Photographers-Social-Media-Guide

Photographers guide to Social Media

How to find the in crowd in for your photography business

Ok, let’s cut to the chase. How do you get a social media following? In a word; engage. That is the name of the game. As social media fanatics, Ariel and I (Mathew) both tend to spend a lot of time looking at social media feeds, and engaging with others. We do so with a frequency of at least daily, if not more. This is vital to growing any social media following and must never be overlooked. Simply posting and hoping that other users will find your content amongst all the other posts – propelling it to a status of viral is as likely as winning the lottery.

Social users are growing exponentially and this channel can’t be overlooked. As professional photographers we are very busy, editing photos, meeting with clients, filing contracts, scheduling shoots and – if time allows – taking more and more pictures. How on earth can there be time for social media? We completely understand first hand, but social is so important that it can’t be ignored. The beauty of social media is its portability and with the convenience of apps you can engage with people while waiting in lines, on subways, etc via your smartphone.

So who to engage with? People like you! People of common interests will often engage back in some way. We spend time curating lists of users that like camera gear, run photo studios or have some other common tie that would make a good social match for us and our content. By doing this, the likelihood of the other users liking back or sharing content greatly increases. It also happens to actually be what we are interested in, as a wedding photographer we follow lots of other wedding photographers and it makes liking our streams very enjoyable!

Photography-Hardware-001

Social Norms

All the popular social media platforms have a similar system for engaging with other users. While the terms from platform to platform my change (like vs favorite) the functions are the same. First off is the favorite/like/star/etc, which typically indicates that a user enjoys a single post another user posted. Secondly, the share/retweet/etc which equates to a user liking another’s post enough that they choose to share the post with their followers. Which brings up the third and most powerful engagement tool the follow, which simply means you subscribe to all of another user’s future posts.

Utilizing these three methods can build your following dramatically if used correctly. Simply signing up for accounts at all your favorite social media channels and engaging in mass will not build you a following fast. In fact it will more likely get your account in trouble or closed. A better method is to seek out the similar users that like things you like and try to make a real connection with them, just as you hope they will do with you and your content. Comment on how you like their photo or re-share it to your followers if you think it’s a good fit for your readers. The old adage “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” really works in social media.

How To Find The Right Audience

Well since you are reading our blog, the chances are good that you are a photographer, or more specifically a wedding or portrait photographer. If this is the case you will most likely want to cultivate a few different audiences that help you to achieve your goals. We work to attain followers who are fans of our content who will, in turn, help to make our articles popular. This has made our online presence larger and serendipitous benefits such as backlinks and blog features are appreciated. While these happenings do boost our egos, they generally won’t help us book clients or pay the bills.

Getting jobs via social is a slightly different process, however. We have found it’s best to seek out local vendors in the areas your photography studio services. With a handful of google searches you can find local wedding vendors, planners, venues, etc. Use this data to seek out the proprietors social profile (usually on contact page/header/footer of their website) and work to create a lasting relationship with that vendor that will ultimately bring you the clients that you desire. Often these local business are small businesses similar to your photography studio and will gladly reciprocate follows or likes. This is great because now your photography post will appear in their social streams and you will be more fresh in their minds should an opportunity arise.

Post Pictures
This seems obvious. We are photographers and we want to share our images. Right? However, time and time again I will land on a photographer’s Twitter Page that doesn’t have any pictures at all, or worse yet, it links to another site that is hosting their picture. Why do this? People do not want to click on a link to Instagram to see a picture while they are on Twitter. People don’t interact with these posts and over time will start to disengage with you and your brand. It’s best to put images in every post and only your very best photos. You are representing yourself with these posts and should be proud of what goes out. This will increase the likelihood of engagement dramatically.
Timing is everything
You must plan your posts and interactions at the ideal time. That way, other users that are active on the service will see your posts. Lots of tools are becoming available to help bloggers solve this problem as it’s impossible to be in two places at once. If you run a website and have it tied to Google Analytics you can see a handy dataset recapping the traffic totals each hour of the last week to help you figure out when to post. Facebook and Twitter both also have similar functions that will allow you to figure out peak posting times for your posts.
Fantastic! Once you have this information you can schedule your posts to happen around these times. If you use Facebook it has an option to schedule your post time built right in for free. However, lots of the other services don’t. To solve this we use an online service called buffer to schedule out our posts at the right time everyday and it also makes posting automatic! Automation = Awesome. Just don’t forget you need to be on these platforms interacting with people regularly or your automated posts will do you no good.

twitter_logo

Twitter

Ok, so Twitter is a gateway drug to social media. With such a large pool of users and everyone offering up some information about themselves it’s a great place to find and connect with the right crowd for you. Again using Google and a more complex search method, it’s possible to find the right people and build a great audience to engage with. Start by seeking out other photographers that share your niche.
 For an example type these searches into google to get you started.
“wedding photographers” site:twitter.com
“new york wedding florists” site:twitter.com

