Social Media Q&A
Awesome, so today's section will be focusing on social media but less about perhaps my approach because I want to hear more about what you are going through and how you are applying it to your business. I will start with a cursory outline of how approach social media for my business. But running a business today is fantastic and it's wonderful because we are the owners of our content. We are the captains of our ship. We choose the direction in which we want to go. And for so many years, marketing took on one shape. And it was very formal. This was how you marketed. You bought a radio ad or a TV ad, you bought a print ad, you advertise in The Pennysaver. I mean these are the things that people pursued. Then social media happened and it completely changed the game. It leveraged the playing field in ways that people have a very hard time understanding. Now, on that note, social media is wonderful but it can also be very daunting. Because there are so many different ways to use social medi...
a and so many different platforms that what I see quiet often amongst photographers, are photographers, doing every form of social media. But doing them all a little bit not so great. My opinion is that I see common mistakes that are easy fixes a photographer should stay away from. For instance, when a photographer says, "I don't use Twitter. "I have a Twitter account but I don't use it. "I just sync up my Facebook with Twitter." I think big mistake, because Twitter it... Why I went like this? No idea. Big mistake! (all laugh) Later on, if I make a mistake I want you guys go like this. Big mistake. (all laugh) Why I think it's not so great is because Twitter is limited to a 140 characters and traditionally, on Facebook our status updates are little bit more verbose. So what it parlays to on Twitter is, "I had such a great Saturday, went or flew a kite, "hang out with the kids dot dot dot." Nobody ever clicks to the Facebook link to read the rest of your thoughts, not when they're in Twitter. And what I see quite often happening as well is people are syncing from Instagram, the photos to go their Facebook account and to go to Twitter. Now, syncing your Instagram to Facebook is not so much a bad thing because Facebook bought Instagram. They make it very friendly these days. Now, when you are following somebody on Twitter, and they update with an Instagram link, fewer and fewer people are actually clicking on the link. So all of this just begs me to say, "Respect the platform." If you are using Twitter, use it in the way that it should be used. It is so much more powerful of photo update on Twitter when it's actually updated as a pic tweet because people can see the preview. One of the greatest uses of Instagram and linking Twitter, was when Instagram actually uploaded a picture within Twitter. It no longer happens that way, it's just the link. So, respect the platform. Dwell in that space and be okay knowing what that space is. Now, sometimes photographers ask me, "Am I missing out if I'm not on Facebook? "Am I missing out if not using Twitter, "Pinterest, Youtube, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr?" I mean, there are so many. So they ask me, "Am I missing out?" And my quickest answer would be, yes and no. Yes you are missing out on potential marketing opportunities. But know, you are not missing out if that is not the target audience you want to reach. So take a step back and this goes back to a previous lesson that we discussed. Who is your market? Who is your client? Because once you know that, you know where those clients reside. Now, for me, the key is to focus on platforms that I feel make me stronger. That I feel make me better. Now, for example, I have selected three types of social media platforms that I will heavily get into. First and foremost is Facebook. Secondly is Instagram. Thirdly is Twitter. Now, a very very close fourth but it's for different reasons is Youtube and Periscope. Now, what happens with Youtube and Periscope, is that video has changed the dynamic in which I'm able to interact. However, video is a different machine in its entirety. It takes more time to think about. You have to use it with intention and you have to be really smart about the things that you're saying and how you're saying it. So what we've seen now is people and photographers using more of Periscope and I love it but I think that people, if they're going to invest time watching you, it should be with intention. So when somebody follows me on Periscope, I want them to know the voice in which I possess and the voice in which I possess is I'm going to share something with you. Because while I'm watching a great sunset, I don't think it's all that great and interesting to show you the great sunset that I'm looking at because I could just take a picture. Right? You don't need to see the sunset under every single dropping along the horizon. So when somebody follows me on Periscope, I have used it at a wedding and I say, "This is how I shoot reception details." I've used it at a rehearsal dinner. I said, "I'm at the rehearsal dinner, everybody's eating. "Nobody wants to have their photograph taken, "so I'm gonna show you some of the details "and how I'm shooting it." I use Periscope as I shot The Knot Dream Wedding as well. Because I want people to be part of that. But furthermore, I have used Periscope just last week. I was in my studio, not my studio, the studio. It's a shared studio space. And I happen to be working there on content for CreativeLive. And the studio was empty and so I said, "Okay, I'm going to Periscope" and so I had updated; I said, "If anybody would like "to see my studio space, I'm walking you through it." It was with intention. I could have just said, "At the studio. "Here I am, yeah so I'm just talking about stuff, "taking a sip at my coffee." That's not valuable to most people. The value showed what the experience look like. I could've started in the studio where I meet my clients but that would have only mostly been interesting to, photographers. If I backed out of the studio and actually showed myself walking into the studio, up the stairs where I meet my clients, the lounging area that might also appeal to brides. They might want to know my voice. They might want to know, where do you work. They might want to know the values of spaces that I work in. So for me, Periscope was used strategically in two ways, for two different audiences; photographers and brides. When it comes to choosing the right form of social media for you, you want to leverage things that work with intention. Sometimes, people ask why I don't use, Vine or why I'm not really active on Snapchat. I think, for me, my client does not reside in the Vine demographic. The Vine demographic is that 18 to 24 range and that's not my client. However, if you're just starting out and you have a tendency or proclivity or desire to shoot younger brides and you're in that price range, maybe posting a short video to Vine might be beneficial, I don't know. I know that my strength isn't leveraged in a six second video. I'm just not that witty or funny and I just feel like it would to be a waste of time as a result. So, am I missing out? Possibly, but one thing that I want people to always focus on when it comes to social media; leverage what you're good at. Go after it to use your target clientele and respect the platform. On that note, why I