Guest Post: Social Media for Photographers
Presently, there are so many opportunities for a photographer’s work to be seen and marketing your photography has become increasingly competitive. Social media has become a vital element to success – not only does it provide a platform to showcase your photography, but done correctly it can put your work directly in front of your target audience and provide potential customers with social proof (hopefully you’ll generate lots of positive comments regarding your photography which are visible to everyone). So how do you go about ‘doing social media’ correctly?
Choose the right platforms
There are two very tempting paths when getting into social media for business. The first temptation is to sign up for every available social media platform available to you. The problem with this is that each platform has its own little nuances and its own demographic too. You might be wasting your time learning how to use these platforms only to find that your target market just doesn’t use them. Also, creating content for each platform will take up a huge amount of your time which could be put to better use elsewhere. The second temptation is to only stick to the social media platforms that you’re comfortable with – you use Facebook personally and you are familiar with that, why bother to learn how to use Twitter? The mistake here is again demographics. A different social media platform might open the door to more members of your target market. These potential customers are not going to come and find you on your favourite platform!
Instagram appeals to a younger, more affluent demographic, while Twitter is great for building relationships with other businesses. Pinterest is fantastic for driving traffic to your website, while LinkedIn will allow you to reach the decision makers within larger businesses. Have a think about what your end goal is and who your target market is. Base your decision to join a particular social media platform on this.
Choose the right images and text for the platform
Once you’ve signed up to the social media platform that best suits your goals and target market, you’ll need to have a think about which of your images you will upload and how they should be edited for each platform. Instagram, for instance, will accept differing image dimensions, however from your home feed people will see squares.
If someone stumbles across your Instagram account, you’d want your photography to look at its best and make an impact on the potential customer. Think about uploading square images to Instagram. Remember that you can attract attention by using up to 30 hashtags in each Instagram post. Hashtags allow users to find Instagram posts on a specific topic – make your hashtags relevant, and not too broad. #Photography seems obvious, but might be too broad to capture your target market. It might be that #NorfolkPhotography or #NaturePhotography will work better.
Most users will be accessing social media platforms from their mobile phones. Keep this in mind. Twitter will shrink and crop images and show them at a 2:1 ratio in news feeds on mobile. Think about uploading your images at a 2:1 ratio (minimum of 440 x 220 pixels) in order to capture the attention of the Twitter user who is scrolling through thousands of Tweets in their news feed. On Twitter, you only have 140 characters of text, including any hashtags you might wish to use. Be concise, and use keywords – Twitter posts can now be found directly in Google search results.
Facebook have a recommended upload size of 1,200 x 630 pixels. In a Facebook news feed, images will appear at a maximum width of 470 pixels and will scale to a maximum of 1:1. Hashtags can be used on Facebook, but vary rarely are. Keywords will make your posts discoverable in searches within the platform and on Google too.
Choose content that adds value
Although good images will capture attention, to establish yourself as an expert photographer on social media you’ll need to provide something that benefits your audience too. If you have a blog that shares tips or helpful information, take quotes from these and share them with your audience along with a link to your blog post. Frequent little tips are also a good idea! Stay up to date with the latest news within the photography industry, and share your thoughts on this – it’ll make you look like the industry expert. Share other people’s content too – articles or videos that demonstrate photography principles and tutorials, and examples of other people’s work that you like. The idea is that your customers and potential customers will see you as someone who cares, rather than someone who peddles their photography for profit and nothing more.
Take part in conversation
Photographers are human! If you use your social media accounts to just publish information (whether it’s your own photography or helpful articles), you won’t see many results. As with any other business, success will depend on building relationships with others – potential customers, existing customers, suppliers, other businesses that you can collaborate with. If you take the time to engage with your audience by conversing with them, responding to comments, sharing their feedback, and adding your thoughts to other people’s posts then those people will be far more likely to share your work. Keep in mind that social media platforms make money from your advertising. The only (free) way to increase the organic reach of your posts – that is, the number of people who see your posts – is to generate engagement.
While being engaging, a photographer should also be consistent in their use of social media, too. You’re busy. That’s not to say that you should neglect social media. Doing so will mean that another photographer who’s more active on social media will be talking with the very customers that you’re trying to attract. And an account that has a spurt of posts and then nothing for a few weeks looks abandoned to newcomers. There are tools that will allow you to schedule posts in advance. Use them. Just don’t forget that engagement is important too, so take the time to talk to your followers. Build a bank of posts that can be ‘recycled’. Your blog posts, your tips, and even your most stunning photography will not have been seen by everyone the first time it was posted. Schedule it to be posted again, too.
However you choose to approach social media to grow your photography business, always have a goal in mind. What do you want to achieve? More awareness of you as a photographer? Warm leads for new photography work? People to sign up to your blog? Whatever it is, make sure your posts are aligned with your goals, otherwise you won’t be able to tell if you’ve been successful. There is no exact way to ‘do social media’, whether you’re a photographer or not. Make use of your social media platforms’ inbuilt analytics and analyse the performance of your past posts. Use this to inform what you do going forward.
What would you advise a photographer who has just started their social media marketing to do? What are the things you wish you knew about social media before you began marketing your photography? Share your thoughts with us, and keep the conversation flowing!
This Expert Guest post is by Andrew Lamb of Lamb Social Media Management
Andrew runs regular workshops on aspects of social media marketing