Top 10 Ways for Photographers to Get Attention on Google+

FFear of a New San Francisco -- San Francisco, CA

Another week, another Google+ post.

Last week I wrote about 5 reasons why Google+ is winning the war in photosharing. In the comments to that post were a few people who said that they did not feel like they were getting traction even though they were getting involved.

Today I thought I’d put out a post on the top 10 ways for people to get attention on Google+. Some of these will apply to non-photographers too. Keep in mind that developing a large audience on the internet can take years of work, there is no magic bullet to automatically getting attention. There are, however, some best practices that may help you find more followers and get more attention.

1. Post great photos. “Great” is totally subjective though right? Post what you feel are the strongest photos you have. They don’t have to have been taken yesterday. You should strive to reserve your very best work for Google+. If you want attention as a photographer, make working on your craft a priority.

My friend Sly Vegas has only been shooting 6 months, but he has poured himself into photography in a huge way. He’s shooting every day, he’s devouring tutorials for Canon and Adobe Lightroom. He’s trying to step up his game. If you post mediocre photos none of the rest of this will count. Make sure dust spots are cloned out. Post process your work to make it look it’s best. Find unique and interesting subject matter to shoot. All of this matters.

Even if you’re not a photographer, consider posting strong and interesting visual imagery with your post. Tom Anderson does this. His posts are all about his thoughts and words, but with almost every post he makes he posts something visual to go with it. Google+ is heavily optimized to show the visual. Posts with photos do better than posts without.

Well now that we’ve got that out of the way…

2. Reciprocation. The number one way for you to get attention on Google+ is to reciprocate. Reciprocate like crazy. This is no different than Flickr, or Facebook, or Twitter or whatever. The most basic formula for every social network has always been reciprocation. Believe it or not, +1’s are *FREE* for you to give out. They don’t cost you anything! They are unlimited. +1 like crazy.

If you like a post or photo or whatever, +1 that sexy thing.

Comments are even more valuable than +1s. Don’t be shy. Even if all you have time to say is “nice!” A comment in someone’s post puts your link there for others to discover you.

If you want to ramp up attention to your own work, spend some time giving it out first. Have a philosophy of giving out 2, 3, 4 times, hell 100 or 1000 times when you’re starting out, what you get. Give and you shall receive. Don’t be disingenuous — comment when you really feel it and of course everyone always loves those super thoughtful, funny, positive comments too.

Also don’t forget to +name someone when you respond to them in a comment. It’s hard to keep up on every single conversation on Google+. If someone asks you a question or you are directing something at someone specifically, make sure to +name them. This way they are better notified (don’t abuse this).

3. Add a bunch of interesting people to your circles. Nothing gets you a follower quite like following somebody else first (again, see reciprocation). This will take some work. You have to be willing to work. My favorite way to find new people to add? I look for people who are making interesting and engaging comments on mine and other’s streams and I add them. The lists are a place to start too, but there are tons of people who are crazy talented who aren’t on these lists yet. (btw, you can add yourself to a lot of these lists, have you done that yet?)

It’s ok to add strangers. Put them in your “I Don’t Know These People Yet But They Seem Hella Talented and I’d Like to Get to Know Them More” circle.

Don’t just blindly add people, but actively look for interesting people and add them liberally when you find them.

4. How you post matters. Are you posting photos? Post them *directly to Google+* in order to get the huge big thumbnail. You have no idea how important this thumbnail is. Don’t just post a link to a flickr photo of yours, or a photo on 500px, or a photo on your blog. Bigger is better!

If you are so tied to these other places where you post, still upload the photo to G+ but add a link (if you must) to the site that you want to link out to.

I’ve heard a lot of people say things like, well if I post my photo to Google+ then I won’t get the traffic to my blog. Fine. But this post isn’t about how to get more attention on your blog, it’s about how to get more attention on Google+. A text link to your blog or a small thumbnail to a flickr or 500px will get far less attention than a big, bright, bold thumbnail image directly on G+.