think Facebook wins in regards to social media is that it is powerful for photography resources and leverage. The thing about it is that the algorithm works in our favor if we use it right so my brides will share their photos on Facebook. Hopefully, preferably by first sharing the link. It's very strate... The link to the album within Facebook. It's very strategic when I release their images. I don't want to release all of their images and on the same day, do a blog post and share an album of my own images on Facebook because they're not incentivized in sharing mine. They want to curate their day from the gallery that they so chose so if I first tease them with a gallery... Usually, an engagement album on Facebook is eight to 10 images and an album of wedding photos about 20 to 25 after a wedding. I want them to share those because that is what I feel is the best representation of my voice and my work. When they share it, it's great because then their bridesmaids will usually say, "Oh, what a fun day," or, "Oh, it was so beautiful. "Yay, yay, yay." That's great, the more people that comment on their status, the more it ends up in other people's feeds, naturally. This is how I get the most word-of-mouth/word-of-mouths referrals. Most often, I am getting inquiries via Facebook not by people who were at the wedding, I'm getting like that third ring removal. Yes they're friends on Facebook but they're close enough to have been invited and so just recently, I booked a wedding based on a referral from a gentleman who went to school in the fourth grade with the bride. He wasn't invited to the wedding but when he saw the photos, he sent them to his fiancee and she said, "I really like her, let's fire up "to the the Bay area for our wedding." We didn't meet. Same thing, I recently was booked by a client via email. We didn't Skype. We didn't meet. We didn't call but she felt confident sending me thousands of dollars based on what? She saw a friend of a friend tagged on Facebook from my photos then she visited my Facebook page because she wanted to see who I was. After she went to the Facebook page, I also included a link to my blog within the album so she went to my blog. When she went to my blog, she looked around the blog then she had noticed that I had uploaded to YouTube video and that Youtube video was how I work with my clients on an engagement session. It was intended for photographers but she wanted to know what my clients were doing, what they look like. How I spoke. She admitted this in an email then she went to my Twitter account to see my personality and it made me think, what were the first four tweets that I had written when she had read it. I ask you. If somebody were to go to your Twitter account right now, what are the first four tweets that they see. Are they negative? Are they funny? Are they boring? Are they self-promotional? And if that's the pattern, if three out of four are one thing and that one thing doesn't resonate with you, I challenge you to change the scope of your social media because people are doing so much work. Now, she really got to know me because she did all the work on the front end. She sent me an email. She admitted to the path in which she found me. She said, "I feel confident. "Send me a retainer," and that was it. I think that is social media done right. Yes, it requires a lot of time. A lot of the questions... A couple days of ago, I posted on Facebook and I said, "I'm at CreativeLive, if you have any questions "in regards to social media, please ask me "and we'll address them." And somebody had asked... I have a list of those questions but somebody had asked, "How do you find time to blog and Facebook "and tweet? My question is; I make time because I don't have, I don't want to spend the money on traditional forms of marketing. I'm given the option. We both need to grow our business. Now, there's the easy expensive way or there's the harder and more time-consuming way but at the end, if they both yield the same result, I'm going to choose this one 1000 times over because it doesn't cost me money, it cost me time and I enjoy it and I think I'm good at it and I wanna tell people how easy it is when you just put your heart into it because if you're just like, "I just want one app that I could do one update "and it will go everywhere." It's like you're missing the point of social media. People follow different avenues, different mediums for different reasons so make sure that you're respecting their time as a result. Now, so now that we have a better sense of my approach, I'm gonna give you global idea about how I use social media and the consistency in which I do. So I use Facebook and I update my status; three or four times a day. I update Twitter three or four times a day. I update Instagram once a day and I Periscope once a week. When it comes to YouTube, it's a lot more strategic and because it's the direct reflective of my brand, I wanted to make sure that it looks right. I YouTube once a month. You know, video is a lot more strategic. It takes more time for me to do it but I think the benefits are there but I don't do it with as much frequency via YouTube because of how much time it takes. I want there to be a purpose. On that note, I want to kind of just clarify a few things when it comes to updates. In our office, like our office is like me and JD. The house and our bedroom. (members of the audience laugh) In our space, we have a vernacular that we use to ensure that we're staying tethered to the thing that we want to be tethered to. So often times we'll say, "Well, why aren't people engaging "on my Facebook page?" And then I click over to the Facebook page and it's being updated once every four or five days and the only updates are, shot an engagement session in Ballard. I'm here in engagement session selfie. Go check out the wedding day blog post. At a wedding day, click here to see more photos. It's like, would you ever tune into a radio station and be like, "Buy our socks. "Buy our socks. Buy our socks. "So blessed to be buying our socks." Of course not. We wouldn't but that's what social media is and yet we, as business people, are like, "Why isn't anybody interacting?" Well, why don't you put content on the radio station? People sometimes ask, and this was another question. Like somebody had asked and I wanna make sure that I'm bringing out their names. Stephanie Duane, how do you get people to follow you on Instagram or Facebook? People will like the post and people may even comment but they won't follow you. That makes me take a step back and think; if they're not following you, you're probably not putting out the content that's worth their time and is that tough and does that mean to say? Yes, but it's also the truth. So can you take a step back and think, what does my feed say about me? Then, what do I want my feed to say about me? And then what are the changes that you need to get there? On that note, I wanna open this Q and A, this forum to you. You are my core. You will get the most time. If you feel like I'm not getting questions from you guys, I have wonderful list of amazing questions of people I have printed out from Facebook so we're gonna start with mic here, we'll take the mic back there and then we'll pass mic here. Awesome, thank you so much guys. I appreciate this.
I have been following you for like five years on Facebook and only Facebook--
So we're like old friends?
