What Social Media Professionals Can Learn From Photojournalists

Social media is about relationships with people, whatever the reason might be. You reach out to your target market to create relationships, the more personal the better the results. Businesses try to be more personal in their social media profiles and connect with their customers/clients. That’s what people want. A personal service, they want to feel important and catered to. Where does photojournalism come in?

Photojournalism is all about connecting with people to be able to tell their story authentically. This becomes even more important when photojournalists are working on photo stories. You have to get to know the people on a personal level, they have to be comfortable with you to let you into their lives. You can’t photograph honestly if you don’t have full access to things that might be important to your story.

Doesn’t it sound a lot like social media? People have to TRUST you to let you into their lives whatever that is you’re doing with social media.

I noticed this core commonality between social media and photojournalism after finishing Trust Agents, a book by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. What really resonated with me was this. Trust agent’s job is to

Make people feel comfortable, all the way, building deep relationships before ever asking something of others.

Photojournalists build deep relationships with people they photograph to be able to create emotional and compelling stories.

So, what can social media marketers learn from photojournalists? These are things that my photojournalism professor keeps telling us over and over again to make good photo stories that people care about.

You couldn’t run a marathon after buying your first pair of shoes

This is just another metaphor for learning to crawl before you can run. You have to prepare, just like a marathon runner prepares for the marathon. It doesn’t happen overnight. Spend the time learning the craft, the ins, and outs of social media. Just because you know how to use Facebook and Twitter does not qualify you as a social media expert or guru.

You’re betraying the trust if you don’t produce good work

You might be asking, whose trust? Everyones. Your clients trust you to create and lead their social media strategy, their customers and clients trust you to be honest with them. You begin creating authentic relationships with people all around you, business and personal. So creating a successful social media strategy and executing it effectively is your responsibility to everyone.

Always assume it’s been done before

This doesn’t mean you have to copy what everyone else is doing. Just take a look at what others are doing, what’s working, what’s not working. Once you know what has been done you can learn from that and build upon that. Innovation rewards those who know what has been done before. Plus, once you know what has been done, you will know how you can be different.

Know the destination, so you can drive there without wandering around and getting lost

This really comes down to your social media strategy. You have to know what it is you’re trying to do. Driving around for the sake of driving around is not useful. You will waste money and time with no results. Your social media strategy is like a GPS in your car, once you enter an address it gives you a clear direction on how to get there. It needs to be concrete with achievable and measurable results. Selling more books is not a destination but a direction, but selling 125 books by the end of the month is a destination that can be easily entered into your GPS.

So what? Why should anyone care?

Why should anyone care about what you’re doing? Just because you want to make money for yourself and your clients is not a reason people will trust you. You have to be genuinely interested in people and in what they have to say. Authenticity is very rare these days because people get into social media to make money not to connect with people. Big mistake. Work on establishing relationships first, money will come to you organically without forcing it (mistake many get-rich schemes to make and people fall for it).

Your social media strategy should be about people, not things. There’s a reason it says “social” media and not “material” media. So get to it, talk to people. No social media software will replace genuine communication between people.

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Viktor Nagornyy

Viktor Nagornyy

For the past 14 years, Viktor has worked with businesses of all sizes, helping them generate more leads and sales through an effective inbound marketing strategy and conversion-optimized websites while increasing marketing efficiency with marketing automation tools and tactics. Follow on Mastodon: viktor@me.dm