Gear doesn't make the photo. But gear can be fun…
If you’re on Facebook, then you probably heard the news that all brand pages and most personal profile pages have converted over to something called “Timeline.” If you read our take on “Why You Need to Ditch Your Personal Facebook Page”, then you know that we are all for your photo business having its own Page, so we’re detailing some tactics and tips that will help you take advantage of Facebook’s new format to help grow your brand. This new layout has been met with mixed reviews, but we believe it can be truly beneficial to your photography brand if you really put forth the effort.
Timeline for pages introduces these 5 new features:
- The Cover Photo
- Pin to Top
And here’s a quick bit of Facebook marketing vocabulary: a post on your Timeline is called a “story.” This is where an opportunity for photographers comes in, because who doesn’t love a story with pictures?
Each one of these new features can be used to build your photography brand on Facebook. Individually, they are going to be quite useful – and if you use them together, they are going to form an overall effective marketing strategy for your Page. The new Timeline is also a great opportunity to create or solidify your brand’s identity. Establishing a clear, consistent and favorable first impression is an excellent step in creating (or nurturing) a solid social media marketing strategy for your photography brand.
This is your first and best opportunity to grab the attention of your future Facebook follower. You have a lot of real estate here: 850×320 pixels to be exact, so it is vital to make that favorable first impression we’ve been talking about. This is the literal “cover” of your photography brand’s story. We all know people shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but this isn’t just a book, it’s Facebook, so make sure that your cover is awesome.
When creating your Cover Photo, be sure you are keeping your branding goal in mind; if you want to attract food photography buyers and clients, have a picture of something mouth watering so the viewer knows they came to the right page. If you’re a nature photographer who wants to sell fine art prints, post a sweeping landscape that will catch viewers’ attention. Keep in mind that creativity is key, so don’t be afraid to stand out. This is an effective way to tell people what you’re all about right off the bat and establish your photo brand’s identity quickly – while hopefully gaining a few likes and followers in the process.
Take wildlife and nature photographer, Mike Cavaroc for example:
Mike effectively utilizes each visual element in the Timeline Cover Photo area. He has a clear brand image, and there is a noticeable harmony between his Cover Photo and his profile image. The fonts, colors and message are all in sync. From this first impression, you know that you are on the Facebook Timeline of a nature photographer, and if this is what you were looking for then you’re going to continue reading.
Open Aperture Photography by Bob and Amanda Mackowski uses a Cover Photo that lets the viewer know right away that they’re wedding photographers:
This striking image is from North Carolina photographer Kevin Adams, who also uses the profile image to display his brand and remind you that he specializes in night photography:
Bottom line? When it comes to the Cover Photo, use your very best images and make sure that they exemplify your photography brand.
Tabs are getting more customizable with timeline and they’re now prominently displayed below your Cover Photo. If you venture to your admin panel, which sits at the top of your Page, and then click Manage>“Edit Page” – on your left-hand side you will see several options, one of which is “Apps.”
From here, you will be able to change Tab names and the photo that displays alongside it. By default your Tabs will display any Apps that you had pre-Timeline, but now you can use them to also enhance your Page’s visual presentation.
With this added level of organization and imagery, your page will appear much more uniform and consistent. Try to use similar colors, fonts, images, symbols, etc. between your Cover Photo and Tab images in order to maintain a similar brand style. Remember: people are judging by the “cover” of your story and the Tabs are part of that. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and a pre-chosen thumbnail will already look great, but having the option to incorporate your own photography is a great new feature.
Again, take a look at Mike Cavaroc’s Facebook page for some ideas of what to use for your Tabs:
Mike’s Tabs clearly communicate to his followers that he’s in the business of nature photography, and they fit with his Artist’s description on the left hand side of the Tabs. Mike is also using this area in order to direct his followers to his Vimeo and slideshows of his portfolio. This additional content is a great way to keep readers engaged and interacting with his brand even if they choose to leave his Page.
