Social Media Marketing

Facebook, Twitter and My Space, everybody is talking about them, but is social media the new marketing frontier for your business?  Many business people talk about huge returns in using social media marketing,  but it really depends on two things, you and what you are marketing.   First, you don’t need to be on every social media site and it’s best you are not. You must select the social media sites that work best with what you are trying to sell and who you are selling it to.  We are photographers, Facebook is by far the most used and the most user friendly for us since it is set up to be a photo share site.  Twitter works well for some types of clients, while some photographer use My Space although it’s a little scary out there, hence it’s neck name ‘scary space’.  The best way to select the site to use is look at the demographics of each social media site.  We photograph high school seniors, Facebook is the best choice for us.  Another photographer looking for families or Business portraits clients might find Twitter or LinkedIn as better source of prospective clients.

What ever sites you decide to participate in, the key to success in any social media site is to create posts that are interesting.  You also have to learn to sell without selling.   To be consistently interesting means that we all have to deal with our egos and our issues of self-importance.  While there are many things in our daily lives that are humorous and others might find interesting, no one really cares that you are having a latte or just picked up your children from school.  How much personal posting your friend/followers/potential clients can handle depends on who they are.  If you are a young parent and marketing to people for Childrens Photography, you are your demographic, so your friends would be much more interested in your personal life than if you market to high school seniors.  If you want to market in social media to friends/followers that are older or younger than you, set up a personal account for your family and friends and have a separate account for your business friends/followers. We do this on Facebook where we have 2000 friends who are seniors on one account for the studio and over 2000 photographers on another account for all of my books and DVD’s.  This way seniors aren’t bored with posts to photographers and photographers don’t have to read about what my local senior are doing.

In social media there are way too many posts which fit into two categories, you have the warm fuzzies that think that everyone is fascinated with every mundane thing in their lives and then you have the infomercials, which are business people that have the selling subtlety of a used car sales person. As photographers we sell portraits, your friends and followers don’t care about portraits unless they are in them or know someone who is in them.  Before you post anything, you have to put yourself into your friend’s/follower’s shoes and ask yourself, what’s in it for me? and/or if I read this post about a person, I knew very little about, (or just on a professional level) would this be interesting or funny?  Posting photos of clients is always a sure way to get the attention of the person in the portraits and every friend or follower who knows that person.  A post with suggestions on how to prepare for a session has a broader appeal, but is less likely to be viewed/read and add a posting that states that you just updated your website is a yawn, which nobodies cares about because it benefits you, not your friends/followers.

Humor is one way to talk about personal things without putting your friends to sleep.  “I am having coffee” really doesn’t interest any one, “I am having coffee and spilled it on my laptop” adds humor and a little sympathy to the mundane.  “I just picked up my son from school” (who cares) “I just picked up my son from school and he had ripped out the seat of his pants” (funny, in a folksy way)  Even when using humor, most people tend to over-post. I try not to post more than twice a day, but most of the time it’s once a day.  I post in the morning for photographers and evening for high school seniors.  Then, if I have anything comes up during the day I post again after I am done for the day for photographer who are my demographic since most are close to my age and we are in the same profession.  I seldom post more than once a day for seniors, since I am closer to their parent demographic than theirs.

The second group are those business people that take a non-personal approach to social media and just cut to the hard sell.   This is even worse than the warm fuzzies endlessly talking about coffee and their children.  If you fall into this Non-Personal hard-sell category you have missed something, especially with the name “Social Media”.     People want to do business with people they feel are friends or at least friendly.  Posting an ‘occasional’ sale or event is something that might interest friends/followers and even if they aren’t interested, they won’t be put off by it.  Posting sales, events and specials all the time turns you into a nonstop infomerical, which nobody wants.

I personally find twitter is annoying for this reason.  While you have the coffee post-ers you also have the majority of people posting things to get you to come to their blog or website.  Once you go to the website they tell you to download a free this or a downloadable that, only  to find another infomerical about buying one of their products with no benefit or reward for your time if I don’t want to buy what they have for sale.   Capitalism at it’s worst.  It’s like the guy trying to sell life insurance and mutual funds at a funeral.  There is a time and place for everything and while sales drives all of our business, social media isn’t a place for used car sales tactics, not to mention you look desperate.  I have my books linked constantly to my post, but  I give photographers a huge amount of information for free in my posts, my articles on Gather.com, my videos on YouTube and now on our blog.  I truly want to help photographers while I am boosting my book sales.

So in closing, talk about coffee and your kids less, talk about your clients and post their portraits more.  Try getting involved with people before you try selling them something and always put yourself in your friends/follower shoes and ask, “what’s in it for me”?

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on December 6, 2009.

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