Where social media is concerned, one thing people don’t often think about is their reputation. But it’s an important factor to keeping followers happy. If you’ve got a good reputation online, then by default, more followers will flock to you. And for photographers, that means more eyes on our photographs. If you’re selling prints, then that means more print sales, and if you’re a wedding or portrait photographer, then that means more clients.
But there’s one mistake I’ve seen on occasion among photographers. It’s not a common mistake, but it’s one that can cost you, followers. Sometimes, people make a habit of over-promising things, especially on social media. It’s an easy thing to do. Photographers announce a major photo trip or event coming up and claim that photos will be forthcoming. But then, after the event is over, either the photos don’t come, or maybe the project didn’t work out as the photographer intended, and the result is lackluster.
It’s all part of a marketing tactic prominent on sites like Youtube or Instagram. I’m sure this happens on other sites. Marketers talk about “building buzz” or “building anticipation” up ahead of some upcoming events to get followers engaged in your social media content. What it boils down to is the content creator creating as much hype as possible around this upcoming event. For photographers, this means photo trips or even something like contests—win a free print, win a book or some other prize, but it never comes to be.
Not following through on contests and giveaways is, of course, a very obvious mistake to make, one that most of us are well aware not to make because it’s just a bad thing to do — and will obviously result in a bad reputation. But not following through or delivering lackluster results on photos you’ve created a buzz about is a less obvious mistake. Still, it’s one to be mindful of. This is even something that happens in the photography publishing world. An artist pitches a grand idea that a publisher takes an interest in. Ultimately, the project falls apart because something about it just prevented it from working as intended.
The thing to remember is that nothing is ever guaranteed in photography. When you do go to exotic locales, you can’t guarantee that you’ll take stellar photos. Maybe your surroundings aren’t as inspiring as you thought they would be, or maybe you’re having an off day. And when things do fall through after you’ve promised big results? Lots of fans are likely to be forgiving, but some may not be, and you could lose followers over it. Worse, it’s easy for people to remember the disappointment and think twice before becoming invested if you try to build buzz again. If the lack of follow-through happens twice, three times or more often? Then that starts to affect your reputation. More followers may leave as they become dissatisfied with the lack of promised results. So what to do? For photographers, maybe the answer is to let existing work stand on its own. Rather than building buzz for potential work that may or may not come to fruition, rely on the great pieces you already have. Build buzz for projects and photographs after they’re finished, not before.