I feel that way. (laughs) And you're very sharing about certain things, personal things about you and I'm wondering if you use that same approach on other platforms.
Yes, yes. So, first let's take a step back. Is that people will say, "Well, that's good for you." And I'm not saying that you say this but I'm just gonna address something that I think is ancillary. People say, "Oh, that's good for you; "that you feel comfortable sharing personal things." And let me take a step back and say, the things that I share make up .001% of my life so people assume them a lot more comfortable with sharing things but I use what I call the man on the airplane rule. What I share on social media would be exactly what I would share to somebody I just met on the airplane and maybe some people are not comfortable sharing that their mom is a cancer survivor and I am comfortable with that. Maybe people aren't comfortable sharing an inspirational quote that their dad might have made in regards to their relationship with God, I am but what is okay for me might not be okay for you and that's okay but to shy away entirely from personalizing it, is doing yourself a disservice because, I bring up this story often. I probably brought up on CrativeLive like four years ago because it was such a pivotal thing for me to see one thing. I was blogging and people would say, "Oh, "we're meeting you by way of your blog and it's been great "and thank you so much." And I didn't get it because I just that, I'm just writing, you know, I'm just sharing what it is that I do and then late one night, I stumbled across somebody's blog and his blog post was really short and he just took a picture of a bag of Reese's Pieces and he just kind of created like a limerick on like his love for Reese's Pieces and it was silly and it was trite and I like Reese's Pieces. I liked him more because he wrote something small. It was witty and he likes the same candy that I like. Did he share anything personal about his life? Outside of the fact of his candy preferences? No, but he was personalized and that was when I started seeing the profound effect by putting things out online. Having said that, you need to draw a line in the sand and you need to understand that the more of yourself that you put out there, the higher percentage you will push somebody away and I believe that I want to do one of two things with social media. I want to attract a person or I want to repel a person. Ideally the people I am repelling, stop paying attention to me. That has not always been the case but the people who I attract, become ardent supporters because they know pictures of my dog. (sighs) They celebrate when my mom is healthy. They are happy when I celebrate anniversary. They wish my husband happy birthday. These are personal elements but they're not so revealing and to create that personal connection with people who express love on the internet is this fundamental shift in how we interact as humans because we as entrepreneurs, especially solo entrepreneurs, we're lonely or we work alone and some of us are lonely. Those are two different things but for the people who work alone, for the people who are lonely to reach out across and take three seconds and put a little emoji and say, "Thumbs up, great photo," or, "Hey, good job, happy anniversary, happy birthday." That changes things and it's a personal connection by way of marketing so don't shy away from it but also be comfortable with it. Does that work? Okay, cool. There was... Oh, yes. We're gonna go back there, question two and question three.
So wondering how Pinterest fits in the marketing mix for you and if you feel there's value in spending time, working within the platform or not so much.
Oh goodness, I'm sure there's gonna be some social media specialist who's like, "That girl was so wrong!" Okay, so I started off by saying that I choose platforms that show strength in what I do. I am not good at Pinning. I personally feel and here's I know that I am the .005% of people who don't like to Pin. It's just not my thing. I don't like to create boards. I find thaat to me, that's a waste of time. You know, people could say, "Oh well, Twitter "is the epic waste of time," and I'd be like, "You're right but I just waste my time there." Now, part of the reason why I'm not, why I've made a cognizant decision is that when it comes to Pinterest we, as photographers, are content creators. I would feel at a disadvantage if I wanted to grow in marketing and I wasn't doing it. If I wasn't creating content but I know that my pictures are getting Pinned, I see them. I get I get leads from Pinterest but I don't necessarily, think it would be a strength to say, "Here's all the photos "that I shot at this one venue." Like that would be so much time to actually do that. I wouldn't enjoy it so I'd probably abdicate that and if I abdicate an arm of social media that's not personalized, I run the risk of it just looking inauthentic and a waste of time and money. I know Pinterest works. I know it's valuable but since my pictures are still in it, I feel like I'm an ancillary participant to that form of social media without me leading that particular ship. Personal decision. Thank you, that's a great question. Thank you.
Hi, I have two questions; one is a simple one, one is long wind. The simple question; do you use a Facebook person's page or do use a business page because I find there's a lot of limitations on like adding friends and tagging people when you're a business page and then the second question is unrelated, but you're kind of an amazing writer. I don't know if you guys have read her blog but you have very beautiful words. Do you have a book or a suggestion for people who like aren't as great about writing to like learn how to write more eloquently like you do.
Thank you and thank you. First things first. When I got on to Facebook I started with a personal page and I would friend my friends and then I would friend, clients and then something shifted in my career and I started going out and meeting a lot more photographers and they were like, "Oh, hey we meet at this event," and I started accepting everybody's friend request because I was like, "Oh, I spoke at that event. "I'm not sure if we've met in person but we'll be friends "for connection in industry." And I think if I could do it over again, I would not. I have done it that way because there needed to be a clear distinction of what it was but it's done and over. Facebook has a personal friends limit that goes up to 5000 people. I got there and I was like, "Why can't I have any more friends?" and it was at that time, that I decided to create a Facebook business page. Now, some people were like you should merge the two and I thought about that until I realized that I couldn't tag my clients from my Facebook page unless I was friends with them on my personal page so that's why I still keep my personal page. I don't update it with as much frequency. I really pour all my attention to the business page because, and this is where some people disagree, it's a personal decision. I have decided to use social media entirely for business purposes. I don't post pictures of me dancing on the table in Cabo San Lucas, you know like, that is not... Not that I do, I mean... That's not what that page is about. My personal page is still business. My business page is business but updated with frequency so it's very strategic in regards to what I do. In regards to books that I have found helpful. Well, first and foremost reading, anything is the best form of writing education that you can do, if you're reading comic books, the back of cereal boxes, magazines, it doesn't matter as long as you're just not on a mobile device, watching TV. You're not feeding your brain. Anne Lamott wrote a wonderful book called Bird by Bird. On Writing by Stephen King is a wonderful... It's more autobiographical in nature but he talks about what he does in his creative process and another one called; Still Writing by (exhales) Her name just left me but if you go to Instagram and you #jstarreads, you will find the book Still Writing and I think her name is Alice. I'm not sure but she wrote amazing book about her writing process but I just substituted writing with photography because she talks about how sometimes you get so tired and you get so burnt out but the act of actually still doing it is the thing you need to replenish; it's not completely walking away from it because you end up beating yourself up about that and I was just like, "Yes, yes!" So those three books would be great starts but then read anything, read a magazine.
