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It's week three of our "Be More...Social" series! In week one, we covered why on earth you need to be on social media (and what's the proper lingo) and last week we discussed the top six platforms to consider utilizing in your social media strategy. Social media strategy you ask? Welcome to week three!

Social media strategy is the thorough process that goes into your posts, tweets, and shares. Think of social media as something that needs to continually be optimized--how can you improve your efforts when you have no way to track or measure them? That's where strategy comes in!

There are some pretty simple steps to create your strategy, and numerous websites to help you track your successes and opportunities for improvement (let's avoid the word "failure").

1. Determine Your Goals

What do you hope to get out of social media? What goals do you want to accomplish? 
If you're not sure where to start--here are some common goals and objectives small businesses usually turn to social media for:
  • Branding: General company/brand recognition is huge, especially for photographers. You don't want to be "that guy over on Main Street...you know...what's his name?"--You want to be you! You want (and need) to build a brand identity to get word-of-mouth recognition going. 
  • Attract new clients: Utilizing social media to drive traffic to your pages or website/blog will help attract new clients and customers. Also, by listening closely (we covered that week one) - you can see who is in the market for your work and seek them out. By handling social media in a professional manner, it will allow your personality and your work to shine. 
  • Build a following: By creating dynamic content, you'll be giving your customers a reason to talk (positively) about your brand! They will share your content and voila! Their friends become your fans and followers and you become a likeable, recommendable, in-demand photographer. 
Pro-tip: Make your goals as measurable and reasonable as possible. It would be ill-advised to say your goal should be to double your Twitter followers in a week (unless you only have a handful)--but increase by 5% over a month's time might not be a bad place to start! Or you can equate your goals with more inbound inquiries--more phone calls, emails or requests from your website can be tied back to building your brand and attracting new followers! Give them a reason to follow you. Peak their interest with behind the scenes shots or stories, promotions or special offers, color or dressing tips, etc. 

As time goes on, track your progress with spreadsheets or fun (free) infographics from places like www.visual.ly! They allow you to see how your Facebook content has reached the masses, or how you're stacking up to your competition on Twitter. 

2. Know Your Clients (Both Present & Prospective)

Last week we discussed who is on what platform - and hopefully that directed what sites you're planning on leveraging. Now, drill deeper to see who your audience might be!
  • Understand your target market's point of view and activities: Think of your target demographics--age, gender, income, location, as well as interests and priorities. When you post on Facebook, you can segment by many of these demographics and really hone in on who your post reaches. 
  • Consider influencers, buyers and end users: This is key--especially with senior portraits! You have the senior (end user), buyers (parents) and influencers (senior's friends/social circles) to contend with! 
  • Consider your audience's social media behavior: Do they lurk? Do they share? Do they create? Each type of social media user can be engaged in a different way. Know your market to see how you can best leverage your reach.

3. Choose Your "Hot Buttons"

These are your studio's main content topics. Keep it to three - five different themes depending on your studio's product offering. They will differ from studio to studio, but remember to keep them relevant to the work you do so they are optimized for your market. 
  • Create an editorial calendar: We'll go into this more next week, but know you should have a place to create content in bulk so it's less work on the fly. 
  • Brainstorm ideas: Using these themes, bring in your most creative thinkers and collaborate how you can best utilize these themes in fun, interactive ways!
  • Offer a variety of content formats: Text posts are not nearly as popular as images. You're a photographer -use your work! Also consider utilizing your Instagram images on Facebook/Twitter or creating a YouTube video to share "behind-the-scenes" action. 
By sticking to your themes, it will help your pages develop a rich content source that will help you more dramatically achieve your target goals.

4. Set Your Limits

If you're not careful, social media can be a black hole of time. Ever start looking through your newsfeed to see what you're clients are up to and end up 15 pages deep on Buzzfeed? Don't worry, you're not alone. Set time limits and stick to them! Maybe set aside 30 minutes, twice a day to start. Or utilize services such as Meltwater an RSS feed--they scan the web for your company's name (or other key words) and bring the results to you!  It eliminates the time-suck that can happen when you hop over to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but it also costs a pretty penny. 

