Why you want to join yet another social media site
Ah social media, sometimes we have such a love hate relationship with it, yes? Is it Facebook or is it Crackbook? To Tweet or not, that is the question? I'm going to delve into the never ending debate–do you really need to join yet another social media site? I am going to give my opinion as to why I suggest you, and every photographer, should get on Google+! I'll share my experiences on Google Plus, as well as the event I attended in San Francisco in May, Google+ Photographer's Conference. Lastly I'll share with you a list 5 reasons why I think every photographer should be on Google+.
This is what my Google Plus profile looks like. Click on it to see more or come join me!
Admittedly, I've never really gotten into Twitter that much (perhaps I should–if you are, tell me why in the comments section), LinkedIn hasn't really done much for me at all, and lately Facebook seems like the place for party invites, playing games, and a place to share family photos and party pics. There's nothing wrong with that, and I am still active on Facebook, but recently I've discovered Google+ and I'm really enjoying the community there.
Why I think Google+ is the place to be if you're a photographer
- There's a real sense of community among photographers.
- Join, add people to your circles, interact and you start becoming part of the group. They comment on your photos, invite you to hangouts, you feel one of the gang. What we do as photographers (even if we do it just for fun not business) is sometimes very lonely. It's a great way to gain a social aspect and chat with others, get inspiration, ask for support, or really–just be silly.
- Most people are very approachable
- …and you're talking to the real person, not someone hired to put out messages for them. This is a common practice among celebrities and big shots on sites like Twitter and Facebook, but for some reason you can actually talk to the real person on Google+. In the photography world that puts the top photographers within reach. You can ask them about a shot they posted, a technique they used, or just introduce yourself.
- Google Photos has a great interface
- A great way of displaying the albums and viewing images full screen. You can even set your preferences on whether or not to allow downloading of your images (something not available on many other sites). This is a big thing for photographers and artists.
- More than any other platform Google is working WITH photographers to constantly improve
- They actually listen to our requests, (read the whole article to find out more about that) take them onboard, and make many of the changes photographers want to see. This is huge! Where else can you interact, follow and send a message to the founder of the company?! Can you Facebook Mark Zuckerberg directly? Googlers WANT you to email them, to +tag them so they see your comments and suggestions.
- SEO! Hear this and get it!
- Google+ is run by Google, right? So anything, and everything you post on Google+ including photos, links to your own site or blog, things you share – all gets indexed and ranked by the Google search engines. People can now put a “+” in front of any search to include searching Google+. I see this going big places and meaning big things for helping to get found on the big wide internet.
More details on Google+, keep reading!
Google+ is the relative newcomer on the block, being launched in July of 2011. To start it was invitation only, so you had to procure one from somewhere or a friend has to send you an invite. I think I got my invitation from Trey Ratcliff on his Stuck in Customs website. He invited as many people as possible to join him on this new network, and perhaps that has something to do with the fact that he is the most followed (they use the term “circled”) photographer on Google+ with almost 2.5 million followers as of this article (June 2012). He is usually in the top ten most followed people on Google+ as well, and has more followers than Google founder Sergey Brin himself.
I joined in August 2011 and dabbled for several months. Then, a couple months ago, I picked up Chris Brogan's book, Google+ for Business and really got into G+. I recommend this book if you are in business or are interested in going into business. Even if you aren't remotely about business at all you can still get some good tips on how to set up G+. There are a few others on the market about G+ too, but I haven't read them so can't give an opinion on them. Here's a couple books that are popular.
- Google+ for Photographers by Colby Brown
- What the Plus! Google+ for the rest of us by Guy Kawasaki (looks like only on Kindle though)
Google+ For Photographers Conference 2012
In April I received an invitation to the Google+ Photographer's Conference in San Francisco, a city I've always wanted to visit. I was intrigued by this inaugural event, and excited about the learning and networking possibilities it may offer–so I took the leap and registered. I was not disappointed!
