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Over the course of the last few months, we've covered the bare basics of social media. In a field that's constantly evolving, your education shouldn't stop here! What are some easy places to get your social media quick fixes as you continue on this journey? Well, we have a few recommendations to keep you on your path to enlightenment.

Mashable: Get your geek on with daily social stories. Some are fluff (like the "The 10 Most Epic Celebrity Twitter Fights"), but there's a lot of quality information at your fingertips to gain inspiration and knowledge from. Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to get your daily dose in small portions (and like their "Watercooler" for silly posts, many times involving cute cat videos). 

SmartBlog: Smart Blog is another wonderful source for a social media blog. It'll talk about great topics like "Why you should plan like your life depends on it" or "Grading retailers's social back-to-school promotions." Just because they aren't in photography, that doesn't mean you won't learn something awesome!

PhotoShelter: Photoshelter is the bombdiggity for free guides on photography specific social media. We love their free guides! Check in with them often to see their latest and greatest white paper on the topics (always good to like them on Facebook too!)

HubSpot: These guys are social media pros! They have fixes for everything, from boring cover photos to improving your social work flow or making sure your emails get opened by your clients. They also sell software to help manage social media--so there may be the occasional plug--but overall they are a really stellar source for great content.

SmartBrief: Get geeky with all of the big picture stuff on SmartBrief. These guys won't tell you how to improve your tweet-game, but they will tell you all the news about mobile marketing for the Asia-Pacific region (and other really cool topics). If you're a social media nerd--this is an excellent spot to spend some time each day. 

theLoop: Join theLoop's Marketing community to see what your fellow photographers are up to. Discuss ideas, talk about successes and learn from each other's mistakes! Remember--this is an exclusive benefit for only PPA members, so you'll have some wonderful photographers to learn from!

LinkedIn: Join some LinkedIn groups that are focused on social media/marketing! Subscribe to their daily digest and review it (yes, every day) to see if any topics pop out as something that would be interesting for your business! Just because it's not about photography doesn't mean there aren't key parallels to pull from.

So subscribe away! Join their email lists, like them on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter! Keep up your social media education--it's evolving daily and many of these changes can alter how your posts are distributed. 

Have other social media sources you love? Leave them in the comments! 

This is post 7 of 7 in the Be More...Social series. Read the other posts in the series using the links below:

Basic definitions? Check! 
A better understanding on who is on what platform? Check!
Setting an overall strategy for success? You bet! 

The next step in your social media basic training: planning your attack! This week we'll cover how you can best utilize your time while on the World Wide Web). It's great to post things as they happen, but let's face it; life has a tendency of getting in the way there is nothing worse than going to create a post, and getting distracted by your friend's dog's birthday party pictures...

To start, think about theming your posts for each day of the week, so you're at least posting once per day, then sprinkling in additional content as it comes! If you ever get in a bind about what to post, find something that would fit the theme and 9 times out of 10, you'll be good to go! Some themes that might work for your studio:

  • Behind the scenes: Editing images, clients getting ready, some (appropriate) office jokes, new props or backdrops, anything that would make you (and your company) stand apart from the other guys in town.
  • Sneak peeks: The images don't need to be perfect, but once a first round of edits have been done, post your favorite images from past sessions and tag your clients! This can be done on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (or Instagram it and share it on Twitter and Facebook for even larger reach).
  • Community involvement: If you do charity work or teach classes, share why you do it and what you get out of it. And of course, snap some quick pictures to share!
  • Staff highlights: If you have other photographers, interns or anyone else that's around, do some quick interviews to help your public get to know everyone better (this includes yourself)! People like to do business with people they like and are familiar with. Social media is an easy way to earn interest and more love from your audience. 
  • Session tips: Give pointers on what to wear (or better yet, what not to wear), makeup and hair tips, smiling pointers and anything else that you think would make your clients feel more comfortable in front of your camera. 
Consider associating each one of those themes with a day of the week. It'll be easier to space out your content so you're not talking too much about one thing at any given point in time.

When you post, remember that you're a photographer, so use those images! Posts with images, regardless of platform, always trigger better engagement (getting more likes, comments, etc.). And to lighten the load, repurpose you content--so take the picture on Instagram, then share on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter (or post the video on YouTube and share it across your other networks).

Now down to the nitty gritty. You know what to post, but how do you do it without spending countless hours on the computer? There are a few wonderful options that will save you time, energy and get you back to what you love.

For Facebook:

Facebook allows you to schedule posts within your page. Just type up your post, add your photo, and click the clock symbol in the bottom left corner of the post box. Use the drop down menu to schedule your post down to the minute! The benefit of posting through Facebook than HootSuite (which we'll cover in a moment) is the ability to track your post's Insights. If you schedule through a third-party social site, it won't allow you to see how viral your stuff gets. That goes back to tracking and measuring your results.

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For Twitter & Google Plus:

HootSuite is a gem. It's great because it's free (for the basic version), it's simple and you can manage multiple accounts through one platform. You can schedule your posts one at a time, or you can schedule them in bulk for just $9.99/month for a Pro account (if you have a lot to tweet, you might welcome the $10...it'll save you some time). 

If you can do the bulk feature, download their sample CSV file so the date/time and tweet (and links) are formatted properly. Here is a pro tip: in the column after the links, use the formula =LEN(cell). This Excel formula actually counts your characters for you! You won't be stuck with an error message that your tweets are too long! If your tweet includes a link, it will account for 20 characters of your 140 limit. (If you're using it to post to Google +, forget about the character limit!) This is a really fantastic way of promoting your blog posts (we talked about those in SEO, remember?).

Not a fan of dealing with the formula's in Excel? We've made you a sample CSV for you here: TwitterCSV.xlsx  

To publish in bulk, Click the paper airplane (Publisher) on the left side, and select "Schedule In Bulk." This screen will pop up, just select your file, select which platform it's going to (it can go to multiple ones at once, but we don't suggest that. Each platform has a different audience and therefor the messages should be tweaked).

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A few other pro tips: You cannot schedule the same tweet twice, so although you might want to reiterate the same message a few times to get your point across, change up the verbiage! It's actually a good thing and helps avoid some spammy-looking tweets.

Posting times must end in either 5 or 0, so there's no need to get creative by posting at 11:13 AM, it'll just round up to 11:15 AM. 

You can only have one message per time slot, so if you scheduled one at 11:13 AM and one at 11:15 AM, you'll get an error message. 

Last but not least, set an appointment with yourself for an hour a week to create and schedule the bulk of your posts for that week (or even month if you can work that far in advance). Actually use your calendar and block time. Other things will have to wait for this hour, it's really that important! And by blocking one slot a week only, you reduce your chances to spend too much time (because of distractions) on social media and actually ensure you are contributing to your business' marketing plan. If you have the luxury of sharing the load, have a few people write so you can get a few different voices.

Once you're all scheduled up, let your posts fly! Make sure you check in a few times a day to make sure there aren't any customer service issues to be addressed, but stay focused! The checking-in shouldn't take more than five minutes across all of your sites (don't get distracted by babies, puppies or Buzzfeed stories about your favorite TV characters and what Harry Potter house they would belong in) and feel free to post ad-hoc things when good opportunities arise. 

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Post them! We'll answer anything from the totally general to the super specific!

- Sarah

This is post 4 of 7 in the Be More...Social series. Read the other posts in the series using the links below:









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