We recently held a Social Media for Photographers Roundtable discussion via Facebook Live on our private Mastin Labs User group. We discussed best practices to help photographers get the most value out of their social media presence. You can watch the entire video here in the group.
There are countless published articles that talk about strategies for using various tools, committing to a posting schedule, etc. Because the landscape of social media is constantly changing, it’s important to understand and implement a few core marketing values for managing social media.
Social Media for Photographers Facebook Live Show Notes
Know Your Audience
Before you start posting to your audience, it’s important to understand who your audience is, and the type of audience you want to attract. Are you trying to reach other photographers? Are you trying to reach engaged couples? Are you trying to reach corporations who need product photography? Every audience will have a different set of wants and needs that must be fulfilled before they will consider working with you.
Once you understand who your audience is and what they need, you can begin creating highly engaging content to share. As you build your online presence, always keep yourself grounded by focusing on giving your ideal client what they want.
Create Engaging Content
Every piece of content you share should encourage engagement. ‘Engagement’ is a blanket term that encompasses any interaction your followers have with you, from re-sharing to liking your posts. To optimize engagement, you have to be able to put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
We suggest starting by answering your frequently asked questions. For example:
- Are your clients consistently asking you to walk them through what to expect on a shoot? Share a shoot walk-through on your Instagram Story or via Facebook Live.
- Are you frequently asked to show examples of your work in print? Share styled photos of your prints.
Think outside the box on how you can demonstrate your knowledge and skill through your social media channels.
Another great way to brainstorm content ideas is to think about what may be holding clients back from booking with you. Share content that will help you break past those barriers. What may seem obvious to you may not be obvious to your clients; try to educate them on your specific photography style and capabilities.
To put it simply, find a balance between sharing content that provides education, demonstrates your knowledge, and displays your skill; then, give it a twist with your unique personality. All of your content should focus on painting a picture of what it is like to work with you while showcasing your best, unique work.
Focus on Brand Consistency
Once you’ve identified some topics, its time to think about how these topics will look when they’re posted. One major consideration is, are your posts on brand? What is your style, and how do you consistently deliver that style? We (obviously) advocate for using Adobe Lightroom presets to create a fluid look throughout your social feeds.
Think of your social media presence as an extension of your portfolio. Only share your very best work. In the words of Kirk, “your client is looking for your weakness.” A potential client wants to be 100% sure you are the right choice; don’t give them any reason to doubt your work. You will be judged by your worst photo, not your best. Cut out any photos on your feed that aren’t your very best work. Keep yourself honest by asking yourself if the photo you post will attract your ideal client. A Mastin Labs user, Mason Schroeder, put it, “Telling the story of your ideal client is more important than telling your own story”.
“It’s better to show a portfolio of 15 perfect images than one with 115 images but still only 15 perfect images.” - Kirk Mastin
During our Facebook Live session, we received a lot of questions about what to do if you aren’t currently shooting paid work that displays the kind of work you want to be doing. Our advice is simple: Make those types of shoots happen. Invest in attending a workshop, put together a Mastin Labs Community styled shoot in your city, or make a regular shoot into a styled one by offering lower prices in exchange for creative freedom.
Quality over Quantity
The number of times you post per day, and the number of social media platforms you are on is not nearly as important as what you are sharing. If you’re only posting once a day on one platform, that’s fine if you are sharing amazing work. Stay consistent, and focus on quality. Quantity is something that will build over time.
As a new photographer, a common tendency is to post images of everything. Curb that tendency. As Kirk bluntly put it, “Nobody likes a generalist”. Posting images of everything does not make you more likely to get hired. On the same note, if you have several areas of photography expertise, create multiple Instagram channels to present each one.
Take it Offline
A face-to-face approach is always going to be most effective. Consider how you can use social media to facilitate in-person meetings. Connect with vendors, venues, and other potential referral generators through social media, and find opportunities to connect in-person.
Make a commitment to yourself to meet with one industry professional or vendor every month. Meet with people who also work in your industry, and spend your time learning about what they do. If you’re in the wedding industry, meet with owners of venues, or wedding coordinators. Ask them what they need and how you can help. Do them favors by shooting their venue or products, and asking for nothing in return. These in-person connections are invaluable to a photographer, and will virtually always lead to paid work.