Now you have a large pool of users to investigate that will likely be on the same topic as you! Or if you would like more instant gratification and are looking to improve your wedding photography niche on Twitter see our curated wedding photographer list. We have literally spent hundreds of hours searching for other photographers with similar businesses and built this custom list of the best wedding photographers in the world to interact with. Our goal was to build a community of like minded business operators that we could pool our efforts and experiences with, not just the most popular, but all the serious photogs of the world that want to engage with a community. This has worked quite well and we invite you to subscribe or if you would like to be added, tweet your website url to Mathew for inclusion.

facebook-logo
Facebook
Facebook is the pinnacle of social media. Everyone is on Facebook. Even my eighty something great uncle uses Facebook daily. It makes sense to go where the people are and the people are on Facebook! Unlike other platforms Facebook has been a vast well to draw potential clients from. Facebook was the first social media to offer a paid advertising model and it’s been great. Why would this be useful to a Wedding Photographer? Well Facebook gives you the entrepreneur the ability to pay to reach an exact audience.

What does every bride and groom do within a few days of getting engaged? That’s right, they change their Facebook relationship status letting the world know their happy news! We use the engaged relationship status to find ideal customers that are obviously in need of wedding photography services soon. We can also target within a certain proximity, ensuring that we book jobs in locations that our studio can service regularly.

Facebook has a great tool called Facebook Insights that performs a very similar function to Google Analytics. It allows you to track your Ad’s performance and assists you in discovering improvements. This is our primary use for Facebook and has proven to cost 30% less than a similar Google PPC campaign. Saving money is great, but laser pin point accuracy that converts into paying jobs is even better. If you are a wedding photographer and just starting out this is the best way to reach your target audience with minimal advertising costs. However, we advise photographers to build the best website and portfolio to present to their potential clients prior to spending ad dollars on Facebook advertising.
In addition to the business uses that our Facebook Page has gained us, we (Mathew & Ariel) love Facebook to interact with friends and photographers alike. We can really never have enough friends, so if you send us a friend request we will kindly add you back!

google-plus-logo
Google+
Google just couldn’t let Facebook and Twitter have all the fun. Having arrived late to the social media party Google has been a much slower adaptor. However, it’s lack of popularity has made G+ very attractive for small businesses and website operators. Google+ consists of two different account tiers, profiles and pages. Google+ Pages work much like Facebook Pages as they are designated to a business or public figure, while a profile is for the typical G+ user.

We utilize the G+ Page for our business and it improves our presence on Google local search results, as well as our ranking in Google Maps. These are obviously great ways to reach customers. We also have profile pages for both Mathew & Ariel that we use to post and interact with other users. We have found the best way to improve visibility on G+ is to post photo’s in communities. Google+ has tons of different groups to help users find like minded people to engage with. Post in these photo communities regularly and you can gain followers and views to both your G+ profile and/or page.

instagram_logo
Instagram
Instagram has been one of the fastest growing social media platforms as of late. Facebook had purchased the company a few years back and have since put a great deal of money and effort into improving the Instagram experience. Instagram generally speaking is a great place to build fans and energy about your photography. We (Ariel and Matthew) both frequent Instagram and love interacting with the youthful energetic audience it attracts. However, business contacts and future clients have been relatively sparse in our experience to date.

Flickr-logo
Flickr
Flickr is the defacto photo sharing service on the internet. They have a huge following of professional and budding photographers. We absolutely love Flickr and use it with great frequency to improve our photography. That’s right! We (Mathew & Ariel) would post on Flickr constantly when we got started to get feedback from other photographers. This undoubtedly helped us to improve our own work. It has also been a great way to increase our exposure with their groups sections as well. Similar to G+, Flickr has tons of groups run by other Flickr users. You can join specific groups and have your work critiqued by others. Or you can submit your work to groups that specialize in your genre of photography and make new contacts! While we have not (to date) booked a single wedding job from our Flickr experience, we have been discovered by magazines and other publications that later printed and paid us!

500px-logo
500px
The new guy in town is 500px and it’s become a smash hit! Of all the photography community sites that exist you have the best chance of going viral on 500px. Why? Because of their algorithm it’s possible for new users with a limited following to hit popular status just on the picture’s merit alone! It works like this, you post a picture and if people favorite or vote on it, it’ll be shown to more people, and it can grow and grow and grow until it reaches the masses. However, once 24 hour hits the image drops dramatically in points and continues it’s daily decline from here. This system keeps the best images fresh everyday and encourages lots of daily participation! This is really a great model for how all ranking sites could work more effectively. We (Ariel and Mathew) both have accounts here and participate with this community a lot lately!

Final Thoughts

We have really just scratched the surface for what is possible in the world of social media. These avenues can really help attract new business, and help make new contacts that can lead to future opportunities. If any of these services are foreign to you, get out there and give them a try. If you already have accounts and are not getting the response you want, consider changing your tactics. Improve your content, add photos to your posts, seek out a different crowd, but most importantly continually change things up until you find a recipe that works for you. Keep working on these social channels regularly and with time it’ll make your photography business stronger.

Are you looking for more?
Cameras
Cameras

Read more about our camera of choice, lighting equipment and other must have photography accessories.

SEE MORE
Lenses
Lenses

Check out reviews and more information about the all of the lenses we use and why they belong in our bag!

SEE MORE