TO FACEBOOK OR NOT TO FACEBOOK
THAT IS THE QUESTION...
Ok, so as promised I said I would post a few things I’ve learnt along the way regarding Facebook:
I am self taught and figuring it all out as I go so I am absolutely not claiming to know the answers but I’m just reporting what works for me. I do have a full time secondary teaching job alongside photography, It’s hard work, it takes commitment and a shit load of time but I’m lucky (and unlucky) in some respects that I don’t yet have a family (not through a lack of trying) so I have the motivation and more importantly time to soldier on and put as much energy into my business as I can to better prepare myself for when the time hopefully comes when I do have a family and can give up the day job.
When people say they don't have time, I struggle to understand this, there's always time for this stuff, when you're in a queue, or even having on the loo. Little things mentioned below may just help....
I can easily say that 99% of all my bookings come from Facebook. I have had my first one for November this year come from Instagram, but she is a fashion blogger and therefore I reckon more accustomed to instagram.
I am a Facebooker through and through, though I am trying to understand and learn more about Instagram because I know that in the very short future that’s where referrals will come from. I do still think that people enjoy Facebook as couples are often tagged into posts by their friends and family who tend to be older, and more inclined to use it. In the next 5 years I imagine things will be shifting and the majority of work will come from Instagram as the current 23-24 year olds (Instagram generation) get to their late 20’s and maybe start thinking about getting married.
I believe Facebook allows for greater storytelling which works for me, you can add 10-20 images that tell a whole story and in my personal experience people WANT to see the story, they love the one off gorgeous shots but a lot of feedback I get when I have my couples meetings is that many photographers only show their epic couple shots and neglect the documentary style shots. This makes them feel nervous. Stupid as it sounds, couples (mine certainly - as my couples tend to prefer the documentary style) want to see that I am capable of all the different types of documentary in a wedding.
Facebook is great for reminding guests ‘who the daddy is’ – in other words, guests take a shit tonne of crap iPhone images at a wedding and want to be the first to post these images to show off. Give them 12 hours and then bang, post yours to your page and tag the couple (I'll get onto this bit later). If you do this within 24 hours the wedding is still fresh (along with the hangovers), there is then a direct comparison between a guests photographs and a professionals. This is your advertising – and it’s totally free. Guests and especially exes and uninvited guests will be obsessively scanning the bride and grooms pages to see “who was there, OMG they invited them!’ that’s your free advertising right there. It’s useless doing it 4 weeks later as its old news.
I can honestly say without hesitation that when I do a sneak peek and engage with guests at a wedding I will get 3-4 enquiries that lead to 1-2 more bookings based on this alone.
A bit of a controversial one, but if I feel I have a good connection on a personal level with my couples I may add one or both to my Facebook friends list. I’d like to think that people hire me because they feel comfy and know a little more about me and my personality. By adding them as a friend, when you post your sneak peek, tagging them works really well as it gets distributed to their friends and family.
It isn’t about likes, but unfortunately in this day and age we perceive more likes on social media as greater success. However, like most things in life they can be bought, and that’s absolutely fine. It is not my place to judge others on whether they have bought likes or not all I can report on is what it may or may not look like from a clients perspective - when I was looking for a photographer for my own wedding this quickly came to light.
Obviously there are incredibly talented photographers who simply don’t use social media or don’t know how to get started. As we move to a more online world they will struggle to get the engagement and reach they need. Talent may not outweigh presence which is unfair. In cases like this I can understand if people buy likes.
If you have 10K followers or likes on Facebook/ Instagram but then your engagement on your posts Is 50-60 people then a client will smell a rat. They will immediately think ‘something isn’t right here’. It only take a few things to put people off. If they get a sense that somebody isn’t honest or hiding something then it will influence them in a negative way.
My advice, it takes time. I started my Facebook page 5 years ago, I have (at last count) 1928 likes. On the scale of things that looks pretty crap, however engagement on my posts is around 50-100 every time, and reach between 2000-3000 people. I consider this margin of approx 5% pretty decent. I’m certainly happy with that as I know those likes and that engagement is quality engagement and comments. I also couldn’t handle anymore, the amount of lovely comments to reply too would simply overwhelm me and I would end up saturating the quality of response engagement back - remember, I also work full time. This will be different for those of you who do this full time.
I found out the hard way, don’t buy adverts from Facebook for two reasons. In my opinion, seeing a post that is ‘sponsored’ looks like you’re are struggling. There are other ways to spread the word.
When you boost or buy an advert from Facebook it will may extend your reach to certain targets for a while but then after that it will cripple your engagement. Why? Because simply put, Facebook want you to buy more from them, how are they going to do that? By damaging your engagement. It’s a vicious circle that you should try to avoid. To recover from this it may take you 2-3 months of hard slog and tagging- trust me, I tried it and this is what happened, I'm back on track now after the hiccup of November 2017. That said, I see some big photographers still doing it so maybe I am doing something wrong. To be fair, I was only spending a couple of quid so maybe that's the key?
Look down some of your photographers pages and take note of the engagement. The ones that were sponsored will always have higher numbers and the ones that come afterwards will have very little. unless you are going to invest on every single post you do, I wouldn't bother. It can be great, but it will cost you. I don't do this because I can't handle any more work.
I took the decision to turn on reviews at the start of this year. I was shitting myself. I had panics about people writing 1* reviews because I swore during group shots – (yes it happens, no I’m not apologising – it’s me!) I have around 25 reviews, all of which have a good honest comment.
Again, I was honest and upfront and asked clients to post on my page - I don't ask them to leave a review upon delivering images because I personally don't like feeling like I'm asking. If a couple want to leave a review, they will. I liken it to a waitress pointing out the gratuity button on the card machine.
