Thursday, 10 November 2011

online marketing pointers for photographers

Most photographers seem to be aware of the potential of social media for their photography business but most don’t know where to start. Because there is this confusion, people either skip it entirely or do the wrong things. Either way, it just doesn’t work for you and you are left feeling that you missed a huge potential. Sound familiar?

Most of your social media marketing is going to be about engaging with your potential and existing clients so it's best to pick just one or two services and concentrate on those to maximize your efforts. Joining a multiple of sites will leave you exhausted trying to keep up with the communication and posting… you will have less time for actually making money and taking photos.

The first thing I would suggest is a Blog for a long term strategy. Plan your posts to ensure you are posting a minimum of one thing a week. This has long term search engine benefits and if done at the same time each week. Your followers will also be able to form a habit of knowing when your posts go online.

The second thing I would suggest is a micro-blogging platform like Facebook or Google+ for short updates. These sites are an online destination where you can post your products and services and join communities to have fun. I would not be doing any hard selling on these sites, that’s not what they are for. Just join post and have fun. A friend of mine runs a few companies, some are posted on Facebook. One in particular is an "Event Management" business. He has all the information of his services on the Facebook profile but never sells… but rather sends out videos and posts humorous comments and polls that people watch for. He is building his business on his perceived knowledge and likability… and it works. People hire him because they like him and he is perceived as a trusted expert. There may be better "Event Managers" out there but Steve proves that people buy on trust, emotion and relationships.

Whatever platforms you decide on, give yourself a schedule and allocate a specific amount of time to post updates. BUT STICK TO IT. A regular update on what is going on, a few tips here and there, put up photos that you have recently taken should take you 15-30 minutes once each week to post to your blog, and 5 minutes a day to check your Wall on Facebook or Google+. And if there are any comments on your wall, make a response to any comments and post your own update.

Never go to your Blog or your social media page without a clear idea of what you're going to write about! Turn off the e-mail alerts when visitors post to your blog or wall and don't fall into the time sucking mistake of checking it continually like email! Instead, focus on what’s going on over the last day and just comment on that.

Always remember the goal is to make your social marketing page a hub where your clients can connect with you, so you have to keep pushing them to go there and keep encouraging them to join the conversation! Effective methods of pushing people to your social media efforts are Twitter, links to your social media accounts on your website, QR codes on your business cards and marketing materials and cross marketing your social media initiatives.

Twitter is a great way to post your blog posts, recent photos taken and Facebook updates to a different group of people. I now have 400 people that receive my Twitter posts each week and it generates 12% of my website traffic.

A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to its fast readability and comparatively large storage capacity. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of any kind of data (e.g., binary, alphanumeric, or Kanji symbols). Here is the QR code I use to get people directly to my website.


Now that I said all this and possibly got you thinking a little more about social media, you should also be tracking what is generating leads and revenue for your business. There is no use spinning your wheels in the mud and not getting anywhere.

So, let’s look under the hood of KPep Photography for a second and see where my business leads come from.

I have a website, http://www.blogger.com/www.kpepphotography.com.

I have business cards with my email address, twitter account, QR code on the back

I have a Google account with a place page

I have a Twitter account where I follow almost 900 other photographers and various other people. There are almost 900 followers of this account. I use the account to post out my blog entries, new photos I take and any other photography information.

I have a LinkedIn account where I make sure my twitter posts show up. I have a couple hundred contacts on LinkedIn and they will see my twitter posts, be able to access my website and see any conversations I have in the photography groups on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn I belong to 6 photography groups and will post tips, tutorials and post up Polls for other members.

Facebook... I have three pages... a personal one with over 1100 friends, a page for the Photographers Lounge with now almost 300 LIKES and a page for our podcast that has just about 200 LIKES...
My website is posted on six directories, I am registered and occasionally post on 6 photography blogs.
I also write for http://www.blogger.com/www.photonews.ca, http://www.blogger.com/www.canadiannaturephotographer.com, and Photo technique magazine. Each has a website where links to my website and twitter account exist when they run one of my articles online.

I have a flickr account that I rarely use anymore. I have over 600 photos posted on there that have links and proper keywords that associate those photos with my name and website.

All the images on my website, all the blog posting, and anything I do online have had meta tags applied that will increase my chances of showing up in local searches for the initiatives that I want to promote.

Here is the breakdown for website traffic on http://www.blogger.com/www.kpepphotography.com because of my marketing initiatives.

Twitter sends me 15% of my monthly traffic and I get contacted 30% of the time from potential contacts through here.
LinkedIn sends me 8% of my monthly traffic
QR codes generate 2% of my monthly traffic
Google searches generate 10% of my monthly traffic
Facebook sends me 20% of my monthly traffic
Traffic from grips website is 3% of my monthly traffic
The companies I write for account for 7% of my monthly traffic
Bing searches account for 4% of my monthly traffic
Flickr still accounts for 6% of my monthly traffic and I get contacted 30% of the time from potential contacts through here.
Direct traffic generates 25% of my monthly traffic and I get contacted 40% of the time from potential contacts through here.

• I have seen increases in my traffic from direct Google searches over the past 30 days due to increased focus on meta tagging and other SEO initiatives.
• I have seen a decline in traffic coming from flickr, probably because I stopped posting recent images on the site.
• My direct traffic has also started to increase. Although I find it hard to believe that is top of mind awareness, but rather friends and family looking to see what photo they want as an X-Mas prezzy ;-).
• Social marketing accounts for over 50% of my total traffic

I am going to start focusing more on SEO and key in on what’s called “Longtail SEO” and attempt to drill down to get more qualified clients. An example of longtail SEO is tagging items on your site with terms like, “Canadian landscape photography workshops Kitchener Ontario”

For social marketing, I will continue to work on Facebook and linkedin and see how far twitter can take me and I am looking at Pinterest and have registered an account to start to see how to maximize that online venue.

I hope this article helps you. I will post more on the subject in the coming months.

Happy networking,

Kev