How to approach social media as a photographer.

Q: I’m in the first year of my wedding photography business, and I’m feeling kind of intimidated and overwhelmed by the idea of social media. I’m afraid that getting into it will take too much of my time with not enough return. Am I overthinking this?

A: I hear you, the idea of social media can feel overwhelming. I think it goes down to not being entirely comfortable with the idea of self promotion, and the way social media can often feel like a lot of noise with no focus. You should just simplify your approach and really focus on what you might want to use social media for. The feeling of chaotic noise comes when you dip in and out of social media, or follow a lot of people who are not targeting their communication to you. You want to be talking specifically to your clients and figure out which avenues might reach them the best.

1. Don’t spread yourself too thin
You don’t need to be on all of the different platforms. The worst approach would be to be on everything, but not really systematically updating anything. As a photographer I would say Instagram, and its wildly growing reach and engagement, is the best social platform for communicating to new prospective clients in a visual way. A Facebook business page is crucial in reaching those who are already your clients, so you should view it as way to share weddings sessions with your clients so they can tag their guests and thus create the modern equivalent of word of mouth for you. Twitter, to me at least, is more about connecting with your peers. A lot of networking between different suppliers happens via Twitter, new connections get forged and the relationships with those you love to work with and recommend get fortified.

2. Create your own content
The reason why social media works so well for photographers is that we already have that content, our images. But there are always ways for making what you share more engaging. For example, when sharing an image from a wedding on Instagram, add a testimonial from the couple in the caption, or perhaps a little story about how they fell in love. Anything that makes prospective clients able to identify with the story of the image, and have an emotional connection to what you share, is much more engaging than just showing pretty pictures of strangers.

3. Piggyback some of your content
If you are posting an Instagram that will be interesting to your other social networks as well, share your update to those at the same time. You can do this directly from Instagram, or by using account management services. It will save you time, and engage your different audiences all at once. Don’t do this with ALL of your updates though, you should add some posts that are directly meant for the audience of that particular channel into the mix, too.

4. Be clever about it
The are services that help you manage your accounts and schedule posts for different platforms in one go. Check out Hootsuite, Buffer and Pagemodo.

5. Keep your brand’s visual identity in mind
It’s ok to post personal images and updates in between promoting your work, your clients will generally love a peek into your real life and these updates add a lot of value to your social channels, but always keep your brand in mind and make sure the visual aesthetic of what you post stays cohesive. This is especially important for us photographers, we should always be aware of how every image we share, no matter whether an iPhone snapshot or a picture from a client’s session, advertises our skills, vision and taste.

6. Step away from social media when you’re having a bad day
You don’t need to be a constant cheerleader, but try not to bring any temporary negative thoughts into your social media. You’ll most likely regret it later.

7. Don’t ignore your own site.
One of the things to keep in mind is that your own site is the only place where you can be sure your content is safe for the future. All the different social platforms could disappear (it’s feasible!), and if you haven’t kept your website and blog as your main channel, you could end up with no content and a lot of wasted hours. It’s a good idea to make blog posts out of any Facebook conversations that have been engaging to your clients, or of your favourite Instagram images. That way you know that all that content creation will never go to waste.

Marianne Taylor is the creator of Beloved Magazine and founder of Her Lovely Heart