Over 1 billion people use Facebook. Twitter has over 600 million active registered users. Instagram has over 200 million active monthly users, and LinkedIn comes in at 300 million. One could argue that social media is in fact the glue that creates highly sticky user interaction on the web.
Companies are amassing millions of users online with the ability to broadcast messages more frequently and more inexpensively than ever before. Celebrities are communicating with fans; news outlets are breaking stories, and photographers are finding that they can enter the social conversation by simply tagging wedding guests in a Facebook album before the guests can, or create a following on Instagram by sharing photos from a personal project.
We’re not saying that every social media outlet will work for every photographer, but there’s enough real evidence to suggest that a strong social media campaign can translate into real marketing exposure and real revenue. The key point to remember is that your website is not a daily destination for your customers. On the other hand, hundreds of millions of people login to Facebook daily, so it’s important that you go where your customers already are.
The argument can be made that different specialities will use social media differently—that’s very true. So, going back to your understanding of your audience, it’s a good idea to determine how your audience uses social media to follow photographers and identify new talent. For instance, if you’re a portrait photographer, you’re probably focused on how you can best harness the social platforms to promote word of mouth. Can you come up with new Facebook strategies that get your clients sharing your images with other potential families and teens? And if you’re a commercial or editorial photographer, maybe you’re more interested in using LinkedIn and Twitter to keep former clients and prospects aware of your latest work.
Though every platform is different, there are four key “rules” to consider to help you successfully showcase your brand on each.
1. Be a person
This is probably the most important rule of social media behavior in general. You want to operate as you would in the real world. This means you should refrain from constantly selling your services, use language that is approachable, and share content that is interesting. If you’re not sure what constitutes interesting content, ask yourself if you’d be inclined to like, share or comment on that post if you saw it on your own Feed. And remember that social media is not a one-way street. You are participating in a community, which means you need to respond and reach out to others (as you would do in an offline conversation).
2. Go behind-the-scenes
Give a behind-the-scenes look at your shoots: the set-up, the gear, yourself shooting on location or even a sneak peak of a personal project you’re working on. This can give people an idea of how you work. Also think about giving a shout-out to the people you worked with that day. This shows you’re a team player and also encourages those you tag to follow and share your work. Fashion photographer Lara Jade does a great job at this, and takes it a step further to encourage people to check out her blog. Check out examples on her Twitter page here.
3. Be consistent
It’s important to have a consistent voice when you post. This means that the general tone, content and visuals are recognizable and don’t feel random. Regularly posting in this way will also let your audience know to expect content from you, which will improve engagement.
4. Pick the right photo
Whether you’re sharing on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, you should share a photo that strengthens your voice (which you’ve thought about and defined)—it adheres to your aesthetic by way of style or content, etc., and shows off work you love. We recommend sharing at least one photo per day. If you’re having trouble choosing a photo, try to find one that evokes some type of emotion in yourself. Chances are it will also have an effect on others as well.
Also, to help increase your visibility and reach on platforms, do this:
> Like or follow pages or feeds from leading photo blogs, and other photographers you admire. Keep in mind that once you like or follow their accounts, their content will start to appear in your Feed. When you see a post that you think might interest your audience, share, retweet, or comment.
> Sign up for newsletters and subscribe to RSS feeds. Some examples include Pro Photo Daily or PDN. That way, you won’t miss posts from publications and industry thought leaders that are most important to you. A service like Feedly or Flipboard will also let you aggregate your favorite blogs in one spot so you can quickly skim for interesting news and updates and then share with your networks.
> Let people know you’ve shared their work. If you share content without using the share or retweet function (so, instead, by simply linking to an article, resource, or gallery), consider shooting that blogger an email or message to let them know that you’re helping spread their content. People appreciate when you help them share their news, and taking a quick moment to let them know may make them more likely to share your own content one day.
Want some examples of photographers succeeding with social media? Check out a few that we love following on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram:
For more tips to market your photography business better, check out our latest guide, How to Market Your Photography.