Luceo Images, a photographic co-operative, uses the Tabs to promote both its photographers’ work and upcoming events:
Finally, travel and commercial lifestyle photographer Ken Kaminesky links to his blog and Instagram feed via the Tabs to show off his various media outlets to viewers:
No matter what your photographic specialty, use the Tabs to further solidify what your brand is all about and promote yourself on other platforms.
If you look at your Cover Photo and then scroll down, you’ll notice that Timeline is spread into two columns with a muted blue line going down the middle. If you click anywhere on that line, your cursor will turn into a “+” and if you click, then you can add a Milestone to your Timeline. Milestones are key events that you want to emphasize on your Page, and automatically expand to 843px wide by 403px tall when clicked on. Unlike statuses, you can add a Milestone to any date on your Timeline.
The benefit to this new feature is that it is a great way to add new-old stories that you may have forgotten to post or never thought would be of interest to people who like your Page. Backdating previous posts can add a great amount of content to your page. For future visitors, this is a reason to keep reading down your Timeline.
You never know how far back a potential sale or client wants to read into your history. These Milestones will be there for them, so don’t hesitate to go far, far back. Can you remember when you got your very first camera? That could be a great way to make a connection with your followers. Or how about the time you scored your first major client? Leverage familiar emotions in order to engage your following to like, share and comment on your stories. The best part is that expanded photo, so take advantage and post something eye-catching.
For example, on July 22, 2011, PhotoShelter had its annual company BBQ on the hottest day of the year. We were all very sweaty (but happy!) and it was a day to remember. We thought this day was milestone-worthy, and also a chance to showcase this tasty photo by our Senior Marketing Manager Chris Owyoung.
Go ahead and hover over one of the stories on your Timeline. You’ll notice that a group of buttons has appeared on the top-right of your story. If you click the star-button, you will be able to “Highlight” that story. Now you’ll see that your story has expanded to utilize both halves of the Timeline.
The Highlight feature is unique in that it is the one way to change the appearance of a story on your Timeline. By increasing the size of your story, it becomes more interesting – it is now unique from other stories on the rest of your page. But beware: do not overuse this feature. The purpose is to make certain stories stand out from the rest. If you make too many of your stories into Highlights, then they are no longer unique and a viewer may just scroll through your Timeline without noticing your most important stories.
This could be huge for your photography page. If you have an awesome photograph, raving review, etc., use the Highlight function as a subtle way to say to your following “Hey, read this!” Making a photo larger on your Timeline might just be the boost it needs in order to earn more attention, so why not give it that extra space?
For example, because Pinterest is still a hot-button topic these days, we used Facebook to highlight a recent blog post on the topic so that you can’t miss it. You can do this for your followers as well – just make sure you highlight content that you know think would really interest your audience.
Pin to Top
Once again, hover over a story on your Timeline and this time click on the pencil-button. The first option you see from the drop down menu will allow you to “Pin to Top”. Applying this to a story (only stories posted by the Page) will move it to the top left of the Timeline; this pinned story will be distinguished from other stories with an orange flag on the top-right side. A pinned story will remain on top of your Timeline for seven days; after that it will return to its original location in on your Timeline.
The possibilities for creating a favorable first-story on your Timeline are endless, but remember the most important element: this is supposed to exist for the viewer and speak to their interests. It may not be best to pin a press release to the top of your feed – instead remember that time your work was published in print, you were interviewed for your skills, or even that time you were featured on the Photoshelter Blog. Sharing the content of others at the top of your Timeline will communicate that you are more than just a business to your followers, and that you care about their interests as well.
Many people consider Facebook as something simple and just “nice to have,” but if utilized properly, it can be an effective tool to have under your marketing belt. And despite the seemingly nonstop changes and updates to Facebook, remember that the majority of users are engaging with your content in their Newsfeed. So while it’s important to build a great Page, it’s even more important to post high quality content that will garner likes and comments – thereby pushing it to the top of people’s Newsfeed and getting their friends to engage with it, too.
In a competitive landscape where everyone can make a Facebook, it is important to make sure that your Timeline stands out and people remember your Page.
For more info to help grow your photography business online, check out PhotoShelter’s recent two-part free guide, The Photographer’s Social Media Handbook.