Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

One of the biggest questions we get from wedding photographers is, “Is social media a waste of time for my business?” And the way many photographers do it, the answer would be yes.

In the over-hyped social media world, it’s often suggested that all you have to do is set up a Facebook page, Twitter or Pinterest account, post a few things and your business will “go viral.” It isn’t that simple or that easy. Social media was created to facilitate social activity, not business. That means the rules of engagement are different.

Frankly, I am not a huge fan of social media. Sometimes I let weeks go by without updating my Facebook status. (Oh, the horror!)  My husband is the “social media butterfly” in the family. He dragged me onto Facebook and Twitter, kicking and screaming. But do I use social media marketing for my photography business? Absolutely. But I refuse to waste time on activities that don’t get results. When I’m doing something on social media for our business, I’m a woman on a mission.

Mixing Business with Pleasure

If you’ve ever been to a business networking event, you know that you can use social activities to promote your business, but only if you use the right recipe.

If you want to use social media to connect with your real-life and online friends, spend as much time as you like talking about what you ate for lunch, posting kitten videos and playing Farmville. But if you want to use it to market your business successfully, you need to focus on the following actions.

1. Spend Time on Specific Results-Driven Activities

Simply having a Facebook page and a Twitter account are not enough.  For your social media marketing to be effective, you need to:

  • Figure out where your potential clients are hanging out online
  • Meet them there
  • Give them a good reason to follow, friend or connect with you
  • Turn those fans and followers into real leads you can follow up with.

Most business people’s idea of “social media marketing” consists of plastering their business name in as many places as possible. This is like attending a cocktail party and handing out business cards without even introducing yourself first. And it’s just about as effective at winning “friends” and getting business. It’s the social media equivalent of spam.

2. Participate Consistently

If you want your social media activities to bear fruit, you need to do them consistently over an extended period of time. Marketing with social media isn’t an instant lead-generating activity. It takes time to build those relationships and an audience that connects with you, pays attention to you, and (eventually) does business with you.

It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but it needs to be consistent. Fifteen minutes a day is enough as long as you’re focusing on strategic promotional activities. Commit to at least three months to give it time to deliver results.

3. Measure Your Results

As with any other marketing activity, measure your results to make sure your social media activity is giving you a return on investment. You can do this with tools such as:

  • Facebook Insights
  • Analytics via or
  • Google Analytics to track traffic from social media
  • YouTube Insights

Don’t invest your precious time on social media activities unless you’re going to track your results. This allows you to test out new approaches to figure out what works to get leads.

4. Conquer One Social Site at a Time

If you’d like to try your hand at strategic social media marketing, pick one social media site and figure out how to get it working for you, before you move on to the others. The surest way to get overwhelmed is to set up accounts on every site in existence and try to tackle them all at once.

For most photographers, Facebook or Pinterest is the best place to start. It’s here that those gorgeous photos can be leveraged to the fullest. Start with the social media site you find most appealing. Which site actually “makes sense” to you? Begin your strategic marketing activities there.

Social Media is Not a Substitute

Social media is not a substitute for “real life” business relationships; when done correctly, it enhances them. If you’re not prepared to be strategic, stay focused and measure your results, you’re better off investing your marketing time and money elsewhere. But if you are prepared to follow the right social media recipe, business people are proving every day that you can turn social media into a solid lead source for your business.

How do you use social media to market your photography business?

6 Responses to “Is Social Media a Waste of Time?”

  1. The cardinal sins here are nebulous or non-existent contact info. City and state or city and country are imperative. Don't make me try and figure out where you are via a telephone area code.

    I had to hire a shooter just a few weeks ago for a job in the USA, and we preferred that the shooter be local to the job, or within 100 miles.

    You can't even imagine the number of shooters who failed to clearly state this on facebook and even on their own websites. Makes it kind of hard when people are trying to throw money at you. Most were too busy worrying about their (poorly done) company logos than providing necessary location info.

  2. Yes. Big waste of time.

  3. Insightful and concise article. Thanks!

  4. Stephanie, this is a solid list of ideas. I would add to this (as most important and a precursor to everything here) that you need to have a reason for adopting social media or a particular social platform. Without a strategy that defines what you hope to accomplish, how you'll measure it (which you mention), and the value to your business for different types of interaction, social media is a waste of time. Just as an example, Facebook may not be a great lead source but if you have an active blog, FB can become a good way to pull people into a different marketing channel that does deliver leads.

    My two cents, anyway. Thanks for the post!

  5. Great article. Agree.

    I've never made a dime from Facebook or Twitter. I have however made real business connections and real sales from websites with real contact forms and phone numbers.

    My work was published because someone found my work on my own sites.

    I get shoots because people can see my work, and book me on my own sites.

    Social media is all hype, however, if you'd like to "like" or "friend me" I have 3 pages ...
    1. -- where I posted your article 🙂


  6. Hi Stephanie,
    I think using social sites like the above ones mentioned is a waste of time.. People go on those sites to chat with friends and not to search for business leads or referrals.

    Business should be about building relationships and referral partners... That's why we created a site Network Large.

    Let me know your thoughts

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