The Value of Social Networks - 10 Rules for Photographers
Social and social-business networks (Facebook, Myspace, Linked-in, Xing or my favourite Ecademy) are proliferating – and are increasingly becoming messaging networks. Meanwhile messaging networks such as Twitter are becoming social networks. Also databases – especially photographic databases such as iStockphoto and Flickr are putting in networking (forum) facilities and messaging capabilities.
You are probably a one-man (or one-woman) band. You can’t afford much advertising. Good use of the networking channels is free advertising – and if you use the right tools, it should not be too time consuming either. Our space advertising budget is NIL. As they say ‘Social netowking is a great leveller’. Indeed we have an advantage. We can say what we want (within reason). If we worked for big companies we would have to be kept ‘on message’.
How does the photographer use these to advantage.
1. Get your name around on as many channels as possible. More people will see it – and where they are public there will be links to your web site improving its Google rating.
2. Create your own groups. I have created groups on Facebook and Linked in. I will be doing it on Twitter. This is especially important if you have an area of competence and you want to be the expert. My subject is of course making your own photo album.
3. That leads me to having your own blogs on the networks that you choose to develop and then putting links to them by teaser blogs in many places.
There are my 10 rules.
1. If you are on a channel which does not encourage advertising then don’t advertise. Be informative – you will get respect. I have learned the hard way and was banned from some forums. Fortunately you can change the persona and go back the right way.
2. Find the networks where your customers hang out. Then become ‘the expert’ there. Where you see questions in forums answer them – with a link to your site (especially a relevant blog). If you have to pay a litte to become a premium user - it is often worth it.
3. Make the information relevant to your marketplace. If you are a wedding photographer in Cambridge then make your articles relevant - “The venues where you can get settings for the best wedding photographs in the Cambridge area”
4. Explot the strenghts of each network. They are all different. Whilst you cannot be a specialist on all of them try and tailor your content to the expectations of that network.
5. Don’t give away everything at once. If you have the next item in your mind. Write it – then publish it two weeks later. See below.
6. Have several personas - If you have 2 or 3 specialities then have a Facebook entry for each (you are allowed only one personal one so use 'pages' or groups for the other. Have several Twitter identities . You don't want to mix up business and family/social.
7. Have a hierarchy of information. The full article should be on your website – or if you have a blog on Wordpress or Blogger – there. You should not duplicate the article round the place – it will distract from your website (where you want people to come and enquire) and Google does not like duplicate content. So vary the wording. Other postings should be teasers. I do series of 10 tips e.g Ten Tips to transform wedding photos into wonderful preserved memories. You will find the full 10 on my OPUSalbums.com – but then I issue one tip at a time through various channels – e.g Ecademy which has a very good Google rating. My tip No 9 has had 1889 clicks. How many ended up back on my site – and how many became customers?
8. Have a consistent style.
9. Use short items to direct and proliferate. That is where Twitter – which I must confess I am only just getting the hang of – is important. You are forced to write short items - 140 characters – you can include a URL – and there are tools to repost – the item on many other networks such as Facebook and Plaxo. (I’m reading Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time, by Joel Comm).
10. Finally be selective. I reserve one day a week to develop the network. There is still much to be done.
There is much written – most of which is freely available. In my next posting on this subject I will list those I have found useful.
If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to place messages any of my social networks, tweet me – or even e-mail email@example.com
Here are some of my networks
My entry - Daniel Roberts
Groups- OPUSalbums Group
Twitter – OPUSalbums_dan
Social Business networks
Wordpress – for themes
Blogger – for individual articles
Start at my Blogger Profile