Great photographs are the intersection of three important factors – a great photographic eye, a great photographic situation and a fundamental audience to view and appreciate the result. The old days where people anxiously awaited proofs, visited conventional photo galleries or requested and kept books from stock agencies are history. Today there are countless web sites showcasing the artistic craft of working photographers. These sites are often directly coupled with social media sites or employ technologies like Web 2.0 that allow real, two way communications between audience and artist. In order to get broad exposure of your work, you really need to make some of your best work viewable online. There are many good online vehicles that can showcase photographs. You can create an online gallery and connect it to your website or blog. Another option is to display your work employing dedicated photo-sharing sites like Flickr, Google Albums or SmugMug or you can create display albums using popular social networks like Facebook.
Tip # 1 Blog and Show Off Your Expertise
Most working photographers already have their own website, but if you really want to make the leap and create an online following, add a blog to your website. While your website displays information about yourself, your business and your products, it typically remains relatively constant. Your blog, on the other hand, contains a wealth of information that continuously changes and grows and is actually the focal point of your "social media" strategy. You can blog about any number of things ranging from simple tips and tricks to a narrative of an interest and successful photo shoot. You may review interesting new tools or products or maybe even include comments from some of your customers relating to their views of the photographic experience. Let your imagination go, but you will be surprised how easy it is to come up with truly compelling and interesting content.
Tip # 2 Create a Facebook FanPage … It Is Free and Easy
With over 400 million members, Facebook is a great way to show off your work and subtly advertise your skills. You can create a Facebook "Fan Page," name it and invite others to join. Run a simple contest, post images of your work, talk about your product and maybe even offer occasional specials. Most importantly, offer some simple, yet valuable advice to your target market. Give people a reason to keep coming back and they will become your social network "word of mouth."
Tip # 3 Heard of Google Knol … Give It A Try
Google Knol is an information sharing site (sort of a viral Wikipedia) that allows you to share your unique expertise and knowledge … and build a personal following. You create a Knol through any Google account. Since you are a photographer, make sure to show off your best photographs and include links to the other social sites you are on. Once you have informational articles written for your blog, you can change them up a bit and repurpose them as Knols.
Tip # 4 Expand Your Reach With Be A Photo Sharing Site
Sites like Flickr are not only a great place for showing your photos, they are also a great way to store and reference collections of photographs from other web locations. For example, you can use creative tools like FlickrSlideShow generator to arrange multiple images into a slideshow. Once the show is created, copy the supplied HTML and add it to your blog, Facebook Fan Page or use Twitter to post a link. You can also use Flickr to get great feedback on your work. The network is large and people love to give feedback. If you are worried about copyright they have a great tool PicMarkr which allows you to create a custom watermark and place it on your Flickr images as well as exercise full control over printing and downloads. Not to be outdone, SmugMug, Zenfolio, and Photobucket are other sites that offer similar capabilities. H & H, like many professional labs, also offers studio branded image sharing and output services using our HHImageHost platform. There are lots of powerful options, but an on-line photo sharing and output site will definitely allow you to greatly expand your customer reach.
Tip # 5 Twitter is a Powerful Tool To Awaken Your Audience
Twitter is a powerful public tool but is often misunderstood. When you have new content posted to your blog, photo sharing site or you own site, use Twitter as a pointer to your new content by publishing a few tweets! Remember to ask for feedback. You can us search.twitter.com with an applicable keyword such as "wedding photographer." You can even constrain the search to a zip code or search within a certain mile radius. Once you search collects the applicable audience, tweet them with a link to your content! You will have to brief as Twitter has a message limit of only 140 characters. You probably want to use a URL shortening service such as Bit.ly or TinyUrl for your link to avoid using up too much of the message limit. Twitter does not directly support any attachments, but as usual, a number of third-party services have sprung up to fill the void, although mostly for consumers without personal web sites or blogs. The list expands daily but you might want to check some of them out. Look at Mobypicture, Pikchur, Posterous, Twitpic and TweetPhoto.
As the web moves toward more and more two-way conversation, Twitter is clearly becoming one of the most important ways for people to highlight interesting content. Even though Twitter has a 140 character limit, as the saying goes, a good picture is worth well more than a thousand words!
The options for social media marketing in photography are endless. Used correctly, social media sites can represent strong new marketing tools for photographers, allowing images and compelling content to be broadcast to huge networks of potential customers. But remember, social networks are virtual versions of crowded town squares, where catchy images and compelling content are required to grab the attention of the entire crowd. It may seem like a lot of work, but effective use of social media is a lot like "the miracle of compound interest," your following and reputation will continue to grow as time goes on!