In today’s multichannel world, marketing and advertising take many forms. There’s social media, paid media, PR, blogging, blogging and so forth. Breaking this down further, you’ve also got multiple social-media platforms — Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. Snapchat — and business pages — Facebook, Yelp, Google Business — all clamoring for your attention. How in the world is a photographer supposed to find time to shoot?
Separating all of these opportunities into where they fit into a photographer’s marketing plan is the first step. Most importantly, determine who your message is for when they will see it and on what platform. Think of it as a set of stages, as you are communicating with clients and potential clients at appropriate points. .
According to BPM Online, a maker of customer resource management tools, knowing when to provide a message is as important as what the message says. This “lead nurturing” process is broken down to three stages: early stage, middle stage and late stage. Each of these requires a different message and content ideas.
At the early stage, where you are just trying to build awareness, promote free, low-cost or time-saving offerings of your studio. Coupons and deals get attention.
At the middle stage, your prospect is considering your studio but hasn’t made a buying decision yet. This is where you would provide solid information to inform the buying decision, like positive customer reviews and testimonials.
Late-stage customers are the readiest to book an appointment or sitting; put them at ease by providing behind the scenes and helpful tips. Make their buying journey easy and simple.
How does this idea fit into your social-media strategy? First, let’s designate these stages into appropriate social and marketing media channels.
Reach early-stage customers with twitter
“Understanding which platforms work best for your audience: Think of social media as a race where every marketer is geared to have a share of the pie,” writes Natalie Norcross, CEO of marketing agency A Design Partnershipat Forbes. “Even among social media channels, the chase toward which platform has a greater share of influence is an unpredictable battle. For example, Twitter failed to grow its numbers considerably in 2017, and though it’s closed the year with a steady and positive revenue, its rate of growth in terms of number of followers has slowed down compared to its rivals.”
Of course, not everyone is on social media or on every platform. That’s why its vitally important to keep up with old-school marketing efforts like PR, bridal shows, direct-mail and so on. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a Twitter presence is a replacement for a marketing campaign. It’s a component of it.
Early-stage marketing efforts should be confined to shareable tidbits on Twitter and Instagram. Your goal here isn’t just to gain followers; the objective is to create awareness with your very best images or to make potential customers know of events you’re attending. Think of these channels as radio or TV advertising. They are going to generate awareness but actually click-throughs alone are not the best metric.
Middle stage marketing is where you reinforce your reputation. Make sure you have a current listing any customer-reviewed websites, like Yelp, Google Reviews and Facebook Business Pages. Have both a personal LinkedIn profile and a page for your business; make as many connections as possible with colleagues in your area. Ensure your contact information is current, your images are representative and your copy is free off misspellings.
Late-stage marketing is where the rubber meets the road, and where your highest-quality content should be. Use your website and your Facebook Business Page to display portfolios of your best work, showing all sides of your business. In addition, add short behind-the-scenes videos from your sittings, letting prospects know exactly how you treat clients. Many photographers have videos of their work, but not many show the care they provide their subjects. Differentiate your work by providing some insights into the process; today’s portrait and wedding clients value the experience of the sitting as much as the final product. Use YouTube and Facebook videos to show this.
Also, provide plenty of how-to and educational tips on your website, blog and Facebook page. Do you have, for example, an engagement session checklist for the bride and groom? If so, then put that on your website as a resource. Set yourself apart by taking the guesswork out of your sessions.
Consistency is key
Consistency is important with any branding element. Resist the temptation to do variations of profile photos across the different platforms. Make sure every profile listing has a link to a lead-generation form on your website. Don’t let visitors come to your website without it.
Equally important to getting information shared, however, is listening to incoming social signals, especially in the Millennial and GenZ markets. Social media is fast becoming a tool for shoppers seeking recommendations.
Make sure to set up notifications on your Facebook page and other social listings so you are immediately aware of when a question comes. It’s also worthwhile to set up a Google Alert with the name of your studio and those of your competitors so you can be alerted for any mentions from the Internet.
“To better understand and take advantage of opportunities, companies will have a more heightened consideration of social listening, the process of collecting and monitoring data from customers and competitors by way of tracking social mentions,” adds Norcross. “A 2017 study shows that there is a considerable increase of searches containing the phrase ‘Can anyone recommend?’ This shows that 2018 will be more about finding the right social media and content tracking tools that can aid companies to come up with more personalized offerings to customers.”
So, what’s in a #hashtag?
Hashtags are one of the most misunderstood tools in social media. The use of the # as an element in search began in 2007, when a Google engineer proposed its use for conference attendees. Putting the hashtag in front of a word or phrase made it easy to search specifically for events and happening, like #ThrowbackThursday.
When used properly a hashtag can be a great way to get become part of a greater conversation. For example, if your community has a hashtag, be sure to include it in relevant posts. Many wedding parties have their own hashtags, so including them in low-resolution promotional work can get your work seen among friends and family of the bride and groom.
Avoid coining, however, your own clever hashtag. You may think it funny to include #ilostmylenscap or similar in a Twitter post, but if it’s a hashtag no one is going to know or if it’s an inside joke known only to a few, it’s just clutter. Keep your messages focused.