Developing a Social Media Strategy for Photographers

 

Developing a Social Media Strategy for Photographers

 

Lesson Info

Social Media Myths

- [Colby] So the last one that we're going to talk about, and this is fun, this is where I want to talk about some of the social media myths. These are things that people generally think of when they think about social media, and I'll try to run through these. We have just a little bit of time. How are we doing? Do we have any questions or anything coming in? - [Drew] Denise has a question, "What about those of us that work and can't travel to Iceland? This seems unrealistic," for her. "I just don't have time to be on social media all day." So are we going to cover some of that? Tips and tricks to save time and not just be staring at feeds all day? - Absolutely, we're going to cover that a little bit in detail. What we're going to do is we're going to talk about time management a bit, we're going to talk about time prioritization which I think is really important as well where you're sitting there and you're saying, "Okay, where do I want to be and how much time should I really be spen...

ding doing this type of stuff?" And then I think there will also be opportunities for even more in-depth conversations about that idea of it's easy to look at photographers like myself and other people that have been very fortunate to build our following and do the work that we do. I'm 34 years old, I've traveled pretty much all over the globe, I've been able to do a lot of this stuff that is just not realistic for a lot of people, it's not affordable, it's not on the plate, and I get it. The concepts that we talk about, while I use myself as an example, are through my experiences and you're going to be able to pull some of that information and the principal aspects of that and take it down more to a realistic level that works for you. Now, that might mean local work, there's nothing wrong with that, it's all in your perspective of how you look at it. So depending on those goals which we're going to work to set out together, hopefully, will definitely going to answer that question. - Cool. We'll do one more and then keep going? - Sure. Yeah. - "Hi, Colby, is it better to pick one or two platforms and really work on those or to cover as many as possible?" - That's a good question and we're certainly going to cover that here in the class. I will say just as a brief teaser that you don't need to be everywhere all the time. And I think that's actually one of the things we're going to talk about really quick for the myths that we'll bring up. They're definitely platforms that you should focus your attention on, that you should spend your time on. but it doesn't need to be everywhere. The reality of the day, there's 24 hours in the day, no matter how many times I try to create 36, there's only 24, so. - Cool. - Excellent. A lot of photographers feel that you need to be on every social platform to add value to your brand or what you're doing. And I get that idea, but it doesn't really work out in reality. As we were just talking about a second ago there's only so many hours in the day and most of you guys don't want to spend all your time doing business or marketing. Now again, what makes me a little bit unique in the photo industry is just that I love business. I don't want to necessarily say that I love it as much as being out in the field, but it's a close relationship. But I think for most people out there they'd rather be out shooting, you'd rather be doing other things. You got fans, you got family, you probably have other jobs, I get it. Social platforms, we're going to spend some time talking about where I recommend that you spend your time and these are generalities based on genres of photography, but we'll dive into a little bit more details if you guys have questions specifically that relate to you. But you don't need to be on every social platform, and in reality, I highly actually recommend against it. You're going to spread yourself too thin. Question? Yes. - [Woman] How many social media platforms do you think is ideal? - How many social media platforms do we think is ideal? That's a good question. It's hard because, again, the subjective nature. I think for most people what's realistic is two. If you can get good at time management and you have a good idea of why you're there, which, again, we're going to talk about. You could probably do three, anything beyond that at least while you're building up is, again, you're going to be spreading yourself too thin. And what's going to happen is you might get a little bit of movement here or there, but you're not going to be able to dedicate enough time to really grow the social platforms probably as you want to. And what's better generally is to build them up in verticals individually and then use that momentum to cross-promote and cross-link, and help promote the other places you'd like to be. Again, we'll talk a bit more about that. Myth number two, my content speaks for itself and we talked a little bit about this. So I took this beautiful image in Patagonia, or Iceland, or Denver, or wherever. I spent an hour working on it, my mother thinks it's great, my wife thinks it's great, my five-year-old son thinks it's wonderful. I push it out on social media and magic is supposed to happen, right? Where is everyone at? Why aren't they engaging with my stuff? The simple fact of creating quality content is just not enough anymore. You need to create quality content, the content that you have needs to be engaging and we're going to talk about how to create engaging posts and some benefits of creating certain types of images and how that's going to help you guys. But your content by itself is not going to do that much for you, the value of content, the value of that content, of that single image or that post is something that we're going to hopefully work together to help you define because I think that is part of the disconnect where people don't understand that your content by itself means nothing if you're not applying value to it and finding someplace where that value is being accepted. Whether it's financial or not. Myth number three, numbers are all that matter, right? We all want millions of followers. Do we? No, good. Some people do. Some people want millions of followers, some people don't. A lot of people focus so much on the numbers and a concept that we're going to talk about throughout this course is that it's quality not quantity that matters. The quality of interactions that you get, the quality of platforms that you're building, the quality of the content that you're putting out there. Numbers are a part of it, I'm not going to lie to you and sit there and say, "Oh, numbers don't exist." That's like sitting there and saying a camera isn't important in taking a photo. All the people that...purists out there that say, "It's only the photographer." Well, I'm not the one that's actually the sensor, you need these other pieces and the numbers are part of that. But it's really important to focus on the fact that numbers aren't the most important thing that you want to look at. If you look at my following, which