There is no question about the power of social media. In an instant, one of your posts can gain expansive visibility and go viral and completely change who you are as a photographer.
I’ve worked in the Social Media space since its infancy – I worked at MySpace way back when it was a “thing,” and continued to grow my career in the social media world, post-MySpace. One of the things that I have learned, was how to market content to get eyeballs on it – and Social Media is an invaluable tool for just that. The main chunk of what my career was, was marketing movies where we had 2 goals: 1) to get as many views on the marketing materials (trailer, posters, content, etc.) and 2) get people’s butts in the movie theaters for opening weekend. Social Media held the right formula for this to happen: an audience, ease of syndication, and the ability to reach masses.
With the democratization of creativity, everyone is a photographer, videographer, designer, or some sort of creative. Accessibility to prosumer devices, smart phones, and the general decline in costs of tools and services for Creatives has allowed for millions of people to create.
That’s some powerful stuff! Let’s harness that power, and apply it to our photography with a few simple tips, broken down into a few, high-level categories:
1. Social Media needs to be integrated directly into your marketing efforts.
Being on social networks is just as valuable as having a website. Make sure you create and maintain your social network accounts that you are comfortable with.
2. You need to be accessible
These days, your clients are going to come to you from different areas. Your website, referrals, Google searches, and yes, Social Media. Be sure that your social accounts are up-to-date, have contact info, and cross-promote your website.
3. Know who the influencers, movers and shakers are in the photography world
In my world, I know who is who in terms of influencers. I’m in love with my Fuji system. I’m a huge advocate for Fuji, and I like to surround, share, and connect with others that share this passion with Fuji that I do. Not only is it great connecting with like-minded individuals, but when you have an open conversation with them, it helps to naturally build your audience. When Fujifilm retweets a blog post or photo of mine, my traffic usually increases pretty good.
Prepping Your Photos and Publishing
1. Know what to share, and when
This is the biggest problem when it comes to publishing is knowing what to share, and when. I often see photographers share a whole group of photos at once. Don’t do that. Take your BEST photo from a set/shoot/group and share that one. If you want to share an entire set of photos, the best practice is to upload that set to either your website, 500px, Flickr, or whatever as a set and share the link.
Facebook also makes is really simple now days to know when to post. Just login to your Facebook page, click on “insights” at the top. This gives you all the info you need to know about your audience and when to post.
2. Optimize your photo for the social networks
Believe it or not, there are post-processing tricks to make your photos stand out and look amazing on social networks. Each social network site is different in how they optimize your photos, but here are a few good tutorials/tips on how to optimize:
Facebook: https://fstoppers.com/wedding/how-size-your-images-so-they-show-their-best-facebook-2993 – this is the BEST article I’ve found. The results are fantastic.
Google+: G+ is a little bit different of a beast. They claim that they don’t do any optimization, however, I have noticed that they do an “auto enhance” feature that definitely doesn’t do your photos much good if you’re a photographer. Just go in account settings > Google+ settings [edit settings] > photos and videos: uncheck “automatically enhance new photos and videos”. You may also want to change a few other settings in here, too. It also won’t hurt to process your photos the same way you would as for Facebook.
Twitter: Pretty simple: process your photos like you would for Facebook, then make sure you decrease your image size to about 2048px wide and make sure your photo is under 3MB file size.
3. Create a publishing strategy
This is the hardest part of the whole social media thing. Creating a good publishing strategy takes some effort. You need to be consistent, meaning, you need to post regularly and on-topic for what your audience wants to see. You need to craft the copy around your posts to be engaging to your audience. Don’t just post an image without any sort of context, story, or info that may be interesting to your audience. Finally, you need to monitor your insights on your social accounts to see what posts are getting the best engagement, and why. This takes time, but it’s well worth putting in the effort.
Differences with Facebook/Instagram/Google+/Tumblr/Twitter
1. Each social network has a unique way how users use it
I’m going to very briefly cover how most social networks differ these days, and how people tend to use them. This may help you determine your best course of action when it comes to implementing a social strategy:
Facebook seems to be taking on more of a utility approach. More and more people are using it to communicate with friends, rather than immerse themselves in the brands that they like. I’m not saying that it’s going away, but be cognizant on how people use it, know how your audience
Google+ has taken on more of a content sharing site for creatives and tech enthusiasts. It’s a simple design that is optimized to make the content the focus. Find people whose content inspires you and add them to your circles. Share to your audience, the public, as well as contribute to communities that are relevant to your interests and experience.
Twitter is a content and news syndication tool. You need to post regularly and frequently so that your posts won’t get as buried in the feed.
Instagram is an awesome place to share your best work. Inspire people and be inspired by others.
Tumblr is a combination to all of the above, however, it seems to skew a bit younger. People want to be inspired on Tumblr.
2. Design your social pages to reflect YOU
It’s very important to brand all of your social pages to reflect YOU and your brand. Be sure to have a clear profile picture of either you or your logo. Have fun cover photos that show off your work, and be sure all of your information is up to date so that people may get in touch with you or follow your other accounts. It also helps to update your cover photos every now and then to give returning users something different to see each time. It also shows that you’re very active.
3. Learn how to engage your audience
I already covered this above, briefly. Pay attention to your audience, learn what makes them engage with you, and don’t forget to post regularly. Use insights and analytics to guide your decisions.
Creating and Measuring Success
1. Create goals
Depending on what you want to get out of Social Media, you need to set some goals. You may want to build your audience and following, create more engagement within your existing audience, or just craft content posts that tell a story and resonate within your audience.
Setting goals can be fairly daunting. I suggest you set weekly goals that are attainable. For example, if you want to build your audience, set a weekly goal to get 50 new Facebook likes and 25 new Twitter followers. If you are interested in creating more engagement, build out a weekly content calendar and plan those posts. Did you know that you can pre-schedule your posts in Facebook? You can by using the scheduler. Just schedule your post by clicking on the little clock icon as seen below:
2. Buy ads
If you are serious about building (and maintaining your business), advertising is a must! For photographers, there are so many ways to advertise, that it becomes time consuming. What I have found, buying ads has proven to be a very simple and effective way for me to reach new customers.
Start with Facebook ads. You can create simple ads while putting a daily budget so you can monitor your spending against conversion. You can also hyper-target potential audiences that you’re trying to reach. For example, if you do head shots, target actors. If you shoot professional portraits, target business people and entrepreneurs. If you also have a really great content you’ve posted, you can promote that as well. I have placed Facebook ads for headshot photography with a $5 a day budget and in 1 week’s time, had 4 bookings from that ad.
Google Ads are also very very powerful. They are similar in nature to Facebook ads, where you can hyper-target potential audiences and set daily spending limits. I usually set $5 a day spending limit, and have yielded 1 booking per day for head shots. No joke.
Pro tip: Create a “landing page” to direct your ads to with a “special” deal for that audience. See my example below:
3. Monitor your analytics and shift your tactics
Now that you’ve implemented some strong social and marketing tactics, you must monitor your analytics. Be sure that you have Google Analytics installed on your website. You can see where your visitors come from and what type of content they view most. This will help guide where to advertise next.
Don’t forget to monitor your Facebook insights as well. Facebook’s analytics are pretty powerful and can help you make very informed decisions as to what type of content to post and when.
I hope you have found this very high-level info informative. After talking with a bunch of photographers, it seems that marketing often takes a backseat. If you just spend 2 hours per week on marketing efforts, you’ll see dramatic results.
If you have any questions, or want deeper info, don’t hesitate to contact me.