What is a Social Media Strategy?
We have a handful of really important topics to discuss that take a lot of the information that we've talked about in the last couple of segments and kind of bring them together and have a little bit into fruition to start talking about how to get social media to work for your needs. And again, this is a really important aspect of social media and in terms of photographers feeling lost and confused. You're feeling like what you're doing just isn't working, you don't really know where to go or what to do and a lot of this stems from the fact that you just haven't asked yourself the right questions and so we're going to do that. So starting things off, we're going to talk about the idea of developing a social media strategy. So a social media strategy is essentially the idea that you are trying to apply a sense of purpose and direction and intent for your choices for being online and this doesn't have to be business focused. A lot of people think that it's just people that are photograph...
ers that are online, you have to sit there and I have to be selling money or selling prints to make money or whatever it is, like that's not the case. Regardless of the reason that you are wanting to be online, trying to figure out the purpose of why you want to be online, we're trying to figure out where our starting point is because our starting point helps change the direction of literally every single other choice that we make when it becomes to how do we leverage social media, how do we build a following, who are the followers we want to have, what type of engagement are we looking for, and what type of value do we want to get out of. How can I sit there and take my social media following and do something with it? Well, that do, that something might actually be changes depending on these initial questions and these initial foundation. We're trying to figure out why are we online. Why do we want to be online in the first place? So if we look at social media, we've talked about kind of the dissection of it where social is correlating to the human society. It's about engagement and interaction. We talked about media essentially the idea that it's this idea of mass communication, we're sharing content, talked about the internet. We talked a lot about photo sharing photos on different platforms. We talked about those platforms. And strategy, it's a plan of action. It's a purpose for being online. It is giving us a sense of direction. It's helping us not feeling like we're wandering lost, like we're navigating the social waters and we're just not getting to where we want to be. Even though a lot of us don't really know where we want to be, you're still lost because you're just kind of floating out there in the interwebs. So why do you need one? The idea is, as we talked about a little bit, essentially that…the idea is that it makes the work that you do, the time investment that you have purposeful and helps give it a sense of efficiency. It helps make sure you feel like you're not wasting your time like so many photographers do. So many photographers look at social media with that negative construct, that idea that it's something you have to do. You don't actually enjoy it because a lot of the time, you're not getting the results that you want. And there's reasons for that. We're going to dive into some of those different pieces but the reality is is that most photographers online, like this guy. Now, this is certainly a little bit more of a dramatic representation of most photographers but I'm sure at one point or another, a lot of photographers have sat there and they're searching on Facebook or looking at their Instagram page and they're just kind of in dismay. They just don't really know why things aren't working out for them. Why aren't you getting a break? Why are people not following your work? Why aren't you getting the engagement this guy is getting or this girl? And so a lot of photographers approach social media with this mindset where it becomes this idea of feeling that you're not getting out what you're putting in. And that's not a fun place to be. So we want to change that. That's like the core thing that I want to do is take away that feeling and let you feel a little bit more confident about what you're trying to get understanding that things are going to happen overnight but that if you can start with the right places, if you can take the first few initial steps, you are going to be heading in a direction and hopefully give you that sense of purpose that you haven't had before. So the reasons that it's super important overall in terms of a bullet point format for us to kind of digest with this section is that the social web is growing fast. We talked about social numbers. We talked about engagement rates. I mean one of the mistakes that I made is the fact that I didn't get on Instagram for a couple of years. I didn't get on Instagram because I kind of fluffed it off like a lot of other people did. If I did, I guarantee you my numbers right now would be exponentially larger but I didn't get in early and the reality is is that I missed the boat, initial boat but I made up for it a little bit. I'm happy with where I'm at now but I could've had a much larger presence, could have had much larger value to me as a brand. And so social media is growing fast. You don't want to be left behind. You don't want to sit there and say, "Should I go on this network or should I not?" You should know based on the choices that you're making in developing this social media plan that we're going to