“You have to interact on any online forum first and the same holds true for Google Plus. Unfortunately most of the popular Indian photographers who had jumped on Google Plus initially could not survive because they didn’t believe in creating conversations,” says Sumit Sen, a wildlife photographer who has a very vibrant and interactive community on Google Plus. More than 67K people have Sumit’s Google Plus profile in their circles.
I have been following Sumit for quite some time now and I find him serving the right content to his community. Talking to me from his home in Calcutta, Sumit expressed that he has been a big fan of Google from very early days. So when Google came out with their network, Sumit jumped on to it and there has been no looking back ever since.
Early days on Google Plus
Sumit started his career as a banker but quit his job to follow his passion for bird conservation. He educates the world about bird conservation and manages a lovely website – Birds Of India. The site is managed by him but content is curated from lots of enthusiasts like him.
While discussing his love with the Internet, he said that he has been posting content on the Internet for last 15 years and has a website for more than 11 years now. However, he was never caught by the Facebook bug as he did not get along with the network.
“The first reason was that my children were on Facebook and I didn’t find the social network exciting to display my work and build a like-minded community. So when Google Plus came into the market I found it quite interesting and easy to operate. Since then there has been no looking back and I only use Google Plus to share my work, have a conversation and follow like minded folks”.
Talking more about Google Plus, Sumit feels that his stay in the US has helped him in interacting with the initial users on the platform who were mostly from the US.
“Initially there were no Indians and since I had stayed in US for quite some time, I could converse with them in a dialect that they were comfortable. But that doesn’t mean that you can post crap and expect people to connect with you,” shared Sumit, while talking about the early days on Google Plus when it was an invite only network.
Today he has built a virtual family on Google Plus. A lot of people from his connections have met him whenever they are in his city. And he quite humbly says that if he visits US in the future he will have enough doors to knock. Indeed, social media has made the world smaller!
Plagiarism and content planning
But with all the good things of social media, there comes some bad traits too and one is plagiarism. Stealing content is rampant and very easy too, but Sumit is really not bothered.
“There are so many sites who have taken my photographs; there have been books, magazines who have published my work without any attribution. But I am really not bothered as I am not a commercial photographer.”
With this attitude, it is not surprising that Sumit has won too many hearts on Google Plus. Today he posts one content in a day and makes a point to address to all the comments he gets. On an average all his posts have more than 50 comments and Sumit takes care to reply to all of them in a set so as to not offend by numerous notifications.
My next question was to know the secret to amazing content and the relevant interaction he drives. Sumit replied that it is all about content and the way he presents it to his audience.
“I know my community loves bird photography so I keep sharing them. In addition to this, I have a personal interest in photography so I do that sometimes and once in a month I will start conversation around G Plus and its features. I also give a lot of time to the title and the associated information with an image.”
It is quite inspiring to see each and every content that is shared by Sumit, has lot of thinking and enriching information. I also like his idea of building a story around an image.
Why are Indian photographers missing on Google Plus
So why have other Indian photographers not succeeded on Google Plus, when it is about sharing the amazing content they have. Sumit feels that there is no dearth in talent or content but we fail to weave conversations.
“We believe that we will throw images on the network and people will drool over it but when people don’t know you, why would they like your content. We don’t like to converse and appreciate others work.”
That is true; we can expect to become popular on social networks only when we start interacting with people. Besides this appreciating others work and sharing content with an objective is also required. It is very interesting that we fail to understand such simple things and then blame the platform. Before I could say bye to Sumit, he left me with this thought that has been stuck into my head.
“Your success in directly related to your participation”.
Image Courtesy: Sumit Sen’s Google Plus album.