It isn’t the over 14,000 followers on Instagram or 9,000 on Twitter that made adventure photographer Lucas Gilman a finalist in the 2010 and 2013 Red Bull Illume competition (that was all his own talent), but his social media presence has helped keep him top of mind with clients and landed him a few jobs along the way.
Lucas lives and breathes outdoor extreme sports, covering international events such as the Tour De France, Kentucky Derby, ESPN X-GAMES, and Open Water Swimming in Australia. He also shoots regularly for editorial clients such as National Geographic, Men’s Journal and Outside Magazine. Lucas’ impressive client list is evidence of his immense photo talent, but his social media klout proves his savvy online business strategy.
We talked with Lucas about where he invests his time when it comes to his social strategy, when the best time of day is to post, and how keeping in touch with clients via Facebook can at times be way more effective then regular ‘ol email.
PhotoShelter: What is your favorite social media outlet and why?
Lucas Gilman: I really like Instagram. It’s a daily dose of imagery and people are very active on it. It’s a great place to showcase new work and travel.
PS: What’s your goal in using Twitter and Instagram for your business?
LG: I use Twitter and Instagram to showcase new work, and highlight new projects as well as old. My goal is to increase my brand presence through sharing images, information and techniques. For me brand presence is having a consistent message of who you are as a creative and what you have to offer. Summed up into three words my brand is: creative, passionate, and adventurous.
PS: Have you ever gotten a job inquiry directly from your social media presence/blog?
LG: I get inquiries often from around the world from people who have seen my work on Twitter, Instagram, 500PX.com and Facebook. I also keep in touch with clients and work associates through social media. I have some clients who are quicker to respond to messages on Facebook than their company email.
The lines between business and personal social online world have totally been blurred. I advocate for people having strictly professional business pages to gain a larger audience of people you haven’t met or don’t know, but it you are successful in this business you will more than likely become close with people you work with. It becomes how business gets done.
PS: Do you have a social media ‘strategy’?
LG: I try to post early and consistently. Early in the day seems to be the best time. I try to mix it up with images from current projects as well as old and focus on sharing techniques. I try to always remember one thing: The “why should a total stranger care” factor. This isn’t about me or how cool I am. It’s about providing content and visually communicating with people I may never meet in person.
PS: Can you recall one of your most popular tweets or Instagram posts (in terms of retweets/@mentions or likes/comments)?
LG: I like to post interesting quotes from interesting people that seem to pair well with and images. Many of the quotes are regarding freedom, travel and adventure which lend well to matching my style of photography.
PS: Do you use any tools such as Hootsuite to manage your social media platforms?
LG: I use Hootsuite on occasion, but try not to rely on it to post the same content to all my feeds. I try to be unique on the different platforms.
PS: What would you advise photographers *not* to do on Twitter and Instagram?
LG: I’d advise photographers to not tag a million people or other photographers in their images and don’t tag every company in the photo world. Be selective, concise and have a creative message.
PS: Any other advice you would give photographers hoping to use social media to grow their network and reach potential clients?
LG: Share your work. Share your wisdom. Be outgoing and approachable. Nobody wants to listen to people complain about the “state of the industry”. There are platforms for that, but not if you are looking to grow your audience. And, have fun it will show in your post!
Image credits: Photographs by Lucas Gilman, courtesy of PhotoShelter.