There are some businesses that lend themselves particularly well to promotion via modern social media and photography is one of those businesses. At a minimum you’ll want to create a Facebook group page and link to it from your personal page and your photography web site.
As part of the customer interview process get your customer’s permission to use social media to distribute some of the photos, but respect their wishes if they’d rather not. Online image collections of events are a great way to expose your customers entire social circle to your work. If the customer publishes the photos themselves, you lose that opportunity.
Online marketing pro Eric Hardenbrook explains, “Find out early if customers are comfortable opting in for online photo sharing. If they are send them a Facebook friend request. Post selected shots from a “life event” type shoot (wedding, baby, graduation, prom) to an online gallery and announce the post on your own wall. Their friends and family will rush to see your work and call you for theirs.”
The added service of loading the photos to an online gallery for your customers is another value angle for your business both in terms of service and exposure. The idea is to provide a path from their event photos to your contact information in a manner that respects the privacy of your clients.
Twitter is another convenient mechanism for communicating with customers and announcing the availability of photos or posting a few online with Twitpic. It’s also a convenient mechanism to advertise specials, like special deals on senior or family portraits. Twitter doesn’t tend to be a big money-maker but it is very convenient for communicating event information.
A LinkedIn account is important for anyone trying to build commercial and business contacts. Recruiters and media companies are increasingly using LinkedIn for locating local talent rather than putting out a hog call on the freelance boards or Craigslist. Getting location jobs these days really is a matter of who you know. Working your LinkedIn profile will build your business.
Another online marketing opportunity are microsites, small web sites focused on one particular facet of your business. Instead of just one big site that lists all your services, split off those services to individual sites focused on just one of those services and have it point back to your main site. “Many small companies are ignoring microsite strategies,” explains Eric. “They are inexpensive to build and greatly increase your web site footprint and search engine rating with back-links.”
Blogging is another way to raise your web site profile and promote your individual brand value in the form of your unique selling points. “WordPress is a popular blogging platform that is very photo friendly,” explains Hardenbrook. “Use it as a gateway to your portfolio by posting slide shows of your shoots in different categories on your site. Adding links to your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles gives you a professional image.” Blogging is one of those activities that will get you business.
To get the most mileage from your online marketing efforts you have to make sure all your social media efforts are working together and echo your main selling points. Your social media message should be what sets you apart from others in the field of photography and why specifically customers should hire you. These are not “set and forget” advertising venues, but part of an ongoing relationship that eventually yields business.
“Remember that social media is all about the conversation. You want to be involved and available, allowing people to interact with you on their terms. Know who your clients are and use the media that they use.”