Facebook.  Pay to play in the biggest playground around.

I announced in the beginning of the year that I was giving up on Facebook.  Primarily for two reasons:

  • It was distressing to go on there and see how unashamedly ludicrous and, frankly, stupid some of my friends have become
  • I needed to pay Facebook to show my Page followers the content I was posting, and I felt this was bullshit

Well, I’m back and with a new strategy.  So far it seems to be paying off.

Up until now I had been utilizing sponsored posts to get some of my content in front of my readers.  Pay $5-$10 to ensure that my posts make it into timeline feeds.

My new strategy is to pay to get very targeted followers.  I’ve created two campaigns to recruit people who appreciate the mountains, sailing, and photography.  I’ve refined these campaigns to get people who are most likely to enjoy my content.  By spending less than $200 I increased my follower count from about 2,800 to 5,300.  What this has done for me:

  • More people will initially interact with my posted content, proving to Facebook that people will enjoy it, thus getting it out in front of even more people.
  • More comments and shares increases social signals for that content.
  • More traffic to those pages has increased revenue from advertising and affiliate marketing, paying off for my initial recruitment and then some.

This strategy is much more cost-effective than paying to sponsor individual posts.

I schedule posts to publish days ahead of time, using Facebook Insights to find out when to post based on the time of day my followers are most active each day.  I’m posting on average 6 days per week, recycling “evergreen” posts and keeping track of what I’ve posted.  Effective without being obnoxious.

Instagram.  “I’ll follow you so that you follow me back, and when you do, I’m going to unfollow you because the mark of my success is having the most followers while following the least amount of people.”

What is it with this?


Does this person look like they genuinely want to follow you, or just looking for attention?

Unfortunately I’ve heard from a number of successful photographers that relevancy on Instagram is a mark of success, at least in the eyes of potential clients.  I never spent too much time building my community there.  People would occasionally find me, I’d occasionally find other people, and that’s about it.  My numbers stayed low compared to accounts with similar content.

But apparently there’s a demographic on Instagram that pays for thousands of followers as “proof” they’re popular.  They pay for fake accounts, or worse, they pay bots to follow people.  Once these people follow back, the bots will unfollow them.

This gives them follower numbers like world-renowned photographer Peter Lik.  Peter has 76,600 Instagram followers and follows 108.  His posts get in the neighborhood of 4,000-5,000 engagements.

Now let’s look at one of your “follow/unfollow” people who recently did this cycle with me.  They have 120,000 Instagram followers, follow 56, and their posts get in the neighborhood of 1,000-2,000 engagements.  See the difference?  Who do you think is the more successful personality?

Fortunately most photo editors & buyers see right through this.  If all you care about is numbers, then fine, I suppose you can go for it.  But if you want to build relationships and friendships (which is the point, right?), then this is a losing strategy.

How do I know all this?  I experimented with the Gramista bot for a week to see what it was all about.  While it increased my following, the quality was poor and it made me feel like an asshole.  Not to mention this is against Instagram’s Terms of Service.

Here’s an alternative to Instagram bots to help you gain real followers:

I have a small list of hashtags and photographers similar to me.  I’ll go through those hashtags and like & comment on photos in that group.  Then go through accounts of people who follow accounts like mine, and like or comment on their photos.  I’ll follow accounts I find with this method only if I’m genuinely interested in keeping up with them.  A service like Iconosquare streamlines all of this while still keeping you in charge.  It does take time out of your day since it’s not automated.

Disclaimer: if you follow me, and you have tens of thousands of followers & only follow a hundred back, and I’ve never heard of you before…I will follow you back with the anticipation you’ll unfollow me soon.  I will know when you do it.  Then I might publicly call you out on your feed.  Although some people could care less as this shows in my comment to this photographer, who unashamedly explains to someone else what the bots do.

Twitter.  A bunch of people yelling at the top of their lungs all at the same time and then running away.

Shutterstock credit Lisa F. Young

Sorry Twitter, I’m out.  Or at least not giving you as much attention.  Even in my most active months on Twitter you were only responsible for anywhere from 0.5%-3% of my total web traffic.  That web traffic tended to hover near the bottom as far as quality goes.  I can conclude from this that for all the time I’ve spent on Twitter it gave me little to no return.

For example, in June, I posted 75 times to Twitter and had 22,300 impressions.  Only 80 people clicked through to posts.  I posted the same content to Facebook 36 times for 16,686 impressions and had 491 visits – half the posts, fewer impressions, but over six times the visits.  The quality of the traffic was more or less the same within the margin of error, but there was much more of it.  This helped me confirm that the problem isn’t with my content but the platform itself.

I’ll drop in from time to time to publish a new post or photo, quickly scroll through my favorite people for interesting things to read, and then get out.

Google Plus.  Is this thing still on?

I really really really want go stop putting time into Google Plus.  But I can’t.  Why not?

As long as Google continues to remain king of the search engines and determine website ranking, you have to keep using their social platform.  Even if it’s just posting new website content to your Google+ account – this is immediately indexed by Google’s search engines.


Something else interesting goes on with G+ as well.  Even though it sends the least amount of visitors to my website of all social channels I use, those visitors stay on my website 3-4 times longer and view 5-6 times more pages per visit.  If I could only find a way to multiply those visits…

Building a following on G+ is my sticking point.  Sometimes I think that people have just stopped being active on the platform.  But then I see posts from people like Michael Russell and Trey Ratcliff that have thousands of interactions.  Actually, one of the segments of society most successful on Google Plus has been photographers.  I just haven’t figured out how to crack that nut yet.  Call it a lack of true motivation and determination.

I guess I just get deterred when I join a Google Community with millions of members and then see that only a few dozen people are active in it – why waste my time there?

If you have suggestions for this please leave them in the comments!

Uncredited graphic found on another website

Pinterest.  Who can create the most eye-catching graphic?

Pinterest still manages to be my Number One source of traffic.  Out of all various sources of traffic to my website, Pinterest sends 20% of it.  That’s a huge percentage, especially considering it doesn’t require daily attention.  The pins live in perpetuity on people’s boards and are discovered & re-shared every day without my intervention.

Pinterest seems to suffer some of the problems of Instagram.  “Pinners” will follow you looking for a follow back, then undo it as soon as you do follow them.  I just don’t get it.  Again, having 30,000 followers while only following 30 doesn’t make you look like a rockstar, it makes you look like a selfish ass.

But my biggest problem with Pinterest is creating the most eye-catching graphic.  With the giant influx in “pins” lately, it’s all about graphic design and creating a pin that will stick out more than everyone else’s.  I feel like I’m falling behind here.  My graphic design skills are mediocre at best and I haven’t yet made the plunge to outsource my designs.  Anyone interested in taking this on?

YouTube.  Now that I’ve switched from Adobe Premiere CC to Final Cut Pro X, I promise I’ll start making more videos.


Bye bye Adobe Premiere Pro.  Final Cut Pro has stolen my heart.  See ya’ll on YouTube.


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