Social media for photographers: Part one
Last week, I wrote about Instagram’s announcement that it was following Facebook’s lead, ditching the time-based feed in favor of an interest-based algorithm. Other networks have done, and will continue, to change the way they present your content.
This week, I’m starting a series explaining how to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape, and how to embrace social media platforms to their fullest extent. I’ll discuss some networks you may be taking advantage of, and others that may be new to you. Specifically, Facebook, Google+, Snapchat and Pinterest.
Right when you login to Facebook you see a plethora of content, organized in a way that Facebook hopes will suit your interest…in addition to some advertising. As photographers, we have to learn how to work with their algorithm, and therefore, how to best be seen.
Like Instagram, Facebook will work best if you engage with people and pages on the platform.
The most effective Facebook posts involve a single photo, with a short but relevant caption. Post consistently, but don’t overwhelm your audience — posting every day is much more valuable than every couple hours.
If you can’t come up with a relevant caption about the photo, look for interesting quotes, play up the comedic value, ask your audience some questions, or simply explain how and why you photographed what you did. And don’t forget about hashtags!
If your photo involves a brand or location, tag it! That brand is more likely to share directly from your Facebook Page, which could open you up to an entirely new set of followers.
Most importantly though, respond to your audience. If they ask questions or make a comment, answer in a timely fashion. If they message you privately about a photo, respond as soon as possible. The brands that stay engaged with their customers are those that ultimately have more success.
Finally, share other brands’ posts! They’ll appreciate it, and it means they’re more likely to share your content as well.
One other thing to begin to look into is Facebook Live. This feature is great for behind-the-scenes of photo shoots and presenting video tutorials, all with the interaction of a live audience.
If you’re looking for more Facebook help, I can’t recommend The Photographer’s Guide to Facebook, by PhotoShelter, enough. Learn more here >
Snapchat is super new to me. While I’ve had the app on my phone since the early days, I’ve never actually done much with it. I recently started a new account, with the hopes to take advantage of some of the features Snapchat offers.
There was a blog on Creative Live that recently that stated “As a photographer, you can send a photo to your Snapchat audience, and realistically expect that photo to be seen.”
That’s reason enough to engage with this social media platform.
If you post, they will come.
But what should you post, and what will work for your audience?
Think of your snap like a story. If you’re at a senior photo shoot, take some behind-the-scenes photos. Share them with the senior you’re photographing. Make it personal. If you’re on a vacation, make a story about your favorite places to visit. Take one shot at each location, and put it together in a snap.
Remember to post in short bursts. Three seconds or so per photo, otherwise your audience will close out of your snap.
Use high quality images, through a third-party app like Upload Snap (iOS) or Snapload (Android).
Consider making a series of stories. Walk a person through a shoot frame by frame, or create a digital flip book.
Just because you only shoot still photography, don’t be afraid to take some video on your phone. By adding video into the mix, you can make stories that walk people through a shoot or different techniques. You can do a quick review on that new lens you picked up, or you can give advice as you’re on-scene at a shoot.
Really, the possibilities are endless. And if you do it correctly, you can grow your audience and become known for a pretty unique account.
What about making money on Snapchat? There’s a really great piece I found on the TIME website, featuring photographer Alec Soth, and how he uses Snapchat. It’s totally different than I would expect, and you just need to check it out.
I have to be honest and say I haven’t embraced Google+ like I had originally hoped. Since its launch, it was my hope it would be a Facebook killer. Instead, it’s sat on the sidelines, with an ineffective design and lack of audience.
I consider Google+ to be LinkedIn for photographers. I’ve never once gotten a lead from Google+, nor have I heard of any of my clients (or potential clients) using it. When I do use it, I follow communities and interact with other photographers.
That being said, Google+ works really well for some photographers, especially in certain markets.
Photos can shine on Google+, meaning that it’s a great source of inspiration. I can see other photographers’ photos on the communities I follow and interact with them there, like I would on Facebook.
Additionally, if I want to connect with them privately, I can, through Google Hangouts.
When you post to Google+, you should follow the same guidelines as Facebook. Post consistently, with strong images and meaningful captions. Use hashtags, and be sure to tag any brands.
Regardless if Google+ is your favorite or not, it’s still important for one key reason — search results.
Google is the world’s most popular search engine. By having a profile on Google+, you get a head start on the competition. It works with Google Places, meaning you can have reviews appear when someone searches your photography business name. People can rate you straight from Google, and they can see photos you’ve shared, and where you’re located. Don’t neglect this platform, if only for the search engine optimizations reasons alone.
Pinterest, for most, comes across with this odd preconception that it’s meant for women. That’s not necessarily the case. I’ve had a Pinterest account for years. While I don’t use it a ton, I do use it for a few key aspects for my business.
It’s a great place to save inspiration and share it with others. Have a wedding that’s coming up? Look for some unique shots between the bride and groom. Did you take a really cool engagement photo? Upload it and see it spread throughout the network.
Sharing your content won’t guarantee you see results right away. But when that bridal magazine pins something you shared, it gets your name out there, and it might be seen by a bride in your area who happens to be searching for a photographer.
The other way to use it is to share ideas with existing clients. I’ve done this with the handful of weddings I’ve photographed, creating a private “board” and sharing it with the client. I re-pin posts, and they do the same. We come up with a mood board that gives some great ideas prior to the shoot, which leaves the bride feel confident in what she’ll end up with.[eltdf_separator class_name=”” type=”full-width” position=”center” color=”” border_style=”solid” width=”” thickness=”” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=””]
Regardless of what you use for social media, it’s important to have a focus. If you tackle every social network, you won’t be able to put in the time to quality content. Not to mention, it won’t be realistic for your time constraints. Personally, I focus on Facebook and Instagram, and hope to get more into Snapchat. That’s not to say I don’t have a presence on other networks, but I use them much less frequently.
Essentially, you have to go where your audience is.
What have you found works with each of these four networks? What social media platforms do you like? What platforms do you loathe? Next week, I’ll dive into Twitter, 500px, Flickr and LinkedIn. Stay tuned.