5. Plan Your (Human) Resources

Next (big) question: who will handle your social media? If you're in business by yourself, with no additional help, this is a really easy answer! If you have a bit bigger of an operation, it's important to set clear expectations of who has access to the admin rights, how those rights are to be used and what happens if they blow it (they won't blow it, but just in case). It's usually not the best idea to have the intern running your image, so pick someone who knows you, knows your business and can handle some nonsense (FYI: people can be jerks on the internet). 

It's usually helpful to set some social media guidelines and rules for etiquette. We have our set of rules for PPA and if folks violate them there is a clear expectation of what happens. Same goes for your page! If someone is making inappropriate comments, don't be afraid to boot them off. Creating a process on how you handle these situations is key!

Note: If someone has something negative to say about your business that has some truth behind it, leave it and respond to it. Kill them with kindness, but try not to delete those comments. That will take away the transparency of your business and you will come across as much less authentic. 

6. Measure. Improve. Repeat.

We talked about creating measurable goals in step one. Make sure as you're implementing your strategy, you have all of the tools to make these measurements. Set aside time the first of the month to see how your number of fans/followers have grown, or make sure you ask how people heard of your company when you get a new client calling. 

There are also great free analytics on Facebook (click your "Insights" box in your admin panel) to see what posts reached the most individuals, gained the most likes/shares and worked the best. Explore what made those posts great and keep it up! You can also see what needs some help and tweak it for the future. 

Last, but not least, you can set up a special landing page on your website to see how many clicks convert from all of your social platforms. Talk to your web developer to set this up for an easy way to see what platforms are working and what needs some love!

So there are the six easy steps to create your strategy from the Social Media Examiner! They may be simple, but they can take some time to implement. Dedicate an hour a day to working through this list and see where the week takes you. Next week we'll cover the planning of your posts (think content types, timing, etc.)! 

How have you implemented what's been covered thus far? What questions do you have? What troubles (if any) have you run into? Leave them in the comments!

- Sarah

This is post 3 of 7 in the Be More...Social series. Read the other posts in the series using the links below:







Last week we started our weekly "Be More...Social" series with a piece on just the basics of social media (need a quick refresher?). This week we'll use some of those keywords and dive into what the top platforms are to market your business. We'll cover who are the average users on such platforms and how you can start to effectively engage with them. 

Before we dive in, it's key to remember two things. First, just because a social media site exists, it doesn't mean you need to be on it. Second, if you're new to social media, start off with one or two platforms. You don't need to spread yourself too thin trying to be everywhere at once. 

So where to begin? It's helpful to start by exploring the top sites in terms of reach. Here is a list of the most popular social sites by unique monthly active users (more than 100 million users). Unique monthly active users just means it doesn't matter if a visitor came to a site once or a hundred times, they're only counted once:

  • Facebook: 1.11 billion
  • YouTube: 1 billion
  • Twitter: 550 million 
  • Google+: 343 million
  • LinkedIn: 225 million
  • Instagram: 130 million
It should come as no surprise that Facebook leads the pack, with YouTube in a close second (have you seen how many adorable cat videos there are?!).  Now, just because a site gets millions of users doesn't mean those users are who you need to be focusing your energy on. So who are the average users on the sites? Read on. It's not always who you might think it is!

Facebook
67% of internet users are on Facebook (72% of women, 62% of men). The highest percentage of users falls between 18 - 29 and 30 - 49 years old. Income, education and location don't matter much in the world of Facebook. Facebook is the most used site by the widest range of people.  People share their personal lives, follow brands they love and stay up to date with words, images and even play games (Candy Crush anyone?)

What this means for your studio: Facebook is a great jumping off point to get the word out about your business, regardless of your specialty. Business pages are completely free to set up. Note: set your business up as a page, not as a person. There are a million reasons why...mainly if you set up your business as a person, you have to actively accept people as your friends (there will be a lag between when they want to start seeing your posts and when they actually get to see your content). Plus, you can't advertise as a person, only a business. Finally, Facebook said not to (and you don't want to get on their bad side). 


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