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For purposes of this course I would like to give you a working definition of what social media is. This is so we all think the same way or at least have a common understanding. There are lots of ways to implement social media, but I think it's really important that you have a pretty good working knowledge of what it really is. You see, social media is simply the sharing of news, content, audio, photos, video, pictures with people in your network. Typically, you're going to be sharing with people you know, or perhaps it's just people who want to know you.
By doing this you become discoverable. Mainly because your friends or people you are affiliated with will start to re-share your content. Every time they like it; give it a plus 1 or choose to share it on their timeline, you're getting exposed to new people. Think of it a bit like this, it's kind of like a cocktail party that you've been invited to; as a professional, it's a great opportunity to network and meet other people in your industry. Now there are a lot of other personal things that happen on social media, but it can be used quite effectively for business.
Of course, you don't want to be like this guy, the person standing in the corner yelling loudly, trying to get attention. If you're making a lot of noise, you can easily turn people off. However, if you choose to share your information and do so in a courteous and informative way, people will come and pay attention. Some of you though, might be a bit shy, afraid that you can add to the conversation or want to just lurk and sort of eavesdrop and hear what's happening, it's perfectly acceptable to not always be the one talking, to be participating in community by being an active listener, but make sure you occasionally take the bag off your head and actually open your mouth and share an opinion.
Now with social networking there are a lot of things to keep in mind. I like to say that this is an effective way to reconnect with colleagues or former coworkers. Chances are in your professional career, you've worked with a lot of people, they may move on to other jobs, you may move across the country, but maintaining those professional connections is incredibly important. Many people in the photo and video industry get their gigs or their full-time jobs, because of a recommendation from a colleague. It's awfully hard to tell a good person from a great person and a recommendation goes a long way.
However, it's critical that you do not overstep, you don't have to worry that everybody likes you or that your stuff is super popular. Rather, it just matters that you're connecting with the people that you need to. Don't lurk, don't stalk, don't really be needy, you want to just be genuine and this will lead to professional connections. If you're too needy, people will just ignore you and they won't listen to what you have. You don't want to sound desperate for work; rather you just want to sound active and involved.
I always say, share your personality and your passions, don't make it 100% about work, but do try to keep it on topic, and above all, use good taste. A simple adage is, think before you post, just like a cocktail party, would you say that in front of a room full of people? Always remember with social media, people are listening, people remember and even if you rush back to delete that post, somebody could have taken a screenshot of it or it could have already been read and the damage been done.
There are a lot of outlets for social media; I like to think of business networking first and foremost. Sometimes these are on dedicated sites, specifically for business or more generic social media sites where you connect with clients. Oftentimes though, you'll want to strongly consider having separate accounts for your personal and your business use. Sometimes though, you will have just pure social networking. Some of my best jobs come from my friends, people that I stay in touch with, people that I like.
I recommend them, they recommend me. When something comes up that's a good fit, I try to pass it on. Remember, the people that know you and like you best are going to be your best references. Another thing that's important, especially for video and photo pros is the ability to network while being mobile. You see you'll often be on the road for gigs, traveling for shoots and because you have a mobile network, perhaps something you access from your smartphone, you can stay in touch. Another thing that I'd like to encourage you to think about is stepping up into the world of being a blogger.
Now social media is great, but it's all about content and if you take the time to actively participate in blogs, perhaps your own or a communal blog that's shared on a particular topic, you will see a lot more out of social media. Anybody can offer up an opinion or open their mouth, but it takes a little more work to write an article out. Now of course, you can use social media to promote it, but try to graduate from just a simple 140 character tweets into something with a little more substance.
Blogging is one of the best things done for photographers and its rising in popularity amongst video pros as well. Now there are a wide range of outlets. Twitter, for short messages and keeping in touch with the network, particularly one that's near you. Facebook, to communicate with the masses. Google+ which is incredibly popular amongst photographers looking to stay in touch with one another, and the rising star Pinterest, which is a visual search engine of sorts that lets people communicate around photos and video and browse by interest.
Of course, there are even better opportunities to meet up through things like Meetup.com, where you can join local groups and get face time with people in your own market. And of course, online forums and community help where you can contribute. I've been an active member in both online forums and community help, taking the time to answer other people's questions, taking the time to write something down that you've figured out and share it with your industry, is a great way to gain professional credibility. People respect it and it goes a long way in getting those important references that you're going to need for jobs.
On the pure business networking side, you're going to want to plug into some of these. Sure, they might not be as fun as a social media site, but using services like LinkedIn or Plaxo Plus can really help you keep in touch with your clients, and they often serve as a source of recommendations from some of their colleagues or connections. Business networking sites are not as fun, but they do have social components, active discussion forums, the ability to provide references or leads to one another.
Use these sites to better keep in touch with your professional colleagues, particularly those outside of the photo and video industry.
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