5. Don’t overpost. I post 5 photos a day. That feels about right to me. I spread them out during the day. The best way to get people to ignore you is to flood their stream with 50 photos of your recent vacation (unless you’re Trey Ratcliff and they are all from Burning Man and you are posting them to make a point about how the comment on photo spam needs to be fixed by Google). 🙂

Resist the urge to post about what your eating like you do on Twitter — unless what you’re eating is raw sushi off Lady Gaga’s naked body on a table at the Playboy Mansion — again joking, I so would NOT post about that if I were actually doing it, which I wouldn’t be, I mean which I probably wouldn’t be.

6. Don’t post a GIF... unless it’s a really, really, really, really good GIF that nobody’s seen before. Seeing someone’s face morph into 14 other faces was sort of cool the first time you saw it. The 20th time, not as much. Resist the urge. I love a good Caturday GIF as much as the next guy, but a lot of people see these as noise.

7. Be a great curator. Guy Kawasaki is great at this. So is Morgaine LeFaye. So is Robert Scoble. Look for the best, most unique content that you can find on the web. Use your space to showcase work by other talented people on G+. When a new person shows up who you know has talent, make a post introducing them to the rest of the community.

8. Participate in hangouts. Hangouts are a great intimate way to get to know people. Somehow when you spend a little time with someone face to face (albeit with computers between you) you get to know them a little better.

9. Cross promote your Google+ account. Is there a link to your Google+ account on your flickr profile? Why not? That’s soooo easy to do. Have you posted a kick ass photo to flickr, reminding the people that follow you there that you are now on Google+, maybe even with a link to your invites url? Why not?

Have you tweeted out your Google+ posts page? Have you posted it to Facebook? Is it on your blog? Your tumblr?

What about people in real life (IRL, don’t you just hate that? I mean the web is in fact IRL if you ask me)? I hear people say that their family are not on Google+ yet, that they are still on Facebook. Whose fault is that? Yours. Get them on there. My sister just recently joined by the way. What about your co-workers? Ask them if they’ve heard of it and offer them an invite. You’d be surprised how many people are interested in G+ right now but just need that little personal touch and push over.

Are you a celebrity? Mention your Google+ account the next time you’re on the David Letterman show (joking), but you get the idea.

10. Make sure you are posting *PUBLICLY*. Alot of people make this mistake when they first post to G+. They aren’t aware that you have to type “public” into the little box below your status update. If you only put “your circles” or “your extended circles” or you leave it to the last way you sent something as a default, or whatever, you’ll miss getting your image out to a TON of people.

Unless there is a specific reason why you need to keep a photo limited, if you want attention, you are going to want to make sure it says “PUBLIC” down at the bottom, every time you post a photo.

Bonus tip: Be nice and be *positive*. Nobody likes a hater. Nobody wants to hear that their photo sucks and that it looks like crap (unless someone is *specifically* asking for this sort of criticism). Nobody wants to see someone saying that their model looks fat. Resist the urge to bash Obama on unrelated photos of the Grand Canyon.

It’s so easy for someone to uncircle you, move you to the “Don’t pay attention to these people because they are negative haters” circle, block you, or even use the new ignore feature that Google rolled out last week (for when you really do want to block someone but it might feel socially awkward).

People are on Google+ for a lot of reasons, to find interesting content, to meet interesting people, to promote their work, to get inspiration, to social network, but most of all they are on here *TO HAVE FUN*.

You can find me on Google+ here. 🙂

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  1. Dave Powell says:

    Great write up Thomas…

  2. amadeus hellequin says:

    Your generosity is very much appreciated.

    Ah… got it. Up to now I’ve been posting shots that suck.

    I knew I was going wrong somewhere. (‘ *,)

    My favourite thing about G+ is the wealth of inspiration that streams onto my screens everyday. Phone or laptop, doesn’t matter, all shots look great. And damn, there’s some talent out there.

    Been following you since Buzz launched. One of the best clicks my mouse ever made.

  3. Jim Nix says:

    nicely said Thomas, and very true! thanks for sharing!