Yeah, welcome. Yes.
I know you've touched a lot on getting input, people coming to you. Is there any strategy you apply towards who you choose to follow and who you are reaching out to as far as what change to your plans?
All right. Because I felt, like with social media, with Facebook that I wasn't as strategic as I should have been and I just let my personal page just go everywhere and now, when I go to my feed, it's filled with people I don't even know and so I just don't have like the heart to be like, unfriend, unfriend, unfriend, unfriend, you know, so I'm just like, "Uh." So Facebook feeds are very limiting to me and so when it came when it comes other forms of social media like Twitter or Instagram, it's really personal driven like I really just follow like people that are my friends in real life and I know that that could be no kind of like I'm trying to stiff arm other professionals in the field and it's not that, it's just with this, I wanna protect Instagram because the people that I want to see my feed are my friends and I don't follow like a lot of other, like I follow like Mindy Kaling. (member of the audience mumbles) Okay, amen because she is like an All-American, Indian girl who's a good writer and she's self-deprecating but she feels good in her own skin and her updates are just really fun and lighthearted. Mostly, I follow like fashion... Like not fashion models, I follow the girls who would like just take selfies in their outfits because I don't know how to dress and I look at them and like, "Oh okay, that's what she did, okay." So it's actually educational purposes. The scope in which that works or sometimes I follow... One of my favorite feeds is Marnie The Dog. If you guys don't follow Marnie on Instagram, your life is not complete. I tried convincing JD and he's like, "It's a weird-looking dog." It's a weird-looking dog who walks funny and has her face in a little tortilla and says, "I'm a burrito." like it's really, like for me those messages in social media are just stuff that's going to make me laugh and keep it really light because I think that if I put in a lot of social media that I'm following a lot of other photographers, it's easy to use it as a form of measurement. Like I'm at the beach or I'm walking my dog and feeling good and then I'm like, "Oh well, "that person's in Ireland shooting a wedding. "Oh well, look at how great her kid looks. "Look at those crafts that she makes her kid." You know I follow some other moms on Instagram and I'm not even a mom and I fell intimidated. I was like, "Oh my gosh," so for me, when I follow my personal stuff, it's really just a form of entertainment, keeping it light and a really close-knit of people.
There seems to be a lot of conversation out there about watermarking or no watermarking--
And I see that yours is lovely and subtle but I think I noticed you don't use it on Instagram unless I didn't see it. It's kind of hard from back here. But then the the other question quickly is; do you use a pre-scheduling platform so there's options to present pre-schedule--
So there's three questions there?
Just two, watermark or no? And do you pre-schedule--
No because you asked whether or not I use a watermark on Instagram. There were three.
Correct, I defer to the pro.
I'm so sorry I'm slow, what was the first one?
Watermark or no.
Thank you. Watermark, okay. Watermarking, yes I watermark all photos that go online, from me. Now I understand that my clients will put out their images and that's okay and I understood that the creative team will put out images without watermarking but I request on both ends that I am mentioned as the source and the originator. I do not hold my clients responsible. I ask for it but whether not they do it, that's fine. They invested in me. They are owners of their images. You rock that, I hope you mention me, if not, I'm not gonna push it. For vendors, for creative teams I request it and then I do get irked if they do not mention but so far, mostly, those those people say, "image by," and that's very powerful so watermarking I absolutely do. The internet is like the Wild West right now and so I have seen a photo of my own on buzz feed that where my name was cropped out of it and I'm just kind of like (exhales) it's what it is. It's what it is these days but I wanna do everything I can to kind of protect that and especially in Pinterest. It's like re-pinned, re-pinned, re-pinned and the original source changes all the time. If my name is on it, we know the originator of the original source. In regards to Instagram, I was kind of playing with it. I was kind of playing with whether or not... what I've noticed is that a lot of times when people are sharing on Instagram, they will do like an Instagram re-share you know and so then you're still listed as it. People can like screen grab and take it out. I just felt because of the square format of Instagram and even when I tried putting borders on it, my name either just was completely obscured or lost or it degraded the looking at the photo in the square format. Aesthetically, and if you go back into my feed, you will see that I was watermarking and then I was like you know what, "I'm just gonna make "the creative decision to let this one go "for the sake of respecting the platform." Lastly...
Do you pre-schedule?
Obviously you will go there. No, I don't. I don't. Now, there have been times where I go on vacation and the thing, I'm constant worker. I actually think I derive joy from working. It drives my husband bananas like you wanna see me happy, give me a pile of stuff to file, okay. When we go on vacation, his only request is, we're off. Like you're off, we're off and in that time I will use HootSuite to update Twitter and I'm only really being strategic about, "Oh, I blog today via Twitter." Now, Facebook has a wonderful pre-scheduling program that I used to use HootSuite for Twitter and Facebook but Facebook works for so much better for the pre-scheduling now and when I go on vacation, that is what I use but other times like real-time like updates, no I'm not gonna plan like, such a great day like I don't know what if I like, I was always think to myself, what if got into a car crash and then an hour later, "Such a great day," you know, it's like inauthentic so I know, is that weird? Am I totally dark? I'm dark on the inside. No, I just worry and I think about what that could potentially turn into.