talk about. So other photographers are better positioned. There are going to be other photographers out there, there are other photographers out there that are better photographers. There are better photographers out there than me. Now, I'm able to again be as successful as I am because I understand the business side of things and I've been fortunate to learn how to leverage social media to be advantageous for the work that I'm doing but other photographers are going to be better positioned than you are. Which means that maybe they have a larger following, maybe they take better images, maybe they're further along on their path. And if you don't have some sense of purpose, you don't have a direction or a goal you're working towards actively understanding the challenges that it face or that you face and trying to figuring out how to get there, you're only going to get left behind. That's not something any of us want. Regardless again if you're trying to build a business or you're trying to build a following, you're just looking for inspiration, the core principle aspects of this stuff is all the same. The output is different but the core elements are the same. Time-priority management. I think some of you guys have already asked questions. Some of our internet viewers have done the same thing, essentially the idea that you can't be everywhere all the time. So being a little bit more pointed in your use of social media being a little bit more effective, can go a long way. I always like using the saying that every year, I want to work smarter, not harder. And every year, that's been true and every year, at least for the last five years, I have made exponentially more money than the year before even though I've worked less hard. And it's because I've been more intelligent about the choices. I've been more strategic about the choices that I make from the business side of things, how I leverage things like social media, how I leverage things like networking, target market audiences, all of the things that we're talking about in our course. So time management is a huge aspect. And again, once you get to a certain level, your time is your biggest asset. So you don't want to spend your time wasting it away sitting on social media if it's not working for you. You want to make sure that the stuff that you're doing, what you're willing to invest into is having some sense of a return. And right now, it sounds like a lot of you guys aren't getting that return, a lot of the people that are watching us right now live as well as recorded later on, same thing. You guys are just feeling like you're not getting the return for your investment. I'm going to change that. The value of social media is subjectively exponential. I almost didn't put that word in here because I figured I'd mess it up. I'm glad I didn't. So subjectively exponential. What that means again is what we've talked about throughout this class is the idea that the value that you can create out of social media is purely up to both your imagination and your ability to find people that are willing to pay or equate to the other side of that sort of transaction regardless if its business transaction or again, you're just looking for education or inspiration. There's two parts of that. So subjectively exponential. If you're a photographer that's looking in to connect with more photographers. The idea that the time you spend online, you don't need to waste it trying to sell prints because that's not what you're there for. So the value that's subjectively exponential, larger for you to invest your time in a certain way is going to be different for someone else. And the exponential aspect is the amount of growth that can come out of that. It comes down to what your goals are and how good you are at trying to make those happen. So from a business standpoint for me again, I can sit there and have the photo that we talked about in an earlier segment where I had 60 billion views on it like in itself, just those views have zero value. But if I can take those 60 billion views and sit there and say, "Hey, so and so, my image is getting this much engagement. Let me do this campaign for you and I'm going to charge you this amount of money." All of a sudden, that valuation has become subjectively exponential based on the value of those interactions that I have, based on my brand, what I'm trying to ask for people to charge and what people are willing to pay. And so it's really important to understand that subjectively exponential aspect of social media. I will relieve your stress. Again, most of you guys, no one raised their hand when I said they were really happy with their social media output and I get it. It's frustrating. I think my wife shares that same affliction. It's not her cup of tea but when it comes to feeling like you're lost, when it comes to feeling like the work that you're doing isn't helping, that's always going to make you more stressful. When you're more stressful. When you're more stressful, you're less creative. When you're less creative, the cathartic exercise of artistic creation becomes less valuable to us as individuals, let alone as business owners or anyone else. And it's also going to help you achieve your goals. Now this is something that we're going to establish with developing our social media strategy which we're talking about in this section. So the idea of helping you to achieve your goals is the first aspect of that is you have to have goals. And I don't mean to say that in a condescending way. What I'm trying to get out is that most people are online