There’s a sort of one-upmanship in Photo-dom that exists, and is inescapable. Surely it has been baited and encouraged through what has to be the most exasperating rung on the ladder of human achievement – the ‘Like’ button. So much of how our success is judged now is based on how many times that ‘Like’ button has been hit, and it can be extremely frustrating when you see work that isn’t on the same level as yours getting far more attention than your own. And I actually mean success.
For example, if you have over a certain number of followers on Instagram and have a certain amount of likes on your images in relation to that following size, you’ll start to get free things, and possibly get paid per mention. I believe the number to be at now is something around 70 thousand. Gaining popularity through likes or up-votes on Flickr or 500px is similar in that you stand to be more likely to gain attention from media once you reach the popular pages, and then people like me will discover you more easily and feature you as I have done. This is social proof you can’t buy…or can you?
Well, it seems there are some ‘work arounds.’ Redditor rorrr devised an experiment to see how the system works, and then of course, manipulated. After watching the video at foot, which itself is a worthwhile watch on the much warranted topic of self promotion, he commented with his experiment.
You can see his full explanation here, but in essence, he noticed that on a photo community site which he doesn’t name, users with total rubbish photos were getting immensely more interaction, up votes and comments, than he was with his much better work. After looking at their online behavior, he thought about their actions as a programmer, and created a bot which would effectively replicate the tedious actions of these other users. Namely, the bot would give each new photo added a high star rating, a complimentary and broadly applicable comment, added the owner to a ‘favorites’ list, and give some more up-votes. What transpired within a day after was astonishing.
He had made loads of new friends, ended up on their ‘favorites’ list, and one of his photos became the photo of the day on the front page. This sort of meteoric rise gave way to investigation and getting banned, but the theory behind it was sound – interact a LOT, give people attention, and you’ll get it back in spades. This is not anything too new, but I think too many people assume that simply being on social media will help, when in fact, you’ll just drown or get lost like a drop of water in the ocean. You must work at it all the time, and personal interaction is clutch.
Without getting all self-help on you, if you’re interested in this mentality I could suggest the works of Gary Vaynerchuck. He is a social media artist, and even been featured on Chase Jarvis Live, and has good words of insight for photographers. His Chase Jarvis interview can be found below.