I arrived home late last night from my first time at WPPI. I was lucky enough to be asked to be on a panel at the conference and they put me on the one about social media. If you follow me you know what I think about social media. It’s a free marketing tool, but shouldn’t be relied on for ALL of your bookings.
I was the only photographer on the panel that had less than 20k followers, and it doesn’t matter to me if I ever reach that number. I care less about the amount of followers I have and more about connecting with the people who already follow me. Obviously, everyone has a different strategy and no one way is wrong, but there’s such a huge disconnect in ideologies when it comes to social media. I just wanted to share where I am on the subject.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for social media. Facebook ads allowed me to book my first year of weddings and I do book a lot from instagram now. BUT if social media were to completely go away, my business would be fine. That’s not the case for a lot of photographers I know, and if they continue down that road I wonder where they’ll be 10 years from now. SEO is King and we know google and other search engines aren’t going away, so why do we put so much emphasis on instagram?
I think the promise of fame has led some to believe that numbers equal money and bookings. It’s why we have so many people who buy followers or play the follow/unfollow game. I can guarantee that a lot of the photographers who have a K next to their name on instagram, aren’t actually doing as well business wise as they’d have you believe. What I would be more interested in is the interaction on their posts. If I go to an account that has 50K followers and they’re only getting 300 likes and 2 comments, it makes me believe that they’re one of the many who bought their fame.
I thought of a really great analogy while attending the parties in Vegas. A huge following can be a lot like walking into a crowded nightclub. You can’t really see anyone and you definitely can’t hear what anyones saying. The people dancing mindlessly and don’t notice you are most of your followers. Meanwhile if you have a smaller more genuine following it’s a lot like a cocktail party. You walk in and it’s a much quieter environment with less people who actually want to hear what you have to say. So, which one would you rather have?
Another issue with social media is that we are too concerned with aesthetics. So many of us want to only shoot our ideal client, and that normally means rich hipsters who have that bohemian look that’s featured a lot. Which also means that we aren’t giving all of our clients the same service. How many of you out there have failed to post at least one image from a wedding or session because it didn’t fit your ‘aesthetic’? Why do you care about that more than your clients feelings?
It’s our job to make a $5,000 budget wedding look like a $50,000 wedding, or make a $50,000 wedding look like a $100,000 wedding. If we aren’t able to shoot each and every client in a way that fits into our feed, then we aren’t servicing our clients in the best way possible. Even the weddings we’re least looking forward to deserve to be shot in a beautiful way that showcases our abilities. Every client is social media worthy and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we’ll gain a following that actually connects with us.
We should be so inspiring, while shooting and posting on social media, that it makes our clients WANT to be photographers. This is our job and no one else is holding us accountable. At a certain point we have to start holding ourselves to a higher standard. Be authentic in a real way, not in the live authentic fake type of way. We can do better and our clients deserve to be shown on our feeds. They’re the ones who make us.. not features or wedding blogs.