  4. Ben says:

    It’s really annoying to me that everyone is always encouraged to be completely positive about photos. I feel like it’s a disservice to the person taking the photo and the community in general. Since it’s often considered “bad” to critique others people freak out when you do. I could say “I really love this this and this but unfortunately I think this could have been different” the typical response would be some kind of weird long excuse of why it was done a particular way which some how is supposed to justify the photo having problems. Though it doesn’t. Being completely positive encourages people to fall into the same shooting habits without realization that certain aspects need improvement.

    I guess I won’t be in too many photography circles. Then again, I’m also not that great.

  5. Thomas Hawk says:

    Ben, I think it’s fine to critique people’s photos if they are asking for it — or maybe if you know them well and are friends and can be assured that it will be well received.

    But it’s like the rest of life. If you are at a party with someone and they are wearing a hideous jacket, you’d never say, that’s jacket is just God AWFUL! You might think it, but you’d never say it. Now if they asked you “do you like my jacket,” you might say no, but even then I think most people might try to damn it by faint praise. Ah, it looks, um, “interesting.”

    With a stranger’s photo, you just don’t know how your criticism might be received.

    I have friends who have *specifically* asked me for criticism. I give it to them. Yes, people want it — in order to improve. But otherwise I think I tend to default to mom’s advice that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

  6. Ben says:

    I understand what you’re getting at, and it makes sense. I’m not out there actually ripping on everyone’s photos saying “OH LOOK AT THIS ONE. THIS ONE IS REAL CRAP!” — Because I can’t, not allowed to that without being a horrible person. Granted I don’t think I’d ever really critique someone’s work that poorly anyway.

    When someone, a photographer, posts a photo for the purpose of me commenting on it I don’t like that the only thing I’m allowed to say is “ooooh awww, pretty colors!” We post photos and we want responses, we want feedback, but only feedback that makes us happy apparently.

    I suppose the comments section of your article isn’t exactly the place for me to rant and rave about photography social taboos but I did just want to clarify that I understand when it’s appropriate to be critical of a photo and just wish it were not that way.

  7. Thanks for sharing this post, I overall agree to your points. I’am looking forward to using Google+ more actively… there is so much inspiring work out there!

  8. I agree on all of your posts. Also, nothing is more annoying than a person who reshares all poulair post. So you see everything she / he posts for the 100th time.

    I also believe it’s very important to post photos you actually made yourself. Resharing is good, but has to be kept to a minimum. We don’t want another Tumblr.

  9. Jon Rose says:

    But it’s pretty tedious to mark every photo as one where critique is welcome, be it on a per-post basis or even frequently reminding everyone that you welcome it. I’ve thought of inviting critique of my own photos since I’m new and hey! Would ya look at that, I just so happen to have all these brilliant and experienced photographers in circles. But really I’ve avoided it purely because I don’t want to go around like “Hey, take time out of your day and help me be better!”, and also because it just feels weird to give people permission to say what they think.

    I think it’s more valuable to stop thinking of criticism as something separate from commenting. Critique isn’t intrinsically a hurtful act so I don’t see much of a difference between “I like the way…” and “Not quite, but…”. If you’re +1’ing, you’re already giving your opinion based on your perception; same with posting “WOW!” or whatnot. It’s really just a matter of how specific you want to get, and how bitchy someone’s going to be about someone not liking something. If you don’t want someone to say what they think/feel about a photo of yours, disable comments on it. Otherwise, you’re basically just fishing for a specific KIND of critique: all positive.

    So people should critique whatever they want if they’re so inclined. Just like the viewer and the picture itself, the photographer can take it or leave it for what it expresses to them. If anything, it’ll save everyone the headache of keeping track who wants critique and who doesn’t.

  10. Brian says:

    Thanks so much for putting this information together. Keep up the awesome work!

  11. nicole says:


  12. Ben Hallman says:


    Excellent post!

    There’s something that has evoked my curiosity ever since Google+ became such a hit for photographers.

    Why are photographers (more often, the pros) so willing to share there tips, techniques, and even secrets to the entire photography ecosystem?

    I can see that a good tip-sharing article generates community interest, thereby radiating your presence down the line through link sharing and mentions. Also, I can understand that one who is truly passionate about their art wants to share and teach others.