I have a pretty engaged following, but there are a lot of other photographers that have less followers that have more engagement than me. And there's a number of reasons for that, my style of photography, how busy I generally get, the fact that I like to be the one that runs my social platform because I think it's so important. There's a lot of these reasons why I'm at where I am today in terms of having that value, but also in the fact that other people can get higher interaction rates. Those interaction rates, that's great for them. If they can take those interaction rates, or those numbers, or whatever it is and then apply value to them and create value, that's phenomenal, but most people don't. And again, that's probably why a lot of you guys are here, we want to create value, we want to show you that the stuff that you guys are doing can have value when applied in the right way. Myth number four, engagement determines quality. This is, again, a conversation that I have with a lot of photographers out there. When you sit there and you post something out there and you get 50 likes on it. And then your next post...maybe Drew's next post is going to be 25 likes. That means that the first photo was better, right? It's a better image? No, it's not how it works. There's so many factors at play that determine how people interact and engage with your stuff. Time of day, type of content, where it came from, what followers are online, all sorts of stuff that you don't necessarily...some of you have control of some of it you don't. But the fact of the matter is that the type of engagement doesn't determine the quality of your photography work and it also doesn't determine the quality of your brand or business. So just because you don't get tons of it... I still know a lot of photographers that aren't super-active on social media and still make great money, still make a great living. Other people have other jobs and do it on the side, but I know people that do this full-time. Social media isn't endemic, isn't required to showcase the quality of your brand. It just can exponentially help if you learn how to leverage it. Myth number five, we only have a couple more of these. Social media is free. I talked about this before and I literally said the words "social media is free" so I apologize for the confusion, but there is truth to it. The fact of the matter is that Facebook, to use Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, did you have to pay anything when you signed up? No. So it's a free network, it's a free platform and of course most of these platforms are essentially just advertising companies. They want your information, they want to be able to sell you things. Okay, and we all understand it, we know that it happens and to be honest at least most of us that are here for business reasons want to take advantage of that, too. You don't have to pay to promote your posts or do ads and we'll talk about the benefits and the negatives of those throughout this course. But social media is not free in the amount of time that it takes for you guys to build your platforms. Time at least for me and my companies is literally my biggest asset. It is no longer the quality of my work, it is the amount of time that I have available and the way that I value it is time away from my family. So my family's my most important...they're the reason I do everything that I do, is for my family. So that we can have the life that we have, so that we can travel whenever we want to, and we can have experiences all over the world. That's my driving force. So the way that I charge for the work that I do, the services that I offer are based on a time valuation that I've developed for my own self and my companies of what I am willing to accept for being away from those that I love. And I take that same mentality and apply that to social media. So for you guys, the idea that you have to spend a lot of time on social media to build a following, that is an expense. And hopefully, as we've talked about some of the conversations we've already had and things that we will continue to have throughout the next two days is the idea that you can be more efficient with your time, you can be more concentrated with your time, but you have to figure out why you want to do that. Why do you want to be on social media to begin with? And that's something that we'll start in the next segment. Myth number six, and I think there's only two or three more of these. Success is guaranteed. You get online, you're going to make a big following, those big following are going to lead to bigger numbers, those bigger numbers are going to lead to money. Companies are going to pay you, it's just going to be wonderful. That's not what happens. I know a lot of people out there that have the perceived value of having high engagement, and having large follower numbers, and creating great work, and they're starving. They don't know how to compute, how to connect the two. How to sit there and say social media and the values that it can potentially offer you can translate into something else. So success is not guaranteed, it's something you have to work for, it's something that you have to aim for and it's something that you have to invest the time and energy, and occasionally, money in order to make happen. The idea that you have to...it takes money to make money, there's value in that, there's reality in that. Now, that money, again, may just be time for some of you choose to do it that way. But other times, investing some money in can actually help you do things, when you invest the right way can help you grow your following or to get the engagement you want more specifically. Myth number seven, it's all about me. And I don't necessarily mean me, I mean the preverbal me, like the we. If I'm sitting there...I like to use the analogy or give the example, more accurately, that no matter how interesting, good-looking, witty, charming, engaging, qualified, amazing person any of us are, no one wants to listen to us talk for 24 hours a day about ourselves, no one. Now, I have finagled my way into the situation where I'm forcing you guys listen to me six hours a day for two days, that's probably the limit. By the time we're done with this I don't think any of you guys are going to be reaching out to me. But coming back more on point, if you create your social platforms that are all about you, you're going to stagnate your growth. People don't want, A, to be marketed to all the time, and B, they don't want to just hear about you. So figure out a way to create a social media strategy which, again, we can talk about ways to do so, that involve other things. Your interests, your passions, your opinions. There are certain things that I like to not talk about, at least too much where I sit there and say, "Don't post on too controversial things like religion and politics." If you look at my feeds, I break that rule, occasionally, because I like to poke the beast, but there's a reason for it. And again, we'll talk about it that time. But regardless, if you look at my social media platforms, for the most part, I like to mix things up a little bit. Now, on my