Eva Bradley: Learning new digital-age tricks

By Eva Bradley

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It doesn't pay to rest on one's laurels when it comes to social media and mass marketing.
It doesn't pay to rest on one's laurels when it comes to social media and mass marketing.

How old does an old dog have to be when it comes to learning new tricks?

Such is the pace of change in the digital age that when Facebook first hit the streets around a decade ago, I was the leader of the pack.

Now it often seems less about that reality and more about the vibe of the virtual one you create in the slipstream.
Eva Bradley

I was hip, I was happening and before I knew it my photography page was the largest in the region.

Even now with a plethora of slick, professionally managed, well-funded pages on Facebook, I'm still not looking too shabby with 12,500 fans.

But it doesn't pay to rest on one's laurels when it comes to social media and mass marketing.

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For a while now I've been hearing the whispers on the street grow louder about Facebook versus its digital near neighbours.

A few years ago in response to this, I set up an Instagram page.

But that's as far as I got. I was gun-shy about their copyright fine print and basically just luke warm on the whole idea of diverting even more of my time away from the photography itself in favour of the online promotion of it.

It takes a lot of time to think of witty one-liners and strategically uploaded images to captivate an increasingly picky generation of social subscribers.

Back in the good old days it just took talent and a job well done to succeed in the creative industry.

Now it often seems less about that reality and more about the vibe of the virtual one you create in the slipstream.

But business is business and recently it became obvious that I could no longer ignore Instagram, so I picked up where I left off a few years back and started posting photos.

Despite my skepticism, I couldn't resist getting a kick out of how easy the platform was to enjoy compared to Facebook, which has increasingly become littered with advertising and pictures of people's dinner.

While the dinner pics are a key part of all social media platforms, I found on Instagram it was much easier to avoid them, and focus instead on content that appealed to me.

Most importantly, there was no advertising and I didn't feel like my virtual life was being "managed" by a disturbing series of algorithms that seemed to know more about my habits and interests than I did.

But just as the algorithms know what cereal I like to eat for breakfast, so too it seems does Murphy's Law know just how to send a grey cloud scudding over my sunshine just when I've started basking in it.

After ignoring Insta for years, it is in the very month I embraced it for its uncomplicated, unmanaged content delivery system that it announced it was switching to a complicated, managed system.

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Of course in the same way I am a slave to Facebook, I am powerless to resist or influence this change to Instagram and will just ride the wave until something cooler and less driven by money-making appears on the horizon. And because it's the internet, you can rest assured that horizon has already been created and embraced. Apparently the big thing now is Snapchat.

But, frankly, this old dog gets weary just thinking about how that might work, let alone how to harness its powers for world-domination of photography marketing. At what point am I going to be able to print a "64" photo, pop it in a frame on my mantelpiece and impress the hell out of people because that's such an original, innovative idea? Given the speed at which fashions recycle, I am picking if I start doing that now, I'll be just ahead of right ontrend.

- Eva Bradley is a columnist and photographer.

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