I must admit, I’m not an SEO or Social Media guru. In fact, on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being extremely interesting), I’d give this topic a 3. But, after reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” (which I would give a 10), I’ve shifted my thinking entirely. I also realized why, the topic has had little interest for me – most of the books, articles and blogs I had read were full of formulaic tips – but none of the advice and tips felt like a good fit who I was and what I had to offer. And in fact if I had applied some those tips to my blog or my Facebook posts, I would have done myself and my business a disservice by not being “myself” – or authentic.
Some social media marketing mistakes to avoid:
Putting the wrong content on a platform – Each platform, (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram etc.) has it’s own “native” language or how the community communicates and interacts with one another. A good marketer understands that “context” is just as important as content. Your content must provide the same value to the viewer that is native to that platform. Your content should fit in with what drives people to that platform.
Content is not memorable – Your content should be something that people want to share. Facebook uses edge rank, which determines who and how many people see your posts. The more shares, comments and likes, the better your edge rank and the more people who see your posts. Keep your content, informative, entertaining or both and give people the desire to share.
Selling too often – You have to “give” more than you “sell” on social media platforms. If every post you make is a pitch for your products, no one will be interested, let alone want to share them.
Text is too long – Twitter has a cut off, but Facebook doesn’t. Keep in mind that more and more people are viewing your posts on mobile devices and simply won’t read lots of information. Provide more info via links. Make sure your text is provocative and entertaining.
No use of imagery – If you don’t have an image in your posts on platforms like Facebook or Tumblr, you won’t attract attention. People will just move on to something that catches their eye on their news feed. And, make sure the images you post are good and professional – they’re a reflection of your business. Make sure you overlay your logo on your images.
No call to action – Remember you are ultimately selling your products and your services, so don’t forget to give your viewers a call to action. But don’t confuse them by giving them too many.
A few years ago I heard visionary Ray Kurzweil speak at NAB (National Association of Broadcasting). He was talking about the exponential rise of technology and how that would profoundly change people’s lives – and was. His focus and predictions were mostly related to the advances we’ll see in medicine, but he relayed an analogy that has stuck with me. He said: (and I’ll paraphrase) that if you were in the horse and buggy industry at the turn of the century and thought of yourself as someone who sold buggies and whips, you most likely would have gone out of business. But if you were in the horse and buggy business and thought of yourself in the transportation business you most likely would have adapted, recognized that the future of transportation was in motor transport – and thrived.
The thing is, the ones who adapted early on – before the majority did – were the ones who made fortunes. The ones, who waited until everyone embraced the automobile, either struggled to keep pace with the competition or died out. I think we are at a tipping point as far as the future of the still photography business. If we continue to think of still photography and motion as being two separate entities in the business of visual communications, it will be our demise.
Change never happens overnight. Change is slow. No one gets to be 400 lbs overnight; it’s a slow process. But once it happens, it’s really hard to get back on track. The changes that are taking place in the way we communicate are monumental, unlike any changes in the past. I used to shoot a lot of annual reports, but not so many anymore. I used to make a large portion of my income from the licensing of my stock images, but that income has dropped significantly because everyone has a camera and the supply of images is more than the demand.
I’m not an alarmist in predicting this change and in fact for someone my age who is on the tail end of his or her career, I wouldn’t be alarmed at all. However, if I were just starting out in photography or even in my late 40’s or early 50’s and had another 20 + years ahead of me, I would not be complacent.
Some things still photographers should be thinking about:
Understand that there will probably not be a divide between the still photography and motion businesses. This is really hard to envision because we tend to see things, by looking at the future in terms of the knowledge that we have on hand today. But with motion cameras able to shoot 96 frames a second, and each frame being good enough to pull out and used as a still image, the changes for still photographers will be profound.
The concerns are not like those that a still photographer has had to face in the past, like when digital replaced film or when one needed to reinvent themselves as their markets changed. (For example when car shooters were phased out by CGI artists) Shooting motion is a different mindset all together. It also has profound differences in the way you run your business. While a still photographer of today, may find opportunities to shoot motion for their existing still clients, that too is rapidly changing. I don’t think this will be an option much longer for still photographers. I think that motion shooters will be shooting motion and in the process creating stills as opposed to still photographers providing the motion content and the stills. Just like a professional still photographer distinguishes his or herself from an amateur photographer who has an expensive camera, so do motion shooters distinguish themselves from the still photographer who seems to have little regard for the craft and knowledge of motion and thinks they will “just” start shooting motion when the time comes. It’s not going to be “just” that simple, especially if you’re late to the game.
Understand that technology affects everything and will continue to do so. You may think in terms of what’s possible today and that it would be incredibly labor intensive to go through tens of thousands of motion frames to pull out still images. But advances in technology will change that as well in the future. Technology affects everything. Realize that software is changing too and that the edit process for pulling out frames will be easier and more streamlined in the future. In fact, an editor’s job description will change greatly and that may be a job that is in high demand in the future. Even now, just do a quick search on LinkedIn and you’ll see that while there are very few job listings for still photographers, there’s a lot of demand for video editors.
