Dear Socially Stephanie,
I'm a wedding photographer, and I'm interested in learning more ways to attract new customers through social media.
During the season I'm so busy shooting and traveling that I seem to have a surplus of content but never the time to post it. But I made it a goal to get active on social media this summer no matter what. Any tips to making my brand well known in the wedding circle?
Wedding Woes in Washington
Dear Wedding Woes:
Ahh...weddings. Working with the bridezillas of the world has both its pros and cons, of course. But hey, what business doesn't? The beauty of the wedding industry is that it is social media gold.
First things first: update your website. Your website is your owned property; if you will be spending a lot of effort driving traffic to it by increasing your exposure through social media, you don't want your website to lose the lead for you simply because it isn't updated. Put your best work on the home page, add a few testimonials from glowing new wives, and make sure that there is a clear way for future brides to contact you.
Now create a blog -- yes, a blog! I hear you saying, "But I'm a photographer, not a writer." Stop saying that. Here's why: while websites serve as place holders, blogs serve as lead generators. The easiest way for people to find you online is through keywords and search engines. Tumblr is an easy-to-use microblogging platform for image-heavy blogs, so set up a blog there and use it to post a photo a day with targeted keywords and descriptions that will drive traffic to your site. These could be locations that you've shot in, cities you are willing to travel to, or themed weddings. This is what brides are searching for. You want them to find you and be wowed with your work. The more you update your blog, the more keywords you can use and brides-to-be you can reach.
Once you've got your blog up and running, let's turn to social, shall we? Brides love to share pictures of what they imagine their wedding will be like, the style of the event they want, and the types of pictures they will ask their photographer to take. (I just got married...so I should know!) Each of your blog posts should include an option for the reader to share it on their favorite bridal websites, such as Pinterest & Lover.ly, a Pinterest-style site that's only for weddings. BINGO! Direct target audience for you, brought to you by visitors to your blog.
Since a lot of your referral traffic will come from these sites, make sure to optimize the photos you add to your site and blog: include your own name in the file name of each photo before uploading it. File name becomes the image title when you share on sites like Pinterest and Lover.ly, so this way, when people share it, your name will be in the title of the post by default. Branding in one easy step.
You want most of your traffic to come from people sharing your content. This will make your life easier because others are doing the work for you while you are out shooting. But in the beginning you should be fairly active to get your network growing. Set up accounts on Pinterest and Lover.ly and share all of your photos. Create boards that are useful to people: a colored wedding guide, a wedding photo ideas board, and other themed boards. Keywords are important on these sites. Use them to your benefit and make sure you have your contact details in the description so that you're easy to reach.
Looking ahead: once your busy wedding season is over, if you are really feeling ambitious, do a little blog outreach. There are tons of blogs that post "real weddings." Not only are these some of the most pinned and shared sites out there, they also have a huge following. Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, and Bridal Musings are three great sites to start with. If they feature your work, they will credit you and send traffic to your site. They also have advertising options which can be a bit more affordable than Facebook or Google advertising.
Then again, while Facebook advertising can be expensive, it shouldn't be overlooked. Since you can find people who were just engaged in your specific target area, this can be a great option to gather real leads. I have experience with CPC (cost per click) and CPM (cost per mille); in this situation, I'd recommend using CPC and direct brides to be to a specific landing page on your website where you can capture their emails. Try keywords like "bride-to-be" and target people who are connected to some of the larger wedding websites, like those I mentioned above. And offer them a small discount to sweeten the deal.
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Please email [email protected] and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)
Illustration by Jesse Wells