Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be very much aware of how the use of social media has gripped our nation over the past few years.
Although many people are conscious of its massive appeal and power, there are still plenty of folk who have yet to be convinced/converted. This article is for them.
I caught up with prolific Irish-based @RogerOverall to find out his thoughts (and his use of) social media. Take it away Roger…
What Has Social Media Ever Done For Me?
I like social media, I really do.
My social media footprint has a big shoe size. Maintaining it takes a lot of time, especially as I don’t have a coherent social media strategy at the moment.
The questions is: “Why bother at all?”
The answer is simple. The more people we can engage with and get to know, the broader our network; the broader our network, the more opportunities we are able to tap into. These opportunities will range from a good face-to-face chat over a cup of coffee, to participating in a charity event, to being kept in the loop about important issues that affect us, to receiving business referrals.
Let me give you some concrete examples.
One of my great friends is Paul O’Mahony, who is a social media dynamo by the way. He lives barely a quarter of a mile away from me, yet over a period of five years we had never met. Following a chance meeting at BNI last year, though, he reached out to me through social media to help him establish a Help Portrait event here in Cork.
Help Portrait brings together photographers, make-up artists, hairdressers and a multitude of other volunteers to gift portrait photography to people who have been having a rough time of it. It was conceived in the US and spread worldwide through, you guessed it, social media. Paul picked up on it and drew me in.
We organised a successful event last December and are repeating it on a much larger scale on 5th December this year, keeping our volunteers up to speed via our dedicated Facebook page.
The benefits to me are huge. The event is massively life-affirming and I get to feel wonderful. I’ve also made a huge pile of friends along the way.
Being all flower-power about it: social media helps me to do good in the world.
If that’s too hippy for you, let me show you how you can also use social media for business purposes.
One of my best referral sources is other photographers. About 10-20 per cent of the enquiries I get from brides, for instance, come via this route. It’s a two-way street as I refer couples on to my colleagues as well. So as photographers we benefit greatly by getting to know each other. I have made it one of the lynchpins of my business.
Here’s a quick taster of how the podcast has helped me.
The podcast is aimed at professional photographers in Ireland and further afield in Europe. It is a touchpoint for them to connect with us and for us to connect with them. We are steadily building a community around the podcast. That on its own is very satisfying, but the buzz we get from doing it doesn’t stop there.
Through the podcast, Peter and I were able to leverage a small speaking slot at a regional meeting of the Irish Professional Photographers Association in the summer. That in turn led to a larger slot at the IPPA national conference only last week – an audience made up of professional photographers.
We are also able to use the podcast to connect with luminaries in our industry. We invite them to be interviewed. It gives us a reason to engage with them. Without the podcast, we wouldn’t have an excuse to do so. That allows us to expand our networks with photographers who are much further ahead of us on the career track. We learn from them just as much as our listeners do.
And all the while we are expanding and nurturing the pool of people whom we already know are a great source of business referrals.
One thing you have to keep in mind in this regard: the friendship and respect come before the business. In fact, while the relationships will likely lead to business, it cannot be the purpose of the friendships. I like to hang out with other photographers. Some I bond with easily; others less so, or not at all. Building a friendship takes time and you have to be interested in the other person for reasons other than just as a source of referrals. That’s what builds and sustains long-term friendships. Eventually, somewhere along the line, a business opportunity will come from it, but if you’re just in it for the business that will happen well after you’ve grown weary of the relationship.
Relationships first. Business some way down the list. After all, it’s “social media”, not “business media”.
So, what has social media ever done for me?
It’s given me friends.
It’s given me mentors.
It’s given me the opportunity to educate.
It’s given me the opportunity to be educated.
It’s allowed me to grow by helping others.
It has allowed others to help me.
It’s allowed me to build a community.
It’s allowed me to participate in communities.
It has made me visible.
It has brought me business.
It has allowed me to pass on business.
All right! Apart from the friends, the mentors, the education, the helping, the community building, the visibility and the business: what has social media ever done for me?