Hi guys. In this article I’m going to share my thoughts on social media, specifically Facebook and how it relates to promoting your business online. It goes without saying that these are based on my own personal findings and also relate to the business of photography. Your experience may differ.
Putting yourself out there on social media platforms is a scary thought. As a photographer/artist, you’re baring some of your soul in a very public way. This isn’t something that comes naturally to us. In fact, we’re quite an introverted lot and prefer to spend our time behind the camera.
The first question to ask is, should you use social media to promote your business? Without a doubt, the answer is yes. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like are a great, and mostly free space where you can showcase your content or product to a wide audience.
Despite recent changes whereby Facebook is showing your posts to less and less people, it is still worthy of your attention. At the moment, I think your followers get to see about 5% – 10% of your content.
In fairness to Facebook, they are in the business of making money, so it’s a reasonable action. There is also limited space available on your news feed so they want users to see that which is most engaging.
As well as that, users don’t like you pushing your products in their face and are less inclined to engage with posts that have an obvious sales intent. Let’s see an example of this:
Take the photo of Lough Beltra featured at the top of this article. I shot it last night (2016-02-10 ) It’s only lightly edited and is part of my #SimplyIreland series. I posted it to my Facebook page (3,500+ Likes) and also to a group I am a member of – Irish landscape Photographers (7,900+ members)
We can assume that both spaces have followers that are interested in Irish Landscape photos. Allowing for the difference in member numbers, the photo received over 330 Likes on the Irish Landscape Photographer page and only 30 Likes on my own page.
I suspect the reason for this is that, on my own page I included a link to my website where the image could be bought -an obvious sales attempt. Facebook policy is to punish any such attempt and I think this accounts for the low number of Likes given to it on the page.
So, if you do want to sell, then you’ll have to pay for a Facebook Advert campaign.
To grow your audience, you could buy some “Likes”. I think you’ll get well over 1000 new likes for as little as $15. However, I’d strongly advise against this. You’ll actually be buying likes from fake accounts and it will lead to less engagement on your page.
Facebook uses this engagement to decide on how many of your fans get to see your content. Having 1000’s of non-engaged users will seriously hurt your business.
I know people that have gone down this route, only to regret it later. Some have had to scrap their pages altogether and start over.
It is way better to have a small but highly engaged audience rather than a large unresponsive one.
Over the last few years, we have all seen the rise of the “Social Media Ninja”, the “Facebook Advocate” and the “Thought Leader”. Now, while I know that many of these are quite knowledgeable and excellent at what they do, there are as many more who aren’t as ninja-esque as they would have you believe.
Any one of us can roll out a social media strategy where our content is automated, scheduled and gets pushed out regularly, but it’s not an effective policy. However, small business owners can create a very positive strategy by conducting a little research, using common sense and abiding by, and understanding the etiquette of social media.
There are many ways you can improve your reach on Facebook.
I have found one of the best methods is to engage with your page followers. You can do this simply by asking them questions, listening to them and making them feel like they are part of a community.
Some thoughts to be aware of as part of your social media strategy are:
- Only Post your Best Content
We are all guilty of posting anything just to have fresh content on our page, but posting articles and images that are less than your best is gonna hurt you. You always have to improve on your last post.
- Post Regularly
Develop a social media strategy. For instance post on the same day/days every week. This way, people get used to your schedule and come to expect it. Watch the Insights on Facebook. These will tell you when your audience are online.
- Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights will also tell you where your audience are coming from and their age group. You’ll be able to see what content they are engaging with. You can then tailor your posts to suit them.
- Don’t Compromise
Don’t compromise your style to suit your audience. After all, the reason they liked your page is because of what you do and the way you do it. Never lose sight of your vision. Sometimes, the audience needs to be educated as to why you’re doing what you’re doing.
- Engage with your Followers
People like to be listened to, and talking directly to your followers will make you better at what you do. I often ask questions, like what their landscape looks like and invite them to post photos to the timeline. Everyone, including me enjoys these posts and we all get to know each other a little better. It’s a social thing!
- Be Nice and be Yourself
Trying to portray a persona that is not true to yourself will trip you up very quickly. On a page where you have 100’s or 1000’s of followers, you will find it impossible to keep up false appearances.
- Share your Knowledge
Don’t be precious with what you know. We’ve all had to start somewhere. Share tips and tricks about your craft. I have recently set up a YouTube account where I share info about photography. You’ll look good and people will return to your space for more.
- Be a Link Sprinkler
If you have a website, sprinkle links to your social media spaces there. After all, those who visit your website are more likely to hit the Like button on your Facebook page.
- It’s Not a Popularity Contest
Despite what many think, it’s not about Likes or Followers. Many of your followers will never even see your content, let alone engage with it. The power of Facebook lies not in how many Likes you can get, but as a platform for engagement and communication.
These are just a few of my observations and should be taken as such. Use them as guidelines and tailor your own social media strategy to suit your own situation.
Remember, Facebook and Twitter are marketing and communication tools. Don’t expect to make loads of direct sales through them. You will get out of them what you put into them, so take the time to develop an effective social media posting strategy.
I’d love to hear any thoughts, feedback, tips or advice you may have. What social media strategy do you employ? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading this far.
I have a follow-on post to this – The Truth about your Facebook Page.
Click on the Likes under any photo or article, where it says “Jane Doe, Joe Bloggs and 150 others”. Among these you will see an “Invite” button. Continue to invite anyone there. These will be people that have liked your photo/article, but not liked your page. They may also be friends of fans of your page. Let me know if this works for you and if you got many new followers.