What social networks should have photographers’ attention in 2020?
The one constant in social media is change, and it’s time to take a fresh look at what’s tending (in either direction) and reevaluate where we spend our social media energy as photographers. There’s no use is spending all your energy on a given social network if it is on its way out, and you might want to look at something new that could be trending. Let’s dive into 2020 photography social media and attention.
I’m basing my thoughts on some source data recently released by Trust Insights (link below), coupled with my insights as a photography technologist.
What’s Hot: YouTube, Reddit, Slack, Twitch
YouTube continues to see growth and should become even more important for photographers of all genres. If you aren’t already sharing your work, talking about your work, talking about your clients, and providing useful information for your clientele via YouTube, the time to start is now.
Don’t overthink it – you don’t need a dedicated video studio with $10,000 of additional equipment. If you have a current high-end smartphone you have what you need.
Reddit has a bit of a learning curve and hasn’t quite shed its stigma as being for nerds of all sorts, but it’s a great place to connect with others with similar interests. If you’re looking to use it for your photography business, don’t go in focusing on photography topics… other photographers aren’t your clients. Connect around topics of interest to your clients… whether that’s local subreddits for your community, or a subreddit around your fine art genre, or one that’s dedicated to an industry where you work commercially.
Twitch is a video streaming platform that grew quickly in the gaming arena but is starting to see a wider reach. Photography-specific uses could be a stretch but I suspect we’ll see some clever folks will put it to work.
Slack provides a forum for community messaging and its up to you how widely you want to include your audience. While it’s often used by businesses for internal communications, there are local and interest-based Slack groups as well that can provide photographic business networking opportunities. As an example, I’m a member of a Slack group for Portland Startups and have done a fair amount of photography work for other members of that group.
In Decline: Snapchat, Facebook, Medium, Instagram
These four platforms are expected to have a decline in users over the next year… the days of unlimited Facebook growth have come to an end.
If you have a strong presence on these platforms… the decline doesn’t mean you should immediately walk away. Keep going if it’s working for you. But what it does indicate is that now probably isn’t the right time to start there… if you’re not already finding success on Snapchat, it’s time to put that energy to work elsewhere. The same thing applies to Facebook… if that’s working well… keep going. But if you’re posting work and not generating leads, again, that effort could be better put to use in another forum.
Also Growing: Private Communities
Trust Insights uses the term “velvet-rope communities” to refer to the various private networks that are growing. These could be private Discord servers, or private forums, or closed Facebook groups, or any other invite-only community that’s not exposed to the general public internet.
The closed nature of these communities has a few key things to note:
- Generally they’re not subject to algorithmic-based targeting such as the public social networks
- As closed communities, the conversation tends to remain focused and isn’t subject to interjection by random folks who think they need to have an opinion.
- It can be hard to judge them from the outside, which makes the marketing and networking potential often hard to identify until one invests some time as a member to find out if it really is “your people.”
With private communities, the best way a photographer can see results is to immerse themselves in a community of their clientele. If you photograph high school seniors, get involved in local school groups if possible. If you are a corporate photographer, connect with local business communities. If you’re into landscapes, find out where fine art is being discussed and become part of those conversations.
This information should be looked a strategically – none of it requires immediate action on your part. But it can help guide your longer-term direction. I like to do a periodic review of my online activities, and I would consider this information as I ask myself:
- “What should I start doing?”
- “What should I stop doing?”
- “What should I keep doing?”
So… what will you be doing? What do you think your 2020 photography social media mix will look like?
Interested in the source data where I started my thoughts? download the Trust Insights report.