Over three years ago, Brian Haferkamp started a photography blog with just one photo.
His purpose was to set up a place where young photographers could market their art. Since then, the blog has grown to host 150 images from 50 members who work as a community, spreading the word about each other’s work.
“We operate under the assumption that our contributors’ photos will reach a new, wider, and more diverse audience if the contributors intentionally market one another’s images through their social networks,” Brian says. “For example, with 50 photographers participating, my image has the potential to go out to hundreds––if not thousands––of new people if each of those contributors makes the decision to simply share my image from the Photoblog Alliance to one or more of their social networks.”
In other words, the Photoblog Alliance was built on the principle of social sharing.
The Engagement Lens
Though the Photoblog Alliance had different design iterations throughout its lifetime, according to Brian, the original idea never changed. However, he wanted to put a stronger emphasis on social sharing in order to encourage site visitors to share links to the artist pages.
Brian tried different sharing buttons, and considered using a pop-up to break the plateau, and increase engagement with his content. He wasn’t thrilled about doing that, so before making the decision, he ran across AddThis.
“I could see how Smart Layers would make our blog easy to share across all pages, easy to follow, and also provide some ‘stickiness’ with the suggested articles,” he says. “I also liked the option to add the Welcome Bar at the top. I think that was the clincher. It was what I had been looking for––a way to get users onto our mailing list after they’d seen a few images, regardless where they were on the site.”
Focusing on the Target
Brian takes special note of each photo on the blog to make sure they’re optimized for searches, and uses analytics to discern which social networks host their target audience. They share the images to their Google+ and Pinterest community, but their analytics have shown a greater following elsewhere.
“One big surprise has been the use of a new startup company, Tapiture, to share images,” he says. “Tapiture sends us much better traffic than the Pinterest crowd. The users are mostly young and male which, after some surveying of our contributors, is exactly the demographic contributing to our blog.”
Learning from Experience
The Photoblog is a growing experience, and Brian has learned a trick or two along the way. When using Smart Layers, Brian recommends customizing a message or action based on where your visitor come from.
“Decide what you want visitors to do on your site, look at the tools available and decide which you want to implement,” Brian says. “All of the tools in Smart Layers are not for everyone, so make a choice, test, and make changes. It’s so easy to use that there’s no reason not to make changes often to find just the right combination.”