Information is one of the most important reasons that people become your fan on Facebook, follow you on Twitter or engage on your blog.
Fan and follower counts mean little without engagement, though, which is why creating sticky content is so important.
What’s sticky content? Too many photographers think it’s their photography.
As photographers, we’re particularly challenged in this area – more so than other categories – because photographs are so easy to share. Social networks literally are constructed to accommodate, if not encourage, this activity.
Sharing our work is a very natural and simple act, but when we break the 80/20 rule a social media monologue results.
And when you (euphemistically, of course!) monologue, you fail to provide value to anyone other than yourself, the photographer seeking awareness of your work. In the process, you’re ignored.
“Value” in a Customer-Driven Marketplace
Consider the advertiser’s context. Traditional media is a one-way, outbound, push model. An advertiser buys space for advertisements designed to sell, and the publisher broadcasts this message.
When tweets and posts of your product — your photography — comprise your online marketing presence, you’re a pusher. Your use of social media is a one-way, outbound model.
This is the typical photographer’s monologue; tweet upon tweet, post upon post…”In case you missed it: [Link to Image]“. “Afternoon repost: [Link to Image]“. “Two Hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail: [Link to Image]“…
So what about your image “Two Hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail”? Who are you talking (pushing) to? Why does anyone care about this image that now floats in a sea of other images delivered by photographers promoting their work in the exact same way?
Social media marketing is not a push model driven by advertisements. It’s an engagement model driven by value. Until you build true engagement, no-one on the receiving end of your push model listens.
Anyone following online marketing trends has heard the words “provide value” echo through the internets. It’s legitimate advice that makes for tweetable headlines, but what does it really mean?
Sorry to disappoint, but “provide value” cannot be defined by a blog post. You, the photographer who seeks leads via online marketing, can’t do it, either.
Only your customers can.
“Value” is the information that helps people become customers.
“Value” is information people search for and use to accomplish a goal, like the purchase of a product or service.
“Value” comes in many forms. A blog post, eBook, or video tutorial. A string in a forum and recommendation from a Facebook friend. A website page with pricing information or third-party product review. And yes, sometimes as a photograph.
“Value” is unique to the objective, and informational needs evolve as people refine their objective (for example, the evolution that occurs as a person progresses from “I want a new camera” to “I want a simple point-and-shoot that captures both jpeg and raw” to “I am considering [camera A], [camera B], or [camera C], each of which meet the criteria I have defined.”).
An Example of Providing “Value”
Consider marriage (no, this isn’t a proposal). So many choices to understand about dresses, cakes, music, location, photographers…by all accounts, it can be a nerve-wracking experience for everyone involved.
This is a huge opportunity for a wedding photographer seeking to drive qualified traffic to her website. What follows is a back-of-napkin approach to this.
In truth, what’s described below would be part of a holistic marketing plan derived from clear and realistic objectives, that’s prescriptive and measurable. But just to get your juices flowing, here goes:
- Develop a glossy, well-written eBook that includes beautiful images of, and helpful information about, the “10 Most Scenic Outdoor Wedding Spots in [Insert Location Here]“.
- Precede the eBook’s release by blogging interviews of clients who got married at these locations, or the people who manage them, describing what makes each place special through their perspectives.
- Create video vignettes of each location. Host them on YouTube and Vimeo, integrating targeted keywords into your video channels, and write posts (using the same keywords) for each video.
- Ask your past clients to share the eBook and blog posts.
- Ask the people who own the locations to do the same. You could even make the eBook available through their blogs and websites…a “featured in” approach.
- Promote your content through your social profiles (assumption: you’ve already cozied up to “influencers” who can help you spread the word / build authority)
- To incorporate lead generation, “gate” the eBook behind an email form. Email is an extremely effective vehicle for driving sales.
Here’s the point: Whatever you do, don’t monologue. Find out what your customers need and then provide value.
Promote your business with the simple act of placing your name on this content. Create a halo of findability around your work by helping people understand the choices they face.
Do you see the difference between this and the social media monologue?
And you know what happens when you do? When you embrace this difference? Customers find you.
According to the 2012 State of Inbound Marketing from Hubspot, blogs are considered the most important media channel. And the reason? Leads from inbound channels (SEO, social media, inbound links or referrals) are as much as five times more likely to become customers than leads from other sources.
The Serious Photographer’s 80/20 Rule for Social Media
It also shows us that for anyone in the market for your product, your photographs are important to their purchase-making process at some point in time. But they need to find you first.
Getting found should be a primary objective to your online markting actions. So stop the chatter. Don’t get tuned out. Get people to tune in by following the 80/20 rule.
From here forward, plan for 80% of your tweets and posts to provide value. 80% of your social media interaction should solve a problem, answer a question…help create an informed purchase decision.
The other 20%? Those can be about your photography, your cat, whatever you want.
Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
sheelamohan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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