Top 10 Tips on Google+ for Photographers
Image by Thomas Hawk
As some of you know I received an early invite to test out and participate in Google’s latest entry into the social networking world Google+. I did an early comparison piece between Google+, Facebook, Flickr, 500px and Twitter the week before last. I wanted to write and update my thoughts on Google+ for photo sharing now that I’ve gotten a few weeks under my belt, as well as share with you all my own strategy for sharing photographs going forward.
Google+ completely changes the photo sharing game. Not just a little bit — alot. This may be the most significant shift in photo sharing that we’ve seen since the introduction of Flickr. There is more engagement going on with photographs on G+, more ways to share photographs on G+, and it is growing at a rate that blows my mind away. Photos are elegantly presented as large oversized thumbnails in stream views (in contrast to Facebook’s stingy microscopic photo thumbnails that I’ve never quite understood). When you click through the photo you get the most elegant lightbox view (on black) of any photo sharing site out there today.
Here are some tips for those of you who would like to maximize your photo sharing potential on Google+
1. Post your photos directly to Google+. This is probably the number one most important thing to do to promote your work there. If you post a link to Flickr, a link to your blog, a link to some other site, you get a small little thumbnail at best. If you upload your photo *directly* to Google+ you get a massive oversized thumbnail (is that like saying jumbo shrimp?). The larger your work is presented, the more likely it is to be engaged with. Even better, photos posted to G+ don’t count towards your Picasa storage limits so Google is effectively giving you unlimited photo sharing on G+ for free. What a deal.
2. Get the balance right. You don’t want to post too little or too much to G+. Your photos posted to G+ have a limited life. In the first hour that you post your photo it will receive 50% of the attention. In the next 3 hours 25% more, in the next 6 hours 10% more. In the next 24 hours 12% more. After a day and a half your photo will likely be buried. So it’s important to regularly be adding photos to your stream. On the other hand, if you inundate people with too many photos (like 10 in a row within 10 minutes) people will drop you faster than a hot potato and you will lose visibility — there’s a fine line between sharing photos and whoring photos. Find a rate for uploads that feels right. At present I’m uploading about 5 photos a day to G+ spread out throughout the day and night. This feels about right to me.
3. Share your best work. Don’t upload *everything* you take to G+. If you want to archive all your work use Flickr or Picasa. Save G+ to showcase some of what you feel is your strongest work. This will encourage other people to share your work and promote it more.
4. Don’t use watermarks and signatures on your work. Don’t hate me for this one. I’m so tired of haters. If you want to watermark the crap out of your work, go for it. It’s your work, do WHATEVER you want with it. YOU own it. It’s YOURS. Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just saying that watermarks, sigs, logos, etc. look *especially* bad when people pull up your photos in the large lightbox view. I’ve noticed that photos that are mared up by watermarks tend to not do as well on G+.
5. Make sure you understand sharing and make your posts *public*. Alot of people make the mistake early on of only sharing their photos with their circles without even realizing that they are limiting themselves. This means that your photo goes out to *alot* less people. This would be the same as marking a photo as private on flickr so that only your friends and family could see it. These photos will get alot less attention because most people *can’t* see it due to Google’s privacy settings. When people first start using G+ if they are browsing in a circle of their contacts and they share a photo from that screen, it limits the photo to only that circle. If you want your photo to be seen, make sure when you post it that it says "public" when you are sharing it.
6. Invite people from your other social networks. Post on your Facebook Wall about your Google+ stream. Offer to send invitations to your contacts there. Tweet links out to your G+ stream. Post it on your blog or tumblr account. Most importantly, post to FLICKR your Google+ stream so that your photo sharing contacts on Flickr can add you on G+. There is no easy way to transfer flickr contacts to G+ other than by word of mouth. It’s up to you to get the word out to your other photo sharing channels and get them to follow you on your new G+ account.
7. Engage with people who engage with you. Pay attention to the +1’s (fave/like) your photos receive. Pay attention to the comments. Go check out the people that are faving and commenting on your stuff. Social networks are largely about reciprocation. If they are a talented photographer consider adding them to a circle. If you like some of their work fave and comment on it too. Don’t just post your own stuff. Engage with the community there.
8. Try some hangouts with other photographers. I’ve hosted a few hangouts so far. It was great hanging out with Scott Jarvie who is one of the top wedding photographers out there. Trey Ratcliff seems to always be hosting them. Popular ones will fill up quickly (hangouts are video chats limited to 10 people) — but keep trying to get in those or maybe even set up one of your own. Don’t be shy on a hangout. Talk about photography. This is a great opportunity for you to virtually network with some other great photographers. It’s easy. Drop in, drop out. Make sure you’ve got your clothes on though, this is not Chatroulette.
9. Write good titles and descriptions for your photos. If you enter a description in for a photo in Lightroom or whatever other photo processing tool you use and write it as the photo’s caption, it will automatically populate into Google+ when you upload it. You’ll still need to manually add a title or headline. Make your titles interesting and engaging. Don’t upload something as DSC10989. Give it a good strong title. Don’t overkill on the caption, but a nice one or two sentence caption can be nice.
10. Be early. Don’t wait to get involved with G+. Get yourself an invite and signup NOW. Photo Sharing on G+ feels alot like the earliest days of Flickr. It’s the early frontier. Many of Flickr’s most popular users are popular because they got on the site EARLY and built a following before there was as much competition. Right now there is a huge brand new audience, HUNGRY for great photography on G+. It is early still and people are figuring out who to follow. Get involved and super active early to help build your own audience there. If you wait six months, or six weeks, or heck, six days as fast as Google+ is growing, you’ll miss out on some of the strongest, fastest early growth.
Bonus Tip: check out who your other photographer friends have added to *their* circles. You will likely find alot of people you know to add by doing this.
One final note. I’ve been asked by TONS of people about what the Google TOS means for photographers. There is a lot of FUD flying around out there about that now. As a policy I no longer comment about anything copyright related, so please don’t ask about that here or on G+. I won’t answer any questions about it. I will point you to an insightful post on the topic though written last night by Vincent Mo (who works for Google) on the matter.
If you don’t have an invite to Google+ yet and want one, either email me tom(at)thomashawk.com or flickrmail me your email address and I will try and invite you. I’m doing the best I can to keep up with the invite requests, so bear with me if it takes some time to get it out to you.