because they feel the need to be and that's not a reason to be online. That's not a goal. Now maybe your goal is to connect with other photographers, to find more inspiration. So you have a goal, an end place you would like to be. That choice is going to help dictate all of the other choices you make and how to get there. Now maybe your goal is to be a fine art landscape photographer and sell more prints. That is an achievable tangible goal that is going to determine which networks you're on, how much you post, what type of posts you do, the words you include in those posts, your overall strategy for being online. Everything comes from that kind of question, that idea of achieving your goals. So it's important to think about that. Think about why you want to be online. It's something we're going to dive a little bit more into in just a second but I really want that to be in the back of your heads, like what is my goal? What are the goals that I wish to achieve? Because if you can figure out what those goals are, it's much easier to work backwards and help you get to where you want to achieve them. But if you don't know your goals, then you literally are just wondering aimlessly and then you're never going to get anywhere because you don't have a direction to go. You don't have a destination. So elements of a social media strategy or plan. So the first part is our strategy statement. So this is the idea like a social media strategy to kind of step back. This is very similar to like a business strategy. Now every one of you that are entrepreneurs should've put together a business strategy when you created your business to begin with. Most people do not. I don't hold it against you but it's something I highly recommend that you look into because it will help you with this as well because social medias is just a larger part if you're trying to run a business. Larger part or it's a cog in a larger machine is what I'm trying to say. So social media strategy, we have these different elements that are very important to kind of come together and these are questions that you guys should write down and try to figure out what you want to do and what we're going to do. I haven't necessarily decided who I'm going to pick and I might pick at random from everyone that's here but I'm going to pick someone after we go through this in a couple of slides and we're going to figure out what their goals are and together we're going to work... we're going to work together to try to figure out how to create a social media strategy for that person. So I want you guys to think about that and if I see people shying away, I'm going to pick you. So I just want you to know. So whoever is not making eye contact, I know. All right. So starting off, strategy statement. So this is essentially what are you hoping to achieve. So what is your goal? What is the purpose of you wanting to be online? Is it selling prints? Is it getting more clients? If it is, what kind of clients? Be specific. So figure out what your strategy statement is for the purpose. And again, we'll deep dive into the why in the next segment of this class but think about that for now. Now the next thing that we have is context analysis. So this is essentially taking an objective look at where you are as of today and where do you want to be. It's trying to give you pinpoints on a map, just like a logical map if you want to call it that, of sitting there and saying, this is where I'm at. I currently have X number of followers or I'm currently at this area, I'm not getting something. I'm getting a few clients but I want to get more like whatever it is. Where are you now and where would you like to be? The next one we have is goals and objectives. So set realistic short and long-term goals. Now I recommend going with 3, 6, and 12-month goals because that allows you to hopefully make realistic goals that are achievable because everyone likes achieving goals and if you sit there and say, "I'd like to have 2.8 million followers like Chris Burkard tomorrow on Instagram," you're going to be disappointed. I'm disappointed if I say that. I only have 197,000 so it's just not going to happen. But sitting there and think of where do you want to be in three months from now, where would you like to be in six months from now, and where would you like to be in 12 months from now? So a year from this day, next January, what would you like your social media presence to look like? What would you like to achieve? And again, try to be realistic. Don't shoot for the stars but also don't set your expectations too low. Challenge yourself but make sure that it's something that you feel that you can attain with some hard work and understand that again, social media does not happen overnight. Next, target audience. This is something we'll have a whole segment based on this we talk about I believe tomorrow. But essentially, it's the idea of trying to define who is your ideal audience. Now when it comes to social media, there's a couple of different aspects of this. If you're going into social media to build just a large following and you want to have the idea of a value proposition to essentially sell the idea that you are "a brand influencer" where you have lots of influence over a large number of people, the target market audience that you wish to achieve is probably less important. So Chris Burkard probably doesn't jump into his followers and say, "Out of my 2.8 million or out of the 70,000 people that engage in this post, like how many people live here? How many people are female? How many people are