    On the other side, when do you draw the line? Is there a line? Can giving away successful techniques and practices that you’ve developed jeopardize your own success in a professional career by helping others who may very well be competing for the same work/clients that you are?

    I am in the early stages of a freelance career in photography and video production and though my full-time job is a technical-based media position, I spend much of my free time tapping into my creative side, which I hope will eventually take precedence over my technical work. I admire your work and your beneficial blog posts and hope you can shed some light on my curiosities.



  13. Sue Butler says:


  14. Brian says:

    I’m looking for other photographers on G+ to connect with that might not get the voluminous attention that some others are getting so I can see a wider variety of photography. So far discoverability (in terms of different types of photography) is hard to come by in G+ and is entirely user driven (independently created lists, etc.) There are things about Google + that are promising, so I’m willing to give it a go, but I would like to have some more meaningful connections than just throwing in the 107th +1 on Trey Ratcliffe’s latest post (however well deserving!)

  15. 11Mbits says:

    Thanks a lot Thomas!!!

  16. Marco Rossi says:

    Nice advices 🙂 I’ll use them wisely for posting the photos of my holidays!

  17. Jore Puusa says:

    Be nice and be *positive*.
    In USA that´s the way things are. —What a wonderful capture and nice colors—…But what does it mean? Nothing.
    If it means nothing —then why to say it? In liberal Europe people are more free to say what they think. We do not see world as a rule or static environment where everything must be done like all others do.
    I´ve visited several times to USA and always wondered why people can accept words that mean nothing.
    First time I was there I even made the mistake to answer to ” How are You” question telling what´s going on in my life.
    This works with photographs also, what good does it make to say flat phrases and be positive all the time. Nothing gets better that way. Everybody should be responsible of other people and tell what they really think of their pictures, that way those billions of bad pictures could stay in peoples hard disks and not litter G+ or numerous other services which are full of no nonsense crap because nobody has the backbone to tell what they really think.

    Jore Puusa
    Professional photographer and teacher
    Helsinki, Finland.

  18. Ben says:

    Jore, I’d say that your post is a bit ignorant when it comes to your view on American’s and critiques.

    Did you completely gloss over the part where Jon Rose and I already said that positive critiques only are a bad thing? We’re both American — why would we say such things?

    Heavily positive encouragement on photos is pretty universal when it comes to the net. A classroom setting would not be the same and I hope that’s where you’re drawing your comparison from. I worry for your students who may be manipulating into believing your fallacies.

  19. Jore Puusa says:

    Dear Ben, I´ll answer to You when You are brave enough to use Your whole name.
    I write about things and views,— You gave me names and wrote about me, very americana.

  20. Jore,

    As you have requested I have updated my name and linked directly to my About page on Google+. I hope the information provided will give you the ability to respond appropriately to my original comments.

  21. Royce Bair says:

    Great article, Thomas! You rock. You are the reason I’m on Flickr, and you will be the catalysis to get me on to Google+. BTW, Photojack’s tweet brought me here.

  22. Jore Puusa says:

    Dear Ben.
    Am I ignorant cause I write about what I think?
    And should You really be worried about my students while You have never met me and do not know anything about me?
    The web gives people strange rights to judge totally unknown people.
    I haven´t seen heavily positive encouragement in Europe when national languages are used.
    Can You read Finnish, Swedish, Germany, French, Russian? I can.

  23. Google Plus claims rights to your photographs when you post them on there. You agree to give them the right to license your photos for whatever purpose to anyone forever under their terms of use agreement. Until they protect photographers’ copyrights and not require photographers to give them unlimited free use of the photos, I will stick to posting links!

  24. Jamie Stewart says:

    I am a amateur photographer,and I appreciate your post,I may be prejudiced but I think I am pretty damn good,Thank you for your insightful article

  25. Tom Mclaughlan says:

    This is really helpful advice, Thomas. Many thanks. What I like about it most is that whilst it’s nominally about getting noticed on Google+, at it’s heart it’s about being a decent and constructive participant there. I’ll try to employ your suggestions. Thanks again.