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Twook To Build Your Brand
Social Media, Networking and Marketing
Seems like everyone twooks about what they know, what they do or can do. Twook(ing) is working Twitter and Facebook to your advantage. The Internet community is either tweeting or facebooking their messages—usually with the same goal, to hook an audience and build their brand. The business and marketing savvy photographers recognize the value that a social strategy brings, though the confusion usually lies in understanding how to use social media, social networking, and social marketing effectively for today’s photographer. It’s important to understand these tools as a photographer because they are a must to survive in this digital climate.
While social networking starts with social media, what people rarely see are the networking cables, fiber and servers it takes to get it all online.
First, because they are often confused as one, lets define the differences between the terms social media, social marketing and social networking, as they all play an important part in today’s world of economic survival and branding. Social Media means broadcasting through a social channel—in essence, Facebook and Twitter, are very large social networks themselves, but in reality, they are the social media channels—like your television channels, though the difference lies in that you get to dictate the programming content of your channel, which then becomes your social network that allows for your social marketing. You define your channel and if your strategy works, stick with it, think of CBS verses HBO, or the Speed Channel verses the Discovery channel. It’s all about programming your content, not reinventing the wheel.
According to Wikipedia, “Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue…which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”
As an example, you can control what you tweet on Twitter, what photos you upload on Facebook, which then drives the interaction from your generated content, i.e., engagement, discussing photos, dialogue over comments, posting helpful links to articles or stories on other sites, etc. In the end, for the photographer, this is your marketing, which hopefully will grow your brand.
Remember, the Internet is the Great Equalizer! That’s the beauty of this wired and wireless world today, everyone starts with zero friends, zero likes, zero retweets, zero tweets, zero followers, zero fans, etc., basically, the playing field is level for everyone. The only real difference between existing photographers’ social networks and yours is they have the first mover advantage—which means if you’re not on Twitter or Facebook now, your competitors are, and it’s a tough hill to overtake—but there’s hope, Facebook did it to Myspace. Regardless, social media, social networking and social marketing is a must for today’s photographer if you plan on surviving.
You can build a strong brand through the Internet.
Here’s a simple way to look at it:
1. Identify the social media you need—for a photographer, the must have basics are Twitter, Facebook and a blog, period! Anything beyond those social media channels is great too, such as Flickr and Linkedin, as it all boils down to marketing everywhere you can—think product (brand) diffusion. You can have the greatest talent in the world, but if know one knows you’re out there, no one cares and your brand (sales) will suffer!
2. Identify your social networking content so your friends and followers will engage and interact, think of it as you now need to build your audience and identify what do they want? What do they need? What do you want them to want? How do you make them stick around and become loyal to you so they can toot their horns about you?
Stickiness comes from keeping your audience not only entertained, but giving them something of value to look forward too—you have to keep them coming back to build your brand and to build your demand. The concept here is to establish a proactive relationship between you and your followers or fans so as you build your brand, they are building their identity in your network to you and the within the network itself.
3. Identify your social marketing strategies. Once you start building your network(s), how do you let the potential audience know? How do you keep them once you get them? How do you find them? How do you grow the audience? Social marketing works two ways here, marketing to make your social network popular to build your brand while attracting an audience and marketing to that audience, aka, your followers and fans.
Once you’ve identified these three requirements, the success of it all relies on what you put into it such as time and effort. While it’s easy to say, “You build it, they will come,” it’s harder to keep them, so map out some “engagement and retainment” strategies.
Engagement strategies (philosophies) include, interaction and constantly providing fresh content. You will have to determine how often you interact and update your content, as a minimum, try to interact and engage your fans and followers daily, if not at least several times per week. Don’t tweet, “I’m brewing coffee before I head off to the shoot,” instead, tweet, “I’m packing my Canon 85mm F/1.2 lens for today”s #photo shoot because I need the #bokeh effect it offers for a great #portrait.” Notice the hashtags (#’s) an important marketing tool used by top twitters to get noticed even more on Twitter.
According to Twitter Fan Wiki, “Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They”re like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.”
That status statement or tweet above is only 127 characters and that’s important because Twitter only lets you broadcast 140 characters and Facebook allows 420—this is key because you don’t want to use Facebook as Twitter—know the difference. Twitter is a great tool for instant updates into your day and what you’ve discovered as the subject matter expert for your followers. Facebook is a great tool to expand on why you’re a subject matter expert, so for your Facebook status, you might say, “I packing my Canon 85mm F/1.2 lens for today”s photo shoot because I need the bokeh effect it offers for a great portrait. I’m known for my photographic style of utilizing the lack of depth of field when shooting at low apertures. What’s your photographic style?”
That’s 264 characters. Both Twitter and Facebook count the blank spaces in case you audited my counts. The beauty of both status messages is that they tell your audience your tools of choice for creating your style of an effective portrait for your client. You are educating your followers, perhaps beginning photographers, or perhaps potential clients.
It’s all about establishing your identity as model Candice Marie has done with social networking.
While you might not necessarily get any retweets out of that tweet message, you’ll certainly get back-links to your Twitter profile from the hashtags and might gain more followers—and you never know who your followers might be—one of my followers sold his business for $450 million dollars years ago and became one of my photography clients. You just never know. There are success stories out there from Facebook and Twitter from relationship building through social media, social networking and social marketing. Many unknowns are somebody today, thanks again, to the Internet, or what I term as The Great Equalizer.
Everyone starts out at zero, even celebrities, when they first come on board the Internet—while social media is available from the first day you log on, whether it be your smart phone or your laptop, it’s still up to you to create your social networks and build them through social marketing. It’s your name, your talent, your brand, but it’s up to you to get it out there, the Internet won’t do it for you automatically—until you first establish your brand through social media, networking and marketing.
Speaking of you never know, no matter how you go after building your audience, one great builder of fans and followers comes from maintaining a blog. Here again, you have to identify what type of content your blog will offer for your audience to enjoy, engage and expand. Take the Twitter tweet and Facebook status message above then expand it to a blog topic, such as, “The Benefits of an 85mm Lens For Portraits.” This blog article is basically an expansion of what you set out to do for the day, taking great portraits with a medium telephoto lens. Keep the article from 600 to 800 words, though sometimes you’ll have longer blog articles because topics of great interest often require more content to deliver the message more thoroughly, as in this blog article.
Now that you’ve identified your social media channels and have built your network(s), work on retention. This comes from keeping your content fresh, reasonably updating your status messages, interacting with your @mentions on Twitter and comments on Facebook—people want a sense that you matter to them, a sense of belonging to your community.
If you don’t use social media, networking and marketing, you’ll just drown in a sea of others.
You have to give back, you just can’t take, its not all about you, it’s what you bring to them, your audience. Think of it as tooting your horn without tooting. Bottom line, if you’re not twooking or facehooking, you’re just another photographer floating in an ocean of ships filled with people passing you by without waving. You have to wave at them first and give them a reason to wave back so they can approach you, find out who you are, and become your friends and followers—your audience—they will help you build your brand, a brand does not build itself.