Like marketing any business, a professional photographer’s main objective is to convince potential clients that what you deliver is the best and that you’re the most likable person to deliver the goods. Can you do it more effectively online?
Social media is evolving rapidly. Facebook is now just one of a half-dozen major players vying for peoples’ attention. If you’re a professional photographer and you’re only on Facebook and maybe flickr, it’s time for you and your photo business to get a social media makeover.
An excellent way to rise above the noise is to leverage social media and blogs to capture your brand image in a way that’s marketable. But you should also control how your images are seen and that if people are going to steal them (which they will) that at least your name and contact info will remain creatively intact.
Start By Watermarking Your Social Identity
You can scour the ends of the earth reprimanding people for posting your photos on social networks without attribution, but it’s going to happen on the World Wide Web. So rather than trying to control it, take precautions by protecting your images with watermarks and make the best of it by slapping on your URL so people know where to find you.
Two software plug-ins that make watermarking easy are LR/Mogrify 2 (Free) for Adobe Lightroom and BorderFX (Free) for Apple Aperture. For inspiration, take a look at the new Getty Images watermarking format.
Pinterest for Photographers
Pinterest is a visual bookmarking tool and one of the fastest growing social networks right now with over four million daily users. It’s the digital equivalent of an inspiration board, which many photographers already use in their studios. People pin photographs and wanted items onto “boards”. Boards are user-defined groups of “pins” that fit a category or topic.
- Pinterest is not only an excellent source of photographic inspiration, but it is being used as a creative platform for marketing.
- Post before they do: If your best work is going to go viral, shouldn’t you be the source? To see if your work has already been pinned. Plug this URL into your browsers address bar: http://pinterest.com/source/you.com, then just replace “you.com” with your domain name.
- Create themes important to your clients: Many brides use Pinterest to plan their weddings and choose photographers, so smart photographers create boards for flowers, hairstyles, centerpieces and anything else a bride might subscribe to. Within those boards, they also include their own watermarked photographs.
- Don’t forget inbound links: The goal of marketing on Pinterest is not just viral transmission, but also getting people back to you. Include your name, business contact information and website link in your bio.
- Encourage people to click: Many Pinterest users skip clicking back to the source. To get more traffic back to your website, include a link in the description of your photos. Sometimes you just need to tell people what to do.
- Look for communities: Join the Best of Pinterest Photographers board where you can ask to be a contributor. It gets a ton of search traffic and allows you to post your best work to a board with over 3,000 subscribers.
- Measure your reach: Pinerly is a free online tool that helps you manage your posts to Pinterest. What makes Pinerly unique is that it lets you track how many clicks, likes and re-pins you get so that you can see just how far each post gets.
Jamie Swanson’s Pinterest page.
Ideas: Photographer Klaus Herrmann has put together a list of hundreds of photographers on Pinterest. Shannon Grant Photography pins photography themed boards like “Little Loves”, “Florals I Fancy”, and even boards like “Beach Bliss” to inspire theme beddings. Also check out Erik Kerstenbeck and Jamie Swanson.
Tumblr for Photographers
Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform that gets over 15-billion page views per month and around 70 million posts per day. Like Pinterest, users on the Tumblr network can boost the visibility of your posts by following you in their feed and re-blogging your posts. Tumblr makes it easy to make a post, so you’ll have no trouble savvy-ing up to it.
- Think “meme”: Tumblr is the platform of choice for meme artists like TextsfromHillaryClinton http://textsfromhillaryclinton.tumblr.com/. In the same way, consider creating several niche Tumblr blogs for your various photo themes, sort of like expanded versions of your Pinterest boards.
- Re-blog other photographers: Offer a sign of mutual collaboration by re-blogging the posts of other (non-competing) photographers. They’ll get a notification of your gesture and may possibly do the same for you down the road to spread the good word.
- Add more: Don’t forget to write thoughtful descriptions beneath each of your posts to add personality and flare. If the photo belongs to you, ask them to “click here” to see your website portfolio.
- Customize: For added features, visit the Tumblr theme store. For a long form and customizable blogging option, try WordPress. You can use their self-hosted version to build your entire website (including a blog) and there are plenty of free pre-built photography themes out there to customize.
Jamie Beck’s Tumblr page.
Ideas: Check out Jamie Beck, who live-blogged from New York Fashion Week and other creative photographers for more Tumblr inspiration.
Vimeo for Photographers
Vimeo is a video social network like YouTube with a targeted community of videographers and visual artists. This platform gives you a way to demonstrate your expertise while showing off your gear.
- Create short films: To give potential clients a feel for what it’s like to work with you, create mini-documentaries behind the scenes of your shoots. Get a friend or a second shooter to get shots of you directing your models.
- Start teaching: Prove your expertise by filming instructional videos. Since this community is supported by camera geeks, you already have a targeted audience. Besides, many still cameras now have incredible video capabilities that rival professional video cameras.
- Keep it casual: Vimeo doesn’t look kindly on videos that are strictly promotional. Be creative in your attempts to market yourself by creating informational videos and behind-the-scenes diaries as mentioned above. You can sell yourself without saying “hire me!”
Jordan Manley on Vimeo
Ideas: Photographer Jordan Manley posts videos from each of his photography trips, while Dan Burton has posted videos from underwater and Cameron Laird it as a portfolio. You’ll gather unlimited inspiration from videographers Ryan Killackey and Philip Bloom.
