Continuing with my theme of social media for another post or two...
I recently read about an incident where a photographer on the east coast had his business dry up after he hit the road following and shooting the Trump campaign. His claim was that once he was profiled by the local media (news bit akin to "Local Photog Shoots Trump Campaign") and people learned that he was an avid Trump supporter, people no longer wanted to give him business. I'll be honest with you: I checked out his work, and frankly, I was amazed that people were giving him work before. I don't mean to be judgmental, and I think everyone should experience the joy of shooting regardless of talent or skill, but objectively, his work really wasn't at the level that people should be paying for it (and FYI, the Trump campaign wasn't paying him). But I digress... Regardless, apparently he had been getting business before, and now it was drying up.
In the article I read, an interesting discussion (by photographers) followed in the comments section. A trend in some of the comments was the the collective sentiment that basically clients should never know your political leanings, that such things one should keep totally private. The conversation here was specifically about professional photography, but the logic could be applied to any business. This got me thinking: can one put themselves out there online (Twitter, FB, etc.) and be truly authentic? For example, I have a Twitter account (@RyanFonkert), and my posts range the gambit, from political posts about the election, to my bicycle adventures, to my personal and professional photography. Now, many social media savvy business advisers would specifically recommend against the political posts. If I stop myself from commenting on such things, though; if I censor myself; am I truly being authentic, being my true self? And if I do lose a couple potential clients over something like that, are they clients I would really want to work with anyway? Some would suggest to just have a secondary, anonymous account for such opinion posts if one really feels a need to post about such things, and I already have a few accounts for specific purposes, but honestly, it gets tiring, switching between accounts and thinking about what has to be posted where, etc. And in the case of an anonymous account (which I don't do), I simply don't like the idea of not owning what I'm saying, of hiding behind an avatar. It just feels like cowardice to me.
There's also a flip side to that social media authenticity coin, offering up in-authenticity by offering up comments that really just aren't in your true nature. For example, if you read enough articles, books, etc. about how to successfully blog, post on social media, etc., you'll specific suggestions about what tone to use in your posts, to end with questions that prompt user engagement in the comments, etc. I see these methods commonly put to use by photographer friends of mine - photographers whose work I greatly respect - and they really do work, but knowing these people personally, I see how phony it is, as that type of engagement is NOT how they actually are in real life. So they're putting on a mask to get that engagement in hopes that it leads to business; and to be fair, I think it often does. But what's given up for that success?