Photographers Flock to Social Media but Can't Say It Pays

Posted on 12/23/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Close to half (43%) of respondents to a survey conducted by San Francisco photographer Jim Goldstein said Web sites and blogs offer the most revenue-generating opportunities in the social media landscape. Goldstein, who also just gave a presentation on social media at PhotoPlus Expo, designed the survey to help understand how and why photographers use social media.

The survey, fittingly promoted via Facebook and Twitter, was open for less than a month during September–October and had attracted 548 responses. And over 60% of these photographers just joined Twitter during the past year, demonstrating an upsurge in both the site’s general popularity and that within the photo industry. Only 16% have used the follow-me site for longer than a year, and the remaining survey respondents have yet to join.

Though 78% of photographers using Twitter would recommend it to others, the site ranks last in terms of money-making potential in a list of four options. Only 12% of photographers tied past revenue opportunities to Twitter, while 22% named Flickr and 28% named Facebook as having revenue potential. Personal Web sites and blogs were seen to offer the most revenue opportunities by 43% of respondents.

The overall mix of social media used by photographers shows a heavy preference towards business-oriented channels, such as Facebook (with 83% of respondents using the site), Twitter (69%), own blog or Web site (62%), Flickr (57%), Linkedin (57%), other people’s blogs (41%) and photo forums (30%). Outlets like MySpace and Friendfeed, combined, had less than a 12% penetration.

However, neither proliferation nor revenue potential has translated into significant earnings—at least not so far. Only 10% of respondents reported earning over $5,000 as a result of social media use; five people reported earning over $50,000 and another nine—between $25,000 and $50,000. Half (48%) earned nothing, and the remaining 42% earned less than $5,000.

Still, in Goldstein’s analysis, social media has non-traditional value, in brand and reputation management. “What is the valuation of ‘word of mouth marketing’ (i.e. referrals) and the savings or extension that can provide to your limited marketing budget?” he asks. And with some 3,600 blog readers and even more Twitter followers, Goldstein should know. (See his blog for full survey results.)

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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