To optimize your online interactions, think about your in-person interactions with clients, and pinpoint what makes them compelling. Find ways to relay that over social media. If you know that you’re better in person than you are in writing, try a service like this one that allows you to send video responses via email to boost the significance of your client interactions. Use out-of-the-box ideas to make social media most closely reflect a face-to-face interaction.
SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
- Buffer – A great tool for scheduling out Facebook and Twitter posts, and analyzing engagement.
- Later – Allows you to visually lay out your Instagram feed and schedule out posts.
- Agorapulse – Allows us to listen to our audience. Anytime someone hashtags us or messages us, we receive a message to our Agorapulse inbox. A great tool for bigger companies like ours.
Whatever social media platforms you choose to use, make sure you use them the correct way. Don’t use shortcuts. The content that works on one platform is not always ideal for another. Only be present on platforms that you can maintain.
Social Media Truth Bombs
Someone referred to the topics we discussed at our Social Media Roundtable as “truth bombs.” Kirk is not afraid to get real on these Facebook Live sessions.
Practice Hashtag Etiquette
Use hashtags to spread your work out in front of relevant markets. When hashtagging, research hashtags that are relevant to your images. It’s important to only use hashtags that benefit your business goals. Use a hashtagging tool like Focalmark if you’re stumped.
Hashtags are great for getting a brand’s attention. On our Mastin Labs social channels, we feature photographers who use our products. But if an image is hashtagged with #mastinlabs and another competing brand or preset, we won’t go to the trouble to decipher which product was used, and we won’t share the image on our channels. The same rule applies to being featured on publications. If you hashtag competing publications, you are less likely to get featured on any. Limit your hashtags to about 6, and be intentional about what you hashtag.
Lose the Watermark
Yes, you read that correctly. Drop the watermark. Your watermark is not helping your brand. Consider this, when you shot your photo did you intend to put a big word on it? No, you probably didn’t. Your watermark is ruining your photos. Regarding social media, we know the post is coming from you. You don’t need to put a watermark on every photo. Watermarks take away from your brand far more than they benefit it.
In addition to being a distraction in your photograph, watermarks keep publications and brands from sharing your work. At Mastin Labs , e can’t share your amazing work if it has a watermark on it. We have to consider our brand when we share photos. If watermarks are part of your strategy to get noticed by magazines or brands, know that your images won’t be shared on feeds like ours with a watermark on it. Make sure your images can easily fit into other feeds if you want them to be shared.
Make Your Content Evergreen
On your website, it’s wise to remove the dates from your blog. When you do that, you make your content more evergreen. The term ‘evergreen’ refers to content that is always relevant. You can’t avoid stamped dates on most social media channels, but you can commit to creating consistency and timelessness in your feed by only posting quality photos.
Your Client’s Photos Are Theirs
Once you deliver the photos to a client, the photos belong to that client. It’s always very disappointing to deliver beautiful photos only to have the client slap a heavy Instagram filter on it, but it’s not under your control.
When this happens, you really only have a few options for handling the situation. You can send your client a very nicely worded email and ask them to take it down, or you can let it go. If you react negatively, you will lose the relationship you’ve built with that client. Not only will you lose that client, you will also lose any referral clients they might send your way. If you find one of your images online that’s been altered and tagged, untag yourself and brush it off.
If this is something that is out of control, or that you absolutely hate, we recommend sharing social media optimized photos with your clients. When providing photos, size them appropriately for each platform and provide instructions for posting. This will help discourage clients from altering your images and posting subpar versions of your work.
You Don’t Owe Your Clients a Blog Post
Don’t fall into the trap of posting everything you shoot. If a client’s session is not 100% what you envisioned, whether is the wardrobe, location, styling etc, don’t share it. You do not owe this to the client. You are being hired to do your best work at their shoot, and deliver great photos to them. You are not being hired to blog or post about it on your social media channels. If you have a persistent client, gently tell them you’ve been busy and haven’t had a chance to blog about it and leave it at that. Don’t promise that you will get around to it. Resist the urge to post just to appease a client. It’s far more important for you to protect your brand by blogging only your best work.
Social Media Strategy for Photographers Facebook Live
Be sure to watch the full Social Media Roundtable in our Private Facebook Group to get the full value of the discussion and contribute to the conversation in the comments section.