I see a lot of photographers who have thousands of 5* reviews and upon closer inspection, these are simply a tick and click review which in my opinion can be more damaging than a 1*. By having empty or meaningless reviews it makes clients think that you begged borrowed and bribed your Facebook friends to leave a review. It can give the impression that you are desperate to be rated and can take away the hard work that your actual 4 and 5* reviews get.
Responding to reviews is important, in my opinion it is more important to respond to the bad ones, it shows that you’ve taken their opinions and concerns into consideration. We are all human, we all fuck up at some point and we will (if we have not already) botched a wedding, offended a guest, not delivered something we said we would, accidently photoshopped a spot that was a mole…. The list goes on… and so embrace it, accept it and respond to it. Ignoring it makes you look like you don’t care. Whinging about it makes you look immature and responding with questions on how you could have improved makes you look like you give a shit.
I have a list on my booking form that asks for suppliers and their names/business account so I can work through them and add them on Facebook and Instagram. If I know I’m working with them at the wedding I’ll send out a little ‘Hi, how are you’ message to introduce myself.
Tag suppliers, they appreciate it, and you will get rewarded with a tag, share or mention from them too.
I’ve seen lots of posts recently about disgruntled photographers upset that their brides and grooms sent photos to suppliers and those suppliers have redistributed/ posted without crediting the tog. I don’t think it’s good practise to contact the couple or supplier to ask in retrospect to tag them. It looks a bit shit and possibly tacky. Be organised and be the first to send to the supplier after the wedding…
“Hey, Kathy, your flowers were amazeballs at the weekend, I took a few piccies for you, be grateful of mention, cheers, Jo”
As opposed to:
Err, hello there, you’ve used my images that my really happy bride and groom sent you from their wedding 8 weeks ago and I demand that you tag me in it or pay me a million pounds for the copyright you bastards…..”
What will happen… that supplier will think you’re a bit of a dick and not recommend you to any of their couples.
Or even worse:
Hey Becky and James, I see you’ve sent images to the suppliers and they haven’t tagged me, please can you stop spreading your images everywhere and let me do it so I can get extra business off the back off the best day of your life.
A couple want to think that you invested in their day, you loved their day, that is wasn’t just a conveyor belt of weddings you have done (we know it is- but the couple shouldn’t) in order to get you to the next one. By reminding them that you are a business, it takes the magic and individuality away from their day and reminds them that getting married is a common thing, even though for them it was the most magical day ever.
Take note of little details on the wedding day, names of wedding party, funny things that happened, key moments. Jot it down in a notepad or the notes section of your phone. This will allow you to write a short and sweet post to accompany your sneak peek. Couples love the fact you took the time to bother to remember things. That you remembered important aspects, names and people.
Rather than a sentence that says
“Matt and Graces wedding at Doddington Hall, what a great day!”
Again – that conveyor belt is whirring!
I found this out in September last year by complete accident and have stuck with it since. When you post a wedding, tag couple, tag suppliers, write a heartfelt post, post a story of images the likes and comments will come, maybe not straight away, but they will. Our first reaction is to reply to all comments straight away in fear of looking rude. Don’t, wait till the next day, or next prime time for posting. Reply then and this will repost your sneak peek on all friends of both you and the tagged couples into their newsfeed. Essentially re sharing. From that reply you may get 2-3 more likes, again, spreading the word. Repeat this every few days to keep the lifespan of your post going.
Try it on your next post. Measure the initial reach after 24 hours and then measure again after a week upon replying to a comment at least 4 days after the original post. See how those numbers change.
CHOOSE WHO TO POST
Be clever with your posts. I see a lot of photographers who specialise in beautiful couple shots just post the couple. If you post a few with guests in they are more likely to get a higher engagement. Couples will tag family members, bridesmaids, the embarrassing bloke who got too pissed. The funnier the better - these photos will get you noticed. Obviously make sure when it comes to kids that you've got permission to post online.
Simple. Think about when you are more likely to browse Facebook… use this to plan your posts.
Every evening between 7-9 pm, teatime, brew time, adverts in between Corrie.
Saturday Mornings – 8-10am – lie-ins, watching kids at football, watching kids at swimming
Sunday mornings – repeat as above only breakfast in bed
Sunday Evenings – The biggy (6-10pm) people are depressed to be going back to work and so in a desperate attempt to forget it then bury their heads in their phone. Bam – extra engagement.
Linking social media accounts:
I get it, its time consuming but I manage it and I work full time. Try and make time for it, eventually it will pay off and you won’t have to work as hard, clients will just fall at your lap.
Personally for me, linking accounts looks lazy. If you’re going to link, why bother, just have one or the other. There is absolutely no point in repeating a post. Remember Facebook is now the go to tool for the older generation and Instagram for the young uns. You need to differentiate (sorry – teacher mode there) both target platforms. Personally I’ve tried linking blog posts from my website to Facebook and I get zero engagement – mainly because as I admitted before, I don’t know what I’m doing, or even why I have a website, SEO to me means nothing. Sorry – rephrase, SEO means spending money! I’m a teacher, I’m tight AF.
I will admit to linking my instagram and Facebook stories - mainly because I can't be arsed to do them one by one.
So as I mentioned before, this is all me, I have not researched anything or been to any events to help me with this, this is purely info picked up over time that works for me. It won’t be the same for everybody but there may be something in there for you to take away and work on.
If anybody has any questions feel free to fire them over, in return, if anybody has any golden tips on Facebook or Instagram then please fire them to me: I’m happy to admit I’ve taken everything I know about instagram from Looks Like Film, Agnes Black, Love Luella and various other photographers and sites when it comes to Insta - so thank you for that you guys :)
Links to their pages; Agnes Black Engagement Group, lookslikefilm
Hope this can help in some way.