Facebook business page maybe yes, it's a little bit more on point, but every once in a while I'm going to share some information about my family. My Facebook personal page which I also still use for business purposes is generally more of a mixture where I'm giving you, letting you know what's happening. I'm showing pictures of my kids, and I want to let you in on who I am because my companies are my brand, so that's important. But, regardless, at the end of the day, again, just remember the core concept that everyone doesn't want to hear you talk about yourself all the time. If I go to your page and I see nothing but pictures of your images, I'm going to get bored. And for a lot of people, it's the same thing. There are a lot of...and not only that, but it's taxing for you to constantly be churning out content that you have to create. If I'm sitting there and sharing a post every day to Instagram, that's 365 posts a year. Now, for someone like me that travels as much and works on a lot of projects, that might not be too difficult. But for you, do you have 365 images, new, organic, unique images that you can post every single day on every single platform? No, most of us don't. So utilizing different types of content links and videos and other things that you think might be enticing to your followers are a huge boom to not only leverage...take away stress from yourself, but also to engage and have other opportunities for communication and that engagement that we're looking for to help boost your numbers and build those followings. Myth number eight, which I think, yeah, is the last one. I can wing social media, right? I think most people are sitting there and when it first came on the scene and actually, to be fair, it's what most companies did. So most companies when social media came on to the scene they sat there and what happened is like, "Oh, social media is important. All right. Well, we're going to wrap social media, let's go and throw them into the marketing department. We're not going to give them a budget to do anything, but it's important so we need to be there." They didn't have some sense of a strategy, they didn't know where they wanted to go, they didn't know how they were going to leverage it, they didn't know their direction, they didn't necessarily have a purpose, they just knew that it was what they needed to do. A lot of you guys may be at least the same in some fashion. You're told that social media is important, you're told that you're supposed to be online, but you don't really know why. And it's that sense of purpose that's the driving force behind the success of just about every photographer that I've seen learn to leverage things such as social media as a tool. So we're going to talk about a lot of these things. Again, I apologize for the fact that it was a little bit of a dry content run. It is stuff that I think is important to lay the foundation, the base of where we're going to build and do everything else for this course. So I appreciate you guys listening in and anything we want to add, Drew? - Yeah, we've got some questions. One question is about things that you've learned from making mistakes in your own social media. Are you going to speak to that? Just how to learn from it, how to... - Yeah, near the end of the class and near the end of day two, I will have a segment that essentially talks about lessons that I've learned from social media and I'll talk about some mistakes that I've made as well. But I think throughout the course I'm going to try to interject a little bit of my own opinions and those experiences wrapped around some of these things, and when some of you guys have more pointed either questions or shared experiences, which I'll ask about, I'll let you know when I can relate to them and have similar things. So I'll be very upfront like that. I don't have anything to hide here, social media, again, has been so important to building a lot of what I have and a lot of where I am today is not only because of my successes, but because of the lessons I learned from my failures as well. - Cool. Great. Have a question about...Sophia has a question about websites, personal websites, and how those come into play. Are those still valuable or do you encourage people...obviously, this is a social media class, we're not going to probably talk very much about personal websites. How do you see that playing into a social media strategy? - Websites are still important and...what was her name again? - Sophia. - Sophia. Sophia, websites are still important and it's a section that we're going to talk about. I talked a little bit with our group here in studio before we started a little bit about this, but essentially the short version is that websites are still the one place on the internet that's yours. You can decide all different facets of it, depending on the different platforms you want to do, having your own website is your space. You control interaction, you control how things look and feel, and all that stuff. And so I think it's vitally important. I like to integrate my website into my social media strategy, and I want to save that explanation a little bit for that section. - Awesome. We got a comment, Victoria said, "Not dry at all. I thought it was fascinating and extremely enlightening, thanks." - I just want to make sure, sometimes I feel like I'm falling asleep during some of the stuff, because it's funny because, again, I'm so passionate about this stuff and I feel like how animated I get when I'm moving around, but again, so many people just want to jump in and it's like, "How do I build a following?" And you don't really lay that groundwork for understanding how the opportunities got to where they are today, and why they shaped to be here so that from there we can move into some pretty awesome stuff, and stuff that I imagine a lot of people are really interested in checking out.

Class Description

There are no shortages of online networks for photographers to share their images, but which platforms are best for you and how do you utilize them to grow your photography? Sony Artisan Colby Brown will walk you through the foundations of social media and why it’s so important for your brand as a photographer. He’ll show you how to define what you want out of your online experience and how to maximize your time on each of the major networks. 

Colby will discuss:
  • What each of the major social networks are and what they’re best utilized for
  • Tips for growing an audience or followers
  • What networks to use to achieve your goals as a photographer 
  • Tricks to breaking down the different network algorithms to maximize your engagement
  • Develop a social media strategy to build your brand as a photographer
No matter your genre of photography, be it travel, wedding, or pet photography, social media has the power to grow your audience, business, and skills. Learn tips and tricks on where and how to invest your time using these free online marketing tools.


Hoping to go beyond growing your following and learn how to grow your business using these networks? Check Out Colby's other course: Monetizing your Social Media Presence for Landscape Photographers