Expert Advice: Writing The Book On Social Media
Tuesday August 9th, 2011
The recent abundance of social media platforms has introduced a plethora of new outlets for photographers to market themselves. While the social media options may seem endless, you can count on us to help you navigate the social marketing terrain. Here at Wonderful Machine, we are always keeping an eye out for books and online resources that might be helpful for our photographers, and with the launch of the highly anticipated Google+, I can think of no better book than The Linked Photographers’ Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media. I recently reconnected with my friend and co-author of the book, Lindsay Adler, and asked her to share her insight and expertise with me.
Tell me about yourself. Can you briefly describe your path to where you are now?
I’m a professional portrait and fashion photographer based in New York City. I also direct fashion film shorts and help produce digital content for a variety of clients. I spend my time split evenly between client shoots and personal creative projects. I am currently pushing myself to experiment with new forms of digital media and image making.
See my blog for content on my career, tutorials and behind the scenes at www.blog.lindsayadlerphotography.com
What encouraged you to write a book on social media for photographers?
When I was first starting my career as a fashion photographer, I found that it was very difficult to get my work in front of the right target audience. I quickly realized that social media was one way to grab the attention of potential clients. The reason that I wrote the book is that I found I made a LOT of mistakes in using social media—I wasted a lot of time on unproductive content and geared toward the wrong audience. My book helps photographers to identify their target audience, determine where to find them online, and then figure out the most efficient and effective ways to grab their attention. I aim to help photographer to build a reputation online, find clients and network with colleagues in the most resource-effective way.
Do you have any success stories in your own business that can be specifically attributed to social media?
Where should I start? I have had dozens of successes and business growth achieved through the help of social media. To start with, when I first move to NYC I found my photography studio by tweeting that I was looking for a space. Someone on Twitter had a studio space available for rent. Then, a college friend reconnected with me through Facebook and told me he knew of an agency looking to bring photographers onto their roster… this led to my first photo agent. I’ve tagged images from editorials on my blog, and had magazines contacting me and requesting to use my images. I’ve used LinkedIn to figure out the ideal target for pitching a campaign and then found ways to connect with them through Twitter and Facebook to get them familiar with my name and work before going for the pitch.
The examples are endless.
What sort of content is best to show on a blog, and is a blog necessary?
A blog is necessary for most professional photographers. A blog allows you to do several important things. (1) A blog allows you to build your reputation by continually showing you produce high-quality work. While your website is the ‘best of the best’, your blog shows that you always produce amazing work. (2) A blog allows you to show your personality. People don’t just hire creatives because of their work, they want to know that you are professional and easy to work with as well. Your blog allows you to give more insight into what it’s like on your set or give a peek into behind the scenes video. (3) A blog allows you to improve the SEO—search engine optimization—of your website. Google uses words to help index webpages, yet many photographers’ websites use flash or use minimal words (mostly photos). This does not help your site to become associated with certain keywords. On a blog, however, words are an essential part of your communication. By repeatedly using certain key words, you help your blog and brand to become associated with these keywords in the eyes of Google.
What are the best ways to drive traffic to your blog?
By building community on other social networks like Google +, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, you develop a core group of people to drive traffic to your blog. This community spreads the word about your work and may even become evangelists.
In your book, you describe the importance of creating a resource out of your blog. Can you briefly elaborate on how a commercial or editorial photographer can do this?
Ask yourself these essential questions.
(1)What content could I put on my blog that my target audience would be interested in? Would they like behind the scenes to see my personality? Would they like to see my personal projects, to see beyond my more commercial portfolio?
(2)What could I create that’s USEFUL for my target audience? Are there any tutorials I could provide to help the client? Or maybe interviews with ‘movers’ in the industry? Or maybe my musing about the latest visual styles or technological advances.
You want to create content that would intrigue your target audience, but don’t be too restrictive in your thinking. Even non-photographers would find behind the scenes content interesting, or an overview of a shoot, or you talking about the inspiration behind a particular concept. Analyze the types of things that would be of interest to your clients, including content that attests to you being an in-demand photographer.
How many hours a week should a photographer devote to social networking? What percentage of a marketing plan (print mailers, emailers, cold calling) should be devoted to this?
There is no right answer to ‘how much time’ a photographer should devote to social media. Different types of marketing work best for different photographers and as well as types of clients. I recommend photographers devote 1 hour per day to social networking efforts. Also, other marketing elements should point back to your social networking (blog, twitter) as a way to allow your potential client to get connected with you.
What’s the deal with Google+? Is it a valuable tool for photographers? How does it compare to other social networking sites?
Google + is a great social network because it helps solve many of the problems that photographers (and our clients) had previously had with other social networks. For example, Circles provides a way to segment the different audiences and clients we interact with, and thus we can better control our message and privacy. There are dozens of other benefits, but it is attractive because it really address many concerns that had previously existed.
How can a photographer determine the best social media platform for them?
The best social media platform for you is likely the best social media platform for your client. Where is your target audience. You need to answer the following questions.
1. What is the key message I want to convey about myself and brand. In other words, “What do you want to say?”
2. Next, who is your target audience? Or “Who do you want to say it to?”
3. Where can I find my target audience online? When I find them… how can I get their attention?
Can you list the top 5 best practices for social networking?
1. Build Community. Be personable and interact with your target audience.
2. Become a resource for your target audience. Find ways to hold their interest and to be memorable.
3. Use SEO. Find ways to make your site and online presence more search engine friendly through the use of key words, links, and an active online presence.
4. Use analytics to determine your most successful networking practices.
5. Go to your target audience. Don’t expect them to come to you… when you figure out where they are active online, pursue them and provide content on your site that will attract them.