Category Archives: Contests

Social Media Marketing for Photographers: Is $5 More Powerful Than Your Friends?

Last month I did a photography related social media marketing contest. The idea was simple — if you helped my photo get a lot of views, I’d win an iPad 3 — and I’d give you my iPad 2.

Summary: Thanks to everyone who participated! The results? Posting a link on social media is not enough to stand out in the great sea of distraction. There wasn’t a well-connected maven who was able to tip the scales in my favor. A $5 promotion drove much more traffic to the contest than any individual. Let’s take a look at the results:

Blog: I wrote a post about the contest, and did a follow-up post with a YouTube video [680 views].

Marketing Lesson: My blog archive gets a lot of traffic from search. Creating a contest graphic that appeared on all of the pages of my site would have given me thousands more views during the contest. Review the analytics, and then put the important content where the traffic is. A simple idea that a lot of major websites get wrong.

Pinterest: The image got pinned, and I drove traffic to the image on Pinterest from other sites [600 real views].

Marketing Experiment: Using a site called, I paid $5 and got 2,648 likes on the Pinterest contest image. While most of these likes weren’t real, I was interested to see if the large number of likes would help bexpose the image to more people. This didn’t work for me, but another contest participant ended up selling a few prints using this technique.

Twitter: I rarely look at Twitter and I’m still puzzled that it exists. That being said, two nice folks with a fair amount of followers tweeted about the contest [view halloo?].

Marketing Lesson: Analytics are much more important than your number of followers. The potential audience was over 1500 people, but the analytics show that almost nobody is paying attention on Twitter.

Facebook: I have a fan page with 485 likes, which theoretically gives me access to 320,000 friends of fans. If you’ve got something to sell, a fan page is much more powerful than a personal page because the analytics help you understand what resonates with your audience [1600 views].

Marketing Tool: On average, only 25% of fans see one of my Facebook posts. I did a $5 promotion for the contest, and got 1255 views. Over 1000 extra people saw the post for 5 bucks. If you’re selling something, that’s cheap advertising. A standard Facebook ad would be more targeted, but also much more expensive.

An Unsettling Question: The Facebook posts after the promotion had less views than normal. Is Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm artificially limiting my post views to encourage me to pay again?

YouTube: The Adams marketing video was done as a proof of concept to show photographers that getting attention for your images isn’t as easy as posting a link. Comedy helps. Video helps. Maybe I should have included a cat photo [75 views].

Flickr: I haven’t been active on Flickr in a while, but have maintained an account to interact with photography workshop participants. The contest image only got 100 views, but there were 17 favorites and 8 comments — a pretty high level of engagement [100 views].

Tumblr: I’d been enjoying a few Tumblr blogs in my feedreader. The contest encouraged me to sign up, and now I’m a bit addicted. Tumblr strips things down to what counts — pictures, pictures, and more pictures.

Epiphanies Through Comparison and Selection: Mashing up my own night work with the huge mix of photography on Tumblr is the most artistically stimulating thing that’s happened to me in a long time. Blowing up genre definitions and seeing fine art photos in a larger, more diverse sea of images can be revelatory. More on this topic soon. In the mean time, have a look at the Rye Fur Tumblr.

Conclusion: Is $5 Really More Powerful Than Your Friends?

If you’re not a professional photographer, your core audience typically consists of your family, friends, and fellow photographers. Promotional tools are just a way to help expand your audience by spreading the news to friends of friends. Depending on how many extroverts are in your social circles, you may be able to get the word out by calling in a favor once in a while. If you’ve got a print sale, open studio, or an event to promote, you may want to consider reserving a little bit of budget for online promotions. It’s cheaper than sending out postcards.

If you’ve got questions, comments, or other ideas for promoting your photos on social media, I’d love to hear about them!

Celebrities Endorse Joe Reifer’s Mad Mouse iPad Contest

Last week I announced that I am giving away an iPad 2. To win, you need to generate a lot of buzz on social media for the Mad Mouse panorama. Then I’ll win an iPad 3, and I’ll give you my iPad 2.

Even with a $400 prize at stake, only a handful of people have spread the post on social media. Most of the activity occurred with Facebook shares and likes, with a little bit of action on Pinterest and Flickr.

Beyond the lure of a free iPad, this experiment asks the question:

How do photographers get more people to see their work online?

