With all of the social media options available these days, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out which one(s) you should be using. Sometimes, total inaction feels like the best course of action, for risk of investing a lot of time achieving very little.
Although the usefulness of any social media platform will depend on the individual goals of the photographer, social media doesn’t have to be worthless time suck. There’s a reason why companies invest so many man-hours and so much money into ‘new media’ – it can help to grow your business.
With the above in mind, in this post I have covered some ways in which you can use social media to grow your photography business.
Facebook is often the first thing that comes to mind when discussing social media. And while it may not be the top option for some photographers, Facebook is a great tool for customer engagement.
You don’t want to use your personal page, however, because only people you’ve “friended” can see what you share. Instead, photographers should create a Facebook page that anyone can access. Facebook pages also include analytics that can help you determine how effective and engaging your activity is.
Wondering what to post? Here are a few examples photographers have used:
- Announce specials, events, or new products
- Post photos of recent shoots
- Link to new posts on your blog
- Hold contests
- Show what goes on behind the scenes
- Offer customer tips
- Share content that inspires you
These are just a few possibilities. While there’s no single formula for success, you can take a look at what has worked for other photographers and test strategies out for yourself.
Advertising photographer Tim Tadder, for example, features a mix of announcements, his own work, interesting content and behind-the-scenes info. While portrait photographer Kate Pease also shares some of her work, she also posts specials and shows ways that clients can look good in photos.
In addition to engaging people through your page, you can also pay to boost a post or advertise on Facebook. These can help you target users outside your network and reach those who may not have seen your page.
If you don’t get Twitter, you’re not alone. Its benefits are not as obvious and it can be hard to use at first. Twitter is similar to Facebook, in that people tend to share the same types of content. However, Twitter is unique because “tweets” are limited to 140 characters, and you can use specific attributes to increase visibility.
At the most basic level, you can simply use Twitter to promote posts on your blog. For example, nearly 8,000 people follow Glyn Dewis’ feed. He mainly tweets links to blog posts, replies to other Twitter users and shares general information about himself. You can also showcase your photography, as Elia Locardi has done. And like Facebook, Twitter lets you pay to advertise or promote content for increased visibility.
Fortunately, Twitter provides marketing tips and best practices for users looking to promote their businesses.
You might not think of YouTube as social media, but that should change. As the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube can be a valuable component to building a photographer’s reach and reputation. And considering that YouTube is owned by Google, your activity on the site can help influence your search engine rankings.
So what types of videos can photographers create? Think of topics your clients would be interested in. Pro photographer Peter Hurley created a video that showed people how to look better in photos using the “squinch” technique. This one video alone has been viewed more than a million times! It’s informative, shareable and useful for a large audience.
Clients are often unfamiliar with what to expect at a shoot. Stephen Jackson goes behind the scenes of a baby portrait session to show the process and some of the finished images.
When thinking about your strategy on YouTube, it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t need fancy equipment, a script or elaborate set. As long as the content is worthwhile, viewers will overlook any shortcomings.
And if you’re the type of photographer who prefers to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, you can also make videos using still images and voice-overs. Once you get the hang of using YouTube to promote your business, you can begin to optimize your content for better ranking with the YouTube search engine.
Advertising on YouTube with video ads is an option as well. Because ads are embedded into the videos, they can be harder for users to ignore. This means more eyes on your ads.
Google + has yet to see the mainstream success that Facebook and Twitter have, but it’s worth a look for a number of reasons. Similar to YouTube, participation in Google+ can influence your Google search engine results. One of the most noticeable advantages is the inclusion of an avatar photo in search results when the user is logged into any Google service.
While on its surface Google+ may seems like a mash-up of Facebook and Twitter functionality, it actually has some valuable features the others don’t:
- Communities within Google+ let you identify segments of users based on a common interest. There are a number of communities focused on everything from wedding photography to product photography. These allow you to target potential clients and share information that is specifically relevant to them.
- Google Hangouts is perhaps the most unique aspect of Google+. With Hangouts, you can make video calls right from your computer. This may not seem useful by itself, but you can also use it to have video conference calls with a group of people and even live stream events. Hangouts can come in handy if you need to connect with clients who aren’t local or plan a shoot with multiple vendors.
Although there are currently no advertising options in Google+, you can use Adwords Express to promote your Google+ content on their display network.
Because Pinterest is heavily image-based, it can be a fun tool for photographers. As far as social media sites go, it is one of the easier to use options. The main idea is to create different categories boards that contain links, or pins, to resources, ideas or any other information that someone might find interesting or useful.
Wedding and portrait photographer Mark Eric has boards for his blog posts and photography, but he has also gathered information on proposal ideas and general wedding inspiration. Doing this not only shows potential clients that you have their interests in mind, what you select also reveals a bit about your personal style.
In addition to gathering information for potential clients, photographer Jamie Swanson also creates and curates helpful information for photographers. In one of her blog posts, she gives a detailed rundown on Pinterest for photographers that’s worth checking out.
At this time, Pinterest doesn’t offer any advertising options. But it likely won’t be long before they roll out ways to promote pins and boards.
Whichever social media sites you choose to work with, it’s essential that you start out with a specific goal in mind. Otherwise, you won’t be able to accurately measure your success. Social media isn’t an exact science, so remain open for a bit of trial and error.
The key is to stay engaged on a regular basis. If someone comments on a Facebook post or shares one of your tweets on Twitter, respond to that person. Social media is as much about customer service as it is about promoting yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you choose to use one social media site or a number of them, just let your personality and passion for photography show.