It's not often that one would be satisfied with being number two at anything. Especially in the American culture, being number two at anything is akin to being well…number two…forgotten. How many of us remember who lost the World Series last year? I have a hard enough time remembering who won, much less who the runner up was.
While listening to an ASMP webinar this week on the topic of Social Media, and it's potential impact on my business, I absentmindedly entered the phrase "aviation photography" into the Google search bar. Not even being able to venture a guess as to where Aerographs might show up, imagine my astonishment when my site came up number two in the world, out of 6,450,000 search results. NUMBER TWO!
After picking myself up from the floor (fortunately I was already sitting down), I began to wonder just how this turn of events may have occurred. It dawned me that perhaps I spend a bit more time on this than I had imagined. I do have a blog (obviously), and when I have the time it's generally a very therapeutic endeavor to put down a few thoughts on paper. It had escaped me that my first blog entry was posted in March of 2008 (seven years and running), and to date 75 posts have been written on all sorts of topics. I usually don't have a lot of time to spend on unlimited blog entries, tweets, and Instagram posts, so I try to make 'em count.
The social media mavens will have you believe that all of your waking moments need to be spent on pursuing "number one" on the search results list. It will lead to instant fame, fortune, and accolades if only one puts enough effort into it. Trying to decide just how much effort is the million dollar question.
As an aside, I generally try not to be too technical in blog posts, as it often attracts a following that only wants to discuss technical topics. While I can do that, it quickly loses its charm for me, as I rarely concentrate on the technical aspects while making an image. Not that I ignore the technical aspects, it's just that once I determine what is needed for the shot, that part takes a back seat to “getting the shot.” This allows me to concentrate primarily on the light, the design within the frame, the gestures or facial expressions being offered up, and the "rhythm" of the shoot.
Other social media accounts of course enter into this equation, and as other platforms such as Linked In, Twitter, and Google+ have emerged, I’ve added them to the mix, some more successfully than others. I wish I had more time to follow Twitter, but alas I don't spend a lot of energy there. Linked In is becoming more and more valuable for me, as it has the potential to put me in direct contact with those who can afford to make hiring decisions. For me, the jury is still out on Google+.
Another technique I've used is to have clients, when appropriate, link back to my site. While I understand this to be an effective technique to drive traffic to one's site, I'm not sure how much weight it is given by Google. But I figure it can't hurt.
Additionally, I try to keep in mind is that, in my opinion, there has to be a balance between real life, work, and the virtual "social media" world. As much as I enjoy interacting with people, there is a time and place when one needs to step back from that effort, at least for a little while. It keeps things interesting, and fresh. Besides, I don't want to wear out my welcome, nor ignore the other social media offerings that I follow.
One more thought occurred to me regarding social media interactions, that being that I don't believe they all need to be "virtual." I enjoy speaking publicly when asked, and I suppose the online mention that I'll be "appearing" somewhere (sounds kinda important doesn't it?!) helps to keep one's profile in front of the virtual robots that keep track of such things.
I couldn't say for sure, but as I'm active in the professional photo community at the local and formerly at the national level, it occurred to me that perhaps the name trail that one leaves may also enter into the equation. I've not "Googled" myself (sounds kinda creepy to me anyway…), but I'd probably be surprised just where I might show up.
Since I've been of the mindset that one should take a long-term view of things, I've tried to keep my online presence positive, and in a social sense, healthy. Additionally, I've never taken the approach that posting one picture in my blog, with a two-sentence caption, counts as a blog post entry. That just seems disingenuous at best, and now that Facebook and others have introduced a "quality score" into the mix, it would appear that indeed blog post entries with several paragraphs of text tend to rank higher.
Although I have Vimeo and Youtube accounts, I don't really count them in the mix, as the "videos" that I've done so far are exploratory at best. It's a field that I've barely scratched, and as I learn more about video, may become more important, in a business sense. Several of my posts do have links to extended audio interviews, so that may have been another element that weighs positively in my favor.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed “mixing things up,” and now that I look back at my “virtual footprint”, perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised that Aerographs comes up number two after all.