Okay. Thank you so much.
Thank you. Awesome. We're gonna pass it back there, yes.
You kind of just touched on this but I wanted to clarify a little bit. Do you give any instruction or encouragement to your brides on posting their images, crediting you or following you on social media?
I think that was like four questions. I don't ask them to follow me on social media but they are. Most of them are following me on... Here's the thing, Twitter is not for brides. I am on Twitter for other wedding professionals and venues. Venues seem to think that like Twitter is like the jam and so I do that to elevate. Like if I shoot a wedding I'm usually tweeting at the venue but I'm not using it to connect with brides. Like I don't think that brides are on Twitter the way that they maybe were. For me, my brides are on Facebook and Instagram and they are following me on those but I do not ask for it. When it comes to asking for credit, I include it in part of the post-wedding email. I sell this template in the store as well because it's a difficult kind of like wording to navigate. Like how do you ask for photo credit? You know, but if you want it, you have to ask for it. So yes I do but I do not hold them accountable to it. And there was another question, was there?
I think that covered it. Just do you give them any instruction.
So I love the idea that you're talking about when it comes to really repelling or attracting a client and I feel like my personality is like that, like people either really resonates with them or not to much but as soon as I go to write something, I like freak out and I think, oh my gosh, I'm gonna offend somebody or it doesn't really make sense, it's not as funny and when you see it written, it just like it's there on Facebook forever. So do you have any advice for someone like me, maybe other people?
Okay so (exhales) okay. Social media, this beast that it is. Okay, coming to CreativeLive, talking about social media always make a little bit nervous because it's been a pretty rough two years in regard to social media land for those of you who aren't familiar with what happened, social media just was not a really good place for me. As a result, I have unknowingly/knowingly peeled back on very personal aspects of my life. The blog has become very informational and very functional. I used to just write a lot more about the things that I was doing until I realized that the things that I was doing was being used in a way to make me feel really really awful about myself, about the decisions that I had made and so what happens as a result, is that I stopped being me online and I felt it and I wasn't developing the type of conversations that I have used to have. So much so that a couple of days ago I had a conversation with JD and I had said, "You know the pattern has changed." Four years ago, five years ago when people would meet me, they would say, "You're just how we expected," or they would say, "You're nicer than what we expected," or "You're just as we expected." That's the thing that people would say and now, when people meet me, they say; "You're even nicer than what we had expected," and that little qualifier even was so revealing to me because it didn't happen once. It didn't happen twice. It was happening with frequency. Made me think that them saying you're even nicer was showing that I wasn't being who I am online and so you have this vision and idea of me so that when you meet you're like, "Oh okay, "you're not just functional blogger. "You're not just a functional Instagrammer." "You're showing yourself and who you are." So a couple of weeks ago, I just started thinking that I did not want to be vulnerable anymore because of how bad I was hurt. My own decisions to get that hurt. I put myself in that position. I make no qualms about the mistakes I made, the apologies that I had to issue. I ruined so much of who I was as a person as a result but I had no other choice but to move on. My choices were; quit, stop doing what I do or move on. I chose to move on and as a result, I can't live in the half-life anymore. I have to go back and say, I'm going to be blogging about the dates that I go on. Be blogging about the vacations I go on. Be blogging about where my mom's health is. I've been blogging about a lot of stuff and if you don't like it, I don't care because if you were thinking about what other people are gonna say about you, you're giving them the power to hurt you. If you say, "I don't care about what you say about me," you retain all the power and I say, if you don't like what I'm doing, if you don't like who I am, stop looking. I don't come to you. You come to me. How about I refund you the cost that it took for you to read my blog. Oh, that's right. It was free. You're gonna complain about that? (members of the audience laugh) Don't live in the shadow of what other people are gonna think about you. You will be perpetually unhappy and I can tell you; for the past two years that is what I've had to learn on my own and it is been hard but I'm stronger, as a result. Dang (laughs) dang. Okay, I'm gonna go to that question,
I think my biggest issue with social media is that I feel like it can be very redundant and I'm just wondering for each avenue, do you have like a little bit different styles of personality that go into each. Like are you just a little bit more clever and witty on Twitter or like--
Oh, let me tell you, Twitter is hard. Twitter is really hard because it's like you think like, "Oh, I wanna be funny," and then you're at 161 characters and then when you peel back those 21 characters, all of a sudden it's like (blows) Like it's not and something. There have been times when I'm just like, "No no, I think they can make this, (groans). The pattern for us. For the way that I approach it is, I do one, what I call a push update. A push update is when I'm asking somebody to leave the native arena that they're in. Out somewhere else. I do one push update a day because if you're always asking people to leave the native space, they get tired of you, right? So on Facebook I make one request a day which is usually, I just blogged a disengagement session, go here then the other two or three posts that day might be a photo so photos do really well in regards to getting organic traction via Facebook algorithm. I update a photo. I may or may not include the metadata. If I'm attracting photographers or I might just say something along the lines of, give me good light, beautiful space and if the bride wants to dress outdoors. I'm using with intentionality. I'm telling people I want to shoot outdoor weddings. I like natural light and if you are a bride and you want to dress outside, I'm your photographer and I'm doing that without really saying that. Another one might be a personal update so I try to do three or four updates on Facebook and Twitter. One push, one photo, two personal. Yes.
Do you hashtag?
