The Role of the Website in Social Media
- [Colby] So, the rule of the website, and this is something that we've talked a little bit about so far in this course, is the idea that in a social age of the internet, where we've talked, we've spent so many hours already talking about the importance of social media, do people really even need websites anymore? In my opinion, absolutely. The reality is that a website is literally the only place in the universe of your online world where you have the potential to control just about every aspect of it, depending on which way you go with the platform you choose, things like WordPress, or Squarespace, or other stuff we'll talk a little bit about. But having a website is a place where you control the content, how that content looks, how people are going to interact and engage. It's a place that you have exponential more ability to be a power broker for the type of stuff, the type of experience you want to offer people. Whereas in social media, you're up to whatever they decide. So, Faceb...
ook's deciding how people are interacting with your stuff. With your website, you can control a lot more facets of that. And if you're a photographer that's hoping to at least do some sense of business ventures at some point, then a website is still an important facet. So, what I do is I create what I consider a grand central station effect. So, for me my website is Grand Central Station in New York. It's the place that is the hub, the center of my online universe. It's a place that I control how it looks, how it feels, services and products that I offer, how content is displayed, what content goes on there, everything. And from there, all my social media platforms are like little satellite cities, off in the distance. And I have trains running back and forth. So, I have trains that are sitting there and creating content, and then pushing out to my satellite cities. I'm trying to get some of those train followers to eventually come back to the website, because that's where I'm ultimately offering the products and services that do make me money for a living. So, social media has been an integral part of my overall marketing strategy, but my website is still a big key aspect of what I do. And it's important because of online search results, so OSR. Essentially, the idea that algorithms on Facebook or Instagram are going to determine who's going to see stuff. The longevity of content that you could put on your website, pages, posts, blogs, whatnot, are going to be able to live online for forever. And if you create content that has SEO, search engine results, that has essentially been groomed, or you have the right elements inside your posts to get the right organic results. You're going to see this down the line for a long time, for years. Again, I have posts that I've written that constantly, that still, to this day, are getting 3,000 to 10,000 people to visit my website per day. I'm not posting out on social media, I haven't for probably a long time, but they're still coming. And that's very valuable from a brand or photographer standpoint regardless of what type of photography that you do. And essentially, like this gear review, Sony A6300, this is one of those. This is one of those things where I have some affiliate links tied into this, I have other elements. And essentially, this post still, to this day, I think last I checked for this past month was 4,500 people. Now it's just 4,500 compared to, if I post out to Instagram three times, that's going to be 12,000 people that interact with one of my Instagram posts or a series of Instagram posts over a couple of days on Instagram. But they're spending exponential more time on my website. And again, this is where I'm going to have the benefit of people signing up or doing different things. You have a question? - [Woman] Yeah. - Yeah. - So, I understand that websites are important, but do you feel like blogs are important? Meaning RSS-based blogs. Do people still use RSS readers? - Well, good question. So essentially, I feel that photographers that are offering products or services, which is most of us, I feel that a blog is still pretty important. A blog of some type, maybe you don't necessarily have to have your own blog, maybe you can use something like Median, or Maptia, or something like that. But the idea of long-form content is still highly advantageous from a marketing standpoint, from a SEO standpoint, from organic search result standpoint. So, I think it's really important to have another avenue to do stuff. And what I like to do is integrate both of those, while I'm sitting there and I'm creating a blog post that's going to have a lot of different content, a lot of different photos. I'm going to take those photos and I'm going to share them across social media with links back to the website. And that, instead of just sharing the link itself, which I usually do at least once, it gives me maybe 10 or 15 different connection points to posts that I'm pushing out there, rather than just a sole one of, "Here's this link that I wrote." It's like here's this...I share this link out, but I'm going to share maybe the 15 or 20 finalized photos that were part of this review of stuff that I created with the A6300. And so that allows me to drive a lot more traffic, but also have a lot more content to share. And so the idea of owning a blog and/or a blog-like forum and creating long-form content will give you a lot of content ideas to be able to hopefully help you find clients down the road. So, overall, yes. I think blogs are important. Websites are less so and that's a good distinction. It's one that actually I hadn't built into. I think