Bottom line – start recognizing that photography and video are not separate businesses any longer. Start understanding that will have an affect on the future of the still photography business especially in terms of licensing, because traditionally motion camera operators work under work for hire agreements. While still images won’t go away, that doesn’t mean that still photographers will be creating them in the future.
This past weekend I put together a presentation on Social Media Tips for the group, Professional Women Photographers, this coming Wednesday, Jan. 6th in New York City.
Here are a couple of tips that I will talk about.
• Be consistent and strategic with your “brand” – Create a plan. Who are you? What do you have to say?
• Listen first – then engage in the conversation.
• Build your community – Who will you follow? Who do you want to attract?
• Be authentic and share – provide value – relevant and useful content.
• Don’t sell.
• Use links – provide news.
• Create and sort groups of Facebook “friends” – separate personal and business “friends”
• Set up a Facebook Fan Page for your business – complete the profile, including photo.
• Take part in discussions or answers on Linkedin.
• Set up an editorial calendar for blog – this will give you a structure.
• Comment on other blogs – become an expert.
• Use tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, SocialOomph, SocialToo, Ping.fm, involver – to organize and automate tweets.
• Don’t create tweets with more than 120 characters – leave room for retweets
• Use www.search.twitter.com for topics and people
• Set up “alerts” with Google alert or tweetbeep – to see where your name is being mentioned
• Use @(name) in tweet for someone who is not a follower
• Set up a daily routine – will help with time management
John Lennon once voiced in a song “everybody’s talking and no one says a word”. That was 30 years ago – way before social media. Nowadays it seems like everyone is talking – everywhere – a constant electronic pipeline into our lives. But with all this talking I wonder sometimes if anybody is really being heard. And isn’t that the point – to be heard?
I admit I’m guilty of the same thing. The very fact that I write a blog adds to the cyber babble. To be honest I really do it for myself. It helps me focus my thoughts. Sometimes what I write is not meant for anyone other than myself or maybe a close friend. Other times, I put it out there when I feel I have something to share. And every once in a while I say something that resonates with someone “out there” and a connection is made. And that can be a powerful thing.
That’s the appeal of social media – to connect with others. A basic human need. Ironically sometimes we spend so much time in the cyber world “connecting” we become more insular in the process. And when we do spend face-to-face time with others – many of us are multitasking plugged into whatever portable devices we have at the time. In other words not totally “there”.
These days I try to manage the time I spend on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and so on. It can be a real time suck if you’re not careful about managing your time. I go online with the social media sites 2 or 3 times a day and I give myself time limits when I do. It’s all about maintaining a balance.
Ultimately all this talking we do on social media platforms is not good or bad – it’s not that black and white. I’ve made some incredible connections through social media. I’ve also reconnected with people I’ve lost track of over the years. I’ve promoted my business utilizing social media and gotten work from people I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. But I’ll always prefer a real connection with people – outside the cyber world. I think most people do – that’s just being human.
There’s a lot of talk these days about technology. Should I get a video camera or a hybrid camera? Should I twitter? Should I connect on Linkedin and Facebook? Should I upload videos to YouTube? Perhaps the question most people overlook is asking themselves why? And if they do ask themselves why – what kind of answers do they give themselves?
There is no one answer for everyone. But the worst way to try to answer those questions is to say because everyone else is. However, here are some possible answers to the question why?
Should I buy a video camera or the best video camera like the RED? Ask yourself if you want to target clients who are using more and more video. How are they using video – online? Broadcast? If the answer is online then perhaps the RED camera is a more expensive option than needed for something that will be output for online purposes. If your answer is broadcast then understand that those needs are high end and may require a high end camera. But don’t stop there. Ask yourself if you want to just be a shooter or do you want to play a bigger role in the production. Ask yourself if you are willing to devote the time necessary to learn these new skills of how to shoot motion. Ask yourself what are the markets that you want to work in. If you are leaning towards videojournalism, then perhaps the RED is not the camera for you. You may be better off with something more discreet.
Should I get a Facebook profile? Should I twitter? Should I use Linkedin? I’m a firm believer in utilizing all these platforms but only after you have come to an understanding of how and why. Each one of these platforms has the potential to either create awareness and strengthen your brand or do harm to your brand if you haven’t come to terms with who are you trying to target and why? Furthermore, you need to know that Facebook and Twitter are ways to give insight into your personality as opposed to Linkedin which is more of a professional networking platform. You should also realize that social media is all about sharing. So if your motives are to sell and promote in a direct way – it will be self defeating. Sharing builds trust. Sometimes that takes time. You need to be consistent and you need to be sincere. You need to be authentic. When you share and are sincere and are coming from a “right place”, good things will ultimately come from that.
Lastly, embrace technology because it enables you to go after opportunities. It levels the playing field. No longer do you need Hollywood budgets and big crews to tell a story in motion. No longer do you need the “gate keepers” to write the rules of who gets published and who doesn’t. Anything is possible because technology empowers all of us to fulfill our dreams. But you need to define your dream first. Only you can do that for yourself.