There is no way anyone can win the social-networking arms race. It’s time to scale back. It’s time to realize that social-networking sites come with only one guarantee: You’re going to spend a lot of time on them - time that you could have spent on your own photography.
First there was Facebook. Then, there was Twitter. Then Tumblr. Then Google+. Now Pinterest. Maybe I’m getting the order wrong here. But whatever it might be, photographers are told they need to actively pursue so-called social networking, because that’s the game in town now. I can’t escape the feeling, however, that we need to put an end to the madness and say that enough is enough. How many more social-networking accounts does one need? Things have become so bizarre by now that often clicking on a Twitter link takes you to a Tumblr page linking to some other site linking to… (You might know the same game from Facebook or Google+) What’s the point of posting the same stuff on five, six, seven different sites? (more)
I do understand the relevance of creating an audience and of spreading the word. But it seems social networking and especially PR have become little more than the equivalent of the nuclear arms race in the world of photography: People are trying to out-network, out-PR each other. The result: As a tool for photography, Facebook alone has become utterly unusable, given it’s flooded with PR. Twitter still fulfills its assigned role well, but on a busy day you want to throw your hands up in sheer horror over the flood of stuff that’s being thrown at you: Is all that stuff really equally important?
Social-networking theory aside: Shouldn’t we be taking pictures? Isn’t photography about photographs and not about promoting the crap out of photographs?
My point here is not that photographers should ignore social networking (even though that works very well for quite a few people - you just don’t hear about them that much, even though you certainly see their books and shows). But you need to find the point where you realize that good enough is good enough. If you want to obsess over something, it’s probably not the number of your “followers,” it’s the quality of your photographs. And it’s the quality of what you have to offer on social networks.
That probably means that you don’t need to have an active account on a gazillion different social-networking sites, making sure that you sign up for each and every new site. There is no way anyone can win the social-networking arms race. It’s time to scale back. It’s time to realize that social-networking sites come with only one guarantee: You’re going to spend a lot of time on them - time that you could have spent on your own photography.