Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest… When you start thinking about social networks, your head starts to spin. There are so many of them, and it’s not easy to decide which ones you should use as a photographer. Using them all takes a lot of time. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish what makes the use for business and what’s just for fun. In this video, Joe Edelman gives you an A to Z of social media use for photographers. Meet their pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, and learn how to prepare images for social networks without wasting too much time.
It’s the king of the social networks, and if you have to choose one social network to be present at, this is the one. It’s especially useful for portrait, wedding and model photographers because it allows you build brand awareness. It’s also convenient because it gives you a chance to communicate with your clients and potential customers directly and efficiently. What’s more, it even allows you to advertise your business and services.
“If you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist.” This joke is not far from the truth. Even if your potential clients find you elsewhere, they will still want to look you up on Facebook as well.
What you also need to have in mind is that Facebook focuses on people older than the age of 25 instead of teenagers (like Instagram and Snapchat). So, adult people, and more importantly for your business – people with the money – they’re on Facebook.
Instagram is very popular among younger generation. When I’m on a bus, I notice that it’s usually teenagers who browse through Instagram. And the statistics confirms it – this social network is popular mainly among those from 18 to 29 years of age. Although, there are also plenty of younger kids on Instagram.
For you as a photographer, this social network is useful if you do high school senior portraits, wedding and model photography. It does allow text under your photos, and has instant messages, but it’s a visual platform above all. This means that your photos and videos need to speak for themselves.
Instagram allows you to pay for advertising, just like Facebook. A feature they recently added, Instagram Stories, can be useful for photographers. It places your story at the top of the first page, and it expires in 24 hours. Although it gives you precious visibility and screen time, you need to make sure to create interesting and engaging Instagram Stories. If you don’t add them value, people will quickly learn to ignore them completely.
Twitter is fast-paced, concise and straightforward. It gives you a great opportunity to connect with your followers, but it’s not great for finding new customers. The reason is it’s mainly a text platform. It does allow photos and short videos, but it’s simply not its main purpose.
What Twitter is great for is distributing the news quickly. Twitter users check their feed more frequently than Facebook and Instagram users, so it allows you to get noticed and spread the word about your work. Also, like Facebook and Instagram, it allows paid advertising.
Pinterest allows you to “pin” photos and videos to “pin boards”. It’s mainly a catalog of ideas, and their main purpose is to inspire users to make the ideas come to life.
Pinterest users are 80% women. Brides use this website to collect ideas to help them plan their wedding to the tiniest detail. So, if you’re a wedding photographer and not using Pinterest actively – go and make an account, you may find it very useful.
It can also be great for portrait, maternity, family and model photographers. People who are looking for these kinds of photographers also often use Pinterest for this purpose. You can use it to discuss ideas with your model while planning the photo shoot.
People who move or redecorate home also use Pinterest for ideas. This makes a great opportunity for real estate photographers to showcase their work and skills.
LinkedIn is designed mainly for businesses and professionals to communicate. It’s everything but a place for posting your photos and bragging about your work (no matter how great it is). But, it’s a great place to build a network and make connections.
If you offer headshot services to business professionals, or you’re looking to connect with marketing contacts in larger companies – LinkedIn is the place to be.
Tumblr is a micro blogging website. This means it’s used to share photos with short stories attached to them, somewhere between Twitter’s 140 characters, and less than a 1000 words essay.
For most photographers, this social network is not really a valuable resource. However, if you photograph nudes, it can be useful because it doesn’t ban nudity. It also allows you to customize the theme of your profile in a similar way you customize a WordPress blog.
Google+ was imagined as “Facebook killer”, but we are all witnesses that it didn’t really work out. Although Google+ consists mainly of crickets and tumbleweed now, you can still find it useful as a photographer.
You should create simple Google+ pages both for you and your business. You won’t use them to find customers, but they may find you. Google shows Google+ pages in its results, so you should think about that and make yourself more easily discoverable.
SnapChat is the primary image and message sharing service among the younger generation. It supports photos, videos and allows you to share stories. Messages can get deleted automatically after being viewed.
Because of 1-on-1 system of this platform, it’s not useful for photographers in finding new clients and followers. But, some photographers use other platforms to attract people to their SnapChat.
Which social networks should you use?
You’ve noticed that Joe Edelman doesn’t mention 500px, Flickr and Model Mayhem. They’re specialized platforms for photographers, and they are not likely to bring you more customers than social networks. So, let’s focus on the websites and apps covered, and help you decide which ones work best for you.
In an ideal world, you should use all of these platforms. But, it takes up a lot of time to maintain all of the profiles, so have ROI in mind – return on investment. In other words, the effort you put into creating and updating a social network profile should pay off. Otherwise it’s not business, it’s simply fun.
If you use social networks for business, Facebook is a must for all photographers. Then, depending on the type of photography you do, you should add other social media to it as well. For example, wedding, family and portrait photographers should focus on Pinterest. High school senior portrait photographers should add Instagram and Twitter. Real estate photographers need LinkedIn in addition to Facebook. Of course, these are only some suggestions, and you should work them out further depending on your business. But once you do, make sure to update all the social media pages regularly.
Automation tools help you save time and help you maintain all the social media pages more efficiently. When you create content for social media, it takes time if you want to do it right. It’s important that you share the stories and experiences behind the photos. Keep in mind that it’s not plain photos that attract your clients, it’s the story behind them.
Automation tools allow you to create posts for social networks in advance and schedule them to automatically post at different times during the week. This means you can spend some time on Monday and create the content for the entire week, and then just schedule it to be posted throughout the week on different social networks at different times.
Putting the “Media” in “Social Media”
The most important thing to understand when preparing the images for social media is image size: pixel dimension, height and width and the total file size.
The suggestion is to keep it under 2 MB. Most of the social media websites doesn’t allow images to be larger than this size. It’s even advised to use smaller size for your website, because Google wants the pages to load fast.
Preparing the images for web
First of all, make sure that the images are set to sRGB color space in Photoshop. All web browsers render images best in sRGB and most of the monitors are set to this color space.
Then, resize the image for the website and the type of post you are making. If you take your time to make the images conform to the size guidelines of social media websites, it means they will mess with your photos less. In other words, never upload images in full resolution. Joe suggests resizing the images to 72 pixel/inch and using bicubic resampling.
Finally, you may want to add some sharpening to your images. Joe duplicates the finish layer and uses Filter > Sharpen > Add Sharpen. Then he reduces this layer opacity to 50%. Of course, you can use the technique you prefer.
Use “save for web” feature and save the file with the quality of at least 60. Select “Progressive” as the JPEG type, because of compression. You can use JPEGmini to help you reduce the file size of the images without losing their quality.