Last night I received the most intriguing question from a model we had never photographed before. She asked, “Can you please have a look at my portfolio and tell me things I can improve on? I use to get far more likes and comments than I usually do but now I can’t seem to understand why my follower base is quiet. Has my photo quality diminished or should I be working with different people?”
I was both humbled and mystified over the question. We thought it was something best asked of a modeling agency or an experienced model. I made that observation known to her and yet she insisted on getting our input. She sent links to her Page and her website. We checked it all out. I must confess the images she has there are all quite stellar. They were all very well done and of the highest styling and quality across the board. It further baffled us as to why she would ask us considering the multitude of phenomenal photographers she has worked with.
We looked at her Page and social media sites over and over again and we didn’t find anything wrong with the images. We scratched our heads trying to work out why her engagement and popularity had waned so much in the last few months. You would be surprised at the conclusions we came to. Read on.
The first clue came when we started to study her post dates, frequency of post and message content. That is when it hit us like the blunt instrument of a lumberjack. You must understand that Facebook changes their “reach” algorithm seemingly at a whim. The fallacy that Facebook is a free application for business is far from the whole story. It may be that you’re not paying anything in the traditional sense but it is also true that the amount of people that saw your daily, weekly or monthly post have diminished considerably when compared to when you first began your Page. They are the gatekeepers as to how many people see your feeds. Aside from your known followers, seeing your Page suggested to a non-subscriber isn’t likely to happen like it once had. They do this because Facebook - like any business, wants you to pay for visibility. They want you to pay for advertising. They wanted you reliant and fattened up on popularity and you might even say addicted to their app. If and when the most attractive feature (reach) was taken away, they had high hopes you’d be psyched up and willing to pay for that same reach you once enjoyed for free. Those days are over. It is why many creatives that once relied on Facebook for their sole social media outlet are abandoning it in droves for other apps like Instagram and Snapchat; the former being a Facebook sister-company. Essentially, being a sister-company means that once the bait and switch routine is worked out for Instagram, people will soon see that application monetized as well.
Now that wasn’t this particular model’s only social media faux pas; far from it. In fact, it may not even be the largest discovery. The largest hit to her social media accounts were due to her infrequent inactivity. If you can’t manage your Pages and you intend to keep a subscriber base then you should probably hire someone to do it for you. Maintaining social media is time consuming and frustrating at times. It requires due diligence and an almost reverent attitude toward maximizing those hidden algorithm gems to great effect. Additionally, prospective clients and fans come to expect a certain degree of frequency after having enjoyed it from you for all these months and years. When that frequency wanes, they lose interests. So this model’s on again off again, I’m still modeling but I’m not doing anything right now doesn’t cut it. People have a vested emotional and artistic interests in following you. When you stop, you let fans down and being that social media is what it is, people quickly lose interests and move on to the next shiniest thing.
If you’re taking a break, have someone take over your Page or sites to keep fresh content coming. Disappear for weeks or months at a time with no posts or interactions and people will soon forget even the most popular person. Some aren’t aware that if they are taking a break that they can schedule posts far ahead and have them automated. That is an option if you’re on an extended vacation or taking a much needed respite.
Most of this model’s engagement derived from when she posted at least three times a week. She also replied to more comments that time; thus, encouraging others to interact with and participate on her site. These same people followed her other Pages as well. She created unique content on some Pages not seen on others - sparking further reach, links and participation from sources she may not have otherwise attracted. Her greatest slump came when she had not posted anything for more than six weeks. She returned with single image and disappeared for several more weeks. That engagement had dropped more than 50% from her previous post. Now when you go from posting a minimum of once a week to six weeks of absolute silence you are going to lose people’s interests. Certainly, many of them hung around but even the most entrenched fans went silent.
We concluded that the largest hit to her social media presence was simply inactivity. Photography, modeling, designing, stylists, makeup artists, fashion or even decorative painting etc, are all visual industries. If you are to be taken seriously and stay relevant you need to stay present and out front. Unfortunately, these groups don’t get to take as many breaks and disappear from our core base as often as other careers. Unless you are out of the game completely (in which case you need to actually un-publish yourself), then you need to stay engaged with your followers. They’ve invested in you and you owe it to them to satiate their creative thirst. Otherwise, you’re another one of those people that has a currently active social media site with a “Last Activity” date of June 12, 2014. You know what we call people like that? We call them “IRRELEVANT.”
We all can learn a lesson from this. We certainly did. You do not have to be a model or in any creative industry. This applies to all business types. You absolutely have to stay engaged with prospective clients and fans to insure you appreciate their patronage and attention. It is that simple. Did Facebook algorithm changes play a part in her engagement fall off? You bet it did. But this falloff happened across the board on many of her social media Pages and sites, not only Facebook. They all revealed the same thing; a somewhat lax and inattentiveness to her base.