In this age of Social Media - how important is a 'like', 'favourite', 'retweet', 'comment'!?
As photographers we all post some of our images online every now and then, and as human beings we want our images to be 'liked' - isn't it embedded into our brains to want our friends and strangers to like what we do?!
Myself, I cover lots of Women's Football and Basketball - so most people who follow me on various Social Media sites, tend to be followers of these sports and I guess there is the occasional photographer as well who thinks it's worth following me. Depending on the season that is going on, the 'likes' and 'followers' keep changing - when I make posts about Women's Football for three weeks.. the basketball fans disappear, and the other way around. The other week I covered some basketball in Romania - their Cup Final 4 weekend - and as well as covering the game for clients, I took few images of cheerleaders and posted them on my Blog and Fecebook/Twitter accounts. Photographers who cover basketball - don't try to tell me you never snap images of the cheerleaders. After all, in the last World Championships for basketball - I spent minutes taking pictures of fellow photographers who posed with the Cheerleading squad after the Final!!
So as usual, I post my Blog entry and few images and video online for the odd stranger who comes to read about my ramblings. I get the usual likes from couple of friends, family and few basketball fans. The next day I include a picture of a cheerleader into my image gallery, and head to Facebook/Twitter to post a link to the Blog article (and include few images on FB post).
Next time I log-on to Facebook, instead of the usual one notification from some random person inviting me to play FarmVille or BurstABubble.. I have 58 new notifications! - WOW !! am I Mr Popular or what, I think to myself. As I said, we all like it when people like what we post ;-) Looking at the comments/likes/share/retweets - they are 98% about the photo of the Cheerleader (and one invite to play CandyCrush). Luckily for me, the cheerleader herself had also liked the image - so at least she approved of it. In the next couple of days, the Gallery gets over 2000 visits, I get 100's of likes/comments.
This is all very nice, but deep down inside I think to myself - I was at this event to cover basketball and what gets most likes is the picture of a Cheerleader! Now, my clients paid me for the images from the game itself - and they were happy with what I provided for them. But the people out there in the World Wide Web.. they didn't care too much about the nice Slam Dunk image, or the two players celebrating the Cup win... all they wanted to see was Cheerleaders.. Although to be fair - there were people who did also like the game images .. but these were in the 'tens', instead of 'hundreds'.
But - do 'likes', 'retweets' and 'comments' actually help me to pay my bills, fill up the car, buy a new lens, fly to Spain?? Unfortunately the answer is no - at least last time I checked in my local supermarket - 1000 Likes on Facebook wasn't accepted as a payment, and my usual choice of airline doesn't offer the chance to pay for a flight with Twitter 'retweets'.
In a funny way this made me feel a bit better about the fact that only very few of my posts get a big number of likes/shares/retweets - as much as it gives a little boost to your ego that your work gets 'liked'. In the end, the real rewards are when you get paid for the images you take for the clients. No matter if your image goes viral and gets millions of views/likes - the opinion of your client is still more important than any 'like' 'retweet' 'share' or 'comment' on Social Media.
Notice how I didn't use the image of the cheerleader as the cover photo - this means less likes for the article ;-)