Social media is a crucial part of being a photographer. For many, it is the primary means of getting people to look at your photos and attracting potential gigs and clients. Emerging Photographer has combed the internet for the tools, tips, and tricks that will help you become a social media star. In our first installment, we look at the heavyweight of social media: Facebook.
1. Develop a personality
This is a basic tenet of social media, not just Facebook. You need to have a distinct voice that separates you from the crowd. Play to whatever your personality is. Don’t try to be the class clown if it isn’t you. If you want to get followers or likes, you need to convince people that you are worth listening to. Are you going to be the person who posts beautiful landscape pictures in their feed each week? Are you going to be the voice of reason? Think about what you want to project about your brand and cater your Facebook voice to that. One more thing: be consistent.
2. Create Engagement
Pose an interesting question, a provocative question or start a discussion. Facebook is a platform built for conversation. It is the virtual water-cooler. People go there when they are bored or lonely, to blow off steam, or for a break at work. Give them something to talk about and respond to.
3. Share the work and content of others. Just make sure its interesting.
One of the golden rules of social media etiquette is sharing. If you want to be part of the conversation, you have to share other people’s content. If you are just starting out, sharing the content of photographers, vendors or people you admire can draw their or their followers’ attention. It also shows that you are a part of the community. They say mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery. In social media, sharing is.
One thing to remember with sharing. The content has to be exceptional or relevant to the following you want to attract (or already have). People stop to read content that challenges their preconceptions or tells them about things they haven’t heard about yet. Think back to the water cooler idea. What are they going to find interesting enough to tell their co-workers about when they get to the actual water cooler.
4. Cater your posts to the medium
Facebook and Twitter are not the same thing. Do not cross-post between the two. Facebook posts containing hashtags (#), link shorteners such as Ow.ly or bit.ly, or clipped speech are ugly and turn readers off. Cater your posts to the medium. When using Facebook, use the tools that Facebook gives you such as location and people-tagging or include images or video.
Facebook is a visual forum. Photos/Images/Infographs are shared, liked, and clicked on all the time. There is a reason why Facebook thought Instagram was an important acquisition. Your day job as a photographer is to create pleasing visuals. It’s a natural marriage. Use it to your advantage and share beautiful, interesting or powerful photos. It will get the Average Joe (or Josephine) to pay attention and click.
5. Use action words
Action words actually do draw engagement. What do I mean by “action” words? Phrases such as “Share this,” “Like this,” or “Tell us what you think” get people to engage. Even something as simple as asking people to “Like” something, draws engagement. The thing you have to remember is that, especially on Facebook, the threshold for what it takes to get people to comment, like, or add you is low. If you can overcome a modest level of apathy, chances are people will respond. Dan Zarella, the social media scientist at Hubspot, has done some research on the topic and found that posts that included the word “like” consistently received more “likes” (ie interaction) than posts without it. For more of Zarella's data-backed social media tips, follow the link.
6. Be Consistent
Schedule and plan when you are going to be on social media and when you are going to post. When you are online, use that time to be active. Post your updates, engage your followers, join in on discussions on other users’ threads and make your presence felt.
7. Be a Leader and a Follower
People tend to be followers. That means that, just like in high school, no one wants to be the first person to like something, but once a crowd starts moving to one thing, a lot more people follow suit. That can make it hard when you are just starting out on social media. No one wants to “like” a page that has no “likes.” But also like high school, everyone likes a trendsetter. Be bold and be the first person to engage with other people’s content, conversations, and posts and watch people get interested in who the new kid in town is.
8. Pick your spots
Do not spam peoples’ newsfeeds. Just like in real life, no one likes it when one person dominates a conversation. Pick your spots and be the insightful, funny, or interesting personality that people want to hear more from, not less.
9. Time your posts
This might be one of the most important parts of posting to Facebook and the least understood. Social media experts can’t seem to agree on when is the best time to post; they offer conflicting reports. You don’t want your post to get lost in the flood of other people’s posts nor do you want it to go up at a time when no one is there.
The most common school of thought is that you want to post during the workday, when most people are around their computers. That means, in the morning, after 9am, with the best time being between 1pm and 4pm. According to Bit.ly, links posted between 1pm and 4pm had the highest average click-throughs with a peak time of 3pm on Wednesdays.
Number of links clicked-through
A second school of thought comes from Dan Zarella at Hubspot. He found that posts made at contra-competitive times, such as Saturdays and Sundays, consistently got more “likes” than those made during the week. While that sounds promising, I would think that has a lot to do with the types of posts that get made on Saturdays and Sundays. Those days, people post about their weekends, dinners, going out, and food; all things that tend to get more likes than other types of posts.
Jonathan Goodman at Viralnomics has a more holistic approach to finding the best time to post on Facebook. His argument is that not everyone is active online at the same times and it pays to figure out when exactly your target audience will be online. Read it here.
It’s trial and error. Try each of the strategies and figure out what works for you.