Do I hashtag? Not as much as I should. Now hashtag, let's just be real. Hashtags are phenomenal on Instagram. Terrible on Facebook and mediocre on Twitter. You know, because I think that people... I love you dad but my dad just hashtags for stuff that like, it's a searchability thing dad. Nobody's looking for, where to find the best burrito, LA. You know like, dad no! So now there's gonna be a hashtag and he's... I know my dad's gonna text me and be like, "Look at this hashtag. "Four people used it because of me." Okay, my dad is... So anyway, so in regards to hashtagging, it's a great way to gain traction. I personally, it's an aesthetic thing. It's like when I go and I see like #mom, #mother'sday, #flowers, #tulips, #Amsterdam, it's like, (sucks) but if that works for you, then that's okay. There have been times where I will hashtag wedding, wedding photo and I will hashtag the venue because hashtagging venues are really powerful in Instagram as well as using the geo-tag location. I'm kind of leery about geo-tagging in real time because I don't really like for people to know where I am in real-time but post or after or if I'm at a wedding and I'm working, yeah, it's fine I can let people know.
My brother he's a artist, he does woodworking and he started like his Instagram just doing random stuff and in one week he put a photo up and it... The hashtag he used was like, well, porn and he got 1000 followers within one week just from that hashtag and it was unbelievable to me.
Now, I wonder, like of all the posts that were in like the hashtag woodporn, they probably because it was so so so finite, they were probably like, "Oh, new post!" (blows) (members of the audience laugh) So I think that that works. I think that that hashtag could work. The hashtags that are very very difficult, the more obscure the hashtag, in Instagram, it could be powerful if there is a bunch of woodworkers who are looking for something but when you put like, wedding or wedding photo it's like you're buried in like two minutes so if it's kind of yes they're effective but they're more effective in that middle-ground like stay away from the hashtag that my dad uses but try to away from the really, you know, really really really saturated ones. Finding something in the middle, I mean, I'm just probably gonna use that story for the rest my life. It's pretty darn amazing but yeah, it's kind of like finding your rhythm the more you do it but I mean, stay away from like the 50, like I say hashtags it's like paint, neon, 80s, teenager, wedding inspiration and I'm like, "What?" So, yeah. That's my answer in regards to hashtag. There was, yes.
I work as part of a business with me and my husband so I'm trying to find the voice that we write on social media. I'm the one who updates almost all the time on social media. What kind of voice do I use? Like we or I and what's more authentic and if I wanna do some personalized post like what you do?
What's your business name?
Okay. I think that if you take, who's kind of like the lead? Who does like client meetings?
I'm mostly 90%. He helps. It's kind of the same relationship.
Like he comes on, second shift. (laughs)
Own it, I think you should just own it and every so often if you do like a personal update, you can say, "We," or use like your partner's name like that's fantastic but as far as everything else, don't hesitate to be like this is your voice and even though it's not your name specifically that you become the voice of that brand. I think it's fantastic.
In terms of like if at a wedding and you're updating something on Instagram or Twitter, do you do any post-processing on that photo that you take that day or--
No, but I hashtag iPhone because people will be like, "This is so terrible. Look at her lighting." And I'm like, "You guys, it's an iPhone." So I will use the hashtag iPhone just to let people know so that it doesn't turn into something that's it's not supposed to but no. I use like either after-light or visco to treat iPhone photos and then I'll update without that pressure and when I do the updates, I want to clarify when I do the update, guests are usually seated at dinner and I step out so that I'm not in the corner, you know updating my status although JD thinks to find it very funny. I turn my back and I'm outside in the corner he'll be like, "Oh, excuse me can I ask you..." and I'm like, "Oh God!" and it's always him and I always fall for it. And I'm like, "That's so annoying, "I'm trying to be professional here." There is another question right here and then we'll go back to Kristy.
So there's been a new word in the industry called, momtographer and I don't mean to offend anybody but it boils my blood, I'm full-time photographer. This is my whole job and yes I have children so I wanna be personal and share pictures of my kids online but at the same time I don't want to be confused with, you know, a person who is just doing this as a hobby so do you have any suggestions on that whole, you know, like I find a lot of male photographers like throw that out like, "Oh well, she's a momtographer." Do you have any suggestions about, yes I'm a full-time photographer; this is what I do. This my profession and battling those waters.
I'm gonna be very careful as I tread these waters because I am not a mom so the thing that I say could be purely speculative because when the time comes for us you know to have a family, I might totally flip the script and be like every day 10 photos. I have thought about it very strategically. (clears throat) Because I think that I would treat our child very similar to how I incorporate and they are not the same, okay. I know this. A child is nothing like a dog. Nothing but my approach would be the same. I am a photographer and because I use social media as a business thing, I would probably blog once every two weeks about my child. An update on social media once every two weeks. If I felt so inclined to share how great looking my kid was, I would have a separate private Instagram, not related to my business because you do run the risk of putting out and another thing is that if you have clients and they're waiting for their images and you're like, "With Parker at the park today." And they're like, "Well, must be nice. "I'm still waiting for my photos." I don't want that pressure. I really really don't. So social media keeps you very accountable in the best and worst ways. We'll go back to Kristy. So I'm another one who's followed you for years and as far as your blog goes, you're regular and active and always blogging and I know in one of Sue Bryce's previous courses she talked about sort of a formula of old, new, borrowed, blue as you know a formula of post to do whether on Facebook or on your blog so do you have maybe a formula that you follow like that and maybe one for blog posts or kind of like you talked about on Twitter, you do personal, too personal and a push post or things like that.
