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Why Your Photos Get No Likes, And Why Ones Much Worse Do Much Better

By Kishore Sawh on September 25th 2014


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 buyor 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.


[REWIND: A Comment Fueled Debate on The 50mm & 85mm Lenses For Portraits]

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.

Source: Petapixel

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. David De Fotograaf

    I need to find some social sharing plugins for Lightroom. :o

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  2. Diane Colquhoun

    Very interesting, I use Instagram and I love it have about 6K followers but it’s starting to get annoying when the new people come on just want to get followers. It’s there to share your photos. And a lot of people get quiet agro when you don’t follow back or unfollow.

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  3. Samantha Hayn

    Watched the full 90 minute video & It was great!

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  4. Barry Cunningham

    I have noticed recently that I have been getting some followers on Flickr that are newish members, with only a few hundred photos (some very good, some blah, most in-between), but who are following 10,000-70,000 other photographers on Flickr.
    I’ve wondered, what’s with that?
    Hasn’t seemed blatantly annoying enough to incite me to block them. Also, not worth following back, since I only want to see contact photos that are either inspiring me to do better or are from friends.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      This is somewhat akin to the bot issue in this article, except probably manually done. It’s extremely popular on Instagram to follow tens of thousands of people, then once a good number of them follow you back, unfollow most of them. It’s sly, but sadly can work.

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  5. Brian Stalter

    Some great advice given here, thanks!

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  6. Vipul Jivan

    Really interesting article, great ready too.

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