I have social media on the brain a lot lately, with both the buzz about Google+ potentially falling by the wayside (I say good riddance), and also being included on on Feature Shoot's list of 101 photo industry professionals to follow on twitter. You can spend a lot of time and energy building something up, like your Google+ profile and contacts or your business page on Facebook (which these days only shows up on news feeds if you pay for it), only to have it become obsolete. So is social media worth the trouble?

Social media collage
Social media collage

The benefits can be huge. Just having your name floating around in the photography stratosphere is significant. There have been countless times when someone mentions a photographer, and the name sounds familiar (most likely just from Facebook activity), which makes me feel a bit more affinity for that person. I've also had several opportunities where Facebook friends became real-life friends and collaborators. Social media can be an incredible resource if used correctly.

Social media is an extension of your brand and should be used thoughtfully and strategically. With so many platforms to engage with, jumping into a social media practice can feel very overwhelming. And then once you do, it is easy to get sucked into a black hole of posts and links and shares, to the point where you feel trapped inside a news feed instead of out in the world making pictures.

Start small and be strategic. Take a close look at the major platforms and decide which one or two make the most sense for you. Try to find a balance where you can have fun with it, but it does not become all-consuming. Each social media platform has distinctive qualities and features that can help you expand your audience. But it is easy to get overwhelmed and to spend so much time “connecting” that you have no time left for your art practice, or your life.

Just do what feels comfortable for you, and don't worry about the platforms you're not using or the days (or weeks) you don't log in. Show your personality, show your work, and be kind and gracious. It's supposed to be fun.

For more on social media and a detailed explanation of twitter and how to use it, check out our book - Crusade For Your Art: Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers.