Music & Event Photographer Case Study
- [Colby] So next up is Adam Elmakias. Now, Adam does music photography, music and event photography. And Adam is a character, that's the best way I can describe Adam. He's super-friendly, super-honest. He lives in a world with some of the most celebrated musicians and he definitely takes a part of that lifestyle. So Adam is a photographer and an entrepreneur. Part of what Adam makes his living on is not just the work that he does for bands, but also in the fact that he sells merchandise built around his own brand. He specializes in music photography as we talked about. Total followers are around 720,000. He's active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Snapchat. Tumblr is not one we talked about because it's more of a blogging platform, but there are social elements of it. But he has really high engagement on Tumblr. The most important network for him, Instagram, CommonThread, and Twitter. And Twitter is important for Adam because of the style of engagement, because the 140-ch...
aracter limits is that it's really inducive to the type of demographics, target market audience for people that are interested in music. For that world that he lives in, Twitter is important and so he's active on there constantly. Sometimes he's tweeting 8, 10, 20 times a day. It depends on who he's engaging with, what he's trying to push out there, conversations he's trying to had, questions he's trying to ask. He's highly engaged. Online personality, Adam is...what you see is what you get. He is a character, he is funny, he's engaging, he likes to tell stories. He's humble, he's honest, he's himself. He doesn't have to hide anything, he's not sitting there even when he's doing his business stuff. It's just him. So his revenue streams, touring with clients, it's one of his biggest ones. Image licensing, again, he can license back to both the bands and the companies that represent them. Photo publications, selling merchandise, and he has quite a bit of sponsorships as well because he has such high engagement across all of those platforms. Turning point, so the turning point for Adam, specifically related to music photography, was the idea that he realized that his followers were becoming more and more engaged because of the type of work that he was doing. So the stuff that he was essentially creating and the world that he was living in the world of music photography was so conducive to that idea of bonding together, of creating relationships, that when he was early on in the music scene, he was creating all these friendships through places like Flickr and Myspace. And as he was touring around the world with different bands and doing different things, he was essentially found out. He was realizing that at the time he wasn't making tons of money, so he needed to find places to stay. He needed to find help getting to different jobs. And so he was able to reach out to his followers and begin to network with all of them, creating lasting friendships that have lasted today, that have made his followers so... I don't want to say fanboys, but essentially, he created a fan club by his attitude, by his personality, and by his willingness to be as connected and probably more so than most of us are in terms of our business relationships with people that we follow. So he had no problem at the time reaching out and saying, "Hey, I'm going to be in Berlin. Anyone have a couch I can crash on?" That was huge for him because, ultimately, those relationships built into this band club that have then grown his social media and that social media base has been very active. So he gets high engagement rates because he is such a personal brand wrapped around who he is as an individual. And he's let so many people into his life that it's allowed him to have such a large following. So his turning point was that idea, that realization that followers aren't just followers, it's human connections. It's points of interest. It's points of communication to be able to sit there and build your following wrapped around your personal brand because you wanted to let everyone into your life, to who you were. So building his following. Adam's following was built, again, around that idea of spurring engagements for that close-knit community of people that were highly active in things like social media because the music scene is very ravenous. The people that are fans of different musicians out there are die-hard and he was out there creating this exceptional work because he was able to get so close to the scene. So he was able to grow a lot of his following through his connections of the style of work that he was doing and who he was photographing mixed in with the idea that his fanbase for the own work that he was doing was growing every time he was out there on a job. So Adam's Instagram. @elmakias is his tag. He posts one time a day and he's not afraid to mix up his stuff. You'll definitely see, the majority of it is music-related, but he's also sharing personal stuff of vacation and life with his girlfriend and doing all this other...traveling around. But the bulk of it is definitely going to be music-related. Talks about music, work, travel, and his life. He uses short captions, doesn't hashtag at all. He engages with his followers. He's constantly engaged. Again, that's part of his brand. His posts average 8,000 to 10,000 interactions per post. Some of them jump up as high as 16, some of them are 4 to 5. It depends on, again, what he's posting about. Now, his Twitter, which, again, I wanted to look at because we haven't looked at any Twitters. You can see his handle, @elmakias. Shares about music, work, travel, and life again. He's very upfront. He has no problem sharing his fears or his challenges. He wants to let people in. He wants to have conversations. His brand is very about him. Highly engaged. It actually was easier for me to send him a direct message on Twitter than it was to give him a call. He does use hashtags, he uses them every now and then to promote the stuff that he's pushing out there, the brands he's working with, or certainly some of his own merchandise. Average three to five tweets per day, but, again, sometimes it can be drastically higher depending on what type of conversations he's jumping in. All of his stuff on Twitter is getting very high interaction rates for Twitter. Photos average 350 interactions per tweet, which, again, is high average. Most of the stuff that I average when I push out there is 40 to 50. So his parting advice, he says that everyone has their own path and that stuff that worked for him won't necessarily work for everyone else. But the thing that's important is that what he did was very much about who he is. He was never non-authentic. All of his flaws, all of his positive traits, essentially everything about what makes Adam Adam, he was willing to share with everyone and that made him quite unique in that space. And within the world of music photography where people want to feel close to everything, it was a beautiful connection that allowed him to grow his following as it did. And what he has said is that he says... I have a quote here I'm actually going to read, so I have to look at this. But he says, "Think of yourself as a cartoon character and focus on your strengths, find your own voice and encourage others to find theirs through consistent content that shows what you do as you do it." He said if Popeye would be a sailor, he'd eat spinach, he'd love his wife, and he'd fight people. That's what Popeye does. He said that if Adam was a cartoon, he would be Adam. He'd be bald, he'd be a photographer. He has a cat named Mark, he looks like an alien, he loves music, he thinks he's a nice guy, but he hopes that doesn't sound conceited. And that's just the nature of who he is. He's happy to share all that type of stuff with all of his followers. So he's become his own brand. So Benjamin Von... Oh, we have a question. Yes, please. - [Man] You want to take some questions? - Absolutely. - Leveraging Instagram Stories. As of yesterday, now we have insights on stories. Can we talk about how this is great for working and promoting brands with original content? - Absolutely. So Instagram Stories are, again, a Snapchat feature that Instagram ripped off, to be honest. And essentially it is content, a single image or it's a video, image or video that lasts for 24 hours from the moment that you post it. And so Instagram Stories are very highly advantageous because it's short 10-second clips that you could essentially string together over the course of the day to create a narrative or a story. And so what's happening on Instagram is that Instagram users that are actually using Instagram Stories are generally seeing higher interaction rates for their normal posts as well as on their Instagram Stories because Instagram is trying to push that feature. So for photographers, I think it's highly advantageous, especially if you have a brand personality where you don't mind being on camera, you don't mind sharing bits of your life or your business or what's happening. And to work into using that to tell more stories about your work, your brand, the things that you're doing, and in turn, a lot of companies want the same thing. They want the same type of stuff that you guys are wanting. They want to build a following, they want to have engagements. They want to tell stories. And a lot of people, a lot of the time when you're trying to work on these marketing campaigns or you're trying to work with other companies, you can apply the same things that you would apply for your own brand and do for them. So you can propose the idea of creating Instagram Stories wrapped around the stuff that you want to do or the campaign that you're trying to create with them. And for a lot of the time, when I work on marketing campaigns around social media, then when you offer those types of services, generally that's going to raise the price for whatever campaign you're trying to pitch. So I think it's highly advantageous to take advantage of it for your personal brands, do it couple times a day, have fun with it. I sometimes show myself editing images or some behind-the-scenes stuff. I always try to keep it relatively on point, but the reality is that it ultimately helps my Instagram actual images, which, for me, is mostly the point more so than anything else. Excellent. - [Woman 1] Looking through all these amazing photographers and their work, I've noticed that some of them, between Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, some of them, their handle is the same all throughout, and others have changed. What's the wisdom or the benefit in changing or not changing your handle between those platforms? - It's a good question. And I have a segment where we'll talk a little bit about that in a second, but for the most part, it's called a custom, a vanity URL or a vanity tag. And essentially, it's the idea that you don't just get random numbers when you sign up for Twitter. You sit there and say that, "Hey, I want Colby Brown..." Well, I wanted Colby Brown Photography, but there was only so many characters. Twitter limited it. So I'm actually Colby Brown Photo. But I think it's uniformity. It's consistency. It's sitting there and saying that someone is going to find me on Instagram and they know that I'm Colby Brown Photography, which I am on Instagram, and if they put that same vanity into Facebook, you'll see my Facebook page. And the same thing on Snapchat, same thing on other things. So the idea is that it can be advantageous for you as you're building your brand to have that consistency in name. So if you start off with something, you start off with Elmakias, who we just talked about. That's a unique last name. No one's going to have that. Unfortunately, there's a few Colby Browns out there. The soccer player that keeps getting into places before me. We talked about that a little bit in one of our previous lessons where it's the idea that as stuff is coming out, as new platforms begin to take off, and even if they fizz out, I highly recommend that people jump in and at least secure that tag that you've been happy with. So if you can't change your other tags, and some places allow you to do so, or if you started fresh and you just don't have a ton of followers, maybe it's okay to change it, I highly recommend having that uniform URL or tagline for all the different platforms that you use just because it'll be easier for everyone to find you. Someone finds me on Instagram, a lot of the time they're going to search me on Twitter or on Facebook and I don't want to make it confusing. Any barrier of entry that you put in place for a photographer to find you usually means you're losing 50% of those individuals. Because if they sit there and they're like, "Colby Brown, I don't see, and I'm done." So I want to make it simple. - Adrian asked, "Hi, Colby. For a while, I did Instagram puzzles as I wanted to make my profile visually captivating and different. Then I noticed a lot of other people were also doing that, so I stopped. The thing is now I have to post three images at a time to keep everything on my profile lined up. Is it better to just delete the puzzles and post the images again as individual stories or just not worry that my Instagram images don't line up?" - So what he's talking about is the idea that when you look at your Instagram from a profile standpoint, you're seeing generally nine, I believe it's nine different images when you first look at it before you start scrolling, or maybe it's six. Regardless, you're seeing a bunch of them and so as people scroll through it, a lot of people, what they're doing, or a handful of people, are creating either triptographs, they'll take a panoramic-like image and they'll cut them into three blocks. Because when you look at the profile, all of those images are in the square regardless if you created vertical images or not. So all of them are the same because they want the profiles to be uniform. So they would sit there and take a panorama-like image or a normal image and essentially cut three squares out of each side so that all three images work together, so that when you viewed an Instagram profile, three images next to each other would create a larger image. And it can be cool, but it can be kitschy. I don't necessarily know statistics for how many people are actually viewing Instagram profiles in terms of scrolling up and down. I think most people are just looking at images. I may be wrong on that. But to answer your question more directly, I would say don't worry about it. Again, for Instagram, the average lifespan of a post is what we talked about, two days. And so within two days, most people are probably not seeing your stuff anyway and the majority of people probably aren't scrolling through all of your images, and even if they are, I don't think it matters. And the more that you continue to break from that, the less it's going to matter because most people aren't going to look back to what you did last year anyway. So I'd say don't fret. - [Woman 2] What do you think about having your profile and your cover picture go together and having your face in it versus a logo? - Yeah. So the question is essentially what do we do about having your cover image for any of the platforms match up with your profile? I think you can. There's ways to be kitschy and have fun with it. I find most people that I've seen that have done that, that have created cool things have been graphic designers because that's the work that they do. And I'm not necessarily talking about actually creating it because I can, of course, hire a graphic designer to create something like that. It's just that for me, for my brand, like Adam, like Ben, who we're going to talk about in a second, like Chris, like pretty much everyone here, we are our brand. So having a human face to that I find to be much more advantageous, to be much more helpful to essentially let people feel more connected. Again, people don't want to be marketed to, we're not excited...we don't jump on Twitter to get excited to talk to UPS. As we mentioned yesterday, we go on to complain. Most people go online to complain when it comes to companies, but for us, the small businesses, the work that we do, we're out there to engage and connect with people. So I think having your face on there, I think, is a benefit because it lets people feel like they're connected. And your cover profile, I think it needs to speak to the type of work that you're doing. I like to create collages on a lot of my different stuff because I want to showcase a lot of those different images, different styles that I shoot. So I think they should be correlated, I just don't think they necessarily have to perfectly match together.