Back in 2014 I wrote up a short write up about a site I use to share my various tweets and Facebook posts called Empire Avenue. This means I’ve been on the site for a bit longer now and after having reread that article which you can read here. I found myself asking why the hell am I still checking in on this thing? Then I realized I don’t really. Maybe once every 4-5 days or so. And for the longest time it seemed like a necessary evil in order to spread the word about my photography. Of course, some painful realizations have been had lately. But it did lead me to ask another question:
As an artist trying to promote your work, are social marketing sites worth your time and/or money?
Aside from taking photos and playing with the kiddo, I spend a pretty decent amount of time online perusing various social media networks. I’m a little bit addicted. Part of the reason for this I think is because I find it’s a fairly efficient way to connect with like-minded individuals or learn something about world events in real time. It is however, a dual-edged sword. Wading through a legitimate ocean of shit-posts, idiocy, and advertising can be a struggle. This presents an interesting puzzle as someone who also needs to market myself in order to spread the word about my various photography projects or works I am trying to sell. This brings me to the point of the post. There is a certain subset of social sites that exist solely for the purpose of self-promotion. Sites that provide a method by which you can share your work with a large and varied group of users who will like, share, retweet, reblog, or whatever, your social media posts to help you reach a new and broader audience.
Unfortunately, it’s a real dumpster fire to navigate. In exploring the quagmire that is these sites, I’ve found a few that I happened to use with some regularity for the purpose of seeing if they’re worthwhile at all. Spoiler alert: They aren’t. From here on I’ll compare two options, give you a run-down of what they claim to do for you, and what they actually do for you. The sites I’ll be discussing are: Empire.Kred and CoPromote.
Empire.Kred (EAK from here out) claims to be “Social Media Rocket Fuel” and touts its ability to spread your reach amongst a number of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, WordPress, Instagram, and more. EAK which was formerly just Empire Avenue, was recently bought out by “Kred”, which is a social media scoring system similar to “Klout”. The basic premise, is that it will take some status you post then run it and all your interactions on it through a trash algorithm and then tell you whether or not you are internet famous. EAK takes this and goes one step further by allowing you to basically game that score through a “mission” based system. The site presents as an investing game in which you can buy or sell people like stocks based on how internet famous they are. It uses a fake currency called “eaves” which you can purchase with real money that you use to run the missions. Those missions basically allow you to pay another player the fake money so they’ll go and interact with your social media posts. You’re basically buying RTs, likes, shares etc. with the fake money. So naturally, your score reflects that you have a ton of meaningful interaction on your posts even though the people who follow you or share your post will never organically interact with you until you pay them again.
You can get a pretty good number of interactions on a post without having to spend any actual money. This can be helpful if you have a Google Plus profile since Google’s search algorithm factors in to some degree how popular something is on G+. So if you can convince a bunch of people to +1 or reshare your G+ posts, you can actually improve your crawl status. The same goes for sites like Facebook, which uses the like/share numbers as a metric for what appears in your friend’s feeds. The more popular something is, the more likely you are to see it while scrolling through your news feed.
While having a ton of likes and shares is nice on the surface level and may make you feel good about yourself, that feeling doesn’t last long when you remember you paid for them, and those people won’t ever interact with you again until you pay them more. It’s also the case that likes and shares do not equal conversions in any meaningful way. So if you’re trying to sell something, you may get 50-100 likes on a post, but also ZERO of those people will actually buy what your selling.
Another downside with this network specifically is that the user base is small and fairly incestuous. What I mean by that is that there are about 200 active users on the site (people who log in and do something every day). They all follow each other on each of their networks. So if Guy X RTs your tweet, then he is simply RT’ing it to the same 200 people who would have seen your tweet the first time. This means you aren’t getting any new eyes on your feed or your posts. It’s just the same exact people spreading the same posts in a circle. Also, since they are all doing the missions for these, if you are following them, you feed will be filled to the brim with shit-posts and spam. You’ll see the same tweet two to three dozen times. Or you’ll see the same person who just tweeted or retweeted fifteen to twenty things at once. So now you have to scroll past a sea of their inspirational quotes or trash memes before you can get to someone you follow because you enjoy their content.
This site is really only for those who consider themselves a “Social Media Guru” and enjoy seeing large numbers of likes and shares and doesn’t care about actual interaction with their content. If you’re one of those people, by all means, sign up. It’s free to do so and in about 4-6 months you’ll have a large enough bankroll of fake money you can start buying those RTs and Likes.
Copromote as a site works primarily with Twitter, Youtube, Vine, and Tumblr. Similar in its stated goals to other promotion sites, the idea is to spread your content further than it would normally go. However, the vehicle by which it does so is a little different. Like EAK, CoPromote utilizes a fake currency as well, named “reach”. How it works is: I have 430 followers on twitter. So every tweet I retweet earns me 430 reach. I can set up a series of things I like or am interested in, such as art, sports, etc. and CoPromote will then show me tweets from other users inside those categories for me to retweet. Once you’ve amassed some amount of reach you’re happy with, you can “boost” a post, or offer up one of your own tweets for others to retweet (or reblog, etc.). Your reach is then spent based on the number of followers they have. If some person has 1,000 followers, it’ll cost you 1,000 reach for them to RT you. Simple enough.
Thus far this site has reigned in an OK number of shares for some of my twitter posts regarding blog updates (since I use all other social media to feed back to the blog). What I like better than EAK, is that these RTs I’m getting are going out to actually different people, meaning my stuff is spreading in a somewhat worthwhile manner. I’ve also managed to turn at least a small portion of those RTs into blog views which have led to a few more followers. Actual conversions are being made.
The other pro is that I only share from the arts category and I have managed to come across a decent number of things worth sharing. Awesome art projects, canvas prints, tattoo galleries, and much more I wouldn’t have normally found (since I don’t really go looking all that often). While I have only used this site for about half the time I have EAK, I’m pretty sure it’s done at least twice as much work for me.
Of which there are two: 1) The conversion rate is low. Like, really low. I’m talking 5-7% if things go well. 2) The reach system is a bummer for those who don’t have a massive twitter following. Because of this I am required to share 8-10 posts in order to get 3-4 decent shares for myself. Unless I plan on buying a ton of fake twitter followers it ends up seeming like it’s going to be more work than its worth.
All in all, it’s a straight-forward, simple system that has proven (albeit very slightly) worthwhile. If you have a twitter account you don’t care about and are using only for the purpose of spamming ads for yourself, this could be a good option for you to generate some semi-organic reach on your tweets.
So there you have it. A short comparison of a couple of promotion tools that may or may not work for you. There are lots of others out there, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but a lot of the other options like Guestr etc. are complete trash and not worth even testing. Over all I myself am likely going to just drift out of both before too long, but I am interested in trying to game them a little first to see what I can do with em. Especially the CoPromote.
I’ll be sure to come back next week and post some more photography related stuff. I have a couple ideas I’m working on, and I want to get out and shoot when it isn’t dumping five inches of snow in three hours.
As always, until next time, Thanks for reading!