I’ve always thought that as photographers we manage our social media lives in our own unique way, and just accepted the framework of whatever social media channel we are using.
But it was the departure of Elliot Neep from Twitter and Instagram (read his blog here) the other week that made me look at my own social media use, and ask myself the question “Do I have a problem with how I use social media with regards my photography?”
Well, to be honest, “No!”. Let me explain…
I only use Twitter, Instagram and in a limited way, YouTube. (And very recently I’ve signed up to Vero, but only to test it out.)
I don’t ‘do’ Facebook having wild misgivings about how personal information is farmed from there, and despite it being the most popular global social media channel, just because so many people use it, doesn’t mean its right. My opinion, and I’m sticking to it.
To be honest, I struggle with Instagram; I guess I’ve never ‘got it’, and see no benefit from posting images there over Twitter. I guess its this feeling that has prompted me to take a look at Vero as an alternative. Let’s see how that pans out…
I know I should make more use of YouTube, but to be frank, I just don’t have the time. I guess my YouTube account is just sitting there (with limited content) ready for when I have the time to leverage it properly.
Twitter is my main social media outlet, and I seem to get on with it okay, and not suffer from the issue others seem to have with it (in some cases it being a toxic pool of bile and hate).
Here’s how I’ve reached this stable relationship with Twitter: I run two accounts
One is a general account, for random conversations and statements, a way of keeping in touch with distant friends and a dumping ground for frustrations and musings on the world in general. In here (mostly) anything goes and I (within reason) let most things in.
The other is my wildlife & photography account, where the majority of items passing through it are photography, wildlife or conservation related. In here I shut out the world news, the random background noise of the naive, advertising/promoted tweets, and those inevitable “I’m eating a biscuit!” tweets.
What I call my ‘photography’ account is fettled regularly in order to keep it true to its cause as possible. To maintain such a ‘pure’ feed isn’t easy and takes time, but in doing so I have created a place of calm, a place of refuge from the noise of the world where all that appears before me relates to what makes me happy - photography and wildlife.
So how have I managed to do this? Well, I have a number of ‘feed grooming tasks’ that I carry out each time I use it, and these involve:
• Only following people who post 99% of material I find enjoyable & relevant. If I get a new follower and they post a lot of material around (for example) football and politics, I’m unlikely to follow them back.
• I block accounts that are only following me in order sell me something.
• I block the originator of all ‘promoted’ tweets and adverts.
• If people I follow start re-tweeting material of a subject nature I don’t like, I flag these tweets as ‘I don’t like this tweet’
• I block anyone who posts something that is ignorant or at odds with the reason for this particular account
But isn’t all this blocking and ‘grooming’ of this account distorting your view of the world, you may well ask. Well, no, not really, because I have my other generic account where I tolerate most of this dirge, so I get to see (mostly) what’s going on in the world.
Alongside the ‘bad’ (the grooming and cleaning up of the social media stream in this account), there is the ‘good’, and that being regular conversations with those I follow and whose work I appreciate. Sometimes adding a comment to someones post showing a recent photograph can go a way further than just simply hitting the ‘like’ button. I find engaging with people in an honest, friendly and open way will gain you more conversation and feedback for your posts as you start to build up a rapport with people. Taking time to converse with people is no bad thing and can yield many benefits in the long term.
So, is it a pain running two accounts and having to switch between the two? Again, no, because if I’m not in the mood for Twitter in all its mud-flinging glory, I don’t visit my general account, I just stick to the photography account. Easy!
In short, I treat my social media outlets like I treat physical locations; if I don’t want to visit certain areas, I don’t. I’m not compelled to go somewhere just because that’s where everyone else is heading.
It’s just about a bit of housework in order to maintain a healthy location where you don’t feel that the bad things in the world are trying to invade your space. In short it takes effort, and like all good things, the more you put in the more you get out.