this?" For people like him and arguably people like myself because I do a lot of campaigns wrapped around that type of stuff as well, the fact of our target market audience for that specific type of stuff is less relevant. However for myself, being in photo education, photographers are a large target market audience for me. So I want to connect with other photographers because those are the photographers who want to take classes like this or they maybe want to come to workshops or maybe they want to buy e-books or video tutorials. Or if you want to correlate that back to what we were just talking about a second ago in the previous segment, talking about like LinkedIn. So target market audience for me maybe is social media managers, in which case, I'm getting very specific of the people that I want to go after. But trying to figure out who your target market audience is based on your idea of the goals you want to achieve and your initial reason of why you want to be here is important because these are things that you can ultimately change and adjust depending on where you are right now and where you want to be and we'll talk about how to do that throughout the next couple of segments. But establishing who your target market, your ideal target market audience, is important. You don't have to get too ingrained. Don't sit there and worry too much about statistics and sit there and say, "It's a female between the ages of 24 and 36 and she has to be brunette." That's just not reality. But try to figure out like who are your clients? Are you a wedding photographer? Does that mean your clients are brides? That's something. Again, you're into print sales so you want to find people attached to certain locations that have that attachment to a specific place that you can sell prints to Yosemite to people that have traveled there. That's a target market audience. It's individuals that have traveled to Yosemite that have appreciation for it. These are important questions and just trying to think about that. Who is that audience that you're trying to go after? Choosing the right online personality and I don't mean to say this in a way like you can just change them like hats. It's simply saying what are you comfortable theme-like for your brand personality. And you'll see when we talk about this in a later segment about what six of the other prominent photographers and how they interact online and I'll talk a little bit more about what I do as well in sections where we talk about choosing the personality or selecting the right personality. But how you want to choose to interact online is important. Are you going to be personable? Are you going to share personal things? Are you comfortable talking about your children? Do you want to share those images with other people? Maybe you don't, that's fine. Do you want to be opinionated? Do you want to be all business? What are you comfortable with? What's you? That's important. Don't be someone you're not because it's way too easy to see through. Most people are horrible poker players and I imagine most people here aren't great either. So be who you are so that you don't have to try to fake it because if you fake it, people can tell. Opposition research. So this is the idea that we talked about before where you can sit there and say, "Okay I'm here at this place," maybe you're a landscape or a travel photographer and you look at myself and you're like, "I would like to have a social media presence that Colby Brown has." So do your research. Certainly again, you can reach out and ask questions. Someone like myself is happy to share information, a lot of other photographers won't but you are free to look at public information to your heart's content. So look at the opposition. Look at other people in your network. If you're doing local work for example, if you're a local photographer that does portraits or child work or weddings, what are other people in your industry doing around your location? You're going to find two things. You're going to find what seems to be working and those people probably won't answer questions if you're like, "So what is your business model because I'm trying to break in?" They're probably not going to share it with you. But you can check it out and you can sit there and say, "Oh, they seem to be filling lots of weddings and they're doing this and they're doing that," or, "they get lots of portraits," and try to figure out how they do it. And it's also going to teach you what not to do. Two very good lessons. You look at someone's presence, you look at someone's website and you're like, "Holy moly! This is a bad website, no wonder they're not getting a ton of clients." Do your research with who you think is your competition regardless if it is people on the internet that you want to aspire to be like in terms of a social presence or if it's local people that are competing for the certain types of photography that you're hoping to offer other individuals. It's important. And defining the challenges ahead. Now again, this is the realistic look at where you're at, where you want to be and this is part of the business venture when you're applying for an IPO and you're trying to go public and it's like what are the challenges that you're going to face? What competition is out there? Is it going to people undercutting your work? Is it going to be the fact that print sales are dying? Is it going to be that you're just going to be frustrated and you don't know who to talk to to pitch marketing ideas. You think your social media following is too small in order to actually