Here's a list of the things I experienced and learned at the conference
1. Photowalks: there were photowalks the day prior to the main conference which gave us a chance to meet other attendees and one of the speakers. I've been reading Trey Ratcliff's blog and was curious to meet the most followed photographer on Google+ so I went on his walk with 49 other photographers. Here's a few images from the walk, if you want to see the whole set, click here, or on any of the images below.
Photo above courtesy of Peter Adams
2. How to grow your audience: engage! I learned a lot about how photographers are using Google+ to grow their audience and gain a following–specifically using Hangouts, sharing their and other peoples photography, and generally creating a community. I felt the conference gave us a great chance to up our game at all those things and meeting 749 or so other photographers with the same interests made for great networking. The biggest thing I learned is that when you engage other people, participate in discussions, add comments or reshare their posts or images – you will get noticed and followed back. That is, assuming of course, that you make intelligent comments; write actual full sentences (not just “cool shot”); perhaps add some humour; and keep it on an appropriate level (no rude comments or anything derogatory or mean). I know this is how my husband built quite a good following on Twitter. I just fount Twitter so limiting with the short posts and no images that I much prefer the Google+ interface.
3. Lots of education on various topics: there was two days of conference sessions on a variety of topics designed to inspire us and teach us about all things Google. There was usually a choice of three sessions, on simultaneously, and it was tough to choose sometimes. I liked that there were photography instructors, AND high ranking Googlers (as they call themselves) like Brian Rose (head of the Google Photos) and even Sergey Brin (Google Founder) made an appearance to show us the prototype of Google Glass. Made for a great mix of artistic, technology and fun.
4. Hangouts: I found out more about Hangouts, what they are, and how to use them for my business. After I got home I even participated in an impromptu one (thanks Elizabeth Hanh!) and 7 of us chatted about all sorts of things for about 2 hours, well after 1am! It's amazing to me that I can join a hangout, and be talking with, and see my new friends all over North America or the world even. Technology really blows my mind sometimes!
5. Having fun and making friends: I learned that most photographers, myself included have a really twisted sense of humour and I made a few new friends (some of which were surprised to learn that Canadians are really funny 😉 Ryan Turner!). One guy, Matt Leitholt, (who's only 19 and has a wicked portfolio) created a chat from a shared circle of attendees and we were all chatting on our phones, WHILE we were in the sessions. At the end one of the session I heard my name called out. I later found the mystery name caller that I chatted with, Christi Nielsen, and we both joined a group of people at a diner for lunch (about 24 of us invaded this place – thanks for the photo Leonid Maleshenok). All of it set up on the chat, amazing! To see more photographs from the conference including some of the classes click here or on the photo below of the gang at the diner.
Photo above by Leonid Malashenok
One of the people I met was Petra Cross who is a Google engineer and photographer. She does these really cool stop motion videos. One day in the Google Lobby she was being photographed by Faran Najafi, so I got in on the action. I couldn't pass up the great model and great light in the room. I posted some of my photos on Google+ and she liked one so much she is now using it on her About page on her web site Stopmotionista. How cool is that?! That my friends is how networking, and working together works, and why Google+ is such a powerful place to hang out!
So now, here's some things for you to take action on:
- if you aren't already on Google+ go sign up and get a profile
- learn the system by browsing or get yourself a book on the subject
- upload some photos for your profile (one head shot of you and 5 of your images)
- Add me! Darlene Hildebrandt is my profile. Make a nice circle to put me in called perhaps “awesome photography teachers” or I'd be happy with “really cool people” or however you want to categorize me. 😉
- go find some people to add to your circles and start following. Start with me, the people listed in this article, and My Top 50 Photographers to Follow!
- come back here and post a link to your profile in the comments section below, then we can all circe you back!
- share in the comments any other great people you find to follow
Now go Google+!
PS if you don't believe me, Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski talked about this very issue on an episode of The Grid. You can watch it here.