a blog website is more important than just a website. I think a website in itself probably is losing a little bit of value. I know some photographers that are treating things like Instagram as essentially their portfolio gallery, and they're getting good work doing that. Who knows if Instagram is going to be around for forever? If they change something, that's another variable, where you don't have control over that. But in terms of long-form content, I still think content matters. Content's still king. So let's keep going. So the benefits of something like Squarespace. So, I'm going to talk about two different platforms for websites. Really quickly, it's not something I want to dive into a ton. But essentially, I want to talk about Squarespace. Squarespace is essentially a website that has a turnkey operation, where you are able to quickly sign up and they have free trials and you're paying essentially for these templates that they have. And they give you some form of features and functionality, that allow you to create customized spaces for your website. They also do hosting if you want to and they do other things. But it's a pretty popular thing with photography these days. And I understand why, because it takes a lot of the challenge out of the process of creating a website, they do have the ability to have blogs. But ultimately the problem with Squarespace is simply the fact that you don't have full control over everything. It makes things easier, because you have less things necessary to worry about or keep up to. But something like WordPress is simply much more beneficial because it literally has carte blanche in terms of what you want to get out of it, how you want things to look. You only have so much that you can do with CSS in terms of using HTML and doing stuff within Squarespace, whereas WordPress, the sky is virtually the limit. There are millions of people on WordPress that have created thousands of plugins that have different functionalities. And when it comes to the ability to leverage this stuff, I am always a fan of, yes, it's going to require a little bit more work, but to have more creative control over how every aspect of it works, including social sharing which we'll talk about in a second. I wanted to bring up the idea of Imagely, which is a company that I've worked with in the past. But essentially, they offer a similar turnkey WordPress aspect of having templates, offering customization, doing hosting, all of it in a one-stop shop kind of thing. They also create some of the most popular plugins for photographers such as Next Generation Gallery in order to display your images. But if you're willing to invest a little bit more time to get an experience that you truly want to control all the aspects for your viewers and for whatnot, I recommend checking out WordPress, and at least giving Imagely a look at in terms of the services that they offer. Because it can really help take some of the challenges, which is why most people stay away from WordPress. So social media's role. I talked about the idea of Grand Central Station. I'm creating content, I'm pushing out there, I'm trying to bring people back occasionally when I feel that it's important. I'm not going to sit there on every single post say, "Come to my website. Come to my website." I don't want to market that way. So what I do is, I generally will post out on to social media. Usually 90%, 95% of the time, I'm just posting out to have those engagement interaction out there. And that other 5%, 10%, depending on what I'm focused on at the time, will have plugs to reach people back to my website, where, again, I have the control to offer the products and services that I want to offer. And the great thing about the blogging nature of doing stuff on WordPress is, again, the idea that you can bring in elements of social sharing so that as you get more people that are organically finding your stuff or even people that are coming through it through social media, you're giving people the tools and controlling how that's going to operate in terms of social sharing. So, I can sit there and use any number of different plugins that I can plug into my website, to work on blogs, so that I can sit there and get the most benefit out of sharing stuff socially. So, right now I use Social Warfare, but there's a couple different options here that I recommend checking out. So, these are all just important elements of bringing that social sharing stuff back into the idea of having a website. And the significance of remarketing I'm going to talk about really, really quickly, is essentially the idea that you visit a website, so you go to CreativeLive, maybe you guys checked out this page, you RSVP'd for this class. And then what happens is that, built into CreativeLive, much like built into my website and a lot of other websites out there, are codes. And these codes, at least for Facebook, is called pixels. What happens is, after you visit that website and you check things out, maybe you guys RSVP'd, you guys are going to see ads for what you just saw down the line. It's called remarketing. Is a very, very powerful tool in terms of using marketing. And from a photographer standpoint, that's great. You can sit there as a wedding photographer and say, "Hey, anyone that's come to my website in the last 30 days, spent more than 2 minutes. I can create a subset of that people and I'm going to send ads back out to them for a discount on portraits, or on baby photos, or on whatever it is." So, you're reaching out to people that have already taken the time to somewhat get to know you and you're leveraging both websites and social media to your benefit for that.