Is Instagram Ruining Photography?

Tree Silhouette in the Last Vestiges of Sunset

Some globally respected photographers and critics think Instagram destroys the integrity of quality images.

Others feel the rise of Instagram pollutes traditional social network streams.

Critics decry the mobile photo network because it filters most images with a vintage Poloroid look, the resulting widespread proliferation of Instaphotos across social networks, and/or the additional doctoring that occurs through a variety of apps like Snapseed and Camera+.

Overall, critics feel that consumer access to cheap imaging technologies makes the general state of photography stale, repetitive, and watered down.

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Onions

Onion
Image by DBduo Photography

When you peel an onion, you find a new shiny layer. Then if you gently peel this second onion layer, you find a third one.

Each layer yields a new fresh layer, different from its predecessor.

The onion represents life, particularly for those who continue to challenge themselves to grow.

Difficult situations present opportunities to dig deeper, peel that onion, and perhaps change and evolve to better meet the times.
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Bashing Google+: Fashionable, but not Smart

Pinata time
Image by Monkey at Large

Many social media wonks bash Google+ at social media conferences and in online conversations. Doubting the new social network is the fashionable thing to do. Yet you have to wonder if this absolute negative view is professionally smart.

While the network has not surpassed Facebook and to date lacks the business impact of established networks Twitter and LinkedIn, it has developed its own community. Engagement waned after a stellar launch, but new voices continue to join Google+ and more of Google’s core applications have been integrated into the network. As a result, traffic has increased. AddThis recently reported that Google+ had its third highest in bound traffic week to date.

Google continues integrating its entire ecosystem into the + social network, and the biggest social chip is being added to the mix — YouTube. As YouTube (and Chrome) become more integrated, Google+ will only gather further steam.

Keep in mind, my attitude about Google+ has been conservative with a wait and see approach. As time has continued doubt remains, but Google+ is consistently a top 10 referrer to my blog. In general, because of the larger ecosystem, the smart thing to do is to begin engaging mostly because of search benefits, and to protect brand reputation.

Regardless of pros or cons, a professional’s job is to view Google+ with an analytical eye. Otherwise, it is hard to provide objective counsel.

History Shows Google+ Won’t Beat Facebook

Much of the Google+ negativity finds its basis in the over exuberance of some social media experts who initially lauded Google+ as the great Facebook killer. But marketing history shows that it is almost impossible to unseat an entrenched market leader like Facebook head-to-head.

When competing against a dominant leader with no major differences in technology, distribution or product, most companies cannot win. Avis’s “We Try Harder” positioning against Hertz rental cars was an acknowledgement that it could not escape second in the marketplace.

Ironically, Google is one of those rare companies who has knocked out a market leader. In the 1990s Yahoo! had a lock in the search marketplace. But in 2000 it lost its lead to Google, which won the market with its unique search algorithm.

Yet Google’s success over Yahoo was due to an improvement in technology. Without some sort of major game changing technology or major collapse on Facebook’s part, Google+ will likely end up competing for second place in traffic and page views against Twitter and LinkedIn.

Is Amateur Hour Over?

hourglass 4
Image by Graymalkn

Cluetrain Manifesto Co-Author Doc Searls recently observed that the Web has moved from personalized postings and unique micro-publications to an over-commercialized web. Perhaps Searls point is indicative of a larger trend of amateurs losing power online. In the professional Internet communications market, we see a similar movement away from amateurs, too. As someone who straddles both sides of the fence, this professional evolution is welcome.

For a good long period, the amateur has been able to bluff their way into the wallets of corporate clients. Large follower counts, content marketing expertise, social media trailblazing guidance, all yours for $9999.99! Desperate companies that wanted to take part in social media hired these people, many with mixed results. Consider that in 2011 most CMOs still don’t understand how social media fits into their communications mix.

The result has been a burned business and nonprofit marketplace that rightly questions the bejesus out of its independent online practitioners, and demands answers for measurement and ROI. The answers are not necessarily forthcoming either. It does indicate there may be a social media marketing extinction event.

Over the past five years, there have been many teaming opportunities with social media (or even more specialized) communicators. Some have been great while others struggled. Invariably, though great at making themselves famous, the strugglers lacked the communications fundamentals necessary to build online communities that actually want to do things with the company or nonprofit.

This is not an isolated talent management issue. The back channel is full of stories about big A-List names, New York Times bestselling authors (note the plural) that when hired crashed and burned. These personalities trade on what their microfame can bring to the engagement, and their ability to build follower counts and momentary attention. But the emperors have no clothes. What happens? The engagement ends, the client pays out tens of thousands of dollars, and real communicators are called in. Some of us jokingly call ourselves the plumbers that clean up the social media ninjas’ messes.

This brings up the Before Social Media (BSM) problem. What did these so called professionals do BSM? Were they journalists or marketers or PR pros or some other media-related professional? Did they have an understanding of the basic fundamentals necessary for communications success before hanging their social media shingle?

Zoetica recently posted a job description. Note the focus on writing as a primary skill set, and an ask for journalism and prior agency/consulting experience. Without an understanding of basic fundamentals in communications and business (for or non-profit), it is hard to imagine success. Communicating with people from an organizational standpoint requires deep understanding of motives, the media forms themselves, and an organization’s role as a media presence within larger Internet communities.

Doc’s point is a sad one. Strong amateur content from the Fifth Estate has and continues to play a great role holding traditional media and companies accountable, creating real social movements, and yes, forming fun, interesting content niches to dive into. However, let’s hope that amateur hour is over, and that unknowledgeable social media communicators go the way of the dodo bird. Unfortunately, while some will be forced to shutter their doors, the real answer lies in educating the marketplace and upcoming professionals about the basic fundamentals and ethics of communications.