If you're asking I have a formula in regards to blogging, no, I think it would make it so much easier but I will say that I at least take time, the previous Friday to think about what I'm blogging for the next week, because there's nothing more daunting to be sitting and be like, "I need a blog. What am I gonna blog? "I need a blog. What am I gonna blog about?" Give yourself the time and space so on Friday like midday around two kind of take a step back and I think, okay, what am I going to be blogging about next week? I plan out the blogs. I preset the things that I would need for those blogs so that the following week when the blogs go live, at least I have a direction of where I'm going but as far as like an equation, no because I'm blogging, you know, well the trajectory of the blog into this year will be one to two personal posts, one business-related post. To photographers, when I say business it's photographers. To photographers and shoot like a recent shoot that I've been on or a feature or something of that capacity so I need to make sure that, I am a lifestyle photographer so I want to showcase lifestyle of who I am. Things in two different ways and we haven't announced it publicly yet but we bought a new home and we're very excited and I decided to say I'm okay. I'm going to own my space. There will be people very upset the fact that we bought a home in Newport Beach, they will. I will get heat for it and you know what? I'm going to say it's okay because we have worked long and hard and we are going to fix up the house and we're gonna build a bedroom and I'm gonna talk about that, I'm gonna redo our kitchen and I'm not gonna apologize for it, why? It's a lifestyle. That is what I'm selling so that is going to be the trajectory of what that kind of fifth post will be that week. Let's proceed. We have a mic, oh Tara.
I wanted to talk about some tactics for the Instagram and so I know that recently you did a giveaway where you linked with other people.
I wanna know like how successful was that for you and then also have you seen any other, you know, enacted I guess, any other tactics for Instagram but particularly with that giveaway like did you get any inquiries from that or how many new followers did you get and how did you start that?
That's great so for those of you are not familiar, I teamed up with 11 other female online entrepreneurs. We all came from different walks of life which, for me, was the most valuable component because it is tempting to have an Instagram connection with other photographers but I wouldn't be dipping into new markets and so for me it was a strategic marketing decision so we had launched the giveaway as 12 of us, are giving away $1000 to one lucky winner to Nordstrom. Now, all of us had different sized audiences but close enough. Close enough so that it was gonna be mutually beneficial and I ended up picking, and this is my worry, the worry was that people would follow and then unfollow and we wanted to see what those retention rates were so if I'm spending money so I view that as a marketing expense. It was itemized as marketing, strictly fully. We bought into it and we all, and another thing, these aren't strangers, I have met the majority of the girls in which I had participated in real life at a different point in time and they're all amazing so there is a fashion bloggers, home deco, artist, watercolors, okay watercolorist, a painter? Okay, and so we all got in and we joined. The pickup for me initially, was around 13,000 followers. The retention for me ended up being closer to 9. so I started tracking but I will say that the retention rate for other Instagrammers was not as high as mine. No, other people had higher than mine so I'm not saying like, "My posts are so amazing." No, there are other people who are a lot more successful at it. So you run that risk is that if you're not following up with the type of content that these people are following to you, it might not be worth it. So when I divided out the money that it cost for me to participate and then the amount of people that I got as a result, it ended up being amazing but then because I was tracking it, I had to bring it back down and it settled about after a month. After a month, if they were staying with me for a month at that time and I'm posting every day, chances are that they're gonna stay with me for a while so that was the number that I took and I divided it out per person, for every new follower I gained, they cost me this much money which is fantastic, so you get, I'm totally being geeky, right? I say it in your face. I don't care, I love it. I'm like numbers, numbers, numbers, but it was so successful that I'm doing the Instagram share again. Now, by and large about 80% of us are the same so do I think I'm gonna have a pick up as many as 13 or 14 again? No because the cross over is there so this investment I know is not gonna pay off as much as the first one but I'm doing it because I still like these girls. I still think that overall, we're driven towards something bigger and I love being connected in the creative community. For so long people would be like, "Jasmine Star "is an artist, she's not doing art she's doing fluff, "blah blah blah," and it used to make me cower and cower and now I feel like it's a shell. I've been doing this 10 years and I've been living in like this shell of being like, "You know what? "You're right and maybe I'm not an artist. "I'm not an artistic photographer," and I'm now I'm just like, I don't care. I am a creative. I am a creative when it comes to a photographer. I am a creative social media user. I am a creative business person. I own that and now I can rest in the fact that I'm good at that and I wanna hang out with other creatives, other people who are doing and seeing things differently make me stronger so I will participate in that event because I think we're stronger together than we are apart so it was valuable. Reach out to other people. You have nothing to lose. Is good. We're gonna pass the mic back there.
So with having social media and all that you run the risk of people saying negative things and negative comments on there which I know you've dealt with. Do you leave those comments up on your Facebook?
Or do you delete them and you send them a message? Like how do you professionally handle like if another photographer gets on there and says Something really disgusting about your picture?
JD should answer this question because he is always like, he's the buffer because I am very emotional. Like you do not come into my house, pee on the carpet and then walk out. Are you kidding me? You are gonna come into my Facebook page and you're gonna talk trash about me? Were you raised in a barn? Like this is a social trail, people see you doing that. Like you are making the worst business decisions. You don't like me? Put it on your own page and when you do, link to me because people are gonna make up their own mind about what they think, look at me, I'm getting Puerto Rican (exhales) I need to lay down. (members of the audience shout) Wooo! Okay. The answer is do I delete? Yes and yes and I just don't delete. I delete and ban. So I delete and ban because Facebook is my Cuba and I am Castro. I get to make the rules. That is what it is. When people talk trash to me on Twitter, I block you. You're in a black hole. I'm not gonna deal with that negativity. For years, I have dealt with that negativity and finally I have developed the spine to say, "You don't own me and I owe nothing to you. "I have made mistakes. "I stand by the apologies and I must move forward, "but you talking about my clients on my page? "Mm-hmm. "Big mistake." Yes.
So what if I have a situation from where I posted like a sneak peek for a bride and then the mom from like another wedding that I had just shot like the night before gets on there and is all, "Where the heck are my photos? "Blah blah blah," and goes off. How would you handle that type of negative?