Since nobody has pulled out their big marketing guns yet, I contacted the Adams Celebrity Agency about producing the YouTube video above. Turns out there are a few celebrities who are interested in winning the iPad for themselves! Who do you think is going to win?

Experiment and Win: What Motivates You to Like, Tweet, or Pin?

Mad Mouse rollercoaster night panorama -- by Joe Reifer

Mad Mouse rollercoaster night panorama — by Joe Reifer

Over the next two weeks, my company is doing a social media art experiment — each employee can post something creative to the social networks of their choice. The person with the most engagement wins an iPad 3.

If I win the contest, the person who helps generate the most buzz gets a free 32GB iPad 2 in excellent condition.

Yes, I’m going  meta with a contest-within-a-contest. I get an upgrade to an iPad 3, and you get a free iPad 2. There’s no catch. No strings attached. This contest is open to anyone in the U.S. and runs until October 5th.

Here’s how to enter — choose as many social networks as you’d like!

My advice is to focus on sharing the image, not on the contest.

  1. Facebook: Like the post, share the post.
  2. Twitter: Tweet or RT. Include the tag: #SellPointPinIt
  3. Pinterest: Like or Repin the Mad Mouse image.
  4. Tumblr: Like or Reblog the image.
  5. Flickr: Favorite the image:
  6. Google+: Share this post. Include the tag #SellPointPinIt

If you’re in it to win it

Posting on all of your channels is great — the more you spread it, the better your chances. However, I’m hoping the potential contest winner will take this contest to the next level. Think outside the box. Really harness the power of their network to do something creative. The mad mouse image has proven to be popular — What can you do to get a lot of people to see it?

What’s my motivation?

Even if you’re not a super connected social media maven, I hope you will participate. The best reason to share the image is simply because you like it! I’m interested to see where people will take this experiment. Feel free to pontificate about how photographers are using or not using social media in the comments section below!

Night Photography Design Challenge Results: A Dark, Spiritual, Comedy

Full moon night photography of abandoned places is a bit of a niche category. The purpose of last week’s night photography design challenge was to open up a dialog about ways to share the beauty of this wonderful little world with more people. As a result of the blog post, I had a series of interesting email exchanges with 6 photographers. Even though I don’t plan to pair images and quotes in future presentations of my photos, this was a thought-provoking experiment.

The night photography insiders who participated had very different approaches to pairing image and text. The moods that were evoked ranged from dark to spiritual, and there were 2 entries in the comedy genre. The results are in the gallery below. Thanks to everyone who gave this experiment a whirl.

Participating photographers:

  • Sebastian Bakaj – Seb’s image took the Eliot quote into dark territory with a photo of a mannequin in the waterslide pool of J’s Amusements.
  • David J. Lewis – The lonely image of the old shot-up car in the desert with snow and joshua trees was one of my top picks for pairing with the T.S. Eliot quote. David Lewis, who was profiled on this blog last year, felt the same way.
  • Jeff McCrum – Jeff picked a recent image from a Nevada ghost town, and varied the font size to play with the impact of the quote over the image. He also submitted a humorous interpretation that paired the quote with a restroom image from Rock-A-Hoola.
  • Steve McIntyre – Steve picked an image from an abandoned cement plant that includes religious symbolism, taking the quote in a more spiritual direction.
  • David Evans – This alternate T.S. Eliot quote works really well, and the image selection is perfect.
  • Anonymous – This entry pairs an internet meme with a junkyard image from the secret boneyard.

Inspirational Night Photography Design Challenge

Dumbarton swing bridge at night with T.S. Eliot quote

Dumbarton swing bridge at night with T.S. Eliot quote

I was recently asked to choose a photograph to pair with the T.S. Eliot quote: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” The image will be used as office decor. Finding an image to go with the quote was a very interesting exercise. I looked through the moonlit images of junkyards and abandoned places on my website with fresh eyes, and asked myself the following questions:

  1. What does my intuition say — is there an image that works well with the quote?
  2. What about the design — should the quote go over the image, or underneath?
  3. And most interestingly — how can night photography be used to inspire people outside of the typical online or gallery display contexts?

I’d like to open these questions up to you, and issue the following design challenge:

  1. Take a screenshot of an image from my website:
  2. Add either the same T.S. Eliot quote, or choose another inspirational quote
  3. Send me a jpeg file of your design

I will feature the best designs here on the blog, with a link back to your website. The winner will receive a print. Thanks for taking up the challenge — I’m looking forward to seeing your designs!