To say that social media for photographers is not important is like saying we have no need for cars. Some may argue vociferously with that comparison but as with the advent of the car, humanity has gone through another major technological advancement in the last ten years. This means that the digital environment is now the background, foreground and every other ground in between. The minute the majority of us stop checking our personal devices every other five minutes, wherever we are, will be the time to denounce this. Unfortunately, or fortunately, this is not going to happen anytime soon.
This is not to say old methods should not continue. Not in the least! Reshaping these successful habits of doing business for a digital market is perhaps the best way to forge ahead whilst learning a few new tricks along the way. It is important to think of social media and e-commerce as adding another five strings to your bow, with the potential to run as a standalone business.
Embracing the tech and using it to your advantage is the best way forward, and like every new thing it needs to be learnt and used to suit your needs. Social media may be the devil in some people’s eyes but to the majority (your customer base) this is where recommendations get made and research gets played out. Make social media work for your business, instead of being a page you have just because you think you should.
As with a town high street, social media means establishing and nurturing a community of like-minded individuals and groups. Some will be businesses who think and act like yours providing mutually-beneficial services, others will be customers and still others will be thought leaders and mentors. Your store front is the gateway to a good old gossip about the industry as well as establishing the beginnings of sale. Being able to do this in person and online will drive your business on.
Let’s start with Facebook. If you could go to a town centre where everyone visited at some point during the day or night, say hello to them all and invite them in to your store, then you would probably think that was a good idea. If you could further define who was interested in photography and might be getting married, invite them in, you’d probably do that too. Of course, advertising costs money but networking through people you know, having people recommend your page to their friends and so forth, can be just as effective as paid-for advertising (and also measurable).
Twitter is an excellent way to find leads, venues, say hello or simply keep up-to-date with your peers. Letting people know you exist simply by following them is perhaps the greatest shortcut we have. Twitter can also update your Facebook page so by posting relevant articles and links on your Twitter feed, you can automatically feed your Facebook news feed and show your community what interests you.
Perhaps the third leg of this tripod is LinkedIn, increasingly as important to social media business as the two already discussed. A place for serious, established professionals and businesses both touting themselves as minds to be engaged with and followed, as well as to network and source new business leads. For any business.
Google+ is worth a mention at this stage because it combines the professional and community aspects that the others offer, whilst forming part of a powerful group of services that Google provides. Gmail, Drive and Docs are easily the most popular resource for most small and medium-sized companies, with G+ providing the networking and visual capabilities small companies were crying out for ten years ago.
If you have not presently embraced social media, start by dipping the toe and set up the accounts. It’s relatively straight forward and you might surprise yourself with the results generated.
P.S. If you are interested in getting your business on social media then take a look at the Social Media Service.