This is part one in a 9-part series previously published on the StickyAlbums blog. To browse the whole series, click here.
Photographers are discovering that it’s no longer sufficient to have a website and an online portfolio to advertise for and connect with clients. In an increasingly digital world, companies small and large are expected to have a social media presence, and to use it to both provide information and engage with those interested in their services. But with so many demands on their time, how can photographers be expected to invest even more in ever-changing social media?
While it may seem daunting, even devoting just a few minutes a day to social media can lead to big returns for your business. Over the next several posts, we’ll provide simple guidelines for the type of content you should be sharing and offer some helpful tips for how to engage your audience to build rapport—without wasting your precious time!
Before we delve into individual social media platforms, there are some general guidelines that apply to every post you’ll make on every one of your pages. Today we’ll be talking about some really powerful concepts from our favorite book on social media — Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World. We highly recommend this quick read for anyone using social media for business—you’ll have to resist highlighting every sentence!
If you already have active social media pages, the tips in this book can help you reevaluate how you’re using those pages. If you haven’t begun to share to social media, this book will help you to be effective in your posting from day one!
In Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (JJJRH), “storytelling entrepreneur” Gary Vaynerchuk uses boxing metaphors to explain how social media pages, regardless of the company, should be interacting with consumers. While many photographers use social media pages as a way to advertise their talents and offer specials to draw in clients, those who stop there are seeing limited results. Many grow frustrated and abandon their pages, posting new images or discounts irregularly and failing to effectively engage with their followers. This is because those types of posts—asking for business, advertising your skills, and solely marketing your services—are “right hooks.”
Constantly throwing right hooks may have worked in the age of radio advertisements, but with dozens of other options for media consumption, social media strategies can’t afford to be as forward. Without first building rapport and community with your followers, attempting a right hook (and especially throwing hooks on your pages all the time) is likely to be both exhausting and ineffective.
This is where the “jab” comes in. A jab is an engagement with your audience that offers them something of value—without asking for something in return. Each jab to your social media page should be interesting to your target audience and should indicate that you understand them and what they like. In JJJRH, Vaynerchuk lists six qualities of strong content that each of your jabs should be mindful of:
1. It’s native.
There are nuances to each social media platform that you should understand before posting to them. This involves knowing which platforms allow hashtags or hyperlinks, which have character limits, etc. We’ll be discussing individual platforms in more detail in the coming weeks but for now keep in mind that you can’t upload the exact same post to multiple platforms and expect it to be successful on each. As Vaynerchuk says, “Content is king, but context is God.”
2. It doesn’t interrupt.
To use Facebook as an example, a post to your business page shouldn’t stand out or seem unusual on a follower’s news feed. Vaynerchuk says that “whatever experience people are seeking on their preferred platforms, that’s what marketers should attempt to replicate.”
3. It doesn’t make demands—often.
This point is all about adding value. While offering a discount to potential customers may seem valuable (and is!), it’s still an ask—it’s still requesting business from your followers. Consider what sort of content your target audience wants to see and read and provide it to them. For wedding photographers, this could be information on local wedding venues, articles on shopping for the perfect wedding dress, or playlists of great dance floor songs. For boudoir photographers, the right content might be descriptions of top anniversary destinations or date night ideas.
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and offer them what they want where they are. Value can be advice they’re seeking or something as simple as a smile on a slow Monday.
4. It leverages pop culture.
Let your followers know you’re relevant. While we recommend avoiding overly controversial topics, you can comment on news stories, share fun music videos from popular artists, or jump in on trending hashtags. Who doesn’t want to hire a modern photographer with a great sense of humor?
5. It’s micro.
Consider your social media marketing on a small scale—tiny, frequent jabs that engage your customer and keep you relevant. Vaynerchuk describes micro-content as “tiny, unique nuggets of information, humor, commentary, or inspiration that you reimagine every day, even every hour, as you respond to today’s culture, conversations, and current events in real time in a platform’s native language and format.”
Let your followers view you as an individual, not a business, as someone with a unique and informed perspective in things they care about. You don’t have to run huge campaigns to get to this point—it’s all about micro-content.
One of the best pieces of advice we gathered from JJJRH was this:
There’s no reason for marketers to draft new overarching social media campaigns every year. Everyone’s should be as simple as this: Jab at people, all the time, every day. Talk about what they’re talking about. When they talk about something different, talk about that instead. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
6. It’s consistent and self-aware.
Before you begin to regularly jab your audience, think about your voice and your story. Know what you want your content to convey. You don’t want to come across as a best friend one day and an infomercial the next. Every post you make on every platform you use should represent you and should play a part in the story you want your audience to hear.