Facebook for Photographers
Most businesses can benefit from the viral and SEO benefits that social networks like Facebook and Twitter provide. Facebook provides you with a community generation tool that encourages people to subscribe. Because of that, it’s crucial that you’re creating content that’s more than just a great looking photo album.
- Build a community: Use your Facebook page as a way to collaborate. Lead your community by asking fans to submit their favorite themed photos (baby, wedding, engagement, etc.)
- Promote related content: Many photogs post articles that their fans can relate to, like a Motocross/Zombie themed wedding or 6 cues from a wedding professional.
- Ask for reviews: One of the best new features of Facebook is the ability to request reviews that people can see when they visit your page.
- Promote your articles: If you have a blog (and you should), use Facebook to feature those articles, which can also help with search engine rank if you’re optimizing your titles.
- Think about ads: If you’re serious, you can try out Facebook’s cheap ad platform. If you’re a wedding photographer, you’ll be able to create ads that only show up to people in your area who are engaged. Anyone who clicks will be a viable lead.
One Love Photography on Facebook.
Ideas: One Love Photography posts “sneak peaks” of all their wedding shoots, displaying just a few from each reception. Four Hens Photography posts personal tidbits about her life and the things she likes while the*reason makes beautiful albums for all of their clients. Check out Chase Jarvis for examples of great selective sharing.
Twitter for Photographers
Part of word-of-mouth marketing is having the ability to reach a large network, and the sustainability to get passed along once you’re out there. Twitter is a social network that can build a brand identity, credibility and give your blog posts wings. It also builds your persona and rapport with future customers.
Most importantly, Twitter makes you accessible, and the more transparent you are, the more approachable you will be to prospective clients.
- Share behind the scenes: Use a Twitter app or Instagram to share photos from your on-location shoots.
- Encourage sharing: If you want people to re-tweet, ask them; then leave room for them to comment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, everyone has an opinion.
- Join the community: Use programs like Twibes, Twiangulate and WeFollow to find other photographers and make new friends.
- Use a 10:1 ratio on promotional tweets: For every ten helpful, interesting and fun tweets you post, you get to tweet one thing that promotes your photography studio.
- Be a friend: When you share a photo from another photographer, don’t forget to shout them out using their @ in your tweet. You never know, they may return the favor one day, but you’ll at least register on their radar.
- Keep it professional: Don’t mix business and pleasure unless you can keep your composure. Otherwise, keep personal conversations, swear words and off-topic rants to your personal account or offline completely.
- Look for conversations: Use Advanced Twitter Search or InboxQ to find people who are asking questions that you can answer.
David Hobby on Twitter.
Ideas: David Hobby has no trouble keeping almost seventy thousand followers happy when posting great articles, asking trade questions and dishing out advice to any follower who asks for it. Jack Hollingsworth, Scott Bourne and Lara Jade are also great candidates for inspiration.
Google+ for Photographers
If you want to be found on the web, you need to partner with today’s most popular search engine. Since Google created its own social network, it would be wise to see how you might be able to use it to compliment your business.
Start by creating a profile, and you’ll also get access to many of Google’s other small business tools that will at some point come in handy for optimizing your website and online marketing campaigns.
- Fill out your profile completely: This should go without saying for any social network, but for Google+ it’s especially important because your page may start ranking in search for your name or the name of your business. What’s on your profile should display what you want people to see if they find you.
- Create circles of photographers: Network with other professionals by creating circles that you can share photographs, articles and other resources with. You’ll also be able to collaborate with them, get feedback, ask questions and hold video chats.
- Post photos with detailed descriptions: Not surprisingly, the photos you upload to Google+ will show up in Google Image Search. Since they’ll be branded with your logo and URL, this is a good thing. Make sure to include a detailed description of the photo using keywords people might be searching for.
- Host hangouts: The video Hangouts feature in Google+ allows you to host free online workshops, interviews, demonstrations and even host little clubs or meetups with a group of colleagues.
- Write posts: If you feel so inclined, Google (and Facebook) allows you to write posts long enough to be blog articles. If you want to write daily tips for your followers like you would in a blog, this is a great way to earn followers.
Leanne Staples on Google+
Ideas: There are tons of inspirational photographers on Google+, but let’s start with Leanne Staples who posts photos everywhere she goes and DeShaun Craddock who writes little blog entries for each of his photo posts.
Finally, the Tool You’ll Use to Manage and Measure
HootSuite is the most popular business tool for managing social media accounts and there are few others that really compete on an affordable professional level (Social Sprout is next in line). If you plan on using any combination of the above social networks, you should consider a professional tool for management.
Hootsuite allows you to manage almost every social network we’ve mentioned in this list except for Pinterest. With Hootsuite, you can schedule posts/tweets days, even months in advance.
With their inexpensive paid plans, you can also create robust reports that tell you more information about the clicks you got, the people who clicked, and even more data to illuminate your sales funnel. If you have an assistant or intern, you have the ability to assign them tasks, and edit them before anything posts.
Don’t Forget the Call to Action
Now that you’ve assembled your photographic insights on social media and search engine optimization, it’s time to remember your goals.
Your goal in social media and blogging is to get more clients. Therefore, it may be tempting to be the fun photographer all the time, but your end game should be a sale.
So, with that in mind, please remember to always give your customers an actionable objective. If you’re blogging, every blog post should wrap up with some fine-tuned copywriting that gets the reader to interact with you through email, your sales collection form or subscribing to your updates through email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or wherever you interact the most.
Your photos and persona are what sell you as a photographer. You can’t make anyone identify with your art, but you certainly get it in front of them so that they have an opportunity to make that decision.