It wasn’t that long ago, Social Media–at least as we know it today–didn’t exist. LinkedIn, one of the oldest networks, launched in 2003. I think we can safely ignore friendster and MySpace, which launched that same year, but that’s when this whole thing began. Now I’m an early adopter of Social Media, so my first LinkedIn profile went up in 2004.
Of course there have been many more networks since those early days and they’ve been constantly evolving over the past decade. (If you want to dive into the most common social networks and how to create content for them, check out Gary Vaynerchuck’s book titled “Jab, jab, jab, right hook.” It’s the best book I’ve read on Social Media.)
Can you afford to ignore 70% of the internet?
Today Social Media is a fact of running a business and like it or not, you have to have a presence on at least some of those networks. Every one of these sites cater to a different audience with a different demographic, so it does take a little homework to figure out where your clients congregate online, but –believe me– they do. An architecture photographer will be on different Social Media that a catalog shooter, but both of them need to be on social media today.
According to Pew Research over 70% of adult internet users are on Facebook. Now you can see that in two ways: 1) you can look at this as a crowded field with a ton of noise. How is anyone even going to hear what you have to say. Or you can see this as a marvelous marketing opportunity: one place to reach 7 of every 10 people.
How clients use social media
In my experience, today’s clients often find their visual content creators online in a simple Google search. Once they’ve found someone who’s work they like, I find that they now search that specific photographer or production house online and expect to find more than only your images. They want to make sure that they will like to work with you, and social media is the perfect place to get a feel for someone’s personality. I’ve had more than a few clients tell me that the reason they are hiring me, is because of who I am online.
How you should use social media
Social Media is the perfect place to let people get to know you. To see how you work and what you’re passionate about. It is not the place for the hard sell. The conversion from Facebook friend, Twitter follower or LinkedIn connection to a paying client needs to happen on your website. Rosh Sillars compares your online presence to a solar system: your website is the sun and all the other sites (your blog, your social media networks, ect.) revolve around it, gently pointing potential clients toward the website.
Rosh reiterated the same thing two weeks ago, when he revealed his Social Media Secrets at#Switch2Social, a workshop that ASMP South Florida sponsored. One of the local speakers we had was a creative director. “I no longer hire any creatives, who do not have a social media presence.” he told us. Ouch! In his words: “Social Media is a great way to find out if someone is a jerk.”
A decade ago your photos alone spoke for you. Heather Elder, a photo rep in California, tells her photographers, that “solely relying on your imagery to speak for you has become dangerous.” She goes on to say that “Adding your voice to that imagery is equally as dangerous, but for everyone else, not you.”
Social Media is the perfect place to make your voice heard.