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 Hootsuite.com or SocialOomph.com
- 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?