In February of 2012 I was dead set on not joining the social media crowd. I didn’t have a Facebook, I had no Twitter and I sure as heck wasn’t on Pinterest or Instagram. My anonymity was important to me. When several Google algorithm changes hit websites near and dear to my heart it was time for me to go to the source to resolve the issues. The only way I was going to get some answers was to ask those that sit on the Internet all day grinding through the data. I decided to hop on Google Plus and see what the “experts” knew.
Fast forward two years and I now have over 575,000 Google Plus followers and I consistently receive over 250 +1s on posts in which HDR photos are shared. Let me repeat that, I get over 250 +1s on posts in which HDR photos are shared. It is not easy to get engagement on links or topics of conversation but it seems to be relatively easy to get some engagement on photos. I noticed this very early on in my “social media career” so I decided to take up HDR photography myself. After taking thousands of photos and sharing hundreds of photos on Google Plus I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, this is where the engagement is on social media.
Some may say that my research is limited. That may be true but my most viral Twitter tweets and Pinterest Pins are HDR photos. I only use Twitter for personal reasons and have a very small following. That said, I have still had several local UNC HDR photos receive over 100 retweets. When looking at the graph of the reach of my tweets it is quite obvious that my photo tweets go the furthest. Many will ask why social media has become a picture sharing bonanza. Well, here is why…
Social Media is Still Very New to Many
While there are some that live on social media all day there are millions that have never signed in or have signed up for the first time recently. It is still shocking to me that many college students do not have Twitter. I have friends that literally go by the name Twitterless Jessie and Twitterless Anna. This is at a university of 25,000+ students of which I would assume most of them would have Twitter. If college students are still not on Twitter you can guarantee that many middle aged men and women are not blasting out tweets.
If they are not blasting out tweets they also aren’t pinning on Pinterest or plussing away on Google Plus. If users are just getting started on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest it stands to reason that they would simply lurk and not perform a lot of the more labor intensive actions. Instagram was genius to allow users to “like a photo” by simply double tapping on their smartphone. Pinterest was smart to put the heart on the upper right hand of every photo so users can simply “heart” the photo.
Google Plus was not immune to this. They use the +1 as a way to allow users to browse, like and move on. New users are not going to start a long, drawn out conversation if they are not comfortable with the product. They sure as heck aren’t going to express a deep opinion about a subject. If they see a pretty picture they have no qualms about hitting the +1, like or heart. It is so easy it is perfect.
Time is of the Essence
When surfing the Internet most people are not looking to spend more than a few minutes just checking for something. While I spend several hours a day working with clients helping them drum up business the common Internet users hops on, checks their email, looks at Facebook, Pinterest or Google+ and goes back to their normal life. Lots of these users are completing these actions from their smartphones. When looking at any social application on a smartphone it is not easy to type paragraphs. It is easy to hit a +1, like or heart.
It would be great if all of my Google Plus posts received 1000 +1s and 500 comments. It is never going to happen. There are some Facebook accounts that get this type of interaction but they are already brand names and have a following elsewhere. They are TV and movie stars, celebrities, athletes and brands. When they go on the Tonight Show they immediately add 30,000 new followers. This is not possible for a guy who works in social media to help brands gain exposure. I am fine with that. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, I enjoy anonymity. That might be a little funny coming from a guy with 575,000 Google+ followers but I share surface based content on social media.
In fact, the more I use social media the more I realize it has become a way for people to share pictures and photos that tell a story. If you want any type of engagement and you hope to build a following it is going to take pictures. No pun intended. I would love to say that you could be an author that writes long drawn out posts on Google Plus or Facebook and get tons of interaction but it is not happening in the near future.
Share Photos and Watch Engagement Rise
One of the best investments I made was purchasing Nik Software from Google and a Nikon D5200 that allows me to capture HDR photos. Since I did this I have been able to increase the engagement and +1 count for well over a dozen businesses. I have also been able to build my own brand through communities and social shares across the web. Rather than trying to fight a losing battle I would strong suggest considering photo sharing from your personal or brand profile to build a following. If you need HDR photos or you are looking to build a presence on Google Plus to help with search or brand exposure please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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