I would hide it. You hide it so that her feed can see it but people on your, so you won't delete it because then she's gonna be like, "She's so rude," you just hide it and you run the risk of being like, okay her friends and her network will potentially see it but then I have to caution you. If you're going to be doing sneak-peaks, you have to create a level playing field and especially in a very public sector, if you posted a sneak-peak from one wedding and did not post sneak-peak from another, you run that risk of somebody calling you out publicly and you have to sit in that. Yeah, great. One bit here.
I have a couple questions here.
Because we're coming up to the end, why don't you pick your most favorite best questions so that we can make sure that--
So my biggest question would be, right now I'm having a really hard time with engaging my followers. I know I don't make maybe post the best content and I understand that but when I do get followers because I posted something good and valuable, I feel like I should be utilizing that and run with it and keep it going because that's how Facebook works now. With the algorithm, my trouble is some of those viewers might be following because of a certain bride and because of her wedding and because they're her friends. How do I tap into that network and truly utilize it and another thing I was thinking was, would you think that trendy things are a great way to utilize that because it's in the now, it's hit and other people who maybe have nothing to do with that wedding can still relate because you brought in a trendy vibe. Something like let's say the dress was huge and in photography, it's big because we understand white balance, we understand lighting and that can all affect that kind of thing and maybe if I could incorporate that trend in with that powerful wedding photo, I can still bring in other followers or something. Do you know my question?
Okay so let me try to answer the best I can because there's two very separate things. Let me see if we can bring them together. We have to understand that social media is not like this thing, it's not nebulous. They're actually people so when you see is like you get follower like it is as if he had walked into your home right, so if your thought of me walking into your home is, "Oh, she's here at my house, what can I do? "Do you wanna water the grass? "Do you wanna go for a swim? "Let's go for a ride. You wanna get in my car?" Like when somebody were to come into your house, the first thing is you want to do as a stranger is create trust. How do we create trust? By way of conversation. By way of vulnerability. You don't wanna immediately say you come into my house, how can I leverage you? People feel that and they walk away so when I talk about creating trust, it's revealing behind-the-scenes photos of us here. It is taking a picture of the food that you're eating at dinner, it's talking about something embarrassing that might've happened on on your way here or elsewhere. Letting people know and having conversations without any expectation is the way you keep people so I understand I get bridesmaids' friends to like my posts or to like my page and to follow my Instagram but they will stop following if all I am posting are just pictures of brides, brides, brides, brides because they aren't planning... Most of them aren't planning their wedding at the time so it's not applicable. I think that a lot of people that retain, they like the idea of lifestyle. They like the idea that JD and I were in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and I took people, viewers along with me for what that adventure looked like. I posted a picture of my dog when he gets a haircut and he's wearing a little red bandanna. Most people might think it's crazy. They might not like it. that's okay. I am not doing it of photographers. I'm doing it for potential clients. The second part of your question was?
The dress. I will participate in big conversations like the dress or the llama escape because I do think that it is very valuable to stay current but it's a one-time thing for me. Like I don't be try to like revisit like #thedress when I change the white balance as I'm shooting a wedding dress. This is bluer, you know, this is black and gold. You know what I'm saying? Like I don't participate in that, in that way.
Cool. Any other questions, we'll kind of wrap this up. We're gonna leave it here. That's great.
I'm just curious like I know that you are a part of like, I think it was called OP like back in the day, the forum--
That's old school.
I know it's like it's not up and running anymore so then, these other things like Facebook, and like Shoot & Share and stuff like that so how much do you think it's beneficial to engage in those and if so, like how much time and I mean, I always end up feeling like sometimes I see people on there and they're constantly commenting and then it's like, I don't wanna like risk the thought of like looking like desperate like I'm like, "Oh, I need clients," or anything like that so I was just wondering like how much time seems like good to like spend on those thing and is it actually
Valuable, yeah for my time when I could be doing other things with my time?
That's the golden question. I mean, that really is a balance. So OST was a free online forum and so this is pre-Facebook groups. I think Facebook groups are so incredibly valuable. I don't know if I find value in pain to be a part of a Facebook group but that is an entirely personal decision. I believe that the newer you are, the more you can gain by being a part of a group, paid or unpaid but you have to be very careful because also social media also masks productivity. You think, I'm working, I'm really learning. I'm really learning in this group and you know, half the posts are education. A third of the posts are educational. A third of those are complaining and we all like drama, we do like, "Oh, she just got the worst client." Sometimes people post text messages from an unhappy client or they will post things like an email, "Can you believe this shot list?" and I'm like, "You guys, it might be a private group, "but there's a thing called screen grab. "It gets around." Do not talk trash about clients online. Furthermore, spending as much time as you do, you must go in with intention so I use social media, I know it sounds ridiculous, it does. I use social media as an emaciated carrot. I keep it in front of me on my workday. I do not allow myself to get on social media until I have finished X, Y, and Z and then I say I can surf and be guiltless surfing for 10 to 15 minutes. I close it, I get back in what I'm doing and then have to just turn it off. I do not have push updates to my phone on any source of social media, I have no notifications. I keep my Twitter off, like I have TweetDeck which is just like, you don't have to be on Twitter so I keep that closed. It is work and I think that the temptation of those groups is to think that you're offering help to other people and you think that you are learning but in all actuality, you're taking a lot of time so indulge but have very strict parameters in that regard. Awesome, thank you guys. So that's going to conclude our social media Q and A. You guys asked some really good ones. You guys seem to get a little teary-eyed there. I was like keep it together. No, not here. Thank you guys so much. Thank you guys for being open. Thank you guys for allowing me to be open and I look forward to see how you guys change the trajectory of your various social media, thank you. (all applause)