get clients, try to pitch some of those ideas. What are the challenges that you might face to achieve all this other stuff that we just talked about? So before we put someone on the hot burner, well, actually it's not really the hot burner because you're just essentially asking questions and everyone else is going to help. So before we do that, let's put me in the hot burner. So I know this guy's name is Colby Brown and he's put together these things before and he's told me some information about it and so let's do this for myself. So statement strategy. So what am I hoping to achieve with social media? With social media, I am trying to do a number of different things and part of that is just endemic of where I am in the brand at this stage but I am trying to grow my following, to have more value for the followers that I do have so I can take that, sell that to clients and customers. I want to increase my engagement probably so I can do similar types of things. I want to find new clients to work on larger projects to work on in terms of marketing campaigns. I want to find more time to spend with my family which means that I want to create more passive forms of income. So maybe I want to spend a little bit more time writing e-books and doing video tutorials. I need to carve out that time so that I can find more ways to make money doing that in which case it means less time out in the field and more time at home playing Lego Batman with my five-year-old son. So this is kind of what I'm hoping to achieve. I want to find larger clients to work on bigger projects, I want to create more passive forms of income, and I want to grow my following and my engagement across a couple of different platforms specifically because I'm able to sell that idea that I have value out of that to clients and customers. Context analysis. So where am I at right now and where do I want to be? Right now, well probably, I'll just focus for time sake on Instagram. So Instagram right now, I have 197,000 followers and right now, I'm averaging somewhere between 3000 to 3200 interactions per post. What I would love to be within the next year is I'd love to be up to 250,000 followers. I'd love to be averaging between 5000 and 6000 interactions per post. That's where I would like to be. A lot of what has happened with my growth specifically with Instagram, some of it was cultivated out of organic growth for everything that I was doing. I was able to put a lot of momentum from my other networks into Instagram but I was also put on the Instagram suggested user list which is big in terms of inflation of numbers which is another reason why some of my followers in terms of engagement numbers aren't nearly as high as other people that had more organic growth but with follower numbers. So I didn't ask for that, it happened. I like the numbers, that's fine. I can create value out of that but I need to overcome the fact that my interaction ratios are lower than I probably am happy with. So that's kind of my context analysis. Where I'm at with Instagram, where I'd like to be. So goals and objectives, set realistic short, long-term goals. We talked about a 12-month goal, where I'd like to be, 250,000 followers. I'd like to have 5000 to 6000 interactions per post. So in three months time, I'd like to see a growth of anywhere between 5000 to 10,000 photographers. I'd like to see engagements increase by 1000 interactions per post, somewhere around there. That's a little bit of an aggressive goal but it's something that I'm happy to try to achieve. It's going to take some work. I'm going to have to work on working with some hubs and some other larger accounts. Maybe I'll pitch the idea to CreativeLive to do Instagram takeovers. I'll do things where I can get my work in front of more people on Instagram, leveraging other larger accounts, taking advantage of hashtags, doing things like that. Maybe I'll invest some money, put in some ads together to promote the idea of the type of work that I'm out there in order to get to the right type of people that I want to interact with anyway, that would appreciate the type of stuff that I'm sharing. So target audience. Essentially for the stuff that I'm going for, it's kind of easy because again, with growing my followers and the numbers and the passive forms of income, things like that, a lot of it comes down to just growing my followers with more photographers which is easy in the photo industry. Be honest. I don't have to sit there and look for very specific clients. I'm sitting there and saying, "If you're interested in photography, most likely I have something that I can sell you." Now I don't treat people like dollar signs. I'm sure you guys checked out my social following, you guys have reached out to me. You'll never or you will very rarely hear me pitch ideas or sit there and say, "Hey, buy this or buy that." Every once in a while, something will come about and most of the time, I'm trying to have conversations organically and if there's something that I think is a good fit, I'll recommended it and that's just my strategy, my approach. But my whole goal for my market audience for a lot of what I'm trying to do is just connecting with more photographers which means that I'm sharing more photography work, I'm engaging out more photography communities which helps me do…exponentially grow all these things I'm trying to do. Outside of the marketing content where I'm trying to do marketing campaigns in which case, I want to sit down, and this is 100% honest, I want to sit down this year and dedicate some time for me