Let me start by saying that I am no expert on Social Media Marketing – I have only really been getting into it in the last few months. But when I get into something, I really get into it, so I have been doing quite a bit of research and also learning from the results I am achieving. I do have a background in Web Design and Blogging – I spent a few years designing Web Sites and Blogs for people, but I got frustrated – they never seemed to understand the importance of new content on a site – and it is important. You spend a lot of time, effort and money into creating your web/blog – then expect people to keep coming back, time after time, to see the same old thing? People aren’t like that – they want to see something new – if they come back 2 or 3 times and nothing has changed – they’ll find someone else. So that said, how does Social Media fit into the mix?
I started with Google+ first, probably 3 months ago. I’ve had a Gmail account for a long time – since just after Gmail came out – but I never really used it. So about 3 months ago (when I took up photography again after quite a few years) I started sharing my photographs. I also started using Facebook for Photography – again, I had been on Facebook for a few years but never really did anything other than play games! (BTW – I don’t play games on FB any more, other than the odd game of scrabble with my sister! Hi Margie!)
I must admit, I really like Google+ much more than Facebook from a Photographers point of view.
After three months on Google + I have 974 followers and I follow 3243 Photographers – it is great for the ego to have photographers praise my work – particularly photographers whose work I admire. I started only following Photographers. Then when I thought about it, Photographers are never going to buy my work – sure they may admire it, but if I want to be a professional, ego does not put bread on the table. So I changed my strategy – I started following people who re-share other people’s work – this gives me a greater range to my target audience – admirers of Art (and I obviously consider Photography Art although I am sure many would disagree). This is when my circle of followers really began to increase. In the last month it has grown from 300 to nearly 1,000, so I’m guessing that strategy has, at least in part, paid off.
I’m working on my Facebook too, but I find Facebook more intrusive. You have to ask someone to be your friend (reminds me of primary school) whereas on Google+, if you like someone’s work, or you think / hope they will like yours, you simply circle them.
All of this was great, but I felt I needed another way to attract a following. So that was when I started to Blog. I’ve been doing this for a week now and I’m reasonably pleased with the results, but I need to keep working on it. Now, I am using Google+ and Facebook to promote my Blog, so hopefully over the next weeks, months & years I will grow my Blog following proportionately.
Many people think of a Blog as simply another place to put your pictures – so why bother? It’s all about Search Engines. As clever as they are, Search Engines can still only recognise text. How do they find pictures in Images – they find them through Metadata – which is text attached to the picture. So the trick with Search Engines is, they love text. They also understand Headings – which is why WordPress automatically puts your Post Name in a heading style – so the Search Engine knows to attach more significance to the words in the heading than the words in the body.
So, you need to put a lot of words into your Blog to attract followers and likers (is that even a word? likers! – no, the squiggly red line in the text editor tells me likers is not a word, but I’m going to use it anyway).
Once I have the Blog well under way – the next thing is a web site. The web site is where I will (try and) sell my photographs. I need lots of text there too. Why? Because again, Search Engines like text. But isn’t that what the blog is for I hear you ask? NO. The Web Site is where you do the “Hard Sell”. The purpose of the web site is to sell something – be it goods or services. The purpose of the Blog is to do the “Soft Sell” – write about things that may interest your potential customers – then drive them to your Web Site to sell them something.
So, I use Social Media to drive traffic to the blog, then the blog to drive traffic to the web site – where hopefully, people will buy something.
So why do all of this, because after all, it is a lot of work – that is the subject for another Blog…..
Some guidelines for marketing using Social Media (and I break these rules all the time, but I know I shouldn’t!)
- Don’t just “Like” or “+” – leave a comment – that person is more likely to come & have a look at your site
- Make your comments and include an open ended question occasionally – build a rapport with your followers and engage with them
- Do the occasional reshare of a post from a popular photographer – they will occasionally repay you by sharing one of yours – Gold! (a recommendation from a reputable source)
- Try and post regularly, but don’t go overboard – no-one wants to see 427 photos from you in the space of 38 seconds – but 3 – 5 per day seems to be a good number – and add a story or a poem – adds interest
- The one I break ALL the time – work out the best time of day to share for you and try and do your posts then for maximum coverage (I normally post mine at 1:00am and miss everyone in Australia anyway)
- Always make sure you thank people for their likes & +1’s
As I said, I am no Social Marketing Guru, but these are things that I have learnt along the way so if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free.