RT someone’s post if you like them to offer support 2. you know they will thank you with a tweet back or a RT 3. it’s easy 4. i like them.

    I remember when LinkedIn was a big deal and when I hit 500+ contacts I was like ‘holy shit i am 6 degrees away from anyone in the world’. It has not helped me with anything, just an easy way for stalkers to look at peoples resumés. Twitter and Facebook are what helped get me real estate work in Miami, since I was always in everyone’s face. Now however, techy posts are all over LinkedIn and their app makes it feel like a magazine, which is kind of sweet, but I still don’t use it to find out what’s going on in the tech world… Twitter does that well enough.

    • Fernando Gros - 7th December 2012

      Tiana – every work opportunity that has come to me from an online presence has been because of this blog or Twitter. I left Facebook a long time ago, so I can’t comment much on that. Flickr & 500px seemed to only really put me in front of other photographers. The non-photographers are just as happy to see my images on this blog as anywhere else.

  • Toni - 7th December 2012

    Interesting comments.

    I have a good friend (Randall) who moved away from WordPress to Blogger because of the tools & flexibility in blogger compared to WP. I’ve no axe to grind either way and have been happy with blogger since ’03, but my blogs have always been intentionally as simple as possible.

    Linkedin is a curious thing. I view it as a professional facebook – a way to keep work and social lives apart while connecting (occasionally) to work people through a social-style medium. Linkedin contacts can be useful in my industry, though so far to a limited degree.

    Twitter – you know my thoughts already 😉

    • Fernando Gros - 8th December 2012

      Toni – I only used Blogger fitfully in the very early days, so I can’t really comment. I find WordPress insanely customisable, so I’m surprised Randall switched. Then again, I’ve been using this software so long, it’s familiar. I thought about switching a few years back, but WordPress kept improving.

      My feeling about LinkedIn is, if you work for a company that has a HR department, not just a HR person, then it could be useful to me. It seems to be a very active recruitment tool for some industries.

      Twitter, well, we agree to disagree on that one. I love Twitter for all the same reasons I don’t like forums or Google+

  • Tiana Kai (@TianaKaiMiami) - 11th December 2012

    Yes, Twitter seems to be the place. I used to be a Realtor and Facebook helped a lot with referrals (not great ones in terms of money), since friends and acquaintances would see me posting pictures of new listings once in a while, so I stayed top-of-mind, but for photography or anything else, you can’t bombard friends on FB, hence we have Twitter.

  • P. - 25th May 2016

    Post from 2012 and it is still up-to date…

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In his Tokyo studio Fernando combines his life-long passions for art and technology. On the road, he is always looking to take the next wrong turn, just to see what kind of images and stories might unfold. A photographer & writer, with a background in music, Fernando has lived in Chile, Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Read More.


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