and a few of my assistants to look at the industry and sit there and say, "What new and interesting products are coming out that we can create interesting content around and who are the people that I want to talk to at each of these different markets?" I'd love to take, make a spreadsheet, using LinkedIn as a research tool and sit there and say, "Who are the people that are in charge of marketing and/or social media in X number of products." I have a list that's already growing but that's what I like to do because it gives me a starting point to sit there and figure out who I want to pitch. So that's my target market audience. Personality. How do I want to come across online? This has already essentially been established for me because I've been doing this for so long. It's mostly business with a bit of goofy. Every once in a while, I like to inject a bit of my personality into my brand. Again, if you follow some of the personal accounts that I have, that I do do some elements of business with, I like to keep it real. I like talk about things that I'm passionate about and I'll be happy to share my opinion. More times than not, it's actually more detrimental for me to be as opinionated as I am and sometimes, I can't hold my tongue in which case, I probably lose some followers but to be honest, I probably didn't want them following me in the first place so I don't really care. But my brand personality is a mixture of that personal and business. It's kind of a hybrid which again, we'll talk about a little bit in a later segment but it's that idea of a personal business relationship where I want you guys to feel comfortable in engaging. I'm happy to help without trying to sell you something and maybe at some point down the line, there might be some benefits to me but that's not the reason that I do it. Opposition research. So take a closer look at who else is being quite successful. For me, I reach out to a lot of the peers. Some of the photographers that we're going to be talking about today, they have more interaction rates or higher engagement in certain places so I bounce ideas off them all the time. I'll sit there and reach out to Chris or Adam or Benjamin Von Wong and say, "Hey, what are you doing that works? What are you now working? Let's powwow a little bit. Let's talk about this. Let me share some of my thoughts and my experiences as well." And they do the same. But that idea of kind of looking at and trying to see who in this space are doing exceptional work, how are they running Instagram, how do they build their following? Because I want to know. And a lot of that information might not necessarily correlate to my brand or to my following but there are bits and pieces that I'm going to take that are going to be very advantageous for me and I have to kind of either ask them the questions because I know them or I need to sit there and dedicate some time or hire one of my assistants on an hourly rate to sit there and go do some opposition research online. And challenges. So take a realistic look at the challenges that face the next year for me. So I am an exponentially busy individual. As I mentioned, I try to work smarter, not harder. That being said, I work a lot. Most entrepreneurs do. Part of it, that's kind of our safe space. That's why we got into entrepreneurship to begin with. We want to work at building our stuff. We want control. But that being said, I want to continue as I mentioned before to spend more time with my family. So challenges that come down to me is almost always the biggest challenge is time. How do I have time? I've literally been saying, and this is again 100% honesty, I've literally been telling myself, and well, it's mostly myself because I own the company, sit there and saying, "I would like to create more passive forms of income." I've been telling myself that for three years. Three years. Now, I have made a good amount of money creating passive forms of income but I haven't fully completed that circle yet because I haven't been able to carve out a large enough chunk of time to create enough products and services to ultimately begin to offer in an online store fashion. So any of the goals and challenges that I have, when it comes to social media or business, usually come back to that idea that I have a certain amount of time because any time I take away from the other stuff that I do that isn't personal, so isn't time with my family, is usually generates a lot of money. And that means the time away from doing that means that I'm going to make less money because I need to invest hopefully for a long-term gain. So that's a realistic challenge that I'm facing constantly as a photographer and as an entrepreneur, as a father, a parent, and a husband. So that is my social media strategy. That is what I would go through and I'd break down to figure out where am I at right now and where do I want to be and help me set a series of goals, attainable goals, to give us some sense of direction. And by doing all those, by sitting there and saying, "Where is our starting point, where is our ending point, where would I like to be in the middle," is much, much easier to connect the dots. To sit there and say, "I want to grow a larger following of photographers," that gives me a couple of ideas of how I need to do that. I want to work on larger marketing campaigns so what do I need to do? Find more of the right people to talk to, find products or services or try if I were doing stuff in travel, destinations I want to go pitch campaigns